The so called Bell itself is another aspect of history shrouded in disinformation.
How do we know this aircraft which arrived in Argentina on 2 May 1945 was a Ju 390 and not some other type?
Junkers Ju 390
The Junkers Ju 390 was a German aircraft intended to be used as a heavy transport, maritime patrol aircraft, and long-range bomber, a long-range derivative of the Ju 290. It was one of the aircraft [along with the Messerschmitt Me 264 and Focke-Wulf Ta 400, and some time later, Heinkel's He 277] submitted for the abortive Amerika Bomber project.
Junkers chose the most simple path, enlarge the Ju.290 with six engines. Since the majority of components for the construction came from elements of the Ju.90 and Ju.290, the first flight of the Ju.390 took place as early as 1943. The Ju.390 was claimed to have made a test flight from Germany to Cape Town, and other test flight from France to a point 19 km off US east coast in 1944. Not only the Luftwaffe interested, but also Japan Army Air Force considered for its potential for striking U.S. western coast. The detailed manufacturing drawings were scheduled to hand over to Japan in 1945. However, at the end of 1944, the Ju.390 program was cancelled on the orders of RLM for allocating design time to other more pressing projects.
The Berlin Document Centre has the interrogation report of SS Hauptsturmführer Rudolf Schuster who witnessed the Bell device being loaded into a Ju 390 at Bystrzyca Klodzka airfield in April 1945 for an evacuation from Germany. Schuster asserted that it flew from there to Bodo, Norway.
Post war SS Lt Gen Dr. Hans Kammler's deputy in charge of the Skoda works, Dr. Wilhelm Voss was interviewed by British journalist Tom Agoston.
Design and development
The second prototype, the V2 (RC+DA), was longer than the V1 because it was constructed from a Ju 290 airframe (using the fuselage of Ju 290 A-1 Werknummer J900155).
Interestingly the photo snapped of RC+DA was taken during an attack on a Malta Convoy in 1942, suggesting this aircraft was possibly operated by LTS.290 in North Africa. The photo clearly shows a white "Afrika" band used for identification of German aircraft operating in the Mediteranean, or North Africa. The photo was taken by merchant seaman Ron Whylie whilst his convoy KMF-5 was under attack in late 1942. The date alone disrupts claims that the first J-390 flight was made in 1943.
The maritime reconnaissance and long-range bomber versions were to be designated the Ju 390 B and Ju 390 C, respectively. It has been suggested that the bomber could have carried the Messerschmitt Me 328 parasite fighter for self-defense, and some test flights are believed to have been performed by a Ju 390 prototype equipped with the anti-shipping Fritz X guided glide bomb.
There are large gaps in the published information on the Ju 390, a development of Junkers' previous Ju 290 series, which themselves were extensions of the Ju 90 design. In William Green's "Warplanes of the Third Reich" there is a detailed description of the modifications made to transform existing Ju 290 airframes to Ju 390 standard and lists the equipment they carried.
Several interesting missions are attributed to the Ju 390, including liaison flights to Japan. While confirmation is lacking [not surprising for KG 200, a special ops unit)] Ju 290A-9s are known to have completed many of the same assignments. The V2 was standing by at Rechlin to evacuate Nazi VIPs to Spain in April of 1945. While a Ju 290A-5 [W.Nr. 110178] actually made the flight to Spain, the V2 was not reported to have been located after the war. One account says the V2 was flown to Norway, where it was repainted in Swedish colors, and then used to transport German scientists to a ranch in Paysandu Province, Uruguay. The aircraft was then reportedly dismantled and sunk in the Rio Uruguay River, where it is said to remain to this day.
The V1 was constructed and largely assembled at Junkers' plant at Dessau, Germany, and the first test flight took place on 20 October 1943. Its performance was satisfactory enough that the Air Ministry ordered 26 in addition to the two prototypes. However, the contracts for the 26 Ju 390s were cancelled in June 1944 and all work ceased in September of that year.
Hans Werner Lerche records his flight in the Ju-390 on 28 October 1943, but makes no comments about this flight at all which is rather surprising if one is asked to accept this was either, the Ju-390's maiden flight, or for that matter personally his first flight in the type. Rather it tends to suggest that he had flown the type before.
On 26 November 1943, the Ju 390 V1 - with many other new aircraft and prototypes - was shown to Adolf Hitler at Insterburg, East Prussia.
According to former Junkers test pilot Hans-Joachim Pancherz' logbook, the Ju 390 V1 was brought to Prague immediately after it had been displayed at Insterburg, and while there took part in a number of test flights, which continued until March 1944, including tests of inflight refueling.
The Ju 390 V1 was returned to Dessau in November 1944, where it was stripped of parts and finally destroyed in late April 1945 as the American Army approached.
The conventional view of the Junkers Ju-390 story hold that only one prototype was ever built, being the Ju-390 V1. This version asserts that the Ju390 V1 was first flown from a dirt airstrip at Merseberg on 20 October 1943, piloted by civilian Flugkapitän Hans Joachim Pancherz and engineer Dipl-Ing Gast.
However there is also an earlier claim that the Ju-390 made it's first flight in August 1943 at the hands of famous Reichlin Test pilot Flugkapitan Hans Werner Lerche at Bernberg.
The conventional view therefore is that the Ju-390V1 was retired from service and flown to Dessau in November 1944 where it was stripped of propellers and sat derelict until destroyed. There are conflicting claims of it's destruction by a US 8th Air Force raid on 16 January 1945 and other claims that it was burned in April 1945 to prevent capture.
Either way it is generally accepted the Ju-390 V1 ended its career at Dessau in November 1944 and remained derelict until destroyed in 1945. RC+DA appears to have been the aircraft destroyed at Dessau in 1945.
RC+DA appears to have the shorter fuselage Ju-390 V1 and to have been equipped as a maritime patrol aircraft. GH+UK appears to have been the longer fuselage Ju-390 V2 equipped for a transport role.
At the end of the war Argentine and Polish sources which until recently were classified, both record that a Ju-390 flew from Norway to Argentina and then the aircraft was ferried to a German ranch in Paysandu Province of Uruguay where it was dismantled.
On 29 June 1944 KdE Rechlin made a surprise announcement condemning the aircraft as unsuitable for long-distance work because the wing loading would be too great for the intended payload [various other drawbacks were also recited]. Shortly before the termination of all work Junkers received contracts in June 1944 to build Ju 390 V-2 to V-7, but this might have been done for accounting purposes.
It appears RC+DA was the Ju-390V1 and the Ju-390V2, fitted with BMW801E engines was redesignated as the Ju-390 A1. It is recorded by Junkers that the Ju-390A1 transporter was built and GH+UK was clearly the transporter version as compared with RC+DA which was clearly equipped with a bomb aimers gondola as a maritime patrol aircraft.
This type of switch happened previously when the the Ju-90 V11 was redesignated as the Ju-290V1 and Ju-90 V12 was redesignated as J-290 V2. The Ju-90 V6 airframe was itself re-designated Ju-390 V1.
The unconventional explanation for the fate of Junkers second Ju-390 prototype concerns an alleged flight from an airfield at Schweidnitz in Poland to evacuate a Bell shaped ionising centrifuge used by the Nazis for advanced research of high energy fields. This Bell device has become the subject of various claims, attracting cynicism from some and fantastic claims from others.
A hotly contested argument rages whether a second Ju-390 prototype was ever built. This owes in part to postwar testimony at a British military hearing by Junkers chief engineer for Ju-390 production and similar testimony from the Ju-390 project pilot, Hans Jochim Pancherz who both claimed only one prototype was ever built.
There the story might have ended except that the Ju-390 V1 prototype was retired to the airfield at Dassau and stripped of propellers where it sat conspicuously derelict until destroyed there in 1945. Then Oberleutnant Joachim Eissermann recorded in his log book flying the Ju-390 V2, twice on 9 February 1945. Contrary to modern embellishments, Eissermann's log book did not record the aircraft by it's registration markings. Only that it was the V2 prototype. The first flight was 55 minutes of familiarisation flying around Reichlin air base. The second flight was a 22 minute delivery trip to Larz.
In their 1993 book, "Die Grosen Dessauer: Junkers Ju-89, 90, 290, 390" Karl Kössler and Gunter Ott suggest the second Ju-390 was not constructed and flown before September/October 1944, yet RLM cancelled all Ju-390 contracts in May 1944.
If the Ju-390 contract was canceled in May 1944, then it could not have been completed in September 1944. Kössler and Ott have gotten it wrong.
Soviet historical sources claim the unfinished Ju-390 airframe was in fact the V3 prototype. The Ju-390 V3 prototype was intended for completion in the "summer" of 1944. In fact the original RLM contract in March 1942 was let for three prototypes and we have evidence for the existence of two aircraft. What can be said truthfully is that only one Ju-390 airframe was found in Germany after the War. That is not however conclusive proof that only one was built.
The Ju 390 V2 was assembled in Bernbeg, was first flown in October 1943, and is said to have been configured for the maritime reconnaissance role. Its fuselage had been extended by 2.5 m [8.2 ft], and it was equipped with FuG 200 Hohentwiel ASV [Air to Surface Vessel] radar and defensive armament consisting of five 20 mm MG 151/20 cannon. Green notes different armament, specifically four 20 mm MG 151/20s and three 13 mm [.51 in] MG 131 machine guns.
The V2 aircraft was an unarmed transport version with a longer fuselage than the V1. It also appears to have been shortened ahead of the wing. This aircraft is reported making it's first flight from Bernberg in August 1943, flown by Flugkapitän Hans Werner Lerche.
Test pilot Oberleutnant Eisermann recorded in his logbook that he flew the V2 prototype (RC+DA) as late as February 1945. However, Kössler and Ott state that the Ju 390 V2 was only completed during June 1944, with flight tests beginning at the end of September 1944.
A Ju 390, which may or may not have been the V2, is claimed by some to have made a test flight from Germany to Cape Town in early 1944. The sole source for the story is a speculative article which appeared in the "Daily Telegraph" in 1969 titled 'Lone Bomber Raid on New York Planned by Hitler', in which Hans Pancherz reportedly claimed to have made the flight in question - in company with an air to air refueling aircraft [Ju-290 reg CE+YZ] his Ju-390 flew to Cape town and back during January 1944. The test flight went smoothly but the operation was soon canceled due to lack of resources, said Pancherz. As with other claims of the mysterious flight, no factual data could be obtained. Author James P. Duffy has carried out extensive research into this claim, which has proved fruitless. Kössler and Ott make no mention of this claim either, despite having themselves interviewed Pancherz.
The Ju-390 V3 may have been intended as a flying tanker aircraft for air to air refueling trials. Such trials were conducted around Prague with the V1 aircraft in early 1944. Construction of the V3 appears abandoned in May 1944 when all production was switched to emergency fighter construction. Conventional historians who assert the existence of only one Ju-390 assert the V2 was broken up before completion. A contrary view is that it was actually the uncompleted V3 aircraft which was broken up in June 1944. By May 1944 orders had already been issued to switch all production to fighters.
New York flight
The first public mention of an alleged flight of a Ju 390 to North America appeared in a letter published in the November 1955 issue of the British magazine "RAF Flying Review", of which aviation writer William Green was an editor. The magazine's editors were skeptical of the claim, which asserted that two Ju 390s had made the flight, and that it included a one-hour stay over New York City. In March 1956, the "Review" published a letter from an RAF officer which claimed to clarify the account. Citing unspecified German aircraft records in his possession, the officer said that only one aircraft, the Ju 390 V1 prototype, had made the flight in the latter part of 1944, and that it had reached a point about 19 km (12 mi) off the US east coast, just north of NYC, before returning to France.
A captured Photographic technician, Unteroffizer Wolf Baumgart, was interrogated by the US Ninth Air Force and his testimony was recorded by the A.P.W.I.U. Report 44/1945. In that report Baumgart is quoted claiming that a Ju-390 flew from Mont de Marsan, France, to within 12 miles of New York city. He further stated that photographs were taken of the city's skyline. The same A.P.I.W.U report also references corroboration by a more senior Luftwaffe officer, who added that the Ju-390 had an in-flight endurance of 32 hours.
According to Green's reporting, in June 1944, Allied Intelligence had learned from prisoner interrogations that a Ju 390 had been delivered in January 1944 to FAGr 5 (Fernaufklärungsgruppe 5), based at Mont-de-Marsan near Bordeaux, and that it had completed a 32-hour reconnaissance flight to within 19 km (12 mi) of the US coast, north of New York City. This was, however, rejected just after the war by British authorities. [Aviation historian Dr. Kenneth P. Werrell states that the story of the flight originated in two British intelligence reports from August 1944 which were based in part on the interrogation of prisoners, and titled "General Report on Aircraft Engines and Aircraft Equipment"; the reports claimed that the Ju 390 had taken photographs of the coast of Long Island. These photos have never been discovered.
The claimed flight was mentioned in many books following the "RAF Flying Review account", including William Green's own respected "Warplanes of the Second World War" (1968) and "Warplanes of the Third Reich" (1970) but without ever citing reliable sources. Further authors then cited Green's books as their source for the claimed flight. Green himself told Kenneth P. Werrell many years later that he no longer placed much credence in the flight.
Disputed New York flight in 1944
There is a heavily disputed claim that in January 1944, a Ju-390 prototype made a trans-Atlantic flight from Mont-de-Marsan [near Bordeaux] to some 20 km [12 miles] off the coast of the United States and back. Critics claim FAGr.5 (Fernaufklärungsgruppe 5) never flew such a flight. Supporters say the only link between FAGr.5 and the New York flight is the common use of an airfield at Mont-de-Marsan and the veracity of the New York flight is neither proved nor disproved by a lack of unit records for such a flight. Indeed the flight may have had nothing whatsoever to do with FAGr.5 operations.
Whilst the Ju-390's 32-hour endurance would have certainly made such a crossing theoretically possible, there is a lack of evidence to support the claim. Aviation historian Horst Zöller claims the flight was recorded in Junkers company records.
Critics have also pointed to the vagueness of the aircraft's alleged position and even the date of what would have been a milestone flight. The best known [and maybe earliest publication] of the claim in English was in William Green's "Warplanes of the Third Reich" in 1970, where he wrote that the Ju 390 flew to "a point some 12 miles from the US coast, north of New York". Critics say the vagueness of detail and lack of corroborating evidence are hallmarks of an urban legend.
Critics believe that the aircraft would have had to overfly parts of the Massachusetts coast in order to fix their location, and point out the likelihood of the aircraft being spotted by observers and/or radar, which it was not. If New York State were meant, this would have put the aircraft closer to Boston. Critics ask why this city wasn't referred to for fixing the position of the claim. Finally, it is questioned how the aircrew would have been able to fix their position so accurately anyway.
Supporters argue that a Ju-390 crew could have obtained a highly accurate fix from public broadcast radio stations. Also that a Ju-390 would not have needed to overfly Massachusetts at all. They say there was no reason why New York City could not have been approached purely from the sea.
Supporters also note that the mission was designed to deliver a single bomb to New York and that such a bomb could only have been the atomic weapon under development. Japan and Germany at the time were using the "Harteck Process" of gaseous uranium centrifuges. Germany in 1944 was shipping both uranium ores and centrifuges to Japan by U-boat.
Supporters of the New York flight say of course the mission was kept secret so as not to tip off the US Government to provide better air defences. It was an ultra top secret test flight for the delivery of an atomic bomb.
Corroboration is gleaned from the so-called Silbervogel sub-orbital bomber designed to attack New York from space with only a single bomb. Only one type of bomb was worth all the time and expense involved. Supporters say a mission so secret would never have found its way into FAGr.5 logbooks.
Supporters note the top secret unit, II/KG200 also flew the Ju-390 as did Junkers company test pilots in Czechoslovakia.
Following the war, Hitler's armaments minister Albert Speer also recounted to author James P O'Donnell that a Ju-390 aircraft flown by Junkers test pilots flew a polar route to Japan in 1944.
Werrell himself later examined the available data regarding the Ju 390's range and concluded that although a great circle round trip from France to St. Johns, Newfoundland was possible, adding another 3,830 km (2,380 mi) for a round trip from St. Johns to Long Island made the flight "most unlikely".
Karl Kössler and Günter Ott, in their book "Die großen Dessauer: Junkers Ju 89, 90, 290, 390. Die Geschichte einer Flugzeugfamilie" [Great Dessauers...History of an Aircraft Family], also examined the claimed flight, and thoroughly debunked the flight north of New York. Most importantly, it was nowhere near France at the time when the flight was supposed to have taken place. According to Hans Pancherz' logbook, the Ju 390 V1 was brought to Prague on 26 November 1943. While there, it took part in a number of test flights, which continued until late March 1944.
Secondly, they also assert that the Ju 390 V1 prototype was unlikely to have been capable of taking off with the fuel load necessary for a flight of such duration due to strength concerns caused by its modified structure; it would have required a takeoff weight of 65 tonnes [72 tons], while the maximum takeoff weight during its trials had been 34 tonnes [38 tons]. According to Kössler and Ott, the Ju 390 V2 could not have made the US flight either, since they indicate that it was not completed before September/October 1944.
In his book, "The Bunker", author James P. O'Donnell mentions a flight to Japan. O'Donnell claimed that Albert Speer, in an early 1970s telephone interview, stated that there had been a secret Ju 390 flight to Japan "late in the war". The flight, by a Luftwaffe test pilot, had supposedly been nonstop via the polar route. O'Donnell is the sole source for the story. Speer never mentioned the story in any of his writings or other interviews. Kössler and Ott make no mention of the claim.
British journalist Tom Agoston interviewed the late Dr Wilhelm Voss from Hans Kammler's staff in Prague. Kammler from late 1944 was in charge of long distance transport aircraft.
Dr Voss claimed that a Ju-390 flew the polar route to Tokyo on 28 March 1945. According to Agoston aboard the plane were important spare parts, microfilm and possibly even key personnel. .
U-234's radio operator Wolfgang Hirschfeld in his book "Atlantik Farewell: Das Letzte U-boot" recalls plans to use an FW200 to Japan in 1945 to fly some of U-234's more urgent cargo. he went on to say the FW200 flight idea was abandoned because it could not satisfy Japan's demand that the flight not overfly Russia. Hirschfeld made no mention of the JU-390 flight but was hardly in a position to know every detail of what were secret flights.
What Hirschfeld does provide is an indication of a need for such a flight around March 1945 and an intention to operate such a flight about the time when Dr. Voss claimed it happened.
If the Ju 290 was a long range low production aircraft that many hopes were pinned to, then the Ju 390 was a very long range aircraft that even more grandiose hopes were pinned to that never left the prototype phase. While that means the program had almost no real-world impact whatsoever, the planning surrounding the aircraft is pretty interesting, and a good snapshot as to what might have developed has the German aircraft industry been less messed up.
The Amerika Bomber project is a catch-all term for Nazi bombers capable of reaching the United States, bombing it, and then returning. On the face of it, it is surprising that even big dreamers like the Nazis thought about doing this, as their attempts at producing a modern strategic bomber were in perpetual disarray. A transcontinental bomber was a whole order of magnitude more difficult, and a positive pipe dream given the messed up state of the Nazi aviation industry. Still, the Nazis persisted with the idea, even after they ended production of everything but fighters and jet aircraft. The reason was simple - it gave Nazi leaders the fantasy that they could knock the United States out of the war. Earlier on in the war it was presumed even one strike against New York would so unnerve those decadent Jazz listening democrats so much they would immediately sue for peace - in the late war, the Nazis upped the ante somewhat by imagining Nazi nuclear bombers razing the east coast to accomplish the same thing. (The Nazis were not anywhere near having an actual atomic bomb, no more than they had a transcontinental bomber, but you can't stop them from dreaming).
Still, even the Nazis with their almost magical view of technology, had to modify these dreams slightly in the face of the huge engineering challenges. Most Amerika Bomber designs assumed (the Nazis being the eternal optimists that they were) that the war against all non-Germans would go so well that Fascist Spain and/or Portugal would enter the war on the Axis side, or at least become friendly enough to the Axis to allow Germany to use the Canary Islands, or the Azores as a staging area for attacking North America. This allowed the Nazis to dream of a Amerika bomber deployable before, say, the early 1950s. Even with this unlikely concession, most of the Nazi efforts in this direction remained paper projects.
Only two Amerika Bombers actually existed as functional prototypes: the Me 264, and the Ju 390. When the initial specification was issued by the RLM in early 1942, someone at Junkers had the quite sensible idea. Instead of developing a whole new airframe, why not use a suitable existing design [the Ju 290] and simply expand the wings and fuselage? Compared to the alternatives, this approach was incredibly fast and cheap: not only had most of the engineering work already been done in the Ju 290 program, the new airplane could use existing Ju 290 tooling instead of needing bespoke machinery. In April 1942, the Ju 90B V6 returned to Dessau, where over about a year it was made into a six-engined super Ju 290 with a 150 ft wingspan - the first Ju 390.
All of these plans, of course, never came off. The first prototype, Ju 390 V1, flew extensive flight tests, and even was brought to Mont-de-Marsain to be examined by FAGr 5 crews. It also was rumored to have been a part of aerial refueling experiments. (As the Azores gambit seemed more and more unlikely, the Luftwaffe turned to thinking of the possibilities of in-flight refueling for their transcontinental bomber instead.) The fighter emergency program in the spring 1944 ended Ju 290 production, which naturally ended 390 production as well. In late 1944, the Ju 390 V1 returned to the Junkers HQ at Dessau where it was cannibalized for spare parts, presumably to keep the remaining Ju 290s operational. What remained was blown up in 1945 when American forces approached Dessau. The other prototype has an even murkier history. The Schrödinger's cat of Nazi aircraft, the Ju 390 V2's existence is a supposition, existing and not existing at the same time. Post-war, the Head of engineering at Junkers testified to the British that a Ju 390 V2 was started - but was broken up in the factory after the fighter-emergency program ended 290/390 production. Contrary to this, flight logs identify a Ju 390 V2 being flown several times by Luftwaffe test pilots. The main source for KG 200 also claims the Ju 390 V2 was accepted into KG 200 - and then the paper trail for it abruptly ends. The fact that the evidence is conflicting is not especially surprising, given the chaos of late war German aircraft production - but the whole thing is something of a tempest in a teapot. According to the pro-existence camp's evidence, the Ju 390 V2 flew very little: only flying a few times before being destroyed to keep it out of Soviet hands.
The Ju 390 was a prototype that was very capable, and is notable because it existed, unlike nearly every other Amerika Bomber aspirant. Not surprisingly, its rumored career is much more spectacular than its real life one.
In 1944, a British intelligence report states that the Ju 390 while visiting FAGr 5 was used for several very long distance flights, including one that got within 20 km of New York City, and returned with photos of the great metropolis. Where this report came from is unknown. After World War 2, these reports seemed to have inspired an argument in a British Aviation magazine, where two letters a year apart claim that these flights were made twice. The first one claims the Ju 290 circled New York airspace for an hour, and the second letter sticks closer to the intelligence report, saying that the flights reached viable distance of NYC. At the same time, a men's magazine did a story on these claims. This magazine was contacted by two ex-RAF officers who claimed to have proof of these flights in the form of reports and photographs taken during that flight. The reporter asked if he could see this evidence. The officers replied "You sure can!" and were not heard from again.
That is pretty much the total of the real-world evidence. Despite the fact that the case was as flimsy as a leftover crepe, the claim of Ju 390 flights to New York was repeated in books after book, and because of this, serious aviation historians have looked into the claims to see what they could find. The result, like the search for flights to Manchuria evidence, have turned up nothing. Looking at the capabilities of the aircraft in question was somewhat more useful, as they demonstrated that the Ju 390 (or the Ju 290 A-9, which had a similar capabilities) had nowhere near the range to fly to New York City and return from France. Karl Kössler and Günter Ott, who wrote the definitive work on the Ju 290 family (sadly now long out of print and never translated from German) calculated the fuel payload needed to make the flight was triple that of the Ju 390's maximum takeoff weight. In addition, pesky historians that they are, they point out that Ju 390 V1 was never at Mont-De-Marsain during the time that the flights are attributed to have taken place. [In their reckoning, the Ju 390 V2 superposition aircraft was only completed in late 1944]. Historian Kenneth Werrell had a look at the numbers, and discovered that while the Ju 390 V1 could have flown from France to St. John's, Newfoundland and returned, [impressive for bodged World War 2 technology] the several thousand extra kilometers necessary to get down to New York made the flight "most unlikely."
There is also an intelligence report of the Ju 390 making a reconnaissance flight to Cape Town, and then returning. The problems with this story are similar to the New York flight - that to fly there and return was far beyond the capacity of the airframes in question, and there is no evidence of these flights happening. In addition to that, one could ask why the Nazis would, during a time when the Reich was under constant air attack and critically short of aviation fuel, make these flights in the first place. The only possible reason would be for propaganda purposes, and it is sure even the Nazis would not spend enough fuel in an attempt to take photos of faraway enemy cities. (New York City was foggy that day the flight was made).
The simplest explanation for these storiesis very simple: that these were all part of a deliberate misinformation campaign by the Nazis. The pilots of FAGr 5 had seen the Ju 390, and were closely connected with German Military intelligence. Thus, they were in a position to try and confuse Allied Intelligence efforts with tales riffing off of existing operations that were possibly known to the Allies. The Cape Town tale was lent some plausibility by KG 200 operations in North Africa, and Ju 290 pilots were in fact involved with plans for flights to the far east. This was turned into a further grey area in that the Ju 390's capability was unknown to the Allies. This tall tales were of course in a background where Nazi Germany really was astounding the world with its technological advances. So as a low risk move to confound the Allies, it makes perfect sense. Germany had also succeeded (inadvertently) before in this sort of thing: a 1944 German Propaganda film aimed at German audiences lied about the existence of new super tanks. This was taken as evidence that these new types actually existed, a rare misstep by Allied Intelligence. So! Make up stories about how far our air force can reach! Maybe that will cause the Allies to hesitate...
Of course, none of this has stopped (or even slowed down) creation of even more outlandish adventures for the Ju 290/390.
"Secret History" is a kind of disease especially common in World War 2, as it remains a historical event that engages a lot of public interest, and often involves the Nazis, who were the prototype for modern pulp fiction villains. These things probably got started by people wanting to sell books or bad documentaries to "Discovery" and the "History Channel", and then they get repeated and fervently defended by people who don't care about facts or reason.
Anna Kreisling is one of these inventions. As a general pattern, "secret history" stories start with real confusion or plausible stories that didn't happen. Then these tales are improved upon to make them more spectacular and interesting. Anna Kreisling is the result of this iteration carried on for a few generations - a character partially based on real things (but more spectacular) and partially based on previous generations of false information (but more spectacular). First made up by a journalist in Ohio, (who claimed that the very elderly Kresling was his neighbor) the Legend of Anna Kreisling has become very popular with the "no facts or logic" set on the Internet. Here are some absolutely true and not at all made up things about Mrs. Kreisling, the "White Wolf of the Luftwaffe":
*She has blonde hair and blue eyes, and is beautiful! Like a movie star! (Regardless of circumstances, this exact simile is always used).
* No photographs exist of Anna Kresling, as she is "married to one of the world's richest men."
* She was part of the most daring reconnaissance flight of World War 2, flying a Junkers 390 over Upper Canada (Southern Quebec and Ontario), Michigan, Ohio, and New York. This flight was possible because the Ju 390 was twice the size of the B-29, and had a range even larger than the post war B-36;
* Also if that's not enough range for that flight, she flew in the Jet Stream out to the States and back to France again, a singularly amazing feat on several counts, since it assumed 1) a B-36-like altitude capability that the unpressurized Ju 390 did not have, and 2) has the jet stream reversing direction.
* Complete lack of evidence is of course evidence of all these things actually happening, since the evidence was systematically suppressed by the Nazis/the SS/Freemasons/the CIA etc...
*You can see what a wide ranging information blackout there is on this woman, as she has met several US Presidents, including Bill Clinton, but there is no photographs or evidence for this.
And it spins outward from there. There are made-up interviews with Kreisling, and a bunch of people arguing with skeptics that Anna Kreisling is totally a person. Naturally the sheer vehemence of people saying Kreisling exists has far eclipsed any discussion of what this super accomplished Nazi Starlet miracle pilot actually did. It is worth mentioning that Anna Kreisling is not only made up, the name Kreisiling isn't even a German name in Germany or Austria, it being some mysterious "Wurst" of German-ish sounds. [If you were doing the same thing with Canadian names, you'd end up with possibly "Marshall MacDonald" or "Shania Mapletree"]. This weirdness infects most places where the Ju 390 is discussed online.
More well read/less credulous minds will notice some parallels with somebody who actually existed, Hanna Reitsch. She was a famous avatrix in the Third Reich, and aside from being a fearless and highly skilled pilot, she also landed a Fieseler Storch on the streets of Berlin at the end of April 1945 during the Soviet siege. She was not movie star gorgeous, though, and therefore not worth talking about.
Ju-390 flight to Japan
Flights to Japan commenced before Germany's invasion of Russia in July 1941 with Operation Barbarossa. Stalin had been keen in fact to join the Axis Pact prior to this but Japan objected citing the anti communist anti Comintern Pact. Stalin however had been allowing use of the trans Siberia railway for trade between Germany and Japan prior to Barbarossa.
Early flights had involved the giant Blohm und Voss Bv222 V1 aircraft operated by Deutsche Lufthansa from Kirkenes, in occupied Norway and later from an unknown date these flights departed Nautsi Air Base in Finland. There was at least one confirmed BV222 flight to Sakhalin. Deutsche Lufthansa is known to have proposed a Bv222 mission to Japan as late as October 1943.
Another aircraft prior to Operation Barbarossa which was capable of flights to Japan was the Messerschmitt Me 261. Outwardly it looked like a much enlarged Bf-110 twin engined fighter. In detail however it was much larger had an entirely novel airframe able to accommodate it's crew and between 7-8 passengers. Its role was as a long range courier aircraft for important passengers and documents. The Me-261's first flight was 23 December 1940. It proved its range on various closed circuit trials over Europe, but it is uncertain whether it ever actually flew to the Far East.
One aircraft which did make flights to Harbin, Manchuria [Manchukuo] was the Fw200K "Kurier" operated by Kommando Rowhel for the Abwehr intelligence agency. It flew from Northern Finland in civil disguise as "D-AWCG." This aircraft began its career as the Fw200B V4 prototype and was subsequently rebuilt with two extra fuel tanks as the Fw200K V10 prototype. Missions were flown by Ob.Lt Wolfgang Nebel. Upon the liberation of Allied prisoners at Harbin by the OSS Flamingo team in 1945, POWs recounted sightings of the aircraft throughout WW2 at Harbin
From 1941 to 1943 Germany ran a highly effective fleet of surface blockade running freighters. Ships with famous names like 'Orsorno', 'Pietro Orseolo', 'Tannenfels', 'Weserland', 'Burgenland', 'Alsterufer' and 'Rio Grande' maintained an effective shuttle of supplies and personnel to and from Japan, but by 1943, assisted by Enigma interceptions, the Royal Navy began to sink these vessels. U-boats taking up to three month voyages maintained some sort of connection during 1944, but for high priority items and passengers a reliable air link needed to be created.
On 30 June 1942, a successful flight from Saporoshje [near Rostov] to Ninghsia (modern Ningxia) proved a link could be viable. The flight used a Savoia Marchetti S.75 RT [RT = Rome -Tokyo] trimotor aircraft. It's route was north of the Caspian and Aral seas then through the Altai Range past Lake Balkhash to Ningxia. The aircraft's navigator Dr Publio Magini was of the opinion that had they not been required to land at Ninxia, with the fuel aboard they could have continued on to reach Tokyo.
At that time the region around Ninghsia was largely controlled by Warlords, or Communists who co-operated with the Japanese Expeditionary Army out of self interest because their fight was with Chiang Kai Shek's Nationalist Army. Out of self interest they practiced a live and let live policy with the Japanese.
Ju-290 Flights to Manchuria
On 11 November 1955 the "RAF Review" published an article by the historical writer Kenneth Werrell claiming a Ju-390 flew within 12 miles of New York and photographed the skyline. Author William Green was an editor of the "RAF Review" at the time. Later Green also referred to the claim in his two books "Warplanes of the Second World War"  and "Warplanes of the Third Reich" . Green asserted the Allies learned of the mission in June 1944, whilst Werrell claimed they originated with interrogations of two German POWs in August 1944. Werrell identified his source as two British Intelligence reports dated from August 1945 entitled "General Report on Aircraft Engines and Aircraft Equipment." These in turn refer to intelligence reports of the US IX Air Force Intelligence section.
No record is available if flights terminated at Harbin or Shenyang where there was a major aircraft manufacturing plant. Given that Tachikawa was also involved in westbound flights with a Tachikawa Ki-77 aircraft to German held territory Shenyang was more likely.
Me-264 flights to Japan
In his book "Messerschmitt Me264, Amerika Bomber, The Luftwaffe's Lost Transatlantic Bomber", author Fobert Forsyth cites various sources for regular Me264 flights from a frozen runway on Lake Inari (Petsamo) in northern Finland to Tokyo carrying important persons, documents and cargo. Such flights became impossible after September 1944 when threatened with US bombing raids on Helsinki, Finland was forced to capitulate to Russia.
Prior to the Normandy landings, an earlier British interrogation of another Luftwaffe POW in April 1944 disclosed that the Me-261 had already made a flight to Tokyo in August 1943. This flight appears to have departed from Petsamo in Northern Finland.
J-390 flights to Japan
On Tuesday 23 May 1944 Reichsmarshall Göring convened a conference. It was attended by Minister for armaments and War production Albert Speer, Air Marshall Erhard Milch, General der Flieger Günther Korten, Petersen, Diesing, Knemeyer and Saur to confront the He-177's failings. Göring demanded other options for long range reconnaissance be developed urgently. From this meeting was set up a special long range reconnaissance unit, or Aufklärungsgruppe. It is noteworthy that following this meeting the Ju-390 and He-177 were no longer deemed available for long range reconnaissance and were already placed under control of KG200.
With the fall of France, 2 Staffel, Fernaufklärungsgruppe 5 [2/FAGr.5] based at Mont de Marsan had been disbanded in August 1944 and reassigned to Kommando Nebel for development of long range reconnaissance and communications flights under the command of Hauptmann Georg Eckl.
Hitler's new Luftwaffe chief of staff Generalleutnant Werner Kreipe recorded in his war diary that on 5 August 1944 that Hitler called for renewed efforts to prepare the Me-264 for a bombing raid on New York.
Aviator and pre-war explorer Hans Bertram was commissioned by RLM apparently in July 1944 to write a report called 'Ostasienflug' [East Asian Flight Project] to plan for a regular courier service to Tokyo using the Me-264. The mission called for a duration of 33 hours flown at 188 knots. Two routes were proposed. The longest from Berlin to Linz, Hungary, Roumania, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Tsitsihar in China and finally to Tokyo. The other route proposed was through northern India and Burma to Rangoon.
Evidence of a Ju-390 flight to Tokyo in 1944
The first public hint of a Ju-390 mission to Japan arose in the memoirs of Hitler's former armaments minister Albert Speer "Inside the Third Reich". In his book Speer referred to Ju-390 flights to Tokyo "via the Polar Route" in 1945. Speer had little to gain by revealing these flights and in fact made the comment quite non-chalantly almost in passing.
Ironically the cargo referred to may itself have been production drawings for the Ju-390 which are often cited as having been dispatched on a U-boat which never reached Japan. Since the Ju-390 licensed production agreement for the Ju-390 was not signed until 28 February 1945, the only U-boat which this could refer to was the U-234.
Russian aviation historian Sergey Platov notes on his website that these Ju-390 production plans were accompanied by a Japanese military attaché from Berlin, Major General Otani all flown to Tokyo with aboard a Ju-390.
A post-war report by the War Department, entitled "NA/HW 13/47 - German Technical Aid to Japan" dated 31 August 1945 discussed how three Messerscmitt engineers with technical documents for Japanese construction of the Me-209; Me 309; Me 264, Me 262; Me 410 and Me 323 would be flown to Japan. Technical drawings would be accompanied by engineers.
Luftwaffe Generalmajor Fritz Morzik, Chief of Air Transport for the Armed Forces in WW2 Germany wrote in an article for an official post-war USAF study paper, that the Ju-390 was used for courier flights to Japan during the war.
A Magic decrypt of a diplomatic signal from the naval attaché at the Japanese embassy in Berlin dated 21 March discussed an impending flight to Japan within the week, which Speer claimed occurred on 28 March 1945.
As a side note, the Japanese also built two or three six engined planes which made a few trips to Germany. The flights were cancelled after one aircraft disappeared and concerns that the Soviets would discover the flights.
• "Messerschmitt Me264, Amerika Bomber, The Luftwaffe's Lost Transatlantic Bomber," by Fobert Forsyth
Ju 390 export to Japan
Design work was carried out on a bomber-reconnaissance version of the aircraft. Considerable interest was displayed in this ultra-long range aircraft by the Imperial Japanese Army Air Force. In the autumn of 1944, the Japanese government acquired a manufacturing license for the Ju 390 A-1. Under the licensing agreement, detailed manufacturing drawings were scheduled to be handed over to the Imperial Japanese Army's representative, Major-General Otani, by 28 February 1945.
There is no record of this part of the agreement having been fulfilled. No reference can be found to this Major General Otani mentioned by Russian historians, however ULTRA decrypts of diplomatic signals from Japan's embassy in Berlin concerning the voyage of Japanese submarine I-52 refer to a General Kotani in Germany requiring return passage in connection with transport back to Japan. These same signals refer to other passengers with higher priority.
Japan's A-bomb project
During World War 2, Japan had two competing projects to develop a nuclear bomb. The Imperial Japanese Army's project was headed by scientist Dr Yoshio Nishina at the Rikken Institute in Tokyo. The Imperial Japanese Navy project was headed by Professor Bunsuku Arakatsu. From 1943 the two projects were amalgamated and shifted to a laboratory at Hungnam in what is now North Korea.
An American journalist David Snell, attached to Major Furman's ALSOS intelligence mission in Korea claimed to have interviewed a witness in Seoul during September 1945 who gave information of a successful Japanese A-bomb test blast on 12 August 1945. The blast was said to have occurred at an island near the city of Wonson. The informant was represented as a captain of the Military Police Captain Wakabayashi, although it was made clear to Snell that this was merely an alias. The interview took place at a Shinto shine above Seoul and Wakabayashi was treated as if he were a VIP. The American Army who were not obliged in August 1945 to treat any Japanese with deference except perhaps Japan's Royal Family treated this man respectfully and agreed to conceal his identity. Wakabayashi may have actually been Prince Chichuba under an alias.
Beginning on 7 July 1943, General Touransouke Kawashima began requesting supply of Uranium Oxide [Yellow Cake] from mines in Czechoslovakia. Requests were made via the Japanese embassy in Berlin. US Magic decrypts reveal that the Allies were well aware of Uranium requests and shipments by U-boat. In November 1943 Germany agreed to send refined Uranium oxide to Japan. In a 1982 TV interview retired general Kawashima declared that Japan received 2000 kilograms of uranium oxide before the war ended.
In September 1944 Hitler issued a decree BFHQ 219/44 demanding maximum co-operation with Germany's ally Japan. One thing which Japan badly needed was a bomber delivery system able to reach USA.
In 1943 three He-177 aircraft were converted with extra large bomb bays for an atomic bomb, intended for export to Japan. Ironically Japan declined to accept delivery when it became apparent that the delivery flight would overfly the Soviet Union. Japan did not wish to risk provoking war with Russia. The He-177 simply lacked the range for the increasingly difficult task of a delivery flight. Export Ju-290 Bomber
Export Ju-290 Bomber
Three Ju-290A-8 export bomber aircraft were also completed with special bomb-bays in their bellies for export to Japan as "nuclear bombers." Japan lacked long range aircraft with which to bomb the US mainland. These Ju-290 A8 were also equipped with three ECT racks for aerial deployment of air to surface guided munitions like the Hs 293, Hs294, Fritz-X, or Fritz 1400. These aircraft had a Borsig HL 131V ball turret with quad MG 131 machine guns in the nose. The cockpit and nose turret were pressurised for high altitude operations. One prototype was extensively test flown early in 1945, but the intact airframe had vanished by the end of the War and its fate remains a mystery.
Three Ju-290 A-8 were intended to be flown to Japan via Tsitsihar [inner Mongolia] however the Japanese government were too fearful of provoking war with Russia to allow overflight of the Soviet Union. Officially delivery flights of these Ju-290 A8 aircraft being delivered to Japan was owing to the loss of airfields at Konstanza in Bulgaria by Soviet occupation in September 1944. The airframe of one Ju-290 airframe intended for Japan and the parts for a Ju-290 B prototype survived, being combined and completed as a Letov Le.290 airliner after WW2. The first A8 prototype however was never found. Whether it reached Japan or not remains for conjecture.
When the Ju-390 design was disclosed the Imperial Japanese Army attache Maj General Otani took an interest. On 28 February 1945 a contract was signed for designs and production rights in Japan of the Ju-390. The intention was to ship plans to Japan by U-Boat. The only U-boat bound for Japan after 28 February 1945 was U-234. This U-Boat suffered an underwater collision in the Kattegat between Denmark and Sweden, when another U-boat attempted to surface beneath her. She was forced to put into Christiansand for repairs.
U-234's radio operator Wolfgang Hirschfeld wrote after the war that urgent cargo was off loaded with the intention of flying it to Japan. Indications are that some of U-234's cargo for Japan included two disassembled Me 262 aircraft.
When U-234 was unloaded at Portsmouth New Hampshire in late May 1945 by the US Navy, there was a 70 ton discrepancy in cargo manifests with the cargo manifest at Kiel in March 1945.
It is said the third Ju-390 prototype was not broken up at all. Rather when production was abandoned in 1944 the completed third prototype was exported to Japan.
There is little evidence of a 390 flight to Tokyo, Speer later changed his story and claimed that the flight was to Manchuria.
Documents were found in Prague and several locations across Czechoslovakia relating to both the Ju-290 A8 export bomber and the Ju-390 which show trim test results for two entirely different Ju-390 aircraft, plus in addition, other reports describe live flight testing of heavy gun armaments and gun turrets on a Ju-390. As the aircraft marked GH+UK was unarmed this forces one to conclude, there was another Ju-390 flying.
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