Odd WW2 factoids.


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    During WWII, Germany printed massive quantities of counterfeit British £5, £10, £20, and £50 banknotes as part of a secret plan (Operation Bernhard) to create economic chaos in Britain by flooding it with fake currency so perfectly forged that it was almost indistinguishable from the real thing.


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    The Canadian WWII corvette HMCS Wetaskiwin (named after a town in Alberta whose own name comes from a Cree word meaning “the hills where peace was made”) had an unofficial badge painted on the gunshield of her 4-inch gun, in the same way that bomber crews were fond of painting nose art on their planes.  Wetaskiwin’s badge was a large queen-of-hearts playing card showing a cartoon picture of a crowned lady falling on her posterior into a puddle of water – a joking reference to the ship’s nickname “Wet-A$$ Queen”.


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    Radio frequency-hopping, the basis of modern spread-spectrum communications technology (exemplified by Bluetooth), was co-invented during WWII by the famous Austro-American actress Hedy Lamarr, who some years earlier had scandalized movie audiences by appearing in one of the first mainstream films to depict complete female nudity.  She and her co-inventor, composer George Antheil, pitched their 1942 patent to the U.S. Navy as a secret communication method, but the U.S. military didn’t start using the technology until the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, after the patent had expired.



  • I believe you can read this in the Longest Day, and that’s where I remember it.

    Koreans served the Germans and were captured in Normandy when the Allies landed.  In total, they served 3 countries:

    Conscripted by Japan
    Captured by the Russians and pressed into service.
    Captured by the Germans from the Russians and forced to defend the Atlantic Seawall.

    http://thomo.coldie.net/wargaming/korean-soldiers-in-ww2-german-army



  • I think Stephen Ambrose referenced it as well. Although a great author, Ambrose has been known to plagiarize other author’s work from time to time and was factually incorrect on other stuff. So whether he researched this tidbit himself or just saw it in the Longest Day and stuck it in one of his books can be debated.



  • @seththenewb:

    I think Stephen Ambrose referenced it as well. Although a great author, Ambrose has been known to plagiarize other author’s work from time to time and was factually incorrect on other stuff. So whether he researched this tidbit himself or just saw it in the Longest Day and stuck it in one of his books can be debated.

    True enough, I just thought that was the book I first read it in.  Maybe in whatever Ambrose’s was as well, I read both books.

    Either way, I don’t think he needs to “research” every fact, no matter how odd or obscure.


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    @Jermofoot:

    I believe you can read this in the Longest Day, and that’s where I remember it.

    Koreans served the Germans and were captured in Normandy when the Allies landed.  In total, they served 3 countries:

    Conscripted by Japan
    Captured by the Russians and pressed into service.
    Captured by the Germans from the Russians and forced to defend the Atlantic Seawall.

    http://thomo.coldie.net/wargaming/korean-soldiers-in-ww2-german-army

    That is about 9.080 Kilometer away from Home!!..And that is only estimated from Caen to Seoul…Rough!!!



  • @Jermofoot:

    @seththenewb:

    I think Stephen Ambrose referenced it as well. Although a great author, Ambrose has been known to plagiarize other author’s work from time to time and was factually incorrect on other stuff. So whether he researched this tidbit himself or just saw it in the Longest Day and stuck it in one of his books can be debated.

    True enough, I just thought that was the book I first read it in.  Maybe in whatever Ambrose’s was as well, I read both books.

    Either way, I don’t think he needs to “research” every fact, no matter how odd or obscure.

    Oh don’t get me wrong, I have plenty of Ambrose’s books. I think he’s a pretty good author and I still read his books as I usually find them pretty engaging and he has a knack for making the stories come out of the page. I just figured I’d caveat it as it caught me off guard when I realized some of the issues others have brought up.

    And Longest Day came out quiet a bit earlier than Ambrose’s books.  😄



  • The original objective of Fall Gelb was to take the belgian coastline and northern france, so germany could fight a more effective air and sea campaign against britain.

    Hitler was scared that france would preemptively occupy belgium, so he wanted to take it first.



  • I give you the most inept ship of WWII, USS William D. Porter (DD-579) or Willie Dee.

    During her ill-fated career she:

    • Dragged her anchor across a friendly ship as she attempted to leave port
    • Accidently dropped a live depth charge drop into the ocean that could’ve sunk her and coincidently placed FDR at some small risk
    • Fired a live torpedo at the USS Iowa while FDR was on his way to the Tehran Conference
    • Subsequently became the first USN ship to have it’s ENTIRE crew arrested
    • Was exiled to the Aleutians for a year
    • Fired on the base commander’s garden while exiled
    • Riddled USS Luce with gunfire during the battle for Okinawa
    • Was often greeted with the phrase ‘Don’t Shoot We’re Republicans’
    • Was sunk by a kamikaze plane that was shot down, entered the water, and went under the destroyer before blowing up.

    http://www.cracked.com/article_19637_the-5-craziest-war-stories-all-happened-same-ship.html



  • @seththenewb:

    @Jermofoot:

    @seththenewb:

    I think Stephen Ambrose referenced it as well. Although a great author, Ambrose has been known to plagiarize other author’s work from time to time and was factually incorrect on other stuff. So whether he researched this tidbit himself or just saw it in the Longest Day and stuck it in one of his books can be debated.

    True enough, I just thought that was the book I first read it in.  Maybe in whatever Ambrose’s was as well, I read both books.

    Either way, I don’t think he needs to “research” every fact, no matter how odd or obscure.

    Oh don’t get me wrong, I have plenty of Ambrose’s books. I think he’s a pretty good author and I still read his books as I usually find them pretty engaging and he has a knack for making the stories come out of the page. I just figured I’d caveat it as it caught me off guard when I realized some of the issues others have brought up.

    And Longest Day came out quiet a bit earlier than Ambrose’s books.  😄

    I prefer Cornelius Ryan to Ambrose, but enjoy both just the same.  I’ve come across the criticism of Ambrose, but not sure the veracity of the claims.

    And as entertaining as the Longest Day was, I think I enjoyed The Last Battle the most followed closely behind with A Bridge Too Far (which I enjoy that movie more than the Longest Day as well).

    @seththenewb:

    I give you the most inept ship of WWII, USS William D. Porter (DD-579) or Willie Dee.

    During her ill-fated career she:

    • Dragged her anchor across a friendly ship as she attempted to leave port
    • Accidently dropped a live depth charge drop into the ocean that could’ve sunk her and coincidently placed FDR at some small risk
    • Fired a live torpedo at the USS Iowa while FDR was on his way to the Tehran Conference
    • Subsequently became the first USN ship to have it’s ENTIRE crew arrested
    • Was exiled to the Aleutians for a year
    • Fired on the base commander’s garden while exiled
    • Riddled USS Luce with gunfire during the battle for Okinawa
    • Was often greeted with the phrase ‘Don’t Shoot We’re Republicans’
    • Was sunk by a kamikaze plane that was shot down, entered the water, and went under the destroyer before blowing up.

    http://www.cracked.com/article_19637_the-5-craziest-war-stories-all-happened-same-ship.html

    It’s like the Animal House version of a WW2 navy ship.


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    Germany’s WWII V-2 rockets were the first human-built objects to cross the Kármán line, the altitude commonly used to define the boundary between the Earth’s atmosphere and outer space.  The Kármán line, which lies at an altitude of 100 kilometres (62 miles) above the Earth’s sea level, is the point at which the atmosphere becomes so thin that a winged aircraft would have to travel at orbital velocity to obtain enough aerodynamic lift to stay airborne, thus marking the point at which aeronautical flight ends for practical purposes and spaceflight begins.


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    Here’s a odd WWII-related story I’ve just come across on Wikipedia:

    Clark Eldridge (1896–1990) was one of the engineers who designed the first Tacoma Narrows Bridge. […] Federal officials decided that Eldridge’s design was too expensive, so they required the Washington State Toll Bridge Authority to hire noted suspension bridge engineer Leon Moisseiff of New York as a consultant. Moisseiff proposed shallower supports; his approach meant a slimmer, more elegant design, and also reduced the construction costs.  Moisseiff’s design won out. When the Tacoma Narrows Bridge (known as Galloping Gertie) collapsed in 1940, Eldridge accepted some of the blame. In late 1941 Eldridge worked for the U.S. Navy on Guam when World War II began. He was captured by the Japanese and spent the remainder of the war, three years and nine months, as a POW in a prisoner of war camp in Japan. There he was recognized by a Japanese officer who had studied in America; he came up to Eldrige and said bluntly, ‘Tacoma Bridge!’"



  • Germany had been developing the Landkreuzer P.1500 Monster tank. As the name indicates, this tank weighed 1500 tons. That’s 50 times the weight of a Sherman! The P.1500 Monster fired 800mm shells; with each shell weighing about 25% as much as a Sherman. It would have also featured two 150mm secondary guns. These secondary guns were larger than the primary guns of almost any other WWII era tank.

    The P.1500 was intended to be powered with four diesel engines–the same kind of diesels used to power U-boats. Because this tank would have been too heavy to cross bridges, it would have driven along the riverbed bottom; while using a snorkel to provide air to its engine. The Monster would have had a crew of over 100.

    Albert Speer cancelled this tank in 1943. He also canceled the slightly smaller P1000 Ratt.


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    @KurtGodel7:

    Germany had been developing the Landkreuzer P.1500 Monster tank. As the name indicates, this tank weighed 1500 tons. That’s 50 times the weight of a Sherman! The P.1500 Monster fired 800mm shells; with each shell weighing about 25% as much as a Sherman. It would have also featured two 150mm secondary guns. These secondary guns were larger than the primary guns of almost any other WWII era tank.

    The P.1500 was intended to be powered with four diesel engines–the same kind of diesels used to power U-boats. Because this tank would have been too heavy to cross bridges, it would have driven along the riverbed bottom; while using a snorkel to provide air to its engine. The Monster would have had a crew of over 100.

    The P.1500 concept essentially involved arming a tank with an 800mm gun similar to the Schwerer Gustav and Dora 800mm railway guns, which I believe were the largest-caliber artillery pieces ever used in combat.  Hitler also once proposed building battleships armed with 800mm guns.  He allowed himself to be dissuaded from that project when his admirals pointed out that a ship large enough to carry such monstrous guns would be too big to fit in any existing German harbour.

    It should also be noted that an 800mm gun would be completely useless for salvo firing at sea by a moving ship against a moving target.  In order to hit an enemy ship, a gun-armed vessel has to be able to shoot, observe where the shells land relative to the target, quickly correct its aim, and shoot again before the movement of the two ships invalidates the computed firing solution.  The 16-inch guns of the Iowa class battleships could, with a well-drilled turret crew, be fired every 30 seconds, and the 18.1-inch guns of the Yamato class battleships could be fired every 45 seconds, which is adequate for naval combat.  The Gustav/Dora 800mm (31-inch) guns – which had a rate of fire of 1 round every 30 to 45 minutes – were sixty times slower, and thus at best would only have had practical use (if 14 rounds per day can be called “practical”) as shore-bombardment vessels.



  • @CWO:

    @KurtGodel7:

    Germany had been developing the Landkreuzer P.1500 Monster tank. As the name indicates, this tank weighed 1500 tons. That’s 50 times the weight of a Sherman! The P.1500 Monster fired 800mm shells; with each shell weighing about 25% as much as a Sherman. It would have also featured two 150mm secondary guns. These secondary guns were larger than the primary guns of almost any other WWII era tank.

    The P.1500 was intended to be powered with four diesel engines–the same kind of diesels used to power U-boats. Because this tank would have been too heavy to cross bridges, it would have driven along the riverbed bottom; while using a snorkel to provide air to its engine. The Monster would have had a crew of over 100.

    The P.1500 concept essentially involved arming a tank with an 800mm gun similar to the Schwerer Gustav and Dora 800mm railway guns, which I believe were the largest-caliber artillery pieces ever used in combat.  Hitler also once proposed building battleships armed with 800mm guns.  He allowed himself to be dissuaded from that project when his admirals pointed out that a ship large enough to carry such monstrous guns would be too big to fit in any existing German harbour.

    It should also be noted that an 800mm gun would be completely useless for salvo firing at sea by a moving ship against a moving target.  In order to hit an enemy ship, a gun-armed vessel has to be able to shoot, observe where the shells land relative to the target, quickly correct its aim, and shoot again before the movement of the two ships invalidates the computed firing solution.  The 16-inch guns of the Iowa class battleships could, with a well-drilled turret crew, be fired every 30 seconds, and the 18.1-inch guns of the Yamato class battleships could be fired every 45 seconds, which is adequate for naval combat.  The Gustav/Dora 800mm (31-inch) guns – which had a rate of fire of 1 round every 30 to 45 minutes – were sixty times slower, and thus at best would only have had practical use (if 14 rounds per day can be called “practical”) as shore-bombardment vessels.

    Had it been built, the P.1500 Monster would probably have been used in relatively static combat situations, such as the siege of Leningrad. Of the two, the P.1000 Ratte would have been the more flexible. Its projected top speed was a somewhat respectable 40 km/hr (25 mph)–over twice the speed of the Monster. The P.1000’s main armament consisted of two 280 mm guns (11 inches). This armament would have been a modified version of the turrets used on German ships.

    It also featured a 128 mm secondary gun; and eight 20mm anti-air guns. It was to be powered with two u-boat engines. “The tank was to be provided with a vehicle bay sufficient to hold two BMW R12 motorcycles for scouting, as well as several smaller storage rooms, a compact infirmary area, and a self-contained lavatory system.”



  • When I was very young (8-10 years old or so) I ‘designed’ tanks that I would eventually present to the US Army. These tanks would be so awesome that I’d be a national hero and I’d have a national holiday in my honor.  :roll:

    Looking at the articles linked, I’m seeing a lot of striking similarities between my vague sketches created at a young age and the plans actually seriously thought out by grown adults with extensive military experience and backgrounds. I abandoned my design aspirations of these super tanks as impractical for various reasons well before I hit my teens. Kind of crazy how many pipe dreams Hitler approved and/or actively encouraged/ordered.

    I also have some pretty sweet ideas about a super battleship & carrier hybrid that’d be maybe 2-3 times the size of a present day oil supertanker if anyone’s interested.  😛



  • Another factoid: the V2 was also known as the A4. The A stands for Aggregate Series. Toward the end of the war, Werner von Braun drew up plans for the A12: a rocket which could boost a 10 ton cargo into Low Earth Orbit.

    At the end of the war, von Braun and his team of rocket scientists surrendered to the Americans. At first they were regarded with suspicion due to their connection to Nazi Germany. Responsibility for the American space program was placed in other hands.

    Then the Soviet Union put Sputnik into orbit. At that point, the American government decided it could no longer afford the luxury of shuffling off the greatest rocket scientist who ever lived. Von Braun and his team of German rocket scientists were put to work designing the Saturn series of rockets. The Saturn V rocket which put men on the Moon had its origins in the Aggregate Series rockets developed in Germany during WWII.


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    @axisandalliesplayer:

    When I was very young (8-10 years old or so) I ‘designed’ tanks that I would eventually present to the US Army. These tanks would be so awesome that I’d be a national hero and I’d have a national holiday in my honor.  :roll:

    Looking at the articles linked, I’m seeing a lot of striking similarities between my vague sketches created at a young age and the plans actually seriously thought out by grown adults with extensive military experience and backgrounds. I abandoned my design aspirations of these super tanks as impractical for various reasons well before I hit my teens. Kind of crazy how many pipe dreams Hitler approved and/or actively encouraged/ordered.

    I also have some pretty sweet ideas about a super battleship & carrier hybrid that’d be maybe 2-3 times the size of a present day oil supertanker if anyone’s interested.  😛

    You’ll probably enjoy reading about the fictitious vessels described on this page:

    http://www.combinedfleet.com/furashita/furamain.htm

    Click the individual links for details, for example:

    http://www.combinedfleet.com/furashita/fuhrer_f.htm

    For a guy who (by his own admission) was out of his element at sea, Hitler was surprisingly fond of sketching battleships on the backs of envelopes.  Perhaps this was an extension of his interest in architecture.


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    From 1944 to 1945, the United States and New Zealand collaborated on a secret research program called Project Seal whose purpose was to develop a “tsunami bomb” intended to cause massive damage to Japan’s coastal regions.  Nearly 4,000 small-scale underwater test explosions were conducted, but the project was abandoned when these tests showed that about four-and-a-half million pounds of explosives would have to be detonated to produce a wave of adequate destructive power.



  • @CWO:

    From 1944 to 1945, the United States and New Zealand collaborated on a secret research program called Project Seal whose purpose was to develop a “tsunami bomb” intended to cause massive damage to Japan’s coastal regions.  Nearly 4,000 small-scale underwater test explosions were conducted, but the project was abandoned when these tests showed that about four-and-a-half million pounds of explosives would have to be detonated to produce a wave of adequate destructive power.

    That’s an interesting datum.

    It reminds me of something I’d learned a bit ago. Hundreds of years ago, the Mongol Horde swept across Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. It conquered Russia, China, Eastern Europe, Persia, and other land areas. It was seen as unstoppable.

    Then the Mongols boarded their boats to conquer Japan. There was no reason to believe the Japanese would have been any better at defeating the Mongols on land than anyone else had been. Their hope was to defeat them at sea.

    A storm smashed the Mongol fleet. The Japanese fleet finished the work nature began; and prevented the Mongols from landing. The Japanese referred to this storm as a “divine wind.” The Japanese word for divine is “kami;” and the Japanese word for wind is “kaze.” The “divine wind”–the wind which saved Japan from foreign invasion–was known as kamikaze.


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    I have no idea if this is a joke or not, but according to this web page (which claims to be quoting a book called “Psychological Operations American Style”), during WWII the U.S. considered and even tested (in Central Park, of all places) the idea of painting large numbers of foxes with luminescent paint and unleashing them against the civilian population of Japan, in a bid to create mass superstitious terror among them.

    http://theglyptodon.wordpress.com/2011/06/24/glow-in-the-dark-foxes-and-wwii-project-fantasia/



  • @CWO:

    I have no idea if this is a joke or not, but according to this web page (which claims to be quoting a book called “Psychological Operations American Style”), during WWII the U.S. considered and even tested (in Central Park, of all places) the idea of painting large numbers of foxes with luminescent paint and unleashing them against the civilian population of Japan, in a bid to create mass superstitious terror among them.

    http://theglyptodon.wordpress.com/2011/06/24/glow-in-the-dark-foxes-and-wwii-project-fantasia/

    Good article. And funny. 🙂

    Project Pigeon was another American attempt to use animals for war.

    The idea was to create a large, gliding bomb. One - three lenses would be mounted on the outside of this bomb. They would be used to project an image onto a screen placed inside the gliding bomb. Pigeons–specially trained to recognize the bomb’s intended target–would peck at the screen. The screen was attached to a steering mechanism. Pecks at the center of the screen would cause the bomb to continue its current course. Off-center pecks would steer the bomb in a different direction. The project was canceled in late '44; perhaps because humans didn’t trust birds to steer large, expensive weapons.

    America’s bat bomb project solved that trust problem. Instead of allowing birds or bats to steer one big bomb–as in Project Pigeon–each individual bat was attached to a small quantity of explosive. The plan was to release large numbers of bats at night over Japanese cities. The bats would fly around for a while. Then at dawn they would hide in man-made structures. The bats’ bombs were timed to go off shortly after dawn. Japanese buildings tended to be made of wood, bamboo, or other flammable materials. A homeowner would not initially realize his home had been penetrated by a bomb-laden bat; or that the bat’s bomb had started a small fire. Only after the fire had really taken hold would the homeowner become aware of the problem.

    It was a promising project–at least if the goal was to burn Japan to the ground. But it was eventually abandoned, after the atomic bomb had made it redundant.


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