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Forces War Records Blog

THE NAZI PLAN TO FRY CITIES FROM SPACE WITH GIANT SUN GUN

Blogger: GemSen.
 
It sounds extreme – burning enemies with a mile-wide space gun powered by the sun - like something out of a movie. But, extremity was indeed the Nazi's 'thing' and according to a recent article in the Daily Mail and based on an original article from ‘Life Magazine’ from 1945, this was apparently something they considered creating. It is believed that documents and plots for the device were found after Allies sifted through captured war plans, after the Second World War. Plans for the device revealed that it would work in the same way that a magnifying glass can concentrate the sun and even make fire, the planned giant mirror could supposedly be used to focus the sun on a specific target. Readers of the original article from Life Magazine, 1945, were told that the orbital mirror had the potential to focus the sun’s rays to a scortching point on Earth and that the German army had hoped to use the device to boil part of an ocean or burn enemy cities. The giant sun gun would apparently take 15 years to make with an estimated cost of three million marks at the time. The original idea is believed to come from the rocket scientist, Hermann Oberth in 1923 with an initial plan of being able to create sunshine on demand anywhere on the globe. The scientist later described it as the ‘ultimate weapon.’ The discovered Nazi war plans found by the victorious Allies in 1945 apparently revealed how the the Nazis had updated Oberth’s proposals and were looking into how the Third Reich could create a mirror weapon, 22,236 miles above earth. It was believed by ‘Life Magazine’ at the time that the sun gun would be put into orbit in pre-assembled sections. It would apparently also contain a manned space station, with 30ft holes in which supply rockets could dock, hydroponic gardens to provide oxygen and solar-powered generators for electric power. Once in orbit, the ‘master rocket’ for the project would unreel six cables. Spinning the rocket on its axis would extend the cables radially, allowing construction to begin. The Germans are not the only nation to look into harnessing the power of the sun though, and in 1999, the Russians unveiled a plan to use a mirror to reflect sunlight to Earth during winter. The scientist behind the original plan The Austro-Hungarian-born German physicist and engineer, Hermann Oberth is considered one of the founding fathers of rocketry and astronautics. At the age of 14 while he was a school student, he had constructed his first model rocket. In 1928 and 1929 Oberth worked in Berlin as scientific consultant on the first film ever to have scenes set in space, Frau im Mond (The Woman in the Moon). In autumn 1929, Oberth launched his first liquid fuel rocket, named Kegeldüse, helped by his students at the Technical University of Berlin, one of whom was Wernher von Braun, who would later head the wartime project to develop the rocket officially called the A4, better known as the V-2 - which incorporated many of his inventions and ideas. In 1938, the Oberth family left their home in Sibiu, Romania, to first settle in Austria, then in Nazi Germany and in 1941 where Oberth worked on Nazi German rocketry projects, and in 1943, he was awarded the Kriegsverdienstkreuz I Klasse mit Schwertern (War Merit Cross 1st Class, with Swords) for his "outstanding, courageous behavior ... during the attack" on Peenemünde by Operation Hydra, part of Operation Crossbow. Oberth later moved to Italy and then America and eventually came to work for his former student, Wernher von Braun, who was developing space rockets for Nasa, and  retired in 1962 at the age of 68. Hermann Oberth is memorialised by the Hermann Oberth Space Travel Museum in Feucht, Germany, and by the Hermann Oberth Society. The museum brings together scientists, researchers, engineers, and astronauts from the East and the West to carry on his work in rocketry and space exploration. The Oberth effect, in which a rocket engine when traveling at high speed generates more useful energy than one traveling at low speed, is named after him and there is also a crater on the Moon and asteroid 9253 Oberth named after him. Source: Daily Mail and Wikipedia What do you think about this story? Do you think Hitler, given more time would have eventually launched something like this? Comment below and leave your thoughts... To see some original documents and newspapers demonstrating how Hitler's Third Reich and the Second World War affected Britain, then visit the Forces War Records historic documents library.
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