Sunday, October 23, 2005

Canada and Flying Saucers, Part III [Enter... the Nazis?]

Rumours have existed for decades that the Germans, towards the end of the Second World War, were working on creating a flying saucer. Indeed, some fringe conspiracy theorists today maintain that the Germans actually made at least one, and got it to work (the follow-along contention often being that these projects were taken over by the Americans and / or Soviets after the war).

While there is no doubt that the Germans were working on advanced aircraft and missile design throughout the war, there has never been any credible evidence that the claims of "Nazi flying saucers" was anything other than a myth, in the purest sense of the term (i.e. not true). Anyone who tells you otherwise simply has no idea what they are talking about.

However, while we might know this now, things were much different back in the early 1950s. It was an era of heightened Cold War tension between the superpowers, but it was also an era of intense competition between the western allies, particularly the Anglo-American-Canadian triumvirate, for technological advances. Finally, the myriad reports of UFOs being seen around the world had gotten the attention of everyone - especially the Air Force, both in the United States, and in Canada.

So, when a German came forward and claimed that he had knowledge of a secret Nazi flying saucer program, the authorities, at least in Canada, took him seriously.

In the late spring of 1952, a German immigrant to Canada approached a former RCAF officer of his acquaintance, and told him that he had knowledge of German flying saucer design and production. The former officer reported this to the RCAF, which arranged an interview with the German. On 21 June, 1952, according to the formerly Secret interrogation report, the German (referred to in the report as the "Source") was interrogated at RCAF HQ in Ottawa by Squadron Leader G. A. White, Flight Lieutenant H. Brooks, and a Mr. S. Shramshenko. Group Captain N. W. Timmerman and Flying Officer H. P. Korntoff sat in as observers.

Three things immediately stand out from this initial interrogation.

First, the level of the officers involved. All were commissioned officers, and two - White and Timmerman - were senior officers (a Squadron Leader was the equivalent of a Major, and a Group Captain the equivalent of a Colonel; a Flight Lieutenant was the equivalent of a Captain, and a Flying Officer a 1st Lieutenant). They were members of the Department of Air Intelligence. This indicates that the RCAF took the claim, at least in the beginning, seriously.

Second, the thoroughness of the interrogation. The source provided his alleged full history, the supposed history of the programs he had allegedly work on, and some of what he claimed were his own design plans, which he stated were superior to the original German plans. The fact that the officers didn't seem to think much of his story shows that they knew their stuff. For example, they immediately recognized that the plan the source showed them was actually a conventional jet with a circular wing.

Third, the lack of civilian involvement (other than Shramshenko, who was probably an interpreter, although this is a point that needs to be confirmed). This was a matter that related directly to flying saucers, and therefore national security. It occurred after the creation of Project Second Story (of which Timmerman was a member) earlier that year, and yet it was run entirely by the Air Force.

The interrogators sent the source on his way, and that most likely would have been the end of it, except two days later the source contacted DAI and told them that he had not divulged all that he knew about the flying saucer program, and that he had a number of drawings that pertained to the construction of the German flying saucer. The DAI determined that it could not afford to ignore this information, and arranged for a second interrogation later that day. Once again, it took place at Air Force HQ in Ottawa. It was conducted by Timmerman, White, and Brooks, with an unnamed civilian observer present.

This time, the officers could not immediately dismiss the new information provided by the source - it appeared to them to be outside their area of knowledge. Accordingly, they arranged for a third interview, which would involve members of the National Research Council who did have the knowledge to assess the new claims.

This third - and final - interview took place later that day, at the National Research Council offices in Ottawa. Squadron Leader White represented DAI as an observer, but the questions this time were asked by four experts - F. R. Thurston, Chief of the Structure Laboratory at the NRC (in 1976, he would be awarded the prestigious McCurdy Award by the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute; see; T. Stephens, Chief of the Aerodynamics Laboratory at the NRC; A. H. Hall, the Assistant Chief of the Structures Laboratory; and R. A. Tyler, a research officer in gas dynamics at the NRC. According to the report, they "thoroughly questioned" the source on "all aspects of the design and technical detail of the alleged flying saucer. At this point, under hard questioning by scientific experts, it became clear that the source did not know what he was talking about. As the report states:

"Source was, however, unable to answer with any accuracy, questions pertaining to types of metals used, fuel used, how various parts of the aircraft operated and / or their size, etc. He was unable to answer many of the questions at all."

The NRC officials concluded that the source was a "thorough liar," that he was "trying to bluff his way through the interrogation," that he was "technically unqualified to have such knowledge of aircraft structure or design," and that there was "nothing new, technically or in design, in the plans produced or information heard from the source." As a result, the source was sent on his way, and the matter closed - although neither the NRC officials nor the DAI officers ruled out the possibility that such machines had existed, or the possibility that they could be built (which, given some of the work the Defence Research Board was involved in at that time, comes as no surprise).

What this episode demonstrates, yet again, is that the real investigation of the UFO phenomenon in Canada was being run by the Royal Canadian Air Force. When a potentially important source of UFO information surfaced, it was DAI officers that conducted the investigation, and then NRC scientists who were consulted about the technical aspects.

It was not being run by the far too credulous Wilbert Smith, the Senior Radio Regulations Engineer in the Air Services Section of the Department of Transport, who at this time was working on an interim report for his pet Project Magnet that somehow managed to conclude - without any evidence - that "saucers are real," and that they operated in a very precise manner.

After all, the Defence Research Board and the RCAF took the subject of UFOs seriously.

Paul Kimball


RRRGroup said...
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Don Maor said...

Excellent post Paul, many thanks