Intelligence, reparations and the US Army Air Forces, 1944-1947

Petrina, S. (2019). “Scientific Ammunition to Fire at Congress:” Intelligence, reparations and the US Army Air Forces, 1944-1947. Journal of Military History, 83(3), 795-829.

I recently published a major article on the history of the Air Force: This article synthesizes histories of Operation LUSTY, the Scientific Advisory Group (SAG), and Project PAPERCLIP, and follows the SAG into Germany’s R&D installations, the concentration camp Dora at Mittelwerk, allied interrogation facilities, Japan and the atom bomb, and finally into Congress, 1945. The history of the SAG’s efforts from 1944 to 1947 reveals the intensity with which the AAF and its consultants in the aeronautical sciences pursued Nazi R&D. The fact that an exploitation of this R&D configured into the postwar policies of the AAF and USAF is accepted by historians. This article explains how this was done by describing the coordination of LUSTY, OVERCAST, PAPERCLIP, and the SAG in the AAF’s exploitation of intelligence and reparations for postwar policies and politics.

Although initially cautious about the implications of recruiting personnel for R&D in the US, engineers and scientists in the SAG were anxious to transfer Nazi technologies to the AAF. Whether or not the military “was sold— or sold itself— an expensive bill of goods” by Nazi scientists and technologists, as a reporter concluded at the time, remains a historical question.

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