Watson's Whizzers (known officially as Team One) was one of the two teams which participated in Operation LUSTY (LUftwaffe Secret TechnologY), the United States Army Air Forces effort to capture and evaluate German aeronautical technology during and after World War II, operating under the leadership of Colonel Harold E. Watson, a former Wright Field test pilot, who collected enemy aircraft and weapons for further examination in the United States. One of his teams specially searched for German jet aircraft, the other went out after propeller aircraft. The jet team numbered the aircraft first in the range 000 till 999 and afterwards continued with 101 till 505.

History[edit | edit source]

In 1944 intelligence experts at Wright Field had developed lists of advanced aviation equipment they wanted to examine. Watson and his crew, composed of pilots, engineers and maintenance men, used these "Black Lists" to collect aircraft. Watson organized his Whizzers into two sections. One collected jet aircraft and the other procured piston-engine aircraft and nonflyable jet and rocket equipment.

After the war, the Whizzers added Luftwaffe test pilots to the team. One was Hauptman Heinz Braur. On 8 May 1945, Braur flew 70 women, children and wounded troops to Munich-Riem airport. After he landed, Braur was approached by one of Watson's men who gave him the choice of either going to a prison camp or flying with the Whizzers. Braur thought flying preferable. Three Messerschmitt employees also joined the Whizzers: Karl Baur, the Chief Test Pilot of Experimental Aircraft, test pilot Ludwig Hoffman, and engineering superintendent Gerhard Coulis. Test pilot Herman Kersting joined later. When the Whizzers located nine Messerschmitt Me 262 jet aircraft at Lechfeld airfield near Augsburg, these German test pilots had the expertise to fly them.

It is also interesting to note that it has been alleged and partially substantiated by declassified documents that the Whizzers recruited captured Luftwaffe personnel and pilots held at Fort Bliss, Texas, to go into what would become the British, French and Soviet controlled areas after V-E Day, to fly out, hide, or otherwise remove all "black listed" planes, secret weapons equipment and supporting documents to the U.S controlled areas some 4 months before Germany's surrender.

Watson's men traveled across Europe to find the aircraft on the "Black Lists."[2] Once found, they had to be shipped to the United States. Fortunately, the British loaned them the originally American-built Bogue-class escort carrier HMS Reaper (D82), first commissioned for the US Navy as the USS Winjah. The most viable harbor for docking the carrier and loading the aircraft was at Cherbourg, France. The Whizzers flew the Me 262s and other aircraft including an Arado Ar 234 from Lechfeld to St. Dizier to Melun and then to Cherbourg, on Querqueville Airfield, also known as ALG A-23C Querqueville. All the aircraft were cocooned against the salt air and weather, loaded onto the carrier and brought to the United States where they were offloaded at Newark Army Air Field and then studied at their respective flight test centers by the air intelligence groups of both the USAAF—whose flight test center was then at Wilbur Wright Field—and the U.S. Navy, which had its facility at the Patuxent Naval Air Test Center.

One of the Messerschmitt Me 262 jets was named "Marge" by the mechanics; the pilots later renamed it "Lady Jess IV."[3]

Operation Lusty resulted in the survival of the sole existing examples of the Arado Ar 234 jet reconnaissance/bomber (WkNr. 140 312), the Dornier Do 335 twin-engined heavy fighter (WkNr. 240 102), and the only readily restorable example in the United States of the German Heinkel He 219 night fighter (WkNr. 290 202), all of which are in the collection of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, and currently restored and on display at the Dulles International Airport-located NASM museum facility, the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, the new home of the NASM's restoration workshops.

Number Model Type Werk Nr Origin Notes Fate
000 Me 262 Me 262A-1a/U4 170083 ‘V-083’, prototype armed with 50mm canon. named "Wilma Jeane" and then "Happy Hunter II". Crashed in Jersey and was not shipped to the USA.
111 Me 262 Me 262A-1a 501232 ‘Yellow 5’ 3/KG(J)6 To USAAF as Watson’s Whizzers ‘111’ and named “Beverly Ann”, later “Screamin Meemie”. Shipped to the US Navy, possibly serialed FE-20. To US Navy Armament Test Division, NAS Patuxent River, MD, in Dec 1945 and allocated BuAer.No.121442. On static display at the USAAF Museum, Wright-Patterson.
222 Me 262 Me 262A-1a/U3 unknown ‘White 30’, Luftwaffe To Watson’s Whizzers as ‘222’, named “Marge”, later “Lady Jess IV” with Donald Duck nose art. Shipped to the US Navy as BuAer.No.121443 and serialed FE-108 Written off at NAS Patuxent River, MD Nov 7, 1945 during its first test flight.
333 Me 262 Me 262A-1a 111367 Captured Luftwaffe aircraft To USAAF as Watson’s Whizzers ‘333’, named "Feudin 54th A.D.Sq", "Pauline" and then "Deeloverly". Shipped to the US Navy Assigned to Armament Test Division, NAS Patuxent River, MD, in Dec 1945 and allocated BuAer.No.121444. Transferred to Naval Proving Ground, Dahlgren Junction, VA, Oct 11 1946. Displayed at NAS Anacostia, then abandoned at the Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, DC. Scrapped
444 Me 262 Me 262A-1a/U3 500453 ‘White 25’, Luftwaffe To USAAF as Watson’s Whizzers ‘444’, named "Connie the Sharp Article" and then "Pick II". Shipped to the US on HMS Reaper and allocated FE-4012. shipped to Hughes Aircraft Corp. for a complete rebuild. It was rolled out at Culver City, California, in February 1948, and indications are it undertook limited flight testing. It ended up as surplus at Glendale Aeronautical School and was later purchased by Ed Maloney On static display at Planes of Fame Museum, Chino. Today it is part of Paul Allen’s Flying Heritage Collection
555 Me 262 Me 262B-1a 110639 ‘White 35’, Luftwaffe Named "Vera" and then "Willie". Loaded aboard the HMS Reaper with other captured aircraft, and transported to Newark, New Jersey. Handed over to the US Navy for flight testing and allocated BuAer.No.121448. Transferred to Willow Grove in 1946 For years on static display at NAS Willow Grove. After restoration to National Naval Aviation Museum
666 Me 262 Me 262A-1a/U3 500098 ‘White 27’, 1./NAG 6 Named "Joanne" and then "Cookie VII". Shipped to the US and allocated FE-4011 and named "Der Schwalbe". Crashed Pittsburg and written off August 1945.
777 Me 262 Me 262A-2a 110836 ‘9K+LK’, ‘Black L’ of I./KG 51 Surrendered to US forces at Munich-Riem on May 8th, 1945. Transferred to Lechfeld and taken over by 54th ADS. Named "Doris", afterwards "Jabo Bait", ferried to the USA and registrated as FE-110. Arrived at Freeman Field 28th September, later allocated code T2-110. After evaluation scrapped at Boling Field, Washington.
888 Me 262 Me 262A-1a/R7 500491 ‘Yellow 7’, 11./JG 7 Surrendered to Allied forces at Lechfeld on May 8th, 1945 with seven kill markings on it. Named "Dennis", later "Julie" and then "Ginny H", shipped to the USA on HMS Reaper, as Watson's Whizzers No. 888. It was designated FE-111, later becoming T2-111. This aircraft is now on display in the National Air & Space Museum (NASM), Washington, DC
999 Me 262 Me 262B-1a/U1 110306 ‘Red 6’. IV./JG11 Surrendered to RAF and allocated USA 3. Named "Ole Fruit Cake", later "Der Schwalbe" and after being shipped to the US allocated FE-610. Scrapped circa 1950.
101 Me 262 Me 262B-1a 110165 possibly 10/NJG.11 Luftwaffe. Surrendered to RAF at Schleswig-Jagel, Germany, in May 1945 and marked USA 2 and “What was it?” for supply to USAAF. To Watson’s Whizzers as ‘101’and serialed FE-109. Upon arrival in the USA to US Navy Armament Test Division, NAS Patuxent River, MD, in Dec 1945 and allocated BuAer.No.121441. Scrapped at NAS Anacostia, DC, Nov 1946.
202 Ar 234 Ar 234B-1 140489 ‘8H+EH’ of unknown unit Surrendered to RAF and marked USA 5. Allocated 202 named "Jane I" and shipped to US Navy, allocated BuAer.No.121445. To Flight Test Division at NAS Patuxent River, MD but not flown due to lack of spares. Struck Off Charge January 31st, 1946 and scrapped.
303 Ar 234 Ar 234B-2 140343 Named "Snafu I" and shipped to the US Navy, allocated BuAer.No.121446. To Flight Test Division at NAS Patuxent River, MD but not flown due to lack of spares. Struck Off Charge January 31st, 1946 and scrapped.
404 Ar 234 Ar 234B-2 140311 Unknown code of II./KG76 Surrendered to the RAF at Stavanger in Norway and marked USA 40. To Watson's Whizzers as 404. Shipped to the USA aboard HMS Reaper. 1945 at Newark to be sent to Freeman Field and allocated FE-1011. Probably scrapped in 1946 for lack of spares.
505 Ar 234 Ar 234B-2 140312 ‘F1+DR’ of II./KG76 Surrendered to the RAF at Stavanger in Norway and marked USA 50. To Watson's Whizzers as 505. Shipped to the USA aboard HMS Reaper. 1945 at Newark to be sent to Freeman Field and allocated FE-1010, later T2-1010. On display in the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, Virginia.

See also[edit | edit source]

  • The Fedden Mission of the United Kingdom, tasked with similar fact-finding concerning the aircraft and technology of the defeated Luftwaffe
  • Operation Big
  • Freeman Army Airfield, the destination for many of the Operation Lusty-recovered captured Luftwaffe aircraft
  • Operation Paperclip, the search for German scientists
  • The Luftfahrtforschungsanstalt in Völkenrode, a top secret German aviation test facility
  • Manhattan Project
  • Eric "Winkle" Brown, the Royal Navy aviation officer who helped Watson retain a number of aircraft
  • Siegfried Knemeyer, a World War II German aviation technology expert who worked for the USAF after the war
  • No. 1426 Flight RAF

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Air Facts Journal entry
  2. Samuel, Wolfgang W. E. Watson's Whizzers: Operation Lusty and the Race for Nazi Aviation Technology. Atglen, Pa: Schiffer Publishing Ltd, 2010.
  3. Scott, Phil.1997. "Watson's Whizzers." Air & Space Magazine (Smithsonian). October/November 1997. Page 69.

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

  • Daso, Dik Alan. 2002. "Focus: The Shaft of the Spear - Operation LUSTY: The US Army Air Forces' Exploitation of the Luftwaffe's Secret Aeronautical Technology, 1944-45". Airpower Journal. 16, no. 1: 28.
  • Daso, D. A. 2002. "Operation LUSTY: The US Army Air Forces' Exploitation of the Luftwaffe's Secret Aeronautical Technology, 1944-45". AEROSPACE POWER JOURNAL. 16: 28-40.
  • Heaton, Colin D. The ME 262 Stormbird: From the Pilots Who Flew, Fought, and Survived It. Minneapolis: MBI Pub. Co, 2012.
  • Hunt, M. La rafle des savants allemands ou l'opération "Lusty". Imprimeries Réunies S.A., 1953. <http://retro.seals.ch/digbib/view?rid=rms-001:1953:98::801>.
  • Samuel, Wolfgang W. E. American Raiders The Race to Capture the Luftwaffe's Secrets. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2004. <http://public.eblib.com/EBLPublic/PublicView.do?ptiID=515645>.
  • Young, R. L. 2005. "Operation Lusty Harold Watson's "Whizzers" Went Hunting for German Jets-and Came Back with Several Jewels". AIR FORCE MAGAZINE. 88: 62-67.

External links[edit | edit source]

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