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January - As World War-II approaches its third year, little has changed. America plans an invasion of Rabaul in East New Britain, a key Japanese holding and next on the "island hopping" route before a re-taking of eastern New Guinea. That invasion is planned for the 2nd, but gets delayed due to supply troubles until the 27th. However two things intrude on the plans.
Hitler's demand for a "New York raid" are about to be made. Forty-seven specially-designed Junkers Ju-390 strategic bombers were launched from Reykjavik, Iceland, with enough fuel for a flight to New York and return. They will have no escorts past Greenland, but Goring has no trouble getting volunteers for the flight from the Luftwaffe. At 05:22 GMT, they take off. One develops engine trouble and lands at the German base in Ammassalik, Greenland. The other forty-six reach the American coastline.
American radar picks up the flight 10 miles east of Montauk, at 20,000 feet. Interceptor Command in Glen Cove, Long Island is alerted and P-80s are launched from Mitchel Field and Quentin Roosevelt Field. They reach the German bombers south of Amityville and a ferocious bomber vs fighter battle ensues. Twenty of the Ju-390s are shot down. But the other twenty-six make it to Brooklyn and eventually Manhattan. Anti-aircraft batteries open up, with the new 120mm AAA gun and its SCR-584 microwave radar, and down another eight bombers. This leaves eighteen and all eighteen are able to unload their payload on the Brooklyn Naval Yards, lower Manhattan (below Central Park), and parts of Queens. Unfortunately, they are no HE bombs nor incendiary devices. They are loaded with Sarin nerve gas.
Germany had long feared using its chemical warfare stock, primarily due to concern that America had equally large stocks and might launch them against their Japanese allies, but also in fear of a possible American rocket attack like the German V-2. Neither concerned them any longer as Hitler and the German people demanded revenge for LeMay's Raid. Neither was actually a concern regardless, since America had almost no stocks of poison gas, none of nerve gas, and no long range missiles.
The bombs fell and exploded 100 meters above the ground for maximum effect. In Brooklyn, nearly 2500 died, both naval personnel and civilian workers. They had taken shelter in bomb shelters, but given no filtration air system, it merely heightened the effect. Manhattan bore the brunt of it. Sarin bombs detonated from Battery Park to Times Square. New Yorkers too had taken shelter, primarily (as planned) in the subways. Again, this simply heightened the effect as the Sarin sank into the tunnels and became trapped, with air re-circulating it and pushing it into areas of the subway where it hadn't been directly exposed. 530,000 people died in a matter of minutes. 200, 000 more suffered non-lethal doses, but later were diagnosed with permanent neurological damage.
The German bombers then turned back southeast, trying to put distance between themselves and the ground-based interceptors. Six more were shot down by AAA or interceptor jets. Of the other 12, eleven make it back to base in Iceland, with one losing engine power and going down south of Greenland. The crew was saved though as U-boats had been dispatched to act as sea rescue.
In the United States, shock was a more common reaction than even anger. No one believed that such an attack would come. The bombing of New York by conventional explosives was always thought a possibility and fire teams were scattered throughout the city. But chemical warfare had been thought taboo (since it was outlawed after World War-One), and few thought that the Germans would use it. As the nation rushed aid, and thousands of coffins, to Manhattan, President Dewey addressed the nation via radio. He was audibly shaken and spoke slowly, with little anger, but threatening retribution. The reason was well known. First Lady Frances Hutt Dewey and Dewey's sons, Thomas Jr. and John, were in Manhattan attending a war bond concert on Broadway. All three died in the attack.
Dewey had barely started his address, when aides received another news report. They waited until he paused to drink some water, the White House Press Secretary took the microphone, and announced a five minute break and then the President would resume his address. The radio networks cut away to recorded music and waited. When Dewey returned to the air, the news from the WEST coast was hitting the wires.
War Department analysts realized the potential for the use of nerve gas against the American Atlantic Coast. What they failed to take into account was the threat to the Pacific Coast. Unbeknownst, the German-held city of Petropavlosk-Kamchatsky had had a huge 10,000 foot runway and several dozen hangers constructed since the Berlin Raid. Six hours after the launch of the New York raid, a second flight of some 20 Junker Ju-390s were launched from the far eastern city of Siberia; their target?...San Francisco. As reports of the New York attack came in, eyes AND radar screens turned to the north, in anticipation of further German attacks, coming over the North Pole. When the radar station at Marin County, northwest of the city, picked up a flight of unknown bomber-types, the operators were confused. They had been told that a Japanese attack was highly unlikely and that a German attack would come from due north (over Canada) not from the west. They debated for several minutes, then called Interceptor Command in San Francisco. General Harold Simmons, commanding, read the report but it made no sense. He too talked it over with his subordinates, then finally ordered the city's contingent of P-51 Mustangs into the air.
Sixteen minutes from San Francisco, the interceptors finally reached the German bombers. Shocked to see the "Iron Cross" not the Japanese "Rising Sun" on them, the pilots reported them as German planes to ground control and then proceeded to attack. Six of the twenty were shot down before reaching the city Anti-aircraft, less pronounced than in New York, only downed three. The other eleven reached their targets. Four hit Mare Island Shipyards. Unlike Brooklyn, the casualties were heavy, nearly 5000 sailors and ship workers. The other seven hit downtown San Francisco with multiple Sarin nerve gas bombs. The casualties were staggering. 415,000 people were killed, over 2/3rds of the entire city population. Winds carried more gas down the peninsula, with some casualties reported as far south as San Jose. Non-lethal exposures (and the accompanying neurological damage) reached 115,000. Ten of the eleven German bombers made it back to far eastern Siberia.
Dewey could not believe what he was reading. He added additional lines about "sympathy for the people of San Francisco and California" and quickly finished his address. The speech was anything but reassuring and a panic unseen since the first A9/A10 rocket attacks gripped the United States.
Hitler for his part was gleeful with revenge. He spoke immediately upon the "good news" from Goring, saying that the thousands dead in Berlin had "been avenged twenty-fold in America." He went on to promise "no peace, no compromise with those who desecrated our beloved capital", essentially notifying the Americans that there would be no negotiations. Diplomats in neutral nations ended all direct contact, and only minor contacts through the neutrals or the Red Cross. Göring, for his part, received acclaim, but another Reich hero was in the making...Karl Dönitz.
February - Working with von Braun at Peenemunde, the two had developed a plan for the deployment of a SLBM (Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile). Called "Project Prufstand XII", it called for a V-2 to be mounted inside a large watertight cylindrical container, and to be towed across the Atlantic. Upon reaching its launching position, the V-2 would be fueled, its guidance system set, and launched at the American East Coast. Work had begun in earnest in late 1943, and Dönitz had commissioned five of the Type XXI advanced "elektro-boats" for the project in late 1945. Test runs were made in the Mediterranean in mid-1946, with successful hits on targets in Italian Libya. Hitler gave the go-ahead for an attack with SLBMs for late month, but further refinements were needed and the mission was delayed a week.
March - On the 3rd, they were ready and their missiles loaded again with Sarin nerve gas warheads. Twelve days later on March 15th, the submarines began their launch sequences. One, the U-3003, was detected by an American destroyer patrol alerted by a PB4Y-2 Privateer and had to escape without firing. Its target would have been Miami. The other four were able to launch, though one rocket failed to reach its target (Norfolk Shipyards) and crashed into the ocean. The other three reached their targets. One was exploded over Boston, killing 5100 people. The second struck New York again, killing 32,000 people (over 2000 rescue workers from out of state still helping with the clean-up from the January 27th attack). The third...hit Washington, DC.
President Dewey was spared. He had gone to the "Summer White House" in Pawling, NY. Half of Congress was home in their districts or simply out of town. Regardless, the attack was devastating, both in casualties and morale. 19,500 people died, with another 3400 receiving enough exposure to the Sarin to cause neurological damage.
The missile detonated almost directly over the White House, and all but three of the hundreds of Executive staff and WH employees were killed. (The three survivors happening to be in the newly built Presidential air raid shelter and able to seal the doors before the gas entered.) Of the 200 some Congressional members who were in the capital, 158 died and 29 suffered debilitating neurological damage. One of those killed was Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn of Texas and Vice-President Robert Taft. 20 high-ranking generals as well as Chief of Staff General George Marshall, were killed as well as hundreds of military officers and civilian staff at the War Department.
Dewey met with leaders in Pawling, fearful of another attack. He called the Congressional leaders there too, not waiting on the state governors to appoint replacements for the dead, just gathering whoever was available. They met in the meeting room of the Pawling Town Hall and heard reports of the attack from General J. Lawton Collins, newly named Chief of Staff.
His assessment was bleak. It would be at least another year before the US had the B-36 Peacekeeper operational and ready to fly, thus eliminating anything short of another suicide mission like LeMay's from hitting any major target in German-controlled Europe. An invasion of Iceland was impossible, until the U-boat threat was eliminated and the 2nd Fleet (as the Atlantic Fleet had been re-named) was at least up to another carrier task force (not expected until July of '47). North Africa as well as a possible invasion of Spain (violating their supposed neutrality) were logistically impossible at the present. Further, it would be at least a year to 18 months before the atomic bomb would be ready to test in the deserts of New Mexico (this part was for the ears of Dewey and the remaining generals, not Congress), but even then there would be no way to deliver the weapon to Japan until the Marianas had been re-taken. Even so, without total air superiority, it would be a massive risk to use the weapon, when the plane could easily be shot down and production of a new weapon could take six months each.