In 1944, on a stormy day, German submarine U-1230 came up from an eight-day rest on the ocean floor off the coast of Maine and delivered its package of two spies to Hancock Point in Frenchman Bay.
Operation Elster Makes American Landfall A freak wave caught the landing craft, however, tossing one of the spies, William Colepaugh, into the cold sea, where he drowned. The surviving spy, Erich Gimpel, determined to go on with Operation Elster (English, "Magpie") in gathering intelligence on rocketry laboratories, sabotaging the Manhattan Project, and, perhaps most significantly, setting up the radio beacons that would enable the Germans to launch their V-1 attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C.
Gimpel would later say during his interrogation after being caught by coordinated FBI agents and Army MPs outside of Los Alamos, NM, that losing Colepaugh was the best thing to happen to his mission. Colepaugh was an American defector who had been expelled from the US Naval Reserve for, as the official report stated, the good of the service. He was a discontented and seemed unable to apply himself enough to complete tasks, yet when he defected to the German consulate in Portugal after leaving a Merchant Marine ship, Colepaugh was chosen for an espionage mission to the United States. He was paired with Gimpel, a radio-operator at mines in Peru before the war, and the two were trained to be spies at The Hague, still controlled by German forces. They were given orders, transported across the Atlantic via U-boat, and told that a pack of submarines bearing V-1 flying bombs would come behind them.
After managing to get to Boston by foot and hitchhiking, Gimpel took the train to New York City, where he acquired rooms and began construction of his radio transmitter. He was stunted in his chances for espionage without American Colepaugh, so instead he focused on establishing communications with Berlin. By Christmas, he was able to radio messages to Germany, and Hitler became ecstatic at the thought of a vicious strike to America, perhaps one enough to bloody her nose into retreat from Europe. The Fuhrer pressed resources into the Vulkan Docks in Stettin to assemble launch-canisters developed after the experiments with on-board launches in 1943 had been unsuccessful. Many in the German High Command thought the focus was waste and only annoy the American tiger as the end of the war was coming within view, but Hitler personally ensured that the project would go forward.
The United States Government had become aware of the threat the September before, when captured German spy Oscar Mantel had given up information during an FBI interrogation that the Nazis were planning a long-ranged missile attack. In the Department of War, which was largely under the weight of the Army, the recommendation to FDR was that no real threat existed. The Navy disagreed and, on its own, wrote up plans for an "Operation Bumblebee" that would become Operation Teardrop in which a sub-hunting fleet would track down and destroy submarines bearing rockets. Vice Admiral Jonas H. Ingram, commander of the Atlantic Fleet, prepared task forces within the bounds of allowed resource allocation.
Germany went forward with its attack plans. As 1945 began, Albert Speer, German Minister of Armaments and War Production, gave a broadcast stating that flying bombs "would fall on New York by February 1". The propaganda was largely dismissed, and February 1 passed without incident. German spy Gimpel finally established his radio beacons later that month and began his journey west toward Tennessee and New Mexico. In late March, a seven U-boat fleet set out with its hastily prepared launch canisters, and the US took notice of increased radio traffic as April began. Ingram's ships began a patrol, but it would be too late as the V-1 attacks struck in the early morning of April 3.
Many of the launches would malfunction and at least one rocket would fall far off-target into New Jersey, but several flying-bombs struck home, spreading incendiaries over Manhattan and one landing in the National Mall between the US Capitol and the White House, damaging the Smithsonian Museums. American sentiment flew into angry panic, especially upon news of FDR's death by stroke only days later. Ingram's Operation Teardrop was pressed forward, managing to sink five submarines at the cost of one destroyer, the USS Frederick C. Davis. Hitler's attempt at scaring the Americans into peace only exacerbated a public opinion of revenge akin to after Pearl Harbor, and newly promoted four-star general Patton was directed by now President Harry Truman to take Berlin rather than turning south to liberate Bohemia.
In a combined Soviet-American assault, Berlin fell, and Hitler would be found dead in his bunker from suicide. The war continued in the Pacific and in the minds of many Germans, such as Gimpel in New Mexico where he would be apprehended in late July, supposedly having witnessed the Trinity tests. After the war finally closed, Truman launched his doctrine of American invulnerability, never to allow another such attack on home soil to happen again. Typical post-war conservatism was scarce, and instead massive resources (including captured German scientists) were allocated to defense projects that would be able to take out any missile attack with strategies such as homing counter-measure rockets, supersonic jets, tracking satellites, and focused microwave-rays that could destroy incoming enemy (most likely Soviet) weapons with no fear of a "cold war" becoming hot with a surprise attack.