Sunday, 1 July 2012

The reason for high security at Roswell in 1947

If the presence of the world’s only operational atomic bomber base at Roswell were not enough to make the authorities jumpy about any strange events at the town, there was another top secret facility in the area. Several miles to the east was the White Sands base. Although named after the spectacular, pure white sand dunes that were something of a tourist attraction, the base covered a vast area of desert and arid scrubland that was of little use to the local ranchers. It was here that the USAAF was testing rockets.

Like the atomic bomb, the rocket was in 1947 a new and terrifying weapon. It had first entered combat in the summer of 1944 when the Germans had launched hundreds of V2 rockets against London and adjacent areas of England. These rockets flew at supersonic speed, following a parabolic path high into the atmosphere. They could deliver a powerful charge of explosives on to their intended target. They could not be intercepted by fighters, nor could they be shot down by anti-aircraft guns. There was no defence against a rocket. Fortunately for the Londoners in 1944, the German rockets were unreliable, being prone to go off course in mid-flight or to blow themselves apart.

In 1945 the Americans had captured not only the German cache of unfired rockets, but also their chief designer Werner von Braun. Von Braun was now at work with a team of American engineers seeking ways to build bigger and better rockets that would be both more reliable and more accurate. These weapons were tested on the firing range of White Sands amid conditions of great secrecy.

Nor was that all. Not far away was Los Alamos, the vast engineering facility that had been responsible for producing the first atomic bombs. The test bomb had been detonated here early in 1945. In 1947 it was still operational as the scientists toiled to create better and more reliable atomic and hydrogen bombs.

All in all, this area of New Mexico was of enormous military significance. The civilians of the area may have had only the haziest idea of what was going on behind the locked gates and guarded miles of fences, but they did know that it was of great importance to their nation.

from ROSWELL by Rupert Matthews
Buy your copy HERE

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