A much-praised WW2 disinformation campaign to deceive Nazi Germany into aiming their deadly V-2 missiles outside the target actually had little effect, researchers discovered.
MI5 used members of their & # 39; Double-Cross & # 39; program – which brought German agents to the Allied side – to convince the Nazis that their V-2 rockets were shooting past.
However, with the help of an advanced statistical technique, researchers have shown that the missiles were so inaccurate that the efforts of the spies were useless.
V-2 & # 39; s usually only reached within 18 miles of their intended target – a fallibility that shaded the Nazi & # 39; s revisions based on Allied disinformation.
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A much-praised WW2 disinformation campaign to deceive Nazi Germany into aiming their deadly V-2 missiles outside the target actually had little effect, researchers discovered. Depicted: V-2 rocket damage in Chiswick, West London, during the Second World War
Steve Le Comber from Queen Mary, University of London, and colleagues used a technique known as geographic profiling to locate the center of V-2 rocket attacks from January 20 to February 17, 1945.
Geographic profiling has been developed to track serial criminals based on the locations of their crimes – but Le Comber, an evolutionary biologist, has since adapted the approach for other purposes, such as tracing disease outbreaks to their source.
Based on this, they were able to evaluate the success of the MI5 plan to mislead the Nazis to aim their V-2 missiles outside the target and to target less populated or critical areas.
& # 39; It was one of the most elegant and simple plans that the security services had ever devised, & # 39; Dr. told Le comber The Telegraph.
& # 39; The V-2 rockets were far too fast to shoot, so MI5 needed a new way to prevent them from touching important and built-up areas. & # 39;
& # 39; The idea was to ensure that the Germans (think they) shot past, but when we walked the model, the cluster barely moved during the four-week period. & # 39;
The V-2 rockets from Nazi Germany – shortly before Vergeltungswaffe (& # 39; Retribution Weapon & # 39;) 2 – were the first long-range guided ballistic missiles.
Records indicate that 1,358 of the supersonic rockets hit London between September 1944 and March 1945, resulting in an estimated 2,754 deaths and around 6,523 wounded.
With a typical maximum height of 88 kilometers and speeds of up to 3,580 miles per hour (5760 kilometers per hour), the V-2 & # 39; s were practically invulnerable for attacks by British hunters or anti-aircraft guns.
MI5 used members of their & # 39; Double-Cross & # 39; program – which brought German agents to the Allied side – to convince the Nazis that their V-2 rockets were missing in the photo.
Records indicate that 1,358 of the supersonic rockets hit London between September 1944 and March 1945, resulting in an estimated 2,754 deaths and around 6,523 wounded
Instead, MI5 used its counter-espionage Double-Cross – or & # 39; XX & # 39; to protect built-up areas and vital strategic goals. – operation, which fed wrong information to Nazi Germany through double agents who had gone over to the Allied side.
Under the supervision of the so-called Twenty Committee – a piece about the Roman numerals XX – two double agents became known under the code names & # 39; Tate & # 39; and & # 39; Rover & # 39; charged with convincing their Nazi handlers that the V-2 missiles were missing their targets.
& # 39; Over a period of several months, we have encouraged the enemy to steadily encourage its reach & # 39 ;, the chairman of the twenty committee, Sir John Cecil Masterman, wrote in an MI5 report in 1945.
& # 39; So in the four weeks from January 20 to February 17, 1945, the actual average impact point moved about two miles a week to the east and ended far beyond the border of the London region. & # 39;
This would have saved both the ports of Westminster and London – not to mention about 1,300 residents – if it had been true.
WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT MI5 AGENTS & # 39; TATE & # 39; AND & # 39; ROVER & # 39 ;?
& # 39; Tate & # 39; and & # 39; Rover & # 39; were the code names of two double agents that MI5 turned around as part of the Double-Cross counterintelligence operation.
They passed on disinformation to Nazi Germany about the locations of the V-2 attacks against London in early 1945.
& # 39; Tate & # 39 ;, whose real name was Wulf Schmidt but later one & # 39; Harry Williamson & # 39; became a Danish citizen.
His German code name was Leonhardt.
Schmidt was imprisoned immediately after his skydiving in England in September 1940.
His arrival plans were announced by a fellow spy and friend in exchange for saving the Dane from execution.
If & # 39; Tate & # 39; Schmidt became one of the longest-running agents in the Double Cross system.
Meanwhile, & # 39; Rover & # 39; a Polish sailor who had agreed to work as a Nazi spy in exchange for release from prison in a labor camp.
Arriving in Gibraltar, & # 39; Rover & # 39; However, he surrendered to the Allied authorities and was put to work as a double agent in England.
The same confidence in the success of the operation was presented in a monthly report that was sent to Prime Minister Winston Churchill in January 1945.
& # 39; Tate and Rover have continued to provide misleading information about the fall of V-2 & # 39 ;, wrote the Twenty Committee.
& # 39; It is now possible to conclude with some certainty that the shift to north-east London from the average impact point of V-2 is due to reports from Special Agents. & # 39;
Dr. However, Le Comber and his colleagues found that the findings of the Twenty Committee were skewed by the use of a & # 39; spatial mean & # 39; – which means that they had also included pick-up hits in areas such as Norwich, Southend-on-Sea and Canvey Island.
This threw away the calculated midpoint of the MI5 from the V-2 strikes.
With a typical maximum height of 88 kilometers and speeds of up to 3,580 miles per hour (5760 kilometers per hour), the V-2 & # 39; s were practically invulnerable for attacks by British hunters or anti-aircraft guns
Instead, the researchers demonstrated that – when targeted at a specific target – the V-2 rockets were usually accurate only within a 30 km (18.6 mile) radius.
As a result, the gradual changes in targeting of the V-2 & # 39; s by Tate and Rover would have been flooded by the greater inaccuracies of the missiles.
& # 39; Our study does not support the idea that the Double Cross cheats had any practical effect on the locations of V-2 attacks in London, & # 39; the researchers concluded.
& # 39; Throughout the bombing, most of the strikes were carried by the Ilford area. & # 39;
& # 39; Linking spatial data from bombs that were exceeded with the temporary data from bombs that failed was a nice and elegant idea, and a simple analysis of the average impact point seems to support the claim that it was very effective. & # 39;
& # 39; Unfortunately, the ugly fact of a more advanced analysis seems to kill it. & # 39;
The full findings of the study were published in the Journal of Spatial Science.
HOW THE V-2 ROCKET WORKED
Designed by German engineer Werner Von Braun, the V2 had four key points that caught the eye of the V2: large, liquid-fueled rocket engines, supersonic aerodynamics, gyroscopic guidance, and jet-controlled stirring.
The automatic guidance system was perhaps the most important: this meant that once the rocket was in the air with its destination programmed in the analog computer, its gyroscopes could track its position, using the rudders to change its course if necessary.
Even today, rocket launchers still have similar engines and use gyroscopic guidance, and most are still rocket-fed.
The technology that went into the V2 was so advanced that after the war the American and Soviet engineers chose the remaining rockets in pieces to understand how they worked.
With the help of Von Braun, who surrendered to the Allies and later became a hero of the space age, the technology was used to develop rockets that would go into space.
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