Military Review

Arctic Meteorological Special Forces of the Third Reich

Arctic Meteorological Special Forces of the Third ReichThe Arctic is the most unusual theater of operations of the Second World War. There was a latent struggle not mentioned in the front-line reports, the results of which influenced the actions of the fronts with their millions of armies, fleets and air armada. The fact is that the Arctic is a global “weather cuisine” whose breath is felt even in the most remote corners of the planet. The air and water masses emanating from here generate cold and heat, rain and drought, fogs, storms, thunderstorms, that is, FORM THE WEATHER on vast territories of Europe, Asia and North America. And for those who control this North Pole field, painted white on maps, the weather becomes an ally. Often, accurate weather forecast is more important for the outcome of hostilities than information about enemy forces. To do this, you must have as many weather observation points in the North Atlantic and the Arctic along the Newfoundland - Novaya Zemlya line.

In 1920-1940 here a network of weather stations of different countries arose, transmitting the collected data via radio, which made them accessible to everyone. The system worked almost flawlessly, but already the day after the outbreak of World War II, all weather data became secret. Weather phenomena in the northern hemisphere of the Earth move from west to east, and this gave great advantages to the Anglo-Saxons. Their stations in North America, Greenland and Iceland gave a more accurate forecast than the German ones. And so they had to hurriedly create their own system of meteorological observations in a completely hostile environment. Hitlerites held out for some time using forces aviation and fleet.

Westa 5 and Westa 6

Already in May, 1940, barely occupying Norway, the Germans began to regularly send Luftwaffe pilots for meteo-prospecting. Especially for this purpose, 5-I and 6-meteorological squadrons (Westa 5 and Westa 6), consisting of Heinkel-111 and Junkers-88 aircraft with practical range, which has a practical range of practical knowledge, have been deployed with a practical range of practical knowledge, which consists of Heinkel-3000 and Junkers-6 airplanes with a practical range and a practical range, which has a practical range of practical knowledge and an approach to the development of the European Union. They were equipped with weather instruments and additional fuel tanks, all weapons were removed from them, except for one machine gun, and that was not needed for air combat, but for firing by tracer to determine wind parameters. Crews recruited from experienced pilots, flight attendants and meteorologists. Cars flew north (the Norwegian Sea, Greenland Sea, Iceland, Spitsbergen, the Faroe Islands, Shetland Islands) and east (the Barents Sea, Soviet Novaya Zemlya, Franz Josef Land, Kolguev Island, reaching Greenland and the Kara Sea. Often, the air was at the same time up to 100 airplanes that passed the route in a vertical zigzag at altitudes from 3000 to 6000 m, descending to sea level every hour, rising to 41 m before turning home, constantly fixing numerous physical parameters. In April, 111, during the Bansö operation, Heinkel-3 first landed on Svalbard, setting up a weather station there. In the summer, flights to the North Pole began. During the 5 of the year, each plane of the squadron Westa 6 / Westa 200 made 17 and more flights over the polar seas, while a dozen cars were lost with crews, and XNUMX scientists died. And the aviation meteorological survey gave only a picture of the momentary weather situation; its data were limited by the short residence time of the observer at the location of the weather event. In addition, this source of information was unreliable due to the harsh climate and the fierce hunt of the enemy for reconnaissance aircraft.


In parallel with this, in September 1940, the ships of the Kriegsmarine meteorological service (Hitler's Navy) left for the North Atlantic and the Arctic. There were not many of them, just 9 converted fishing vessels with instruments and scientists on board. Often, using a foreign flag for masking, they sent 4 times a day coded weather data to the mainland. Having spent in the area of ​​interest to 14 weeks, the ships went to the ports to be repaired, replenish stocks, change crews. By the way, one of such points was the secret base Nord on our territory (Gulf of Western Persons on the Kola Peninsula), created during the short-term "friendship" between the USSR and the Third Reich. Convenient place: from here, thanks to the ice-free Gulf Stream, the Germans went to sea in the most severe frosts, kept weather vessels, tankers, supply vessels of submarines disguised as fishermen. Here they were preparing the offensive of the “Norway” mining corps on Murmansk and operations of their fleet in the Soviet Arctic.

Under the rule of the Allies at sea and in the air (they had many aircraft carriers, and the Germans did not have one), the meteorological service ships were vulnerable and did not live long, ending their activity on the seabed or in the enemy port. Operational groups of the British Royal Navy successfully found them by radio, quickly found and mercilessly shot. True, then the Germans were lucky: having learned about the presence of the Enigma encryption machine on these trawlers, the British tried not to destroy the ships, but to seize them together with secret equipment. Being captured was better than drowning in ice water. The “Saxony” vessel sailed between Iceland and Fr. Jan Mayen and supplied his headquarters with important information before it was crushed by ice. The fate of the Wuppertal ship is tragic. It conducted observations, zigzagging over the vast area between Greenland and Spitsbergen, and the last radiogram was 1944 of the year in October, being a hundred kilometers from the pole. It was a report of engine failure. At such a distance from the land, and even at this time of year, this meant a certain death for the crew.

The fight against the German maritime meteorological intelligence network has linked significant forces of the British fleet, but has yielded results. In 1941, the German air and naval intelligence officers experienced such pressure that it became clear that the Germans were left without the essential information necessary to plan any military actions in the air, water and on land. Something had to be done. They tried to collect these data by submarines, robbing the Atlantic and the Arctic, which also failed due to the great danger of their direction finding and destruction. And then the Germans resorted to special means of meteo-prospecting. These were secretly and for a long time working stations - automatic and habitable.

WFS elusive weather forecast

WFS (Wetter-Funkgerät-See, “Marine Weather Station”) meteobuy for work in the open ocean and installation from a submarine or aircraft was developed by Siemens-Schukkert in conjunction with the Nautik department of the Navy's main headquarters. In fact, it was intended to create something similar to an anchor anti-ship mine. However, experiments have shown that such a device is unstable: the bump from the excitement of the water surface adversely affected the operation and safety of the instruments. In addition, such a "ball" can not shoot a torpedo tube. And therefore a completely different body shape was chosen. It was a cylinder with the G7 submarine torpedo in service (7 m length, cm 53 caliber); he swam upright, exposing only the top of the head with the antenna. In the transport position, the buoy consisted of two cylinders, telescopically slid one into the other. Once in the water, he floated to the surface, held upright and stabilized. The bottom cylinder under its own gravity slid 3 m further down, all the way down, stretching the buoy to the positioned 10 m length. Now it was separated and went down the anchor, reliably fixing the buoy in place (there was not a single case of its failure from the position).

WFS buoys were of two types: for setting at depths up to 200 m and deepwater - up to 2000 m. In the lower heavy part of the buoy there were power sources (Ni-Fe batteries for heating lamps and dry high-voltage batteries for the transmitter) and an anchor device. In the upper part there was an instrument block with sensors brought out. There were also relays and clocks for autonomous operation, an encoder and a short-wave Lorenz transmitter Lo 150 FK 41 s with an 150-watt amplifier. On the upper edge of the buoy there was a 9-meter whip antenna of special strength and flexibility. On it stood a capillary thermometer and sensors measuring the parameters of the atmosphere. Each WFS had its fixed frequency in the 4 – 7 megahertz range, it was already installed in a combat position. The battery capacity was enough for 8 weeks of work. At a given time 4 once a day, the relay turned on the transmitter, after 60 seconds of heating the lamps, the coded “digital salad” went off the air - data about the situation at this point exactly at that hour. The communication session took 60 – 120 seconds, after which the transmitter was turned off. Measures were taken to prevent WFS from falling into the hands of the enemy. When a roll occurred more than 45 degrees (which happens if the buoy is hooked by a network or cable, while attempting to tow) the built-in charge explosion destroyed the instrument unit and made a hole in the body through which the buoy was flooded. WFS were “disposable”: when the batteries ran out of charge, the case also got a hole, and the station went to the bottom.

The first two weather buoys were installed on 7 and 8 on January 1942 of the submarine U-156 west of Ireland on positions under the code name "Diane Nord" (underwater plate Rokoll) and "Diane Zuid" (Porcupine Bank). The beginning was a good one: regularly transmitting the necessary data, both stations completed the autonomy period and self-destructed. Until May 1945, the 40 WFS buoys were built, 24 were sent to the ocean, installed 15. The rest returned to the base due to changes in operational plans or were killed along with the director. The big advantage of the WFS was the complete secrecy. At the level of technology at that time, it was simply impossible to debug it in 1 – 2 minutes of a communication session. Combing a suspicious area also did not give anything (it's like looking for a needle in a haystack). For each WFS buoy in the ocean, the British Admiralty promised their fishermen an 1000 premium of pounds sterling, a huge sum for those times. However, the Germans to this day claim that the enemy did not hit a single buoy from a combat position, they all worked well before self-heating, in most cases having significantly exceeded the 8-week autonomy, depending on ambient temperatures, duration of communication sessions, etc. Most of this type of weather buoy has been applied in the North Atlantic and Arctic; one in front of Corsica and one in the Black Sea. In winter, 1944 – 45. it was planned to throw one buoy into the Canadian territorial waters, but there was not enough boat-producer for this.

WFL robots: Gustav, Robert, Erich and others

The use of WFS buoys severely limited their battery capacity. And when they realized that, for forecasting accuracy, constant monitoring of air flow (wind), cloudiness, etc., is also important, the fleet received a more sophisticated autonomous device for work on land — the WFL station (Wetter-Funkgerät-Land, Ground Radio Weather Station) ), also the brainchild of Siemens. It weighed about 1 t and consisted of 8 – 10 especially strong cylindrical containers of height 1 m, diameter 53 cm (again caliber of a submarine torpedo tube!). Camouflaged white, gray and black paint cylinders were installed at points specifically selected to work without interference. Heavy cast base provided them with a stable upright position; if necessary, they were buried in the ground. Under the protection of thick steel walls were weather instruments (sensors were brought outside), X-VUMX-watt VHF transmitter with an accelerated transmission unit, a ciphering device, dry nickel-cadmium batteries. The 150-meter whip antenna was mounted on a flat tripod base, the ends of which pressed down containers with batteries, which significantly increased the stability of the structure in conditions of constant wind. The second pull-out unit was a mast with an anemometer and a wind direction sensor. The meteodata accumulated in the memory device (temperature, air humidity, atmospheric pressure, wind speed and direction, precipitation) 10 times a day in an encrypted form were “fired” on the air in 4 seconds.

The station had autonomy 9 months, but the actual life without maintenance depended on the number of containers with batteries. In total, 26 WFL stations were released, including 14 for the North Atlantic-Arctic (Greenland, Svalbard, Franz Josef Land), 5 for the Barents Sea basin, 2 for North America. Each station was assigned not only a number, but also its own name, as a rule, in honor of specific individuals participating in this secret program of the Third Reich. Installation and maintenance, as well as the replacement of stations, were carried out by specially assigned submarines with trained crews and meteorological scientists on board; 10 stations were installed by their engineer Steebe, accompanied by one of two interchangeable assistants.

The installation was a complicated and dangerous operation. First, with the cargo on board, it was necessary for snipers to go through large distances to a certain geographical point, passing through all the enemy’s cordons and turbulent polar waters. Secretly arriving at the site, on inflatable boats to transport heavy uncomfortable containers to the unequipped coast, in the shortest time to install, disguise, launch the station and also secretly leave, noticing traces.

It all started in 1942. After testing the WFL-21 “Gustav” station in Svalbard, it was decided to install the same devices everywhere. Working in extreme conditions, they crashed, broke and was quickly replaced by new ones. Thus, in Svalbard, in addition to Gustav, in 1944, the WFL-33 "Edwin 3" was established. On about. Bear worked WFL-22 "Edwin" (1942 g.), WFL-23 "Edwin 2" (1943 g.), WFL-24 "Robert" (1943 g.), WFL-27 "Dietrich" (1943 g.) WFL-29 “Christians” (1943 g.) And WFL-34 “Herman” (1944 g.). In the Soviet New Land spied WFL-25 "Gerhard" (1943) and WFL-32 "Erich" (1944). On the very important for the English "Island X" (Jan Mayen), WFL-31 "Walter" was secretly collecting weather data. And then the Red Army went forward in the Arctic, the front in Norway and Finland went westward, and this forced the Germans to secretly install automata on the territories already left: in the skies of the Aland Islands in the Baltic (WFL-35 "Land Hunter") and on. Mageroyah near Nordkapp (WFL-36 "Wilhelm").

The Allies learned about the existence of German meteorobots after the Norwegian commandos in June 1943 accidentally stumbled upon Spitsbergen on the very first WFL Gustav. They attacked a nearby German station manned station, and the WFL dismantled and took the British submarine evacuating them. "Gustav" came to England, and from there for detailed study - to the USA. In addition, the Walters and Wilhelm fell into the hands of the Allies. After the war, most of the stations were destroyed by bad weather and sent to Norwegians for scrap. Only two of them, who had worked on the Svalbard in Lillifiek fjord and Lifde fjord (this is 80-th degree of northern latitude, reached the pole by the hand!) And found in Norway’s coast guard for 1982, were retained for museum purposes.

Operation Kurt

WFL-type “meteorologists” were also provided to monitor the region furthest from the Reich region. It was planned to install 2 stations. One of them (WFL-30 "Herbert") sank on the way there with the submarine U-867, and the second, WFL-26 "Kurt", got into America.

18 September 1943 of the year, two months later than the planned date, the U-537 submarine departed in the direction of the Norwegian Bergen, and from there, having replenished reserves, headed for the west. On board was "Kurt" and its installer - physicist Dr. Kurt Sommermayer ("namesake" of the station, later a professor at the University of Freiburg). On the way across the Atlantic, crew members broadcast “empty” messages at various frequencies. It was a passing order of the headquarters of the submarine forces - to imitate the mass output of underwater "wolves" for robbery, in order to cause panic in the Anglo-Saxon headquarters. From today's point of view, this game of the Germans seems stupid, since the British Operational Intelligence Center (OJC) in the fall of 1943, already confidently read the Nazi encrypted radio exchange and did not fall for the “snag”. It is also good that Her Majesty’s fighter groups did not sink U-537 during this game.

Late with access to the sea, the boat got into violent autumn storms of hurricane force, received damage to the hull. A particularly heavy blow to the materiel was struck on October 13. On this day, the U-537 lost its only air defense weapon - the 20-mm quadruple deck art installation. It was very bad, because the boats of this project, not having a snorkel (device for underwater travel at the periscope depth), the main part of the long distances were covered with a surface run. For the sake of secrecy, only 18 of October, exactly a month later, bumps in the sea, the commander received the target coordinates from the headquarters. Now U-537 went covertly, observing radio silence and spending a minimum of time on the surface. The last 5 days she walked in the rain, snow charges and fog. Not having the ability to determine the position of the instrument, the captain Shreve only on the basis of calculations brought U-537 to the northeast of the Labrador Peninsula. In poorly studied waters, full of reefs and shoals, navigation was dangerous. After overcoming all the difficulties and wandering among the skerries and small islands, October 22 anchored in 300 m from the coast of Martin Bay. Machine gunners landed on land, combed the area for a couple of kilometers and lay ambushes along its perimeter. According to preliminary data, unnecessary witnesses were not expected, but the scrupulous Germans still carefully checked the surrounding area. Dr. Sommermeyer chose a place on the small hill for the installation of "Kurt". Leaving on board combat crews for urgent care at sea in case of danger, the team took up the delivery of cargo to the shore. Strong surf, cold, icy water, heavy uncomfortable containers and all 2 inflatable boats - this was not an easy task. Working day and night, the Germans installed Kurt in just 28 hours. It was launched, went through a trial mode, a test transmission, and again went into silent mode. Began to wait. To 22.00, the station collected the first real weather data from North America and sent it to the air exactly at the appointed time exactly in 120 seconds. An empty pack of American cigarettes was scattered around the object, crushing them with stones so that it would not be carried away by the wind. The containers were labeled non-existent meteorological society Canadian Meteor Service. It was already a bust: Dominion Labrador / Newfoundland was not part of Canada at that time. True, there were several Canadian and American airfields on its territory, air defense posts and other trifles, so that the English inscription could, on occasion, scare away the curious. The deed was done. In parallel, we had an urgent repair of the boat. After making sure everything was working, 23 October left Labrador and went south-east. Through 300 miles of the way, the captain reported to the subdivision headquarters on the successful completion of the mission. However, Kurt did not last long. The last signal from him was received on November 8. Perhaps the reason was the peculiarities of the passage of ultrashort waves in the polar zone. An attempt was made to resume the station, but the boat with a repair team and a stock of new batteries was sunk by the Allies.

... October 25 U-537 joined the Siegfried task force from the 20 boats to defeat the allied convoy HX-262 from Canadian Halifax to England. But the sea was deserted. The British intercepted radio communications, and the German torpedoes did not find their victims in these waters. Having spent a resource and surviving after three attacks by Canadian naval aviation, 8 December U-537 returned to its base in Lorient in France, having stayed at sea 82 of the day. Here the crew celebrated their last Christmas. In February, the 44-th boat left for a “long-distance trip of a special nature” to Southeast Asia (!), And on November 9 was sunk by the Americans on the traverse of the Indonesian port of Surabaya, the crew died ...

But "Kurt" survived all. He was forgotten until the end of the 70-ies, while no mention of him was found in the archive of Siemens. Appealed to the Ministry of Defense of Canada. In 1981, the Rangers found the WFL-26 at the location indicated by the Germans. Some cylinders were opened, instruments scattered around. Others, untouched, were still workable. "Kurt" was taken to Ottawa, and he is still on display at the National Military Museum. Operation Kurt was the only land action of the armed forces of the Third Reich in North America in World War II.

Automatic weather stations like Kröte

The use of automatic meteorological systems in the interests of the Luftwaffe was carried out by the Imperial Meteorological Administration (RfW), which developed the station of the Kröte type (“Toad”). Unlike WFS / WFL, it looked like a familiar weather station - a set of lattice houses with instruments inside. At the foot of the central house were solid reinforced wood containers, inside which were devices, a transmitter with a coding unit, and batteries. The containers were made in a certain way (pyramid) and fastened with each other, forming the most stable structure for long-term operation in extreme conditions. The antenna was stretched between two 6-meter masts. The coding took place by a different method than in the Navy, and therefore the transfer of the data packet took 5 – 6 minutes.

In May, the 42-th first “Toad” was flown to Spitsbergen and installed on the edge of the Adventfjord, replacing employees of the inhabited Luftwaffe station who had been working secretly on the island since November 1941. Already in July, it was found, dismantled and sent to England by the Norwegian commandos operating on the island. The second "Toad" was delivered by air and installed on about. Bearish in October 1942. At first, paratroopers landed there and prepared a landing strip that took the aircraft with cargo. In March, a group of the Navy landed on the island 43-th to install its station. She found the Toad with broken antenna masts, which was attributed to hurricanes or polar bears. The attempt to throw the Toad on Mezhdusharsky Island ended in failure: the Soviet air patrol spotted the installers, they had to interrupt the operation and fly away.

At the end of July, the 1943 of the transport “Arado” delivered another “Toad” to the southern cape of Svalbard. She fulfilled her time and was found by the German search group only in 1984, in quite good condition. In August 1943, the same aircraft delivered the next station to Fr. Edge. She worked out her life and was found by helicopter of the Norwegian Polar Institute in 1969, dismantled in Norway by the Coast Guard in 1984 and exhibited at the Oslo Defense Museum.

Almost all “Toad” weather stations installed a squadron of Westa 5 under the command of Captain Schütz. But once his plane crashed into the sea, the best installers died. It was a hard blow. The pilots gathered in this squadron, meteorologists and engineers of various profiles made up such an experienced team on which all the activities of the Luftwaffe meteorological service were based. Even a competitor, the German Navy, decided to entrust the installation of its products to this particular squadron, which released submarines for purely combat missions. However, the aircraft engine that was badly worn out under extreme conditions refused - and the Germans lost people, who were simply no one to replace. After that, the Luftwaffe installed only one "Toad", retreating to Scandinavia at the end of 44 under the onslaught of the Red Army. She was still transmitting data from Alta Fjord for a long time, until the batteries were exhausted.

Weather stations automatic machines were applied in the Arctic in two ways. First, they tried to install them near their own habitable meteorological stations. When changing wintering teams, they continued to collect and transmit information to the mainland. Secondly, they were used where the use of manned stations was impossible or very difficult. The main technical problem was to provide the “robot” with power for a long time, that is, obtaining maximum energy with a minimum of weight and volume of batteries that are resistant to the effects of extreme environments. The main constructive problem was the placement of sensitive equipment, instruments and devices in a very small protected volume: the size of the station should have allowed its delivery by submarine and aircraft and set through a torpedo or bomb bomb. With regard to the reliability and size of weather and radio, then the Germans were "ahead of the rest." Since 1942, their specialists have been working on an improved version of the ground “Toad”, as well as on the sea-based Kröte project and aircraft production. The goal was to create stations discharged above the land, which would themselves open, install and go to work after landing. It was supposed to sprinkle them all the Arctic from Jan Mayen to Novaya Zemlya, and floating stations - the northern seas. However, the time of the Third Reich was over, and it was no longer up to experiments.

Automaton stations helped the Germans to establish a sustainable weather monitoring network in a vast region, transmitting data in real time. But the main element of this network was “meteorological special forces”, people, teams of inhabited meteorological stations, who secretly worked in the territories occupied by the enemy or even belonging to him. The use of automatic stations and meteorological special forces had the highest security classification of the Third Reich, and the details of these operations began to be covered only many years after the war. But this is a separate история.
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  1. Owl
    Owl 27 December 2013 09: 45
    You should also remember the disguised reconnaissance observation posts in the Soviet Arctic, during the Great Patriotic War. Landing from submarines, German reconnaissance groups, in addition to monitoring the movements of the Soviet fleet, conducted a continuous transmission of weather conditions. They say that abandoned (not abandoned) places of basing were accidentally found even in the 60s.
    1. Aryan
      Aryan 27 December 2013 11: 34
      a lot about it in the book "Swastika over Taimyr"
    2. The comment was deleted.
    3. Gomunkul
      Gomunkul 27 December 2013 12: 31
      Secret German air bases existed not only in the Far North, but also in the Vologda Oblast.
      Here is the link: http: //
      i_lyuftvaffe / p10.php
    4. svp67
      svp67 27 December 2013 16: 29
      Quote: Eagle Owl
      You should also remember the disguised reconnaissance observation posts in the Soviet Arctic, .... They claim that abandoned (not abandoned) basing places were accidentally found even in the 60s.

      We even found AERODROMS in the rear of our troops
  2. svp67
    svp67 27 December 2013 11: 49
    Yes, what can I say .... once again proud of his grandfathers, who were able to defeat such an enemy.
  3. vlad0
    vlad0 27 December 2013 12: 18
    Thanks to the author for the informative article. Many more, it turns out, little-known pages in the history of WWII remained behind the scenes.
  4. Walking
    Walking 27 December 2013 12: 40
    The history of World War II holds much more unknown.
  5. jjj
    jjj 27 December 2013 13: 42
    Plus the German submarine base near Novaya Zemlya
  6. RoTTor
    RoTTor 28 December 2013 02: 52
    The first publications on this topic were in the newspaper of the Northern Shipping Company "Moryak Severa" (Arkhangelsk) in the late 80s. They were quickly covered by the KGB officers, so the series of articles was never finished.

    It is worth recalling that the beginning of German interest in the Soviet North dates back to the early 30s, even before Hitler came to power. Then, in 1930, the German airship "Graf Zeppelin" was allowed to fly along the route of the future Northern Sea Route.
  7. Dimonn92
    Dimonn92 29 December 2013 14: 35
    Interesting article + The Germans were very advanced in technical terms, this is surprising!
    I’ll add from myself that the Arctic has always been a tidbit, a very significant place.
    Now its redivision is brewing, and we must defend our right to the Arctic!
  8. Aryan
    Aryan 31 December 2013 00: 15
    here is another story
    I met her in different ways
    but the conclusions are the same
    their bases were in the rear
    and not a few