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Beaver, Pennsylvania: Nazi Target

By Roger Applegate

Milestones Vol 34 No. 3

One of the most important strategies of World War II was the heavy bombing of German industries by allied planes, which helped to deny necessary material and arms to their armies in the field. The United States, or "arsenal of Democracy" as American industry was characterized by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, was never faced with this prospect, although Nazi Germany did develop plans to do some strategic bombing of their own. Their bombing plans depended upon the use of long range aircraft that could fly across the ocean, but Germany was unable to produce enough of these machines with the resources available to them at the time. However, had the Soviet Union been conquered; their vast resources would have given the Luftwaffe enough fuel and material to mass-produce the giant bomber aircraft necessary to reach the United States.

According to Manfred Griehl in his book, Luftwaffe Over America: The Secret Plans to Bomb the United States in World War II, there were twenty sensitive targets chosen here in the United States whose destruction would seriously cripple the allied war effort. Number ten on the Nazi "hit" list was the Curtiss-Wright plant in Beaver, Pennsylvania which produced almost 15 percent of all aircraft propellers manufactured in the United States. Successful aerial bombing of those targets, including Beaver, would theoretically lose the allies between 50 and 100 percent of their military vehicle production, which would have been an extremely serious and potentially deadly blow to the allied cause.

Although the county had fifty four air raid wardens on duty during the war, dusk to dawn blackout restrictions were strictly observed, air raid and disaster drills were practiced, emergency shelters were prepared, and airplane spotters were on alert for enemy planes, no German bombers ever appeared in the skies above Beaver. Thankfully, this nightmare scenario never occurred, World War II was won, and Beaver was spared the wrath of Nazi bombs.