The LRV would be able to rain nuclear destruction on the Soviet Union, Red China and North Korea.
From a distance of 300 miles in space
How It Works
Typically, the LRV uses its saucer shape to utilize re-entry heat and then push for atmospheric flight. In 1949, the largest black hole in the universe was across the Bering Strait but not in space. Stretching across 12 time zones, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was, as Winston Churchill, would so memorably describe it, “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” The few things that most people knew about life behind the Iron Curtain seemed to be pieces of an incomprehensible puzzle.
The fireball of the communist atomic bomb cast a sinister new light on an event that previously seemed quite inconsequential. In the summer of 1945, an unusual rumor had begun to circulate within the intelligence division of the European Command. During interrogations, captured German aircraft engineers referred to an extraordinarily fast rocket plane under development at a secret base in Bavaria.
This aircraft had an odd-looking curved wing that blended into its fuselage. The aerodynamic advantage of this configuration had been known to American designers for more than a decade Unlike the Messerschmitt Me 163 rocket planes that had begun to attack allied bombers in the last months of the war,. It created more power of lifting and pushing, especially at low speeds, and provided more internal capacity for carrying bombs.
The U.S. Navy had briefly experimented with circular wing design for those very reasons In the early days of the war. Anticipating that the first generation of communist atomic bombs would be as heavy as those America had dropped on Japan, it seemed reasonable to U.S. defense planners that the Soviet air force, which then lacked a nuclear bomber, would try to adapt German disc technology. The United States was, after all, doing exactly the same thing with the V-2s and Nazi rocket scientists it had spirited away in Operation Paper Clip.
In our July 1997 cover story, “Roswell plus 50,” POPULAR MECHANICS detailed how Air Force interest in duplicating Nazi technology led to two American flying disc projects. Project Silver Bug sought to build a vertical takeoff and landing aircraft. Project Pye Wacket was to create small discs for use as air-to-air missiles. Documents declassified since then point to a third secret project, a 40-ft. “flying saucer” designed to rain nuclear destruction on the Soviet Union from 300 miles in space.
The official designation for America’s nuclear flying saucer was the Lenticular Reentry Vehicle (LRV). It was designed by engineers at the Los Angeles Division of North American Aviation, under a contract with the U.S. Air Force. The project was managed out of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, in Dayton, Ohio, where German engineers who had worked on rocket plane and flying disc technology had been resettled.
“black budget” items was a hidden name use to make the LRV escape public scrutiny because it was hidden away as one of the Pentagon’s so-called — that is, a secret project that is incorporated into some piece of non-classified work. Security officers at Wright-Patterson classified the LRV as secret because: “It describes an offensive weapon system.” on Dec. 12, 1962, the project remained classified until May 1999, when a congressionally mandated review of old documents changed the project’s status as a government secret, downgrading it to public information. The Department of Defense did, however, successfully seek to have the document’s distribution restricted to defense contractors. PM obtained its copy as the result of a Freedom of Information Act request.