During WWII, the U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF) Intelligence Service sent teams to Europe to gain access to enemy aircraft, technical and scientific reports, research facilities, and weapons for study in the US The Air Technical Intelligence (ATI) teams, trained at the Technical Intelligence School at Wright Field, Ohio, collected enemy equipment to learn about Germany’s technical developments. The ATI teams competed with 32 allied technical intelligence groups to gain information and equipment recovered from crash sites. As the war concluded, the various intelligence teams, including the ATI, shifted from tactical intelligence to post hostilities investigations. Exploitation intelligence increased dramatically.

On April 22, 1945, the USAAF combined technical and post-hostilities intelligence objectives under the Exploitation Division with the code name LUSTY. Operation LUSTY began with the aim of exploiting captured German scientific documents, research facilities, and aircraft. The Operation had two teams. One, under the leadership of Colonel Harold E. Watson, a former Wright Field test pilot, collected enemy aircraft and weapons for further examination in the US The other recruited scientists, collected documents, and investigated facilities. Having been part of ATI in 1944, Colonel Watson eagerly accepted the Operation LUSTY assignment.


 In 1944, intelligence experts at Wright Field had developed lists of advanced aviation equipment they wanted to examine. Colonel Watson and his crew, nicknamed "Watson's Whizzers," comprised of pilots, engineers, and maintenance men, used these "Black Lists" to collect aircraft. He organized his "Whizzers" into two sections: one collected jet aircraft and the other procured piston engine aircraft and non-flyable jet and rocket equipment.

After the war, the "Whizzers" added Luftwaffe test pilots to their team. One was Hauptman Heinz Braur. On May 8, 1945, Braur flew 70 women, children, and wounded troops to Munich-Riem airport. After he landed, Braur was approached by one of Watson's men who gave him the choice of either going to a prison camp or flying with the "Whizzers." Braur thought flying more preferable. Three Messerschmitt employees also joined the "Whizzers:" Karl Baur, the Chief Test Pilot of Experimental Aircraft; test pilot Ludwig "Willie" Huffman; and engineering superintendent, Gerhard Coulis. Test pilot Herman Kersting joined later. When the "Whizzers" located nine Me 262 jet aircraft at Lechfeld airfield, these German test pilots had the expertise to fly them.

 Watson's men traveled far and wide over Europe by jeep and occasionally by air to find the aircraft on the "Black Lists." Once found, they had to be shipped to the US Fortunately, the British were willing to loan the aircraft carrier HMS Reaper. The most viable harbor for docking the carrier and loading the various aircraft was at Cherbourg, France. The "Whizzers" flew the Me 262s and other aircraft from Lechfeld to St. Dizier, to Melun, and then to Cherbourg. All the aircraft were cocooned against the salt air and weather, loaded onto the carrier, and brought to the US where they were studied by the Air Intelligence groups of both the USAAF and Navy.


In 1945, the enemy aircraft shipped to the US were divided between the Navy and the Army Air Forces. General Hap Arnold ordered the preservation of one of every type of aircraft used by the enemy forces. The Air Force brought their aircraft to Wright Field, and when the field could no longer handle additional aircraft, many were sent to Freeman Field, Seymour, Indiana. In the end, Operation LUSTY collectors had acquired 16,280 items (6,200 tons) to be examined by intelligence personnel who selected 2,398 separate items for technical analysis. Forty-seven personnel were engaged in the identification, inspection, and warehousing of captured foreign equipment.

In 1946, when Freeman Field was scheduled to close, Air Technical Service Command (ATSC) had to move the aircraft. The larger aircraft were sent to Davis-Monthan Field, Tucson, Arizona, and the fighter aircraft sent to the Special Depot, Park Ridge, Illinois (now O'hare airport) which was under the control of ATSC's Office of Intelligence. The Special Depot occupied buildings that Douglas Airplane Company had used to build C-54 aircraft. The aircraft were stored in these two locations until they could be disposed of in accordance with General Arnold's order.

With the start of the Korean War in 1950, the Air Force needed the Special Depot; so the aircraft had to be moved outside. In 1953, some of the aircraft were moved to the National Air and Space Museum in Silver Hill, Maryland, and the remaining aircraft were scrapped. (http://www.wpafb.af.mil/museum/history/wwii/lusty.htm)

A Brief Introduction
Watsons Whizzers was a popular name given to the group of pilots, engineers and maintenance men who worked under Colonel Harold E Watson to perform "Project Lusty", the retrieval of German aircraft engines and other aviation equipment for shipment and study in the US.

After servicing, the Me262'a were renamed by the Watson Whizzer pilots as well as given identity numbers in the series 000, 111, 222 etc. After 999 had been reached a new series of numbers was started with 101.

code/type/W.Nr./unit & code/details

000 - Messerschmitt Me262A-1a/U4 - V-083 - named "Wilma Jean" and then "Happy Hunter II". Crashed in Europe and was not shipped to the US

111 - Messerschmitt Me262A-1a - W.Nr.unknown - named "Beverley Anne" and then "Screamin' Meanie". Shipped to the US Navy as BuAer.No.121442. On static display at the USAAF Museum, Wright-Patterson AFB

222 - Messerschmitt Me262A-1a/U3 - W.Nr.unknown - named "Marge" and then "Lady Jess IV". Shipped to the US Navy as BuAer.No.121443

333 - Messerschmitt Me262A-1a - W.Nr.unknown - bamed "Feudin 54th A.D.Sq", "Pauline" and then "Deeloverly". Shipped to the US Navy as BuAer.No.121444

444 - Messerschmitt Me262A-1a/U3 - W.Nr.unknown - named "Connie the Sharp Article" and then "Pick II". Shipped to the US and allocated FE-4012. On static display at the Planes of Fame museum at Chino

555 - Messerschmitt Me262B-1a - W.Nr.110639 - named "Vera" and then "Willie". Crashed on landing at Cherbourg but repaired and shipped to the US. On static display at NAS Willow Grove

666 - Messerschmitt Me262A-1a/U3 - W.Nr.500098 - named "Joanne" and then "Cookie VII". Shipped to the US and allocated a yet untraced FE-number. Possible FE-4011. Crashed Pittsburg and written off August 1945

777 - Messerschmitt Me262A-1a - W.Nr.unknown - named "Doris" then "Jabo Bait". Shipped to the US and allocated FE-110

888 - Messerschmitt Me262A-1a - W.Nr.500491 - coded "Yellow 7" of IV./JG7 - named "Dennis" and then "Ginny H". Shipped to the US and allocated FE-111. On static display at NASM Washington DC

999 - Messerschmitt Me262B-1a/U1 - W.Nr.110306 - coded "Red 6" of IV./JG11 - surrendered to RAF and allocated USA 2. Named "Ole Fruit Cake" and after being shipped to the US allocated FE-610.

101 - Messerschmitt Me262B-1a - W.Nr.110165 - allocated USA 3 by RAF. Named "What Was it?" and later possible BuAer.No.121441. Scrapped November 1946

202 - Arado Ar234B - W.Nr.unknown - named "Jane I" and shipped to US Navy, allocated BuAer.No.121445

303 - Arado Ar234B - W.Nr.unknown - named "Snafu I" and shipped to the US Navy, allocated BuAer.No.121446

404 - Arado Ar234B - W.Nr.140311 - surrendered to RAF and allocated USA 40. Shipped to the USAAF and allocated FE-1011

505 - Arado Ar234B - W.Nr.140312 - surrendered to RAF and allocated USA 50. Shipped to the USAAF and allocated FE-1010

Page last revised 07/19/2015

Jim West
Page last revised 07/19/2015