Where did the idea for the German weather station on Iceland come from?
During my considerable research for America Under Attack, I contacted meteorologist Marty Coniglio at Denver’s 9News TV station. He very kindly answered my many questions about weather forecasting and the level of knowledge of weather in the 1940’s. During our conversations, he recommended Thor’s Legion’s: Weather Support to the US Air Force and Army 1937 – 1987, by John Fuller. This massive, very comprehensive history wasn’t available in Denver – the Denver library had to borrow a copy for me from my Alma Mater, the University of Northern Colorado!
As I read through this fascinating history – it’s so typical of American undertakings, full of advances and retreats, fits and starts, and amazing intramural bickering all during the War, I ran across a footnote on p. 58 [always read the footnotes – it’s amazing what you’ll learn!]. The footnote referenced an article in the 21 September 1987 issue of Aviation Week and Space Technology magazine describing how the Canadians finally discovered in the 1980’s the location of a secret German WWII weather station in northern Labrador. The messages it sent were easily decoded, but neither the Canadians nor the Americans could find the site’s location. The Germans manning it were put ashore by means of U boats.
This story sparked my creative juices, and the volcanic cave based Icelandic weather station was created. Such warm volcanic caves do exist, and could have provided the shelter described in the novel.
The German submarine U-56 existed, and was one of the few that survived the war. The modifications to the submarine described in America Under Attack are fictional, of course, but as with other technological advances appearing in the book, they were well within the capabilities of the time. In connection with the German weather station,
I was surprised to learn that the Germans had actually developed and used a radio transmission based system similar to modern FAXes; naturally, I had to include it!
What do you think?