Key point: Most Allied commanders were skeptical that there was a genuine threat to the continental United States—save for certain leaders of the U.S. Navy.
In the closing weeks of World War II in Europe, American intelligence determined that a detachment of German submarines had been dispatched to launch a cruise missile attack on the East Coast of the United States. The U.S. Navy deployed forty-six ships and dozens of aircraft to annihilate the incoming submarine wolf pack. The battle that followed saw hundreds of lives lost at sea, and showed American intelligence services at their very best—and worst.
Nazi Germany was the first nation to deploy cruise and ballistic missiles in combat. The V1 “Buzz Bomb” could fly more than 180 miles powered by a pulse jet before slamming into its target. The slightly longer-range V-2 could shoot up to fifty-five miles high in its ballistic trajectory before plunging unstoppably towards the ground. Both weapons killed thousands of civilians in London and Western European cities. However, the United States remained far out of reach.