Major Lusar, the Saucer Builders, and the test flight

The book German Secret Weapons of the Second World War by Rudolf Lusar contains less than two pages of text in the section headed 'Flying Saucers', but its influence has been quite remarkable. Here, in full, is the text of that brief section:

Flying saucers have been whirling round the world since 1947, suddenly turning up here and there, soaring in and darting off again at unprecedented speed with flames encircling the rim of the saucer's disc. They have been located by radar, pursued by fighters and yet nobody has so far succeeded in establishing the existence of such a 'flying saucer' or managed to ram or shoot one down. The public, even the experts, are perplexed by an ostensible mystery or a technical miracle. But slowly the truth is coming out that even during the war German research workers and scientists made the first moves in the direction of these ''flying saucers''. They built and tested such near-miraculous contraptions. Experts and collaborators in this work confirm that the first projects, called "flying discs", were undertaken in 1941. The designs for these ''flying discs'' were drawn up by the German experts Schriever, Habermohl and Miethe, and the Italian Bellonzo. Habernohl and Schriever chose a wide-surface ring which rotated round a fixed, cupola-shaped cockpit. The ring consisted of adjustable wing-discs which could be brought into appropriate position for the take-off' or horizontal flight. respectively. Miethe developed a discus-shaped plate of a diameter of 42m in which adjustable jets were inserted. Schriever and Habermohl, who worked in Prague, took off with the first "flying disc'' on February 14, 1945. Within three minutes they climbed to an altitude of I2,400m and reached a speed of 2,000 km/h in horizontal flight (!) It was intended ultimately to achieve speeds of 4,000 km/h.

Extensive preliminary tests and research were necessary before construction could be started. Because of the great speed and the extraordinary heat stress, special heat-resisting materials had to be found. The development, which cost millions, was almost completed at the end of the war. The then existing models were destroyed but the plant in Breslau where Miethe worked fell into the hands of the Russians who took all the material and the experts to Siberia, where work on these "flying saucers" is being successfully continued.

Schriever escaped from
Prague in time; Habermohl, however, is probably in the Soviet Union, as nothing is known of his fate. The former designer Miethe is in the United States and, as far as is known, is building "flying saucers" for the United States and Canada at the A. V. Roe works. Years ago, the U.S. Air Force received orders not to fire at "flying saucers". This is an indication of the existence of American "flying saucers" which must not be endangered. The flying shapes so far observed are stated to have diameters of 16, 42, 45 and 75 m respectively and to reach speeds of up to 7,000 km/h. (?). In 1952 "flying saucers" were definitely established over Korea and Press reports said they were seen also during the NATO manoeuvres in Alsace in the autumn of 1954. It can no longer be disputed that "flying saucers" exist. But the fact that their existence is still being denied, particularly in America, because United States developments have not progressed far enough to match the Soviet Union
's, gives food for thought. There also seems some hesitation to recognise that these novel "flying saucers" are far superior to conventional aircraft - including modern turbo-jet machines - that they surpass their flying performance, load capacity and maneouvrability and thereby make them obsolete. [17]


I am grateful to the carefully-presented information provided by Maurizio Verga on the
UFO Online website [18] () for much of the material I have used, in this section, to try and answer the questions raised by Lusar.


The earliest claim by an individual of the construction of a wartime flying disk was made by Guiseppe Belluzzo on or around March 27 1950, at a time when there had been a number of flying saucer reports in the Italian media, and European interest in the subject was high. On that date the Italian newspaper 'Il Mattino dell'Italia Centrale' published, with a vague and uninformative line-drawing as illustration, Belluzzo's apparent claim that circular aircraft had been developed since 1942, first in Italy, and then in Germany. The Italian idea was, supposedly, developed by the Germans in North-East Norway. The story also appeared in 'Il Corriere della Sera', 'La Nazione', and 'La Gazzetta del Popolo', and, in 'Il Corriere d'Informazione' of March 29-30 1950, with a comment by a General Ranza of the Italian Air Force dismissing Belluzzo's claims. It seems that Belluzzo did not claim that the disc flew during the war but that, by 1950, it had been sufficiently developed to deliver an atom bomb. This development was said to be some 10 metres wide, constructed with very light materials, and unmanned.

We know something of Belluzzo's background and competence. Verga notes that he lived from November 25, 1876 to May 21,  1952, and was a turbine expert who published nearly fifty technical books. He was elected to the pre-war Fascist parliament, and from 1925 to 1928 served as Minister of the National Economy. I have traced a listing for a book of his - on turbines - full of technical drawings and translated into English in 1926. It is quite feasible that he could have contributed to a range of technological projects, but it seems that he never claimed to have built a flying disc, nor to have named those who worked with the Germans in Norway. As in all such reports, no viable propulsion, launch, lift, flight, control or landing data is provided, and the criteria for publication seems to have been that the object should resemble the flying saucers which, as ever, had caught the media's attention.

It is quite possible that a former Fascist minister would be happy to seek a little belated glory for his nation and his regime, but for all of the later interpretations of his role in the history of Nazi UFOs his claims were very limited, and so far as the assertion of a design for a reasonably-sized, unmanned flying disc was concerned, they are neither unique nor implausible. Belluzzo may, in part at least, have been telling the truth.

It is worth noting that several later sources changed the name of the one individual who we can be sure actually had some relevant technical background from Belluzzo to Bellonzo.


News travels fast. Verga speculates that the Belluzzo story was also published in Germany, where it would certainly have been of great interest. Anyway, just days after Belluzzo's claims were first published, one Rudolf Schriever made very similar claims in a general flying saucer article in 'Der Spiegel' for March 30 1950. He, too, claimed only that he developed blueprints, starting in 1942, which he believed later fell into the hands of the Americans or Germans. The article first introduced a wonderfully infeasible drawing/diagram which looked like something designed by a latterday Otto Lilienthal and, of course, lacked any meaningful technical information. This regularly resurfaces (most recently as an amazing new and secret discovery on the Sightings website [19] in the belief-oriented media. It is said that drawings of flying discs were found among Schriever's possessions after he died in the late 1950s.

It seems that Schriever described himself as "Flugkapitän Schriever", and that in March 1950 he was working for the US Forces in Germany, delivering copies of the newspaper 'Stars and Stripes' to army bases. Vladimir Terziski, that least reliable of sources, tries to find some glamour in this job, suggesting it was a cover for smuggling valuables of various kinds for some Nazi underground. Harbinson says that he purported that his 'flying disc' had been ready for testing in early 1944, but, with the advance of the Allies into
Germany, the test had been cancelled, and the machine destroyed. Initially, though, he appears to have claimed little more than Belluzzo earlier the same week. Again, his involvement is just a side-bar to media coverage of a UFO flap. Again, it is others who have made entirely different claims for him. After all, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to be a lorry driver.


There is an interview with a "Dr Richard Miethe", 'German aeronautical engineer' and 'ex-Colonel', in France-Soir for
7 June 1952. I only have a transcript, in French, but apparently the paper also published a photo of Dr Miethe in his swimming trunks.

My French isn't great, but it seems that in the interview with Dr Miethe, conducted in Tel Aviv in June 1952, he says that he is 40 years old, gives specific details of his military background, and claims that he built a flying-saucer - the V7 which he built in 1944, the motors of which the Russians found at
Breslau. He claims that from April 1943 he commanded a group of technicians of the 10th Reich Army, at Essen, Stettin and Dortmund
, where the main research into German secret weapons was conducted. He doesn't name any of the other six engineers he says were involved, but says clearly that three are dead, and three are believed to have been taken by the Russians.

Not unusually, the heart of the interview is his comments on some recent Brazilian flying saucer reports, and his opinion that if flying saucers are seen, then they will have been Russian-built from the knowledge of his three captured colleagues. But perhaps the most important point of all is that this Miethe seems to have had nothing to do with the
USA, Operation Paperclip, or anything similar. The article says, I think, that a few days before the German surrender he left the front to join the Arab Legion based in Addis Ababa and Cairo, where a number of Hitler's senior officers had regrouped. At the time of the interview, in Tel Aviv, it seems that he had been ejected from Egypt, where he says he had been working with others to reconstruct the engine with which his earlier flying disc had been powered. The trigger for the expulsion may have been a breakdown in diplomatic relations between Germany and Egypt

As ever, we have no idea how the saucer flew or functioned, but more than two years later, in September 1952, the Italian magazine published some fuzzy, unconvincing photos of something looking not unlike a curling stone, on an angle against a featureless background (those featureless backgrounds are everywhere in 50s ufology). These, Tempo claims, were taken over the Baltic on
April 17, 1944
, when the Miethe saucer was test-flown. The article persisted with the assertion that the Russians had obtained the secrets of these miraculous flying discs.

Georg Klein - February 1945

Harbinson notes that "alleged eye witness Georg Klein, a former engineer with Albert Speer's Ministry for Armament and Ammunition . . told the press that he had actually seen the test flight of the Schriever disc, or one similar, near
Prague on 14 February 1945."

Redfern and Downes quote a CIA report dated
27 May 1954, which says:


A German newspaper (not further identified) recently published an interview with George Klein, famous German engineer and aircraft expert, describing the experimental construction of 'flying saucers' carried out by him from 1941 to 1945. Klein stated that he was present when, in 1945, the first piloted 'flying saucer' took off and reached a speed of 1,3000 miles per hour within 3 minutes. The experiments resulted in three designs: one designed by Miethe was a disc-shaped aircraft, 135 feet in diameter, which did not rotate; another designed by Habermohl and Schriever, consisted of a large rotating ring, in the centre of which was a round, stationary cabin for the crew. When the Soviets occupied Prague, the Germans destroyed every trace of the 'flying saucer' project and nothing more was heard of Habermohl and his assistants. [20]

The German newspaper appears to have been Welt am Sonntag for (different dates are given) April 25 or 26 1953. The article is titled "Erste 'Flugscheibe' flog 1945 in Prag", and there is a photo of 'George Klein' pointing at the same vague diagram that Lusar reprints.


It may be that there is another source of which I'm not aware, but 'Klaus' Habermohl seems to have made his first and last appearance in Klein's 1953 account. Real history and science reveal nothing of his existence or his achievements. He may well have lived nowhere but in the active brain of Herr Klein, of whose existence the worlds of science and engineering are similarly ill-informed.


Klaus Habermohl, a BMW engineer who worked as part of the Flugzeug Special Projects Group in Prague, was the man who developed the radial-flow jet engine in the 1930s, described in various articles as a system of "adjustable" nozzles, of great significance just ten years later. (Radial-flow allowed for VTOL performance and used the little-known "Coanda" effect). He was captured by the Russians in Prague on or about 11th May 1945.He undoubtedly helped the construction of a Soviet disc.

The Lusar question - solved

The copy of German Secret Weapons of the Second World War that I read came from the British Library. It is worth noting that it didn't have a dust jacket, which may have contained additional information, but the text of the book itself gives no clue as to the author's background, his sources, or of any special authority or knowledge he might have had, or of access to information that was not already in the public domain. To afford some impression of authority, others have given Lusar various different jobs and titles by various different commentators, but as with so many others in the mythos, there is no objective evidence to verify any of them. The simple fact is that all the 'factual' content of Lusar's section about 'flying saucers' came from the content of the newspaper comments by Belluzzo, Schriever and Klein. He seems to have been aware of the Tempo article including the photos of the 'Miethe saucer', but not of the earlier interview with Miethe. He has Miethe as a builder of saucers, but says he is in Canada, and not in Egypt or Israel. He ignores the fact that neither Belluzzo nor Schriever - initially at least with regard to the latter - claimed that discs had been built or flown. Instead, he adds Klein's claims of construction and flight to the names and supposed background of Belluzzo and Schriever and, as he had seen the photos of Miethe's disc in Tempo, purports that Miethe's design flew, too. Why he excluded Klein's name from Secret Weapons . . is not clear, but because he wasn't named, he never achieved the fame of the others. Even Habermohl, whose name was neither German nor Italian, and who probably never existed at all in the context of the development of flying discs, has achieved greater fame than George Klein. Perhaps we can, in future, acknowledge the vital, perhaps paramount part he played in building the Nazi UFO mythos. After all, it was Klein who decided that the high-performance wartime discs actually flew: Lusar only gave Klein's decision lasting, international publicity.

Very few writers have made clear that Lusar actually wrote his explanation of German disc developments in the context of worldwide flying saucer reports. Indeed, little emphasis has been placed on the fact that all of the material published prior to Lusar's book only appeared in that context, providing a relatively local angle on reports of flying saucers further afield. Given the total absence of tangible, objective, contemporary evidence to support any of Lusar's assertions, I think we can safely say that Nazi UFOs did not lead to any of the reports of flying saucers from 1947 onwards. It would be far more accurate to say that the flying saucer craze led to the making of increasingly false and hollow claims about the existence, and achievements, of Nazi UFOs.

Finally, the question of why Vesco, published in 1969, didn't mention Lusar or the Saucer Builders. The answer seems to be that because Vesco’s first book (the only one of interest to us here) was completed in 1956, before the earliest version of Lusar’s book appeared, and because Lusar’s book was published long before the actual publication of Vesco’s first book in 1969, we shouldn’t be surprised that their two theories of German flying saucers are entirely exclusive: Lusar doesn’t mention Vesco’s Feuerball and Kugelblitz, and Vesco has clearly never heard of Lusar’s SMBH disk. There's no mystery here. There just isn’t anything at all.


I've been lucky enough to find, through the local library, a copy of the other key work - taking into account the assorted contributions of 'Renato Vesco' - in the 'Nazi UFO' mythos. This is the almost legendary German Secret Weapons of the Second World War by Rudolf Lusar, translated by R P Heller and M Schindler. The copy I have was published in 1959 by the Philosophical Library, New York, but printed in Great Britain. Lusar gives a little information about himself at the end of his Foreword, originally written for the German edition in April 1957. He says it was written in Munich, and he signs himself as "RUDOLF LUSAR (Major of the Reserve) (ret.)

I am not aware that any competent check has been made of Lusar's background, rank, or of how he obtained - as a mere retired Major - the vast amount of supposedly highly secret material he presents in this book. Some of which seems to originate only with Lusar himself.

Famed US researcher Martin Kottmeyer has been good enough to provide me with some 'Nazi UFO' material from a range of sources. One news cutting from the New Britain Herald for Thursday, March 14, 1957 is credited to AP, and is headed

No Flying Saucer Built by Hitler

Washington (AP) James H Doolittle says it "just ain't so" that Nazi Germany developed a flying saucer and a bomber that could attack the United States and return without refuelling. The veteran airman, chairman of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, gave a House Appropriations subcommittee his estimate of reports published in Germany of great aviation accomplishments under Hitler. These were contained in a book by Rudolf Lusar, former German War Ministry special weapons chief.
Doolittle's testimony was published today, along with that of Hugh L Dryden, director of the advisory committee. Dryden said "there is no truth" in a statement that German engineers designed a flying saucer which attained a height of 40,000 feet and speed of 1,250 miles an hour. "This is an advertisement for a book which includes material discovered by our groups who went into Germany after the war", he said. Dryden said also the man supposed to have designed the bomber that could cross the Atlantic without refuelling had written a book of his own with no mention of any such invention. Doolittle, asked about both the saucer and the bomber, said, "It just ain't so".
It would be interesting to know whether Lusar can actually be identified as the former "German War Ministry special weapons chief", or whether this is an unsubstantiated claim made in the 1957 publicity for the book. The reality of the "Flying Saucers" section of German Secret Weapons of the Second World War is that it runs to just two pages and five lines. More than half a page is taken up by a drawing - devoid of detail - of an aerial and side view of a thin "flying disc" of absurd simplicity, with something like a big balloon gondola stuck through the middle of it. It promises all the aerodynamic potential of a chicken, but Lusar claims that
…during the war German research workers and scientists made the first moves in the direction of these "flying saucers". They built and tested such near-miraculous contraptions . . . Habermohl and Schriever chose a wide-surface ring which rotated round a fixed, cupola-shaped cockpit. The ring consisted of adjustable wing-discs which could be brought into appropriate position for the take-off or horizontal flight, respectively. Miethe developed a discus-shaped plane of a diameter of 42m. in which adjustable jets were inserted. Schriever and Habermohl, who worked in Prague, took off with the first "flying disc" on February 14, 1945. Within three minutes they climbed to an altitude of 12,400m. and reached a speed of 2,000km./h. in horizontal flight(!) . . . these novel "flying saucers" are far superior to conventional aircraft - including modern turbo-jet machines - that they surpass their flying performance, load capacity and manoeuvrability and thereby make them obsolete.

I don't know much about weapons or aircraft, but I do know that this clumsy disc apparatus, with something like a large domed summerhouse on top, did not fly at more than 1100 mph, or climb to around 8 miles up in three minutes. How many aircraft ever have? I also know little about cameras, but enough to identify another of Lusar's claims as pure fabrication:

Among especially important developments of German research were cameras capable of taking up to 8,000,000 photographs per second . . Cranz-Schadin developed an apparatus consisting of a camera with special sparking plugs connected with the electric condenser with twenty-four spark-gaps and twenty-four single-exposure cameras which were geometrically so arranged that one camera belonged to each sparking plug. This camera was able to take up to 5,000,000 pictures per second.

Let's just consider these cameras. For 24 cameras, between them, to "take 5,000,000 pictures per second" means that each camera would have to take, er, 208,333 pictures per second. Quite a shutter speed. And an ability to move 5,787 x 36-exposure films past that shutter in just one second. I suppose Cranz-Schardin might just have linked up 24 cameras to shoot in sequence at intervals of one five-millionth of a second, over 24 five-millionths of a second and no longer. But I very much doubt it and, anyway, that just isn't what 'Lusar' claims. He clearly wants us to believe that German cameras could "take 5,000,000 pictures per second". If 'Lusar' was a real person, recording what he believed to be true, then he was, technically, grossly incompetent. His claims for flying saucers and cameras are just two examples to which I can relate. There may be plenty more.

His agenda is made clear at the end of the book, saying that;

The achievements of the German people in the Second World War are almost beyond belief . . Confident of justice, trusting in God and Right the German people fought on with superior courage despite great difficulties . . the German sword had to break, since this was the will of Germany's adversaries.

I can identify no regrets here. Lusar appears to be an unreconstructed Nazi, indulging in the standard disinformation and propaganda that lay at the heart of that regime. He wanted the world of 1957 to think that the still-exciting flying saucer phenomenon was the work of his comrades, a touch of Nazi genius that outlived the war. And he was willing to deceive to achieve that end.

In my view, the confirmation from the 1957 AP release that Lusar mixed real and fabricated information in his book is entirely consistent with the rest of our knowledge of the 'Nazi UFO' mythos. The later development of half-baked flying discs bears no comparison to Lusar's claims. There is no more of a timeline between Lusar's 1945 flying saucer and real aircraft in the real world than there is evidence that the thing ever existed, let alone flew. I have no doubt that the claims of performance, at least, are lies, concocted by whom, and why, we cannot be sure. But if believed, they make the Germans - the Nazis - look far cleverer than those sick losers have any right to appear.

I have a simple proposition to make. Unless anyone can find a convincing, coherent version of the February 1945 test-flight - not of some half-baked US flying wing a decade later - then I suggest that this "flying saucer" account was a fiction distributed by Lusar, whoever and whatever he may have been, possibly based on the highly dubious account said to have been given by Rudolf Schriever in West Germany in 1952. I also suggest that both were later elaborated by 'Renate Vesco' in the late 1960s to include wildly speculative interpretations of the 'Foo Fighter' material which, by then, was more widely known, and to place the test-flight in the same month, but in 'Thuringia'. Since then it has been propagated by one insufficiently careful author after another, particularly in the entertaining, but hardly meticulously researched, work of W A Harbinson.

If this tale is to survive, it's time for somebody produced a credible, authoritative account that doesn't quote ludicrous speeds of travel and ascent, that has some clue about the mechanics of the craft's propulsion, and which, preferably, doesn't come from a source that claims to have been actively involved with the wartime Nazi regime. Similarly, in the context of the flawed nature of the rest of the evidence, any claim based on the existence of surviving film of wartime 'Nazi UFO' test flights would require substantial investigation to be regarded as credible, including an explanation of exactly who presented that material, and how it came to be on show.

It's important to try to get this right. It's no good our having some success in controlling the 'alien abduction' and 'secret government' myths if we just get stuck with a disinformation-based 'Nazi technology' one instead. Tim Good's latest book, the under-researched Alien Base, refers to 'Flying Saucers of the Third Reich: The Legacy of Prague-Kbely (pending publication) by Mark Ian Birdsall". Another forthcoming book may represent Lusar as authoritative, and further propagate as a revelation a view for which I have yet to detect any proof. That may only highlight my many shortcomings as a researcher, but unless some solid, testable evidence comes along to balance the blatant lies, I think that we have a responsibility to do now what is necessary to dispose of this crude confabulation before it has a chance to achieve a respectability it does not seem to deserve.