Adolf Hitler planned to obliterate New York with a massive bombardment, according to two historians who are about to publish a book on the subject.
Laureano Clavero and Pere Cardona made the claim to Spanish newspaper ABC as they promoted their new book, The Diary of Peter Brill, a Nazi pilot during World War Two.
The authors say Brill, who died in 2013, was part of a secret project to send a huge bomber from Germany to the United States. The New York mission has long been considered a myth, but they insist Brill admitted his involvement when they interviewed him.
Clavero said he stumbled across Brill and his history back in 2010, when investigating the crash of two German bombers in the Pyrenees during the conflict. Brill agreed to an interview, and told the historians that he had been asked to take part in a secret mission to cross the Atlantic and launch the huge bombardment.
The authors believe the project was convened in 1943, with Hitler's enthusiastic support. The huge Heinkel plane would be modified to allow it to fly 12,000 miles (the distance from Berlin to New York and back).
Brill and five others received top-secret training in the Polish city of Thorn, where they learned to fly at high altitude - and had to brave the frequent fires in the bomber's engines. However it soon became clear the Heinkel was incapable of flying to New York and back.
The authors claim that, when it became clear that the Junker could not fly such a long distance, the German engineers toyed with various workarounds, including the creation of a halfway house and the coupling of the bomber to a Mescherschmitt. However the mission was eventually scrapped, with more pressing difficulties taking precedence.
"What is certain is that they were close to realising their objective, but all the crazy dreams of Hitler were left to one side after the battle of Stalingrad," Cardona said. "They were pushed aside for the day-to-day problems."
Clavero and Cardona have written their new book using the interviews given by Brill, and the memoirs gifted to them by his family when he died. The book will go on sale in November.