Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Answers: Trivial World War Two Quiz

with 4 comments


Spoiler warning: This is the answer page to the to the Trivial World War Two Quiz. It’s a trivia test, and some of it is pretty obscure trivia, don’t be alarmed if you couldn’t answer any of them. People that could answer some or all of them, I’m impressed. And as it is a trivia test, I didn’t go to quite the level of care in my other quizzes to make sure I got my facts right. If I messed up, let me know. Enjoy!

1. The only war related deaths in continental America during World War Two were caused by:
A: Rockets fired from a German U-Boat.
B: Balloon bombs launched from Japan.
C: Bombers from a Japanese aircraft carrier attacking Los Angeles.
D: Explosives set by German saboteurs in Tennessee.

The answer to this is B, balloon bombs launched from Japan. Late in the war Japan launched thousands of bomb carrying unmanned balloons that used the jet stream (as yet undiscovered by the allies) to carry them across the Pacific, where they were to set huge forest fires that would cause terrible economic damage to the United States. Few actually made it, they only set a few small forest fires, and unfortunately killed a Sunday School teacher teacher and four children who found one in the woods in Oregon and were dragging it home unaware that it contained a bomb.

The program was a failure, and the Americans even figured out where the bombs were being launched from (by studying the sand in the balloon’s ballast loads) and bombed it. It’s been pointed out though that while the Americans were spending a million dollars each to build bombers to bomb Japan with, the Japanese figured out a way to get bombs to North America that basically cost nothing. In that sense it was a remarkably clever idea.

There was a “Battle of Los Angeles,” but to this day no one knows what or who, if they existed at all, the attackers were. A German saboteur team was planning to attack American industrial targets, but they were betrayed by one of their own and captured by the FBI before they could act. There were no rocket firing U-boats that I am aware of.

2. The only place armed enemy troops landed in North America other than the Japanese invasion of Alaska was in:
A: Long Island, NY
B: Newfoundland, Canada
C: Florida, USA
D: New Jersey

The answer here is Newfoundland. An armed party from a U-Boat landed and set up an automatic weather station. The weather systems in the North Atlantic travel from West to East, so the Allies, having weather stations all over the North Atlantic, always had pretty good forecasts for the weather over Europe. For example that was part of how the Allies surprised the Germans at D-Day, the allies knew the weather over France was going to clear up on June 6th 1944, the Germans expected it to keep raining.

So the Germans built a very clever automatic weather station, Weather Station Kurt, and carried to to Newfoundland in a submarine, they hoped it would give them vital information about weather in the North Atlantic. However, apparently by coincidence, the allies started jamming the frequency it was using to transmit its reports a few days after it was set up, and it became useless. It was forgotten about and not recovered until 1981, and is now on display in the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa.

Another German secret manned weather station was set up in Greenland…and forgotten about when the war ended. After some months they realized rescue was not coming, and began broadcasting on allied distress frequencies. In September 1945, some five months after the official end of the war, they formally surrendered to the bemused Captain of a Norwegian whaling vessel, the last soldiers of Nazi Germany to surrender. (They had volunteered for the job because they were told it would involve a chance to go skiing.)

The Japanese did invade two Alaskan Islands during the war, Attu and Kiska, and there was serious fighting on one of them when the Americans recaptured it. The Japanese garrison on the second managed to slip away under the cover of bad weather. The German saboteur team actually landed on a beach in Florida. They must have been quite a sight, there’s a bad sit com in there somewhere. And the Germans did “plan” to invade the undefended shores of New Jersey in some of their later basically fantasy based war planning.

3. The world’s first operational jet powered military aircraft was the:
A: Gloster Meteor.
B: P-51 Mustang
C: Messerschmidt 262
D: Mig 1

This would be the Me-262. The Gloster Meteor was a British jet and was the first allied jet fighter, it served until 1970 with some air forces. The American P-51 Mustang, while an important plane, was not a jet and you should slap yourself if you thought it was. The Mig 1 was a Russian prop driven plane as well, but it’s more understandable if one guessed the Mig because the later Migs were all jets, in fact Mig is almost synonymous with Russian jet fighter.

The Me-262 was a superb aircraft and might even have turned the tide for the Germans if they had rushed it into large scale production early enough. However in an amazingly stupid fit of optimism Hitler cancelled all of Germany’s weapons programs in 1940 thinking he could win the war with the weapons he had. When they were frantically restarted in 1942 not only had valuable time been lost, key technicians and engineers had been killed in Russia. Then despite all advice to the contrary Hitler ordered the Me-262 to be used as a bomber, a task it was not designed for and was singularly unsuited for. Few of them ever saw service as fighters, and by the time they did it was too little too late.

4. This battle was the last major defeat for the allies in Europe:
A: The Battle of the Bulge
B: The Battle Of Britain
C: The Battle of France
D: The Battle of Arnhem

This would be D, the battle of Arnhem. British General Montgomery came up with the idea (Operation Market Garden) to land a bunch of airborne troops in Holland, capture some bridges, then columns of tanks would rush down these highways, cross the bridges, pour into the undefended German Ruhr valley, the centre of German industry, and win the war by Christmas 1944. It was a brilliant, but, um, complicated plan. Patton thought the idea was nuts and only went along if the British took point so to speak.

So all these airborne units dropped, all the bridges were captured, and the tanks started rolling. The only thing defending the furthest bridge, in Arnhem, were the remnants of German units who had been so beaten up in Russia the previous summer they were at about 10% strength. By all normal calculations, a military unit at ten percent strength is useless, and these units were ignored in Allied planning.

Well, yeah, normally. These however were not normal German units. They were the best of the best, these guys had been fighting together for years in Russia and were crack veterans by any standards. And they had been sitting in Holland resting for months waiting for more men to replace their losses. They had lots of brand new tanks and weapons though.

So when the lightly armed and disorganized British units began falling from the sky around them, these Germans knew what to do. It wasn’t pretty. Basically the entire British force, the force that had to seize the furthest and most important bridge, was surrounded and killed or captured. Only a few thousand managed to escape. By the time the British tanks arrived, it was all over and the battle was a total loss.

5. This country was not invited to the World’s Fair celebrating the end of World War Two:
A: Canada
B: Russia
C: Germany
D: Japan

Canada. Somebody forgot.

6. Project Habakkuk was a plan to build a…
A: Missile that could be fired from Germany to New York.
B: German nuclear weapon.
C: Giant allied aircraft carrier made out of ice.
D: Tunnel from Italy to North Africa.

Yes, as long time readers of my blog might know, the allies actually did toy with the idea of building a giant island made out of frozen ice like material in the mid Atlantic, to use as an airbase to hunt U-boats from. There were German plans to build a New York Rocket, as well as a New York Bomber, but neither ever got close to actual use.

The Germans were working on nuclear weapons, and a workable diagram of a Nazi nuclear bomb design was recently discovered. However, they did not have the nuclear material needed to construct bombs, and their bomb program was never a realistic threat. A recent claim that the Nazis set off a small test bomb is regarded by historians as being about the same as the claim that the Confederates fired a rocket from Richmond toward Washington in the waning days of the American Civil War. It didn’t happen.

7. Which animal was awarded medals for valour during the war?
A: Chips, an American dog that captured seven prisoners in battle.
B. Boris, Hitler’s personal German Shepherd.
C: Penelope, a bomb sniffing burro credited with saving many lives during the London blitz.
D: None of the above. Animals don’t win medals, this question was clearly made up.

Chips is the guy. He charged a machine gun nest in Italy and was shot in the process, but he captured six Italian soldiers and saved the lives of the men in his squad. He was awarded a Silver Star for valour and a Purple Heart for being wounded. Some people were outraged that a mere dog should receive medals, and the Army took back the medals. I swear to God, I’m not making this up.

8. The largest battleship of the war was the:
A: HMS Hood, sunk by the smaller Bismarck in 1941
B: The USS, Arizona, sunk at Pearl Harbor.
C: Yamato, and its sister ship the Muashi.
D: The USS Missouri.

This would be the Yamato and its sister ship the Muashi, the largest battleships ever built. They had 18 inch guns, the largest guns ever fitted on a warship. However, while fabulously expensive, the era of the Battleship was over and they never accomplished anything of significance. Both were sunk by aircraft from American aircraft carriers, the new rulers of the sea.

It’s also a pretty good bet that the Yamato and Muashi would have lost if they had fought against American Missouri class battleships. While the American battleships were smaller and only had sixteen inch guns, they had much better electronics including radar aimed weapons.

9. This was the largest tank battle in history:
A: D-Day, 1944
B: Stalingrad, 1943
C: Kursk, 1943
D: Berlin , 1945

The Battle of Kursk in 1943 where the Germans attempted to surround an exposed Russian army, as they had done so handily in the summer of 1941. Times had changed though, the era of the Blitzkreig was over. The Russians had huge numbers of tanks, and had months to dig anti-tank trenches and lay anti-tank mines. They were ready for the Germans when they attacked, and the Germans made little progress and suffered heavy losses. Stalingrad made it clear that Germany was not going to win the war with Russia, at Kursk it became clear they were going to lose. Kursk was the last major German attack on the Russian front, for the rest of the war the Russian rolled inexorably toward Berlin.

10. What is the aircraft at the top of the page?

This is the German Messerschmitt 163 Komet, the war’s one and only operational rocket powered aircraft. Yes, a liquid fuelled rocket fired out of a small nozzle at the back of the aircraft, propelling it to an unimaginable speed for it’s day (nearly 1000kph/600 mph/Mach 0.73) An interesting feature is that to save weight, the undercarriage and wheels were not attached and fell away as the plane took off, it had to land on its belly when it returned from its mission. The undercarriage was prone to bouncing off the runway and damaging or crashing the plane on takeoff. If it got airborne, it was a superb aircraft, but only had enough fuel for six minutes of powered flight! The plane had to be glided to a landing after the fuel ran out, pilots often suffered serious back injuries on these hard landings. The Me-163 shot down very few allied aircraft and was basically an expensive failure, but it was a key milestone on the way to the modern jet interceptor.

Next, I’m thinking a Civil War quiz or even a Roman Empire quiz. I know all sorts of stuff about the Romans, everything in the west since them has been but a pale imitation of their glory. Even Star Trek understood this. Roman Empire envy, it may be the death of us all yet. And no, Cleopatra was not black.

(The above image is public domain.)

Written by unitedcats

June 10, 2007 at 6:09 am

Posted in History, Science, War

4 Responses

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  1. I read somewhere that the japanese ballon bombs did acually get tangled in the powerlines to the secret Hanford plutonium enrichment plant and did shut the power off temporarily. A lucky hit that was covered over Im told.


    June 10, 2007 at 7:47 am

  2. Oh, I hadn’t heard that, but yes. I found mention of it at:
    Japanese Attack Mainland
    It shut down the Hanford plant for three days, the only factory shut down by enemy action during World War Two! Thanks. —Doug


    June 10, 2007 at 8:30 am

  3. Great quiz! Tough too.


    June 10, 2007 at 10:38 am

  4. […] Space Exploration Breaking News: Paris Hilton escapes jail, defects to Iran. Ahmadinejad says she will be used as a human shield against American attack. Answers: Trivial World War Two Quiz […]

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