Ghost Rockets (1946)


Ghost Rockets

The 1946 "ghost rockets" phenomenon refers to a series of mysterious aerial sightings that occurred mainly in Scandinavia, particularly in Sweden and Finland, shortly after World War II. These sightings involved reports of rocket or missile-like objects flying through the skies, often at high speeds and with no apparent explanation. Here are some key details about the 1946 ghost rockets:


The ghost rocket sightings began in the late spring and early summer of 1946 and continued for several months. The peak of the sightings occurred in July and August of that year.


Witnesses described the objects as elongated, cigar-shaped, or rocket-like, with some reporting that they emitted flames, sparks, or smoke trails. The objects were typically silent and often flew at high speeds.

Geographical Spread

Ghost rocket sightings were most prevalent in Sweden, particularly in the northern part of the country, but they were also reported in neighboring Finland and other parts of Scandinavia. Reports also came from other European countries, including Norway and Denmark.

Government and Military Involvement

The Swedish military took the sightings seriously and initiated investigations into the phenomenon. They even recovered some fragments believed to be from the mysterious objects. The military's involvement signaled the potential threat of these unidentified aerial objects.

International Interest

The ghost rocket sightings gained international attention, leading to speculation and concern about their origin. Some suggested they might be Soviet missiles or experimental rockets left over from World War II. Prominent officials from the US investigated the ghost rockets under the ruse of private business and appeared convinced that the sightings were real rockets launched from Peenemünde (the location where Germany tested the V2 rocket). However, there was no evidence that rockets were launched during that time from that location.

Lack of Explanation

Despite extensive investigations and efforts to identify the objects, no conclusive explanation for the ghost rockets was ever found. Various theories were proposed, including the possibility of secret military tests, meteorological phenomena, or natural explanations. However, none of these explanations could account for all the reported sightings.

Cold War Context

The ghost rocket sightings occurred during the early years of the Cold War, adding to the tension and concern in Europe. The fear of potential military threats contributed to the seriousness with which these sightings were treated.


The 1946 ghost rocket sightings remain an unsolved mystery in UFOlogy and continue to be a subject of interest among researchers and enthusiasts. While they were not technically "UFOs" in the sense of unidentified flying objects of extraterrestrial origin, they share similarities with the broader UFO phenomenon in terms of unexplained aerial sightings.

In retrospect, the ghost rocket sightings of 1946 represent one of the early instances of widespread public interest in unidentified aerial phenomena, setting the stage for the later development of UFOlogy as a field of study. The lack of a definitive explanation for these sightings has contributed to their enduring intrigue.

When officers of this Directorate recently visited the Swedish Air Intelligence Service, this question was put to the Swedes. Their answer was that some reliable and fully technically qualified people have reached the conclusion that 'these phenomena are obviously the result of a high technical skill which cannot be credited to any presently known culture on earth'. They are therefore assuming that these objects originate from some previously unknown or unidentified technology, possibly outside the earth.

These sightings were reported in other parts of Europe including Italy, Greece, Portugal, Belgium and other places. Here is a quote from a Greek scientist who also worked on the A-bomb:

In a 1967 lecture to the Greek Astronomical Society, broadcast on Athens Radio, Santorinis first publicly revealed what had been found in his 1947 investigation. "We soon established that they were not missiles. But, before we could do any more, the Army, after conferring with foreign officials (presumably U.S. Defense Dept.), ordered the investigation stopped. Foreign scientists [from Washington] flew to Greece for secret talks with me". Later Santorinis told UFO researchers such as Raymond Fowler that secrecy was invoked because officials were afraid to admit of a superior technology against which we have "no possibility of defense"

Interesting Facts

  • Two hundred sightings were verified with radar returns, and authorities recovered physical fragments which were attributed to ghost rockets.

  • In 1946, however, it was thought likely that they originated from the former German rocket facility at Peenemünde, and were long-range tests by the Soviets of captured German V-1 or V-2 missiles, or perhaps another early form of cruise missile because of the ways they were sometimes seen to maneuver. This prompted the Swedish Army to issue a directive stating that newspapers were not to report the exact location of ghost rocket sightings, or any information regarding the direction or speed of the object.

  • The early Soviet origins theory was rejected by Swedish, British, and U.S. military investigators because no recognizable rocket fragments were ever found, and according to some sightings, the objects displayed some combination of leaving no exhaust trail, moving too slowly, flying horizontally, traveling and maneuvering in formation, and appearing to be silent.

  • Of the nearly 1,000 reports that had been received by the Swedish Defense Staff to November 29, 225 were considered observations of "real physical objects" and every one had been seen in broad daylight.

  • But, before we could do any more, the Army, after conferring with foreign officials (presumably U.S. Defense Dept.), ordered the investigation stopped

  • In 1946, Peenemünde, the site of the German V-2 rocket development during World War II, was controlled by the Soviet Union. After World War II, Germany was divided into occupation zones by the Allied powers, with the Soviet Union occupying the eastern part of Germany. Peenemünde, located in what would become East Germany, fell under Soviet control as part of their occupation zone.

  • The V-2 rocket technology developed at Peenemünde was of significant interest to both the United States and the Soviet Union, and as a result, many German scientists and engineers who had worked on the V-2 program were taken to the United States as part of Operation Paperclip or were captured and interrogated by the Soviets. This marked the beginning of the post-war era's space and rocket programs in both superpowers.


It was surprisingly hard to find any first-hand accounts of the ghost rockets so I could not really tell if what was seen was truly other-worldly or not. For me the simplest answer is that this was the Soviet Union continuing the work that started in Peenemünde during the Nazi era. This was the assessment of the US officials who looked into ghost rockets.

This was happening in 1946, just a year after World War 2 ended and the Cold War was just started. Europe was in political chaos and Peenemünde was controlled by the Soviet Union. We know that the US and the USSR captured as many rocket scientists as they could. This really looks like rocket tests.

As far as the stranger aspects of this, I have to imagine that in 1946 people were just not as used to objects like jets and rockets. Perceptually it must have been confusing and you would only see a rocket for a few seconds. It's easily to imagine that they moved in weird ways. Some of them probably did. The Nazi's had extremely advanced technology at the time and were the first to launch a rocket into space. It is not out of the question that early cruise missile technology or other things were being developed by the end of the war. None of that would have been familiar to people at the time.

The only counter-weight to this secret military technology theory is the opinions of the two military officers who felt that this technology represented something extremely more advanced. Yet even "technical experts" could mistake unknown technology for something otherworldly.

All that being said, we don't really have proof either way. These are certainly mysterious.

What I find most interesting about this case is that you can see the seeds of UFOlogy being planted. We have reports of the military trying to prevent the story from being reported, technical experts who think the only explanation must be aliens, and I even read that the recovered materials were thin and papery like the Roswell case. There is this mysterious connection between Nazis and Operation Paperclip. You can really see the Culture of Secrecy beginning here.

My gut feeling is that we probably saw the results of the USSR and US trying to exploit as much of this Nazi technology that they could. It was probably a sloppy operation but there was a race on at that point. Citizens were not familiar with high technology yet and all were sensitive because of the events of World War II. Rockets could have easily started off a flap and some of the other sightings could be mixed in with that. We know that people do report cylinder shapes moving weirdly even today.