The Roswell Miracle Metal

Newly Declassified Memo, the Smoking Gun for Secret Back Engineering

The Battelle Memorial Institute is not well known to the general public. That is fine with the Defense Department, since they would prefer that the work that is done there remain “below the radar” as much as possible. And yet, this sprawling complex outside of Columbus, Ohio, adjacent to the Ohio State campus, along with the six, huge, associat­ed national laboratories that it manages, is the center of the most sensitive and important research and development on the planet. Founded in 1929 under the terms of the will of Ohio industrialist Gordon Battelle, it originally focused on R&D in metals to support the burgeoning iron and steel industries in the 1930s. According to its website (, “Battelle now owns more than two million square feet of laboratories in several locations that per­form cutting edge research in national security; environment, energy, and transportation; and health and life scienc­es,” and serves “more than 800 federal, state, and local government agencies; some of the largest corporations in the world; and private sector customers and partners through offices in more than 100 national and international loca­tions.” Battelle also manages or co-manages the Brookhaven, Idaho, Oak Ridge, Pacific Northwest and Lawrence Liv­ermore National Laboratories, as well as the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. And as of 2006, Battelle was se­lected to manage the new National Biodefense Analysis & Countermeasures Center (NBACC). In all, Battelle oversees 20,000 staff members and conducts $3.9 billion in annual research and development. Many of their highly classified research facilities are involved in development projects linked to the military.

Battelle’s military connection is no secret and is openly proclaimed on their website. They say, “With more than 50 years’ experience in military chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear defense programs, Battelle is a leader in using science and technology to detect hazards and protect people and facilities against weapons of mass destruc­tion. Battelle’s expertise covers all aspects of anti-terrorism defenses—from threat and vulnerability assessments, to testing of security systems, equipment, vaccines, medical and community response; and training and evaluations.” Battelle’s close ties to the military began during World War II. Because of the Institute’s expertise in metallurgy, it was called upon to study and develop refined uranium for the Manhattan Project, and it was instrumental in the mak­ing of the atomic bomb. As a consequence of this, it became one of the leading nuclear research facilities in the world, which resulted in a leadership position in nuclear propulsion. This led to the development of the first nuclear submarine, the Nautilus, in 1948. In the early 1950s, Battelle built the world’s first privately-owned nuclear research facility on a 10-acre tract of land near Columbus. It included a reactor, a critical assembly capability, and hot cells. Battelle’s innovative history is legendary. They developed xerography, have originated over 2,000 U.S. patents, and have received numerous awards and citations.

The Wright-Patterson Connection

Given their deep expertise in metallics and their wartime military affiliation, it should come as no surprise that when an alien spacecraft crashed in the New Mexico desert near Roswell in 1947, leaving metal-like fragments scat­tered all over the sheep ranch of Mac Brazel, the Army Air Force would turn to Battelle to analyze the debris— especially since Battelle knew how to keep secrets, as was amply demonstrated by their airtight participation in the Manhattan Project. In fact, it would actually be expected. So, the recent revelation by veteran UFO researcher and writer, Anthony Bragalia, that this is exactly what happened makes perfect sense. Furthermore, it makes even more sense since there is now overwhelming evidence that the recovered parts of the spacecraft were immediately flown to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, which is just down the road (about 100 miles) from Columbus. In fact, it seems very likely that the AAF had originally located their Foreign Technology Division at Wright-Patterson entirely because of this proximity to Battelle.

Bragalia writes about a document which was retrieved under the Freedom of Information Act, that clearly impli­cates Battelle in the analysis of the metallic pieces that were found at the Roswell crash site and the subsequent pro­ject to duplicate the so-called “memory metal” that astounded everyone who handled it at Roswell. Bragalia’s re­search was recently revealed on his blogsite, titled “The UFO Iconoclast(s),” and is incorporated into the new revised and expanded edition of the book by Thomas R. Carey and Donald J. Schmitt, Witness to Roswell: Un­masking the Government’s Biggest Cover-Up (New Jersey, Career Press (Paperback), 2009).

The FOIA request was submitted by Billy Cox, a reporter for the Sarasota, Florida Herald Tribune. In August, 2009, after a wait of 10 weeks, the Battelle document finally arrived and was shared with Bragalia. It is titled, “Second Progress Report Covering the Period September 1 to October 21, 1949 on Research and Development on Titanium Al­loys Contract No. 33 (038)-3736.” The authors are Battelle analysts C.W. Simmons, C.T. Greenidge, C.M. Craighead “and others.” The report was produced for Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (by 1949 the AAF had become the Air Force). Bragalia learned that the document had previously been restricted to viewing only by authorized DOD person­nel. The FOIA release had to be approved even now, 60 years later, by the Secretary of the Air Force! About 30% of the original 119 pages were missing. The receipt of this document by Cox and Bragalia was the final chapter in a long in­vestigation. They had previously found references to such a report in various footnotes in studies sponsored by the military on “shape-memory” alloys. In searching for this “missing” document, the paper trail led to the Battelle. Ini­tially, historians at both Battelle and Wright-Patterson claimed they couldn’t find it. But, thanks to the FOIA request, it was ultimately located in the archives of the Defense Technical Information Center at the Department of Defense.

It Floated Down Like Kleenex

Many people handled the strange metallic-appearing debris that littered Mac Brazel’s ranch after the crash of the spacecraft. They were all astonished at the bizarre qualities of the small samples they managed to get their hands on. Major Jesse Marcel said “[There were] many bits of metallic foil that looked like, but was not, aluminum, for no mat­ter how often one crumpled it, it regained its original shape. Besides that, they were indestructible, even with a sledgehammer.” William Brazel Jr. (son of Mac Brazel) said, “The odd thing about this foil was that you could wrin­kle it and lay it back down and it immediately resumed its original shape. It was quite pliable, yet you couldn’t crease or bend it like ordinary metal. It was almost more like a plastic of some sort except that it was definitely metallic in nature. I don’t know what it was, but I do know that Dad once said that the Army had told him that they had definite­ly established it wasn’t anything made by us.” Don Burleson (Roswell researcher) said, “Brazel set the object up at the base of a pinyon tree and suggested that they fire at it—which they did—with 30.06 deer rifles from a distance of about thirty feet, an easy target for experienced deer hunters. Mr. Croft (Phillip Croft, hunting companion of Mac Brazel) said that when the foil was hit, it spun a considerable distance up in the air and came floating down “like Kleenex.” Upon examining the material, the men found that it showed no effects from having been hit—not even a dent, and certainly no tears or punctures.” The Battelle “Second Progress Report” to Wright-Patterson is basically a review of Battelle’s effort to develop just such a metal as was reported by the Roswell witnesses. Although there is no direct reference to the Roswell crash in the Report, there are so many personnel links and clues to ongoing UFO re­search at Battelle that there can be very little doubt that the document was a report on a contract with the AAF to du­plicate the metal found at Roswell.

The Battelle UFO Culture

Perhaps the major clue was the discovery that one of the authors of the Report, who was included in the “and oth­ers,” category, was Elroy John Center. Center, a Senior Research Chemist at Battelle from 1939 to 1957, authored the section dealing with the chemical analysis of Titanium-Base Alloys. The Report had already concluded that a “shape­memory” metal must be a Titanium alloy of exceptional purity. Center’s job was to find ways to detect the oxygen lev­els in the Titanium. It was already known that Center had told a friend in 1960 that while he was a Research Chemist at Battelle in the late 1940s, he had been given the job of evaluating an unknown material that they told him had been retrieved from a crashed “flying saucer.” He also told his friend that the material had “hieroglyphic-like” mark­ings. In his blog, Bragalia tells us that Center’s family confirmed that he had an “intense interest” in UFOs and extra­terrestrials while working at Battelle.

Center’s interest in UFOs was not unusual at Battelle. In fact, it was apparently embedded within the organiza­tional culture. Bragalia reports that the Director of Battelle in the late 1940s was Clyde Williams. Williams was, at the same time, serving on the government’s Research and Development Board, which also included in its membership Dr. Eric Walker and Dr. Robert Sarbacher, both of whom later acknowledged that they knew about the Roswell crash. This is certainly a strong indication that the entire government R&D Board was deeply involved in the UFO/ET issue. And this connection would explain why, in 1952, it was Battelle that was chosen to do all the analysis for the infa­mous Project Blue Book, although, supposedly, it was Air Force Captain Edward J. Ruppelt, the head of Blue Book, who selected Battelle for this job. Given Battelle’s influence at such high levels, it is extremely unlikely that it was left to a lowly Air Force captain to make this selection. In any case, Battelle was commissioned to design the question­naire as well as to computerize and analyze the data for all reported UFO incidents nationally. Ruppelt took his job very seriously and every Air Force base in the country had a Blue Book officer who was required to submit all UFO re­ports. Starting in March, 1952, Battelle performed a massive statistical analysis of about 3200 cases using the then state-of-the-art IBM punched-card data processing technology. The project was completed in 1954, after Ruppelt’s de­parture, and resulted in the now well-known and contentious, “Special Report No. 14.”

The Mysterious Dr. Cross

The key intermediary between Wright-Patterson and Battelle after the Roswell crash was undoubtedly Dr. Howard Clinton Cross. It is known that Cross was a Senior Metallurgical Researcher prior to the crash, but after the contract was awarded to Battelle, he apparently emerged as the Research Director for the memory-metal project. This placed him squarely at the crossroads of interaction with several government agencies; and he became the point man for all matters relating to UFOs at Battelle. Bragalia has done extensive research on Cross, and has unearthed important de­tails about his role in producing the “Second Progress Report,” and with regard to Project Blue Book. Battelle learned that the Roswell metal was a combination of extremely pure Titanium and another metal combined in a new way, and decided that it could best be duplicated by combining Titanium with Nickel, to produce the alloy NiTi. The challenge faced by Dr. Cross was how to combine extremely pure Titanium and Nickel to produce a memory-metal rather than a simple alloy. The “Second Progress Report” summarizes the research and experimentation in that two month peri­od in 1949 attempting to produce a “morphing metal,” i.e., a metal that is pliable but always returns to its original shape. In a subsection of the report titled, “Investigation of Melting Titanium,” Battelle scientist L.W. Eastwood ex­amined ways to optimize the melting of Titanium. This had to be done in a certain way to produce NiTi and required

the use of an advanced arc furnace. It is known that Eastwood reported to Cross, as did Elroy Center, confirming Cross’s role as Director of the project. In a section titled “Evaluation of Titanium Base Alloys,” the authors discuss ways to create a “recipe” for mixing Nickel and Titanium to produce NiTi. A Nickel-Titanium phase diagram is includ­ed. The Report also evaluated other possible Titanium alloys including Titanium-Zirconium (TiZr) and included a chart showing the “elongation” and “bendability” of various advanced Titanium alloys.

In the early fifties, Howard Cross emerged as the Director of the Project Blue Book research. During that time, Bragalia says, “Cross worked quietly—but very closely—with the heads of various departments of the U.S. Govern­ment on various aspects of the UFO phenomena…He held technical knowledge about the craft’s construction and was given security clearances that enabled him to become a valuable asset to US military and intelligence in analyzing and investigating especially complex UFO cases…The Battelle metallurgist was of such importance that he was able to deal freely with the heads of the U.S. Office of Naval Research, the CIA, and Air Force Intelligence.”


Cross became an expert on Titanium and authored a technical summary report titled “Titanium Base Alloys” which was presented to the Office of Naval Intelligence in December, 1948. While it can be shown that “The Second Progress Report” was the first document to ever discuss the new Nickel-Titanium alloy (NiTi), the metal wasn’t offi­cially “discovered” as a matter of record until 1961 by the U.S. Naval Ordinance Lab (NOL). Bragalia believes this was the result of Cross having originally turned over his data to the Office of Naval Research. The invention of Nitinol is now officially credited to William Buehler and Dr. Frederick Wang, researchers at the NOL. Apparently, the NiTi data languished in the archives at the NOL for ten years until Buehler came along and started looking for inter-metallic compounds to use for the nose cone of the Navy’s Polaris Missile. He quickly focused on NiTi in 1959, and then re­named it Nitinol, combining “NiTi” with “NOL,” in 1961 when he discovered its amazing characteristics. Then Dr. Wang joined his group in 1962 and started to find new applications for the unique alloy. Today, Nitinol is used in coupling hydraulic lines on jet aircraft, orthodontics, orthopedic surgery, bone fracture splints, cardiovascular stents, medical catheters, scoliosis spinal correction and other medical applications. Wang has built Nitinol engines that convert thermal energy to mechanical. It is also being used now in ocean engineering, electrical connector products, robotics, laser beam alignments, tap water valves, sprinkler systems (developed by Battelle), eyeglass frames, auto­matic window openers, coffee maker valves, and mechanical toys. New uses are being continually identified.

There is really no way to know what life would be like today if that spacecraft from a distant star had not crashed into the New Mexico desert that stormy night in July, 1947. It would certainly be very different. It was truly the opening event of the Space Age, and we are just now beginning to comprehend the magnitude of the change that it brought about.

By Len Kasten

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