V-2 rocket

V-2 rocket

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Encyclopedia
The V-2 rocket technical name Aggregat-4
Aggregate (rocket family)
The Aggregate series was a set of rocket designs developed in 1933–1945 by a research program of Nazi Germany's army. Its greatest success was the A4, more commonly known as the V-2. The German word refers to a group of machines working together.-A1:...

 (A4)
, was a ballistic missile
Ballistic missile
A ballistic missile is a missile that follows a sub-orbital ballistic flightpath with the objective of delivering one or more warheads to a predetermined target. The missile is only guided during the relatively brief initial powered phase of flight and its course is subsequently governed by the...

 that was developed at the beginning of the Second World War in Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

, specifically targeted at London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 and later Antwerp. The liquid-propellant rocket was the world's first long-range combat-ballistic missile and first known human artifact
Cultural artifact
A cultural artifact is a term used in the social sciences, particularly anthropology, ethnology, and sociology for anything created by humans which gives information about the culture of its creator and users...

 to enter outer space
Sub-orbital spaceflight
A sub-orbital space flight is a spaceflight in which the spacecraft reaches space, but its trajectory intersects the atmosphere or surface of the gravitating body from which it was launched, so that it does not complete one orbital revolution....

. It was the progenitor of all modern rockets, including those used by the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and Soviet Union's space programs. During the aftermath of World War II
Aftermath of World War II
After World War II a new era of tensions emerged based on opposing ideologies, mutual distrust between nations, and a nuclear arms race. This emerged into an environment dominated by a international balance of power that had changed significantly from the status quo before the war...

 the American, Soviet and British governments all gained access to the V-2's technical designs and the actual German scientists responsible for creating the rockets, via Operation Paperclip
Operation Paperclip
Operation Paperclip was the Office of Strategic Services program used to recruit the scientists of Nazi Germany for employment by the United States in the aftermath of World War II...

, Operation Osoaviakhim
Operation Osoaviakhim
Operation Osoaviakhim was a Soviet operation which took place on 22 October 1946, with NKVD and Soviet army units recruiting thousands of military-related technical specialists from the Soviet occupation zone of post-World-War-II Germany for employment in the Soviet Union...

 and Operation Backfire
Operation Backfire (WWII)
Operation Backfire was a military scientific operation during and after World War II, which was performed mainly by British staff. It was part of the Allies' scramble to loot as much German technology as they could....

.

The weapon was presented by Nazi
Nazism
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

 propaganda as a retaliation for the bombers that attacked ever more German cities from 1942 until Germany surrendered.

Over 3,000 V-2s were launched as military rockets by the German Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...

 against Allied targets during the war, mostly London and later Antwerp. The attacks resulted in the death of an estimated 7,250 military personnel and civilians, while 12,000 forced labourers were killed producing the weapons.

Developmental history


In the late 1920s, a young Wernher von Braun
Wernher von Braun
Wernher Magnus Maximilian, Freiherr von Braun was a German rocket scientist, aerospace engineer, space architect, and one of the leading figures in the development of rocket technology in Nazi Germany during World War II and in the United States after that.A former member of the Nazi party,...

 acquired a copy of Hermann Oberth
Hermann Oberth
Hermann Julius Oberth was an Austro-Hungarian-born German physicist and engineer. He is considered one of the founding fathers of rocketry and astronautics.- Early life :...

's book, Die Rakete zu den Planetenräumen (The Rocket into Interplanetary Space). Starting in 1930, he attended the Technical University of Berlin
Technical University of Berlin
The Technische Universität Berlin is a research university located in Berlin, Germany. Translating the name into English is discouraged by the university, however paraphrasing as Berlin Institute of Technology is recommended by the university if necessary .The TU Berlin was founded...

, where he assisted Oberth in liquid-fueled rocket motor tests. Von Braun was working on his creative doctorate when the Nazi Party
National Socialist German Workers Party
The National Socialist German Workers' Party , commonly known in English as the Nazi Party, was a political party in Germany between 1920 and 1945. Its predecessor, the German Workers' Party , existed from 1919 to 1920...

 gained power in Germany. An artillery captain, Walter Dornberger
Walter Dornberger
Major-General Dr Walter Robert Dornberger was a German Army artillery officer whose career spanned World Wars I and II. He was a leader of Germany's V-2 rocket program and other projects at the Peenemünde Army Research Center....

, arranged an Ordnance Department research grant for von Braun, who from then on worked next to Dornberger's existing solid-fuel rocket test site at Kummersdorf
Kummersdorf
Kummersdorf is the name of an estate near Luckenwalde at , around 25km south of Berlin, in the Brandenburg region of Germany. Until 1945 Kummersdorf hosted the weapon office of the German Army which ran a development centre for future weapons as well as an artillery range.In 1929 the Army Weapons...

. Von Braun's thesis, Construction, Theoretical, and Experimental Solution to the Problem of the Liquid Propellant Rocket (dated 16 April 1934), was kept classified by the German army
German Army
The German Army is the land component of the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Germany. Following the disbanding of the Wehrmacht after World War II, it was re-established in 1955 as the Bundesheer, part of the newly formed West German Bundeswehr along with the Navy and the Air Force...

 and was not published until 1960. By the end of 1934, his group had successfully launched two rockets that reached heights of 2.2 and 3.5 km (1.4 and 2.2 mi).

At the time, Germany was highly interested in American physicist Robert H. Goddard
Robert H. Goddard
Robert Hutchings Goddard was an American professor, physicist and inventor who is credited with creating and building the world's first liquid-fueled rocket, which he successfully launched on March 16, 1926...

's research. Before 1939, German scientists occasionally contacted Goddard directly with technical questions. Von Braun used Goddard's plans from various journals and incorporated them into the building of the Aggregat
Aggregate series
The Aggregate series was a set of rocket designs developed in 1933–1945 by a research program of Nazi Germany's army. Its greatest success was the A4, more commonly known as the V-2. The German word refers to a group of machines working together.-A1:...

(A) series of rocket
Rocket
A rocket is a missile, spacecraft, aircraft or other vehicle which obtains thrust from a rocket engine. In all rockets, the exhaust is formed entirely from propellants carried within the rocket before use. Rocket engines work by action and reaction...

s.

Following successes at Kummersdorf
Kummersdorf
Kummersdorf is the name of an estate near Luckenwalde at , around 25km south of Berlin, in the Brandenburg region of Germany. Until 1945 Kummersdorf hosted the weapon office of the German Army which ran a development centre for future weapons as well as an artillery range.In 1929 the Army Weapons...

 with the first two Aggregate series
Aggregate series
The Aggregate series was a set of rocket designs developed in 1933–1945 by a research program of Nazi Germany's army. Its greatest success was the A4, more commonly known as the V-2. The German word refers to a group of machines working together.-A1:...

 rockets, Wernher von Braun
Wernher von Braun
Wernher Magnus Maximilian, Freiherr von Braun was a German rocket scientist, aerospace engineer, space architect, and one of the leading figures in the development of rocket technology in Nazi Germany during World War II and in the United States after that.A former member of the Nazi party,...

 and Walter Riedel
Walter Riedel
Walter J H "Papa" Riedel was a German engineer who was the head of the Design Office of the Army Research Centre Peenemünde and the Chief Designer of the A4 ballistic rocket...

 began thinking of a much larger rocket in the summer of 1936, based on a projected 25-metric-ton-thrust engine.
After the A-4 project was postponed due to unfavourable aerodynamic stability testing of the A-3 in July 1936,
von Braun specified the A-4 performance in 1937, and A-4 design and construction was ordered c1938/1939.
During 28–30 September 1939, Der Tag der Weisheit (English: the day of wisdom) conference met at Peenemünde to initiate the funding of university research to solve rocket problems.
By late 1941, the Army Research Center at Peenemünde possessed the technologies essential to the success of the A-4. The three key technologies for the A-4 were large liquid-fuel rocket engines, supersonic aerodynamics, gyroscopic guidance and rudders in jet control. At the time, Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 was not particularly impressed by the V-2; he pointed out that it was merely an artillery shell with a longer range and much higher cost.

In early September 1943, von Braun promised the Long-Range Bombardment Commission that the A-4 development was 'practically complete/concluded', but even by the middle of 1944, a complete A-4 parts list was still unavailable. Hitler was sufficiently impressed by the enthusiasm of its developers, and needed a "wonder weapon" to maintain German morale, so authorized its deployment in large numbers.

The V-2s were constructed at the Mittelwerk
Mittelwerk
Central Works was a World War II factory that used Mittelbau-Dora forced labor in 2 main tunnels in the Kohnstein. The underground facility produced V-2 rockets, V-1 flying bombs, and other Nazi weapons.-Mittelwerk GmbH:...

 site by prisoners from Mittelbau-Dora
Mittelbau-Dora
Mittelbau-Dora was a Nazi Germany labour camp that provided workers for the Mittelwerk V-2 rocket factory in the Kohnstein, situated near Nordhausen, Germany....

, the concentration camp where an estimated 20,000 people died during the war. Of these, 9,000 died from exhaustion and collapse, 350 were hanged (including 200 executed for acts of sabotage) and the remainder were either shot or died from disease or starvation.

Technical details


The A-4 used a 75% ethanol/water mixture for fuel and liquid oxygen (LOX) for oxidizer.

At launch the A-4 propelled itself for up to 65 seconds on its own power, and a program motor controlled the pitch to the specified angle at engine shutdown, from which the rocket continued on a free-fall (ballistic) trajectory. The rocket reached a height of 80 km (49.7 mi) after shutting off the engine.

The fuel and oxidizer pumps were steam turbines, and the steam was produced by concentrated hydrogen peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is the simplest peroxide and an oxidizer. Hydrogen peroxide is a clear liquid, slightly more viscous than water. In dilute solution, it appears colorless. With its oxidizing properties, hydrogen peroxide is often used as a bleach or cleaning agent...

 with Sodium permanganate
Sodium permanganate
Sodium permanganate is the inorganic compound with the formula NaMnO4. It is closely related to the more commonly encountered potassium permanganate, but it is generally less desirable, because it is more expensive, absorbs water from the atmosphere, and has a low melting point...

 catalyst. Both the alcohol and oxygen tanks were an aluminium-magnesium alloy.

The combustion burner reached a temperature of 2500–2700 °C (4500 – 4900 °F). The alcohol-water fuel was pumped along the double wall of the main combustion burner. This cooled the chamber and heated the fuel (regenerative cooling). The fuel was then pumped into the main burner chamber through 1,224 nozzles, which assured the correct mixture of alcohol and oxygen at all times. Small holes also permitted some alcohol to escape directly into the combustion chamber, forming a cooled boundary layer
Boundary layer
In physics and fluid mechanics, a boundary layer is that layer of fluid in the immediate vicinity of a bounding surface where effects of viscosity of the fluid are considered in detail. In the Earth's atmosphere, the planetary boundary layer is the air layer near the ground affected by diurnal...

 that further protected the wall of the chamber, especially at the throat where the chamber was narrowest. The boundary layer alcohol ignited in contact with the atmosphere, accounting for the long, diffuse exhaust plume. (Later, post-V2 engine designs not employing this alcohol boundary layer cooling show a translucent plume with shock diamond
Shock diamond
Shock diamonds are a formation of stationary wave patterns that appears in the supersonic exhaust plume of an aerospace propulsion system, such as a supersonic jet engine, rocket, ramjet, or scramjet, when it is operated in an atmosphere...

s.)


The V-2 was guided by four external rudders on the tail fins, and four internal graphite
Graphite
The mineral graphite is one of the allotropes of carbon. It was named by Abraham Gottlob Werner in 1789 from the Ancient Greek γράφω , "to draw/write", for its use in pencils, where it is commonly called lead . Unlike diamond , graphite is an electrical conductor, a semimetal...

 vanes at the exit of the motor. The LEV-3 guidance system consisted of two free gyroscope
Gyroscope
A gyroscope is a device for measuring or maintaining orientation, based on the principles of angular momentum. In essence, a mechanical gyroscope is a spinning wheel or disk whose axle is free to take any orientation...

s (a horizon and a vertical) for lateral stabilization, and a PIGA accelerometer
PIGA accelerometer
A PIG accelerometer is a type of accelerometer that can measure acceleration and simultaneously integrates this acceleration against time to produce a speed measure as well. The PIGA's main use is in Inertial Navigation Systems for guidance of aircraft and most particularly for ballistic missile...

 to control engine cutoff at a specified velocity. The V-2 was launched from a pre-surveyed location, so the distance and azimuth to the target were known. Fin 1 of the missile was aligned to the target azimuth.
Some later V-2s used "guide beams" (radio signals transmitted from the ground) to keep the missile on course, but the first models used a simple analog computer
Analog computer
An analog computer is a form of computer that uses the continuously-changeable aspects of physical phenomena such as electrical, mechanical, or hydraulic quantities to model the problem being solved...

 that adjusted the azimuth for the rocket, and the flying distance was controlled by the timing of the engine cut-off, "Brennschluss
Brennschluss
Brennschluss is an English borrowed term :*The moment in the trajectory of a rocket when the fuel burns out, after which it continues with its own momentum for some distance and then begins to succumb to gravity....

"
, ground controlled by a Doppler system or by different types of on-board integrating accelerometers. The rocket stopped accelerating and soon reached the top of the (approximately parabolic
Parabola
In mathematics, the parabola is a conic section, the intersection of a right circular conical surface and a plane parallel to a generating straight line of that surface...

) flight curve.

Dr. Friedrich Kirchstein of Siemens
Siemens
Siemens may refer toSiemens, a German family name carried by generations of telecommunications industrialists, including:* Werner von Siemens , inventor, founder of Siemens AG...

 of Berlin developed the V-2 radio-control for motor-cut-off . For velocity measurement, Professor Wolman of Dresden created an alternative of his Doppler tracking system in 1940–41, which used a ground signal transponded by the A-4 to measure the velocity of the missile. By 9 February 1942, Peenemünde engineer de Beek had documented the radio interference area of a V-2 as 10,000 meters around the “Firing Point”, and the first successful A-4 flight on 3 October 1943, used radio control for Brennschluss. Although, Hitler commented on 22 September 1943, that "It is a great load off our minds that we have dispensed with the radio guiding-beam; now no opening remains for the British to interfere technically with the missile in flight", about 20% of the operational V-2 launches were beam-guided. The Operation Pinguin
Operation Crossbow
Crossbow was the code name of the World War II campaign of Anglo-American "operations against all phases of the German long-range weapons programme—operations against research and development of the weapons, their manufacture, transportation and their launching sites, and against missiles in flight"...

 V-2 offensive began on 8 September 1944, when Lehr- und Versuchsbatterie No. 444 (Training and Testing Battery 444) launched a single rocket guided by a radio beam directed at Paris (wreckage of combat V-2s occasionally contained the transponder for velocity and fuel cutoff).

The painting of the operational V-2s was mostly a camouflage
Camouflage
Camouflage is a method of concealment that allows an otherwise visible animal, military vehicle, or other object to remain unnoticed, by blending with its environment. Examples include a leopard's spotted coat, the battledress of a modern soldier and a leaf-mimic butterfly...

 ragged pattern with several variations, but at the end of the war a plain olive green rocket also appeared. During tests, the rocket was painted in a characteristic black-and-white chessboard
Chessboard
A chessboard is the type of checkerboard used in the board game chess, and consists of 64 squares arranged in two alternating colors...

 pattern, which aided in determining if the rocket was spinning around its longitudinal axis.
The original German designation of the rocket was "V2", not "V-2". The first English translation of the book V2 – Der Schuss Ins Weltall (English: "V2– The Shot into Space"), by Walter Dornberger
Walter Dornberger
Major-General Dr Walter Robert Dornberger was a German Army artillery officer whose career spanned World Wars I and II. He was a leader of Germany's V-2 rocket program and other projects at the Peenemünde Army Research Center....

, was published in England by Hurst and Blackett in 1954 and titled V2. In that book, the rocket is called the "V2". In the U.S. edition, published by Viking in 1954 and titled V-2, the rocket is called the "V-2". The text appears to be otherwise identical. Common usage now sees the rocket called the V-2.

Testing


The first successful test flight was on 3 October 1942:


Two test launches were recovered by the Allies: the Bäckebo rocket which landed in Sweden on 13 June 1944 and one recovered by Polish resistance
Home Army and V1 and V2
Aside from the military operations, the Polish Armia Krajowa was also heavily involved in intelligence work, including work done with regard to the German "Wunderwaffe" - the V-1 flying bomb and the V-2 rocket...

 on 30 May 1944 from Blizna
Blizna
Blizna is a village in the administrative district of Gmina Ostrów, within Ropczyce-Sędziszów County, Subcarpathian Voivodeship, in south-eastern Poland. It lies approximately north of Ostrów, north of Ropczyce, and north-west of the regional capital Rzeszów...

 and transported to the UK during Operation Most III
Operation Most III
Operation Most III or Operation Wildhorn III was a World War II operation in which Poland's Armia Krajowa provided the Allies with crucial intelligence on the German V-2 rocket.-Background:...

.

Test launches of V-2 rockets (Aggregate-4) were made at Peenemünde
Peenemünde
The Peenemünde Army Research Center was founded in 1937 as one of five military proving grounds under the Army Weapons Office ....

, Blizna
Blizna
Blizna is a village in the administrative district of Gmina Ostrów, within Ropczyce-Sędziszów County, Subcarpathian Voivodeship, in south-eastern Poland. It lies approximately north of Ostrów, north of Ropczyce, and north-west of the regional capital Rzeszów...

 and Tuchola Forest
Tuchola Forest
The Tuchola Forest is a large forest near the town of Tuchola in northern Poland, and lies between the Brda and Wda Rivers. It contains the Tuchola Forest National Park, which is at the core of the Tuchola Forest Biosphere Reserve, designated by UNESCO in 2010.- Landscape :The area was formed...

, and after the war, at Cuxhaven
Operation Backfire (WWII)
Operation Backfire was a military scientific operation during and after World War II, which was performed mainly by British staff. It was part of the Allies' scramble to loot as much German technology as they could....

, White Sands Proving Grounds, Cape Canaveral
Cape Canaveral
Cape Canaveral, from the Spanish Cabo Cañaveral, is a headland in Brevard County, Florida, United States, near the center of the state's Atlantic coast. Known as Cape Kennedy from 1963 to 1973, it lies east of Merritt Island, separated from it by the Banana River.It is part of a region known as the...

 and Kapustin Yar
Kapustin Yar
Kapustin Yar is a Russian rocket launch and development site in Astrakhan Oblast, between Volgograd and Astrakhan. Known today as Znamensk , it was established 13 May 1946 and in the beginning used technology, material, and scientific support from defeated Germany...

.

Various problems were identified during V-2 development and testing:
  • To reduce tank pressure and weight, high flow turbopumps were used to boost pressure.
  • A short and lighter combustion chamber without burn-through was developed by using centrifugal injection nozzles, a mixing compartment, and a converging nozzle to the throat for homogeneous combustion.
  • Film cooling was used to prevent burn through at the nozzle throat.
  • Relay contacts were made more durable to withstand vibration and prevent thrust cutoff just after lift-off.
  • Ensuring that the fuel pipes had tension-free curves reduced the likelihood of explosions at 4000–6000 ft (1,219.2–1,828.8 ).
  • Fins were shaped with clearance to prevent damage as the exhaust jet expanded with altitude.
  • To control trajectory at lift off and supersonic speeds, heat-resistant graphite vanes were used as rudders in the exhaust jet.

Airburst problem


Through mid-March 1944, only 4 of the 26 successful Blizna launches had satisfactorily reached the Sarnaki target area due to in-flight breakup (Luftzerleger) on entry into the atmosphere. Initially excessive alcohol tank pressure was suspected, and by April 1944 after 5 months of test firings, the cause was still not determined. Major-General Rossmann, the Army Weapons Office department chief, recommended stationing observers in the target area – c
Circa
Circa , usually abbreviated c. or ca. , means "approximately" in the English language, usually referring to a date...

May/June, Walter Dornberger
Walter Dornberger
Major-General Dr Walter Robert Dornberger was a German Army artillery officer whose career spanned World Wars I and II. He was a leader of Germany's V-2 rocket program and other projects at the Peenemünde Army Research Center....

 and Wernher von Braun
Wernher von Braun
Wernher Magnus Maximilian, Freiherr von Braun was a German rocket scientist, aerospace engineer, space architect, and one of the leading figures in the development of rocket technology in Nazi Germany during World War II and in the United States after that.A former member of the Nazi party,...

 set up a camp at the centre of the Poland target zone (one impact was 300 feet from an armed missile.) After moving to the Heidekraut
Tuchola Forest
The Tuchola Forest is a large forest near the town of Tuchola in northern Poland, and lies between the Brda and Wda Rivers. It contains the Tuchola Forest National Park, which is at the core of the Tuchola Forest Biosphere Reserve, designated by UNESCO in 2010.- Landscape :The area was formed...

, SS Mortar Battery 500 of the 836th Artillery Battalion (Motorized) was ordered on 30 August to begin test launches of eighty 'sleeved' rockets. Testing confirmed the so-called 'tin trousers' – a tube designed to strengthen the forward end of the rocket cladding—reduced the likelihood of airbursts.

Production




A production line was nearly ready at Peenemünde
Peenemünde
The Peenemünde Army Research Center was founded in 1937 as one of five military proving grounds under the Army Weapons Office ....

 when the Operation Hydra
Bombing of Peenemünde in World War II
Operation Hydra was a Royal Air Force attack on the Peenemünde Army Research Center on the night of 17/18 August 1943. It began the Operation Crossbow strategic bombing campaign against Nazi Germany's V-weapon programme...

 attack caused the Germans to move production to the Mittelwerk
Mittelwerk
Central Works was a World War II factory that used Mittelbau-Dora forced labor in 2 main tunnels in the Kohnstein. The underground facility produced V-2 rockets, V-1 flying bombs, and other Nazi weapons.-Mittelwerk GmbH:...

 in the Kohnstein
Kohnstein
The Kohnstein is a mountain, 2 kilometres southwest of the village of Niedersachswerfen and 3 kilometres northwest of the center of the city of Nordhausen...

 where 5,200 V-2 rockets were built.
Period of Production Production
Up to 15 Sep 1944 1900
15 Sep to 29 Oct 1944 900
29 Oct to 24 Nov 1944 600
24 Nov to 15 Jan 1945 1100
15 Jan to 15 Feb 1945 700
Total 5200

Launch sites


Following Operation Crossbow
Operation Crossbow
Crossbow was the code name of the World War II campaign of Anglo-American "operations against all phases of the German long-range weapons programme—operations against research and development of the weapons, their manufacture, transportation and their launching sites, and against missiles in flight"...

 bombing, initial plans for launching from the massive underground Watten and Wizernes
La Coupole
La Coupole , codenamed Bauvorhaben 21 , Schotterwerk Nordwest or Wizernes, is a Second World War bunker complex built by the forces of Nazi Germany between 1943 and 1944 to serve as a launch base for V-2 rockets against London and southern England...

 bunkers or from fixed pads such as near the Chateau du Molay
Le Molay-Littry
Le Molay-Littry is a commune in the Calvados department in the Basse-Normandie region in northwestern France.-History:On January 23, 1969, Le Molay amalgamated with the old commune of Littry to form into Le Molay-Littry, and uses the old Littry INSEE code 14330.Le Molay-Littry is a small Normandy...

 were dropped in favour of mobile launching. Eight main storage dumps were planned and four had been completed by July 1944 (the one at Mery-sur-Oise
Méry-sur-Oise
Méry-sur-Oise is a commune in the Val-d'Oise department in Île-de-France in northern France.-References:** -External links:* * *...

 was begun in August 1943 and completed by February 1944). The missile could be launched practically anywhere, roads running through forests being a particular favourite. The system was so mobile and small that not one Meillerwagen was caught in action by Allied aircraft, although Raymond Baxter
Raymond Baxter
Raymond Frederic Baxter, OBE was a British television presenter and writer. He is best known for being the first presenter of Tomorrow's World, continuing for 12 years, from 1965 to 1977...

 described flying over a site during a launch and his wingman firing at the missile without hitting it.

It was estimated that a sustained rate of 350 V-2s could be launched per week, with 100 per day at maximum effort, given sufficient supply of the rockets.

Operational history


After Hitler's 29 August declaration to begin V-2 attacks as soon as possible, the offensive began on 8 September 1944 with a single launch at Paris, which caused modest damage near Porte d'Italie
Porte d'Italie
Porte d'Italie are located in the 13th arrondissement, at the intersection of Avenue d'Italie, Boulevard Massena, Avenue de la Porte d'Italie and street Kellermann, facing the Kremlin-​​Bicetre....

,. Two more launches by the 485th followed, including one from The Hague
The Hague
The Hague is the capital city of the province of South Holland in the Netherlands. With a population of 500,000 inhabitants , it is the third largest city of the Netherlands, after Amsterdam and Rotterdam...

 against London on the same day at 6:43 p.m. – the first landed at Chiswick
Chiswick
Chiswick is a large suburb of west London, England and part of the London Borough of Hounslow. It is located on a meander of the River Thames, west of Charing Cross and is one of 35 major centres identified in the London Plan. It was historically an ancient parish in the county of Middlesex, with...

, killing 63-year-old Mrs. Ada Harrison, 3-year-old Rosemary Clarke, and Sapper Bernard Browning on leave from the Royal Engineers. Upon hearing the double-crack of the supersonic rocket (London's first-ever), Duncan Sandys
Duncan Sandys
Edwin Duncan Sandys, Baron Duncan-Sandys CH PC was a British politician and a minister in successive Conservative governments in the 1950s and 1960s...

 and Reginald Victor Jones
Reginald Victor Jones
Reginald Victor Jones, CH CB CBE FRS, was a British physicist and scientific military intelligence expert who played an important role in the defence of Britain in -Education:...

 looked up from different parts of the city and exclaimed "That was a rocket!", and a short while after the double-crack, the sky was filled with the sound of a heavy body rushing through the air. The Germans themselves finally announced the V-2 on 8 November 1944 and only then, on 10 November 1944, did Winston Churchill inform Parliament, and the world, that England had been under rocket attack "for the last few weeks".


Over the next few months the number of V-2s fired was at least 3,172, distributed over the various targets as follows:
 Belgium 1664: Antwerp (1610), Liège (27), Hasselt
Hasselt
Hasselt is a Belgian city and municipality, and capital of the Flemish province of Limburg...

 (13), Tournai
Tournai
Tournai is a Walloon city and municipality of Belgium located 85 kilometres southwest of Brussels, on the river Scheldt, in the province of Hainaut....

 (9), Mons
Mons
Mons is a Walloon city and municipality located in the Belgian province of Hainaut, of which it is the capital. The Mons municipality includes the old communes of Cuesmes, Flénu, Ghlin, Hyon, Nimy, Obourg, Baudour , Jemappes, Ciply, Harmignies, Harveng, Havré, Maisières, Mesvin, Nouvelles,...

 (3), Diest
Diest
Diest is a city and municipality located in the Belgian province of Flemish Brabant. Situated in the northeast of the Hageland region, Diest neighbours the provinces of Antwerp to its North, and Limburg to the East and is situated around 60km from Brussels. The municipality comprises the city of...

 (2)
  1402: London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 (1358), Norwich
Norwich
Norwich is a city in England. It is the regional administrative centre and county town of Norfolk. During the 11th century, Norwich was the largest city in England after London, and one of the most important places in the kingdom...

 (43),p289 Ipswich
Ipswich
Ipswich is a large town and a non-metropolitan district. It is the county town of Suffolk, England. Ipswich is located on the estuary of the River Orwell...

 (1)
 Early Modern France 76: Lille
Lille
Lille is a city in northern France . It is the principal city of the Lille Métropole, the fourth-largest metropolitan area in the country behind those of Paris, Lyon and Marseille. Lille is situated on the Deûle River, near France's border with Belgium...

 (25), Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 (22), Tourcoing
Tourcoing
Tourcoing is a city in northern France. It is designated municipally as a commune within the département of Nord.Tourcoing is situated near the cities of Lille and Roubaix and the Belgian border.-Main sights:...

 (19), Arras
Arras
Arras is the capital of the Pas-de-Calais department in northern France. The historic centre of the Artois region, its local speech is characterized as a Picard dialect...

 (6), Cambrai
Cambrai
Cambrai is a commune in the Nord department in northern France. It is a sub-prefecture of the department.Cambrai is the seat of an archdiocese whose jurisdiction was immense during the Middle Ages. The territory of the Bishopric of Cambrai, roughly coinciding with the shire of Brabant, included...

 (4)
 Netherlands 19: Maastricht
Maastricht
Maastricht is situated on both sides of the Meuse river in the south-eastern part of the Netherlands, on the Belgian border and near the German border...

 19
 Nazi Germany 11: Remagen
Remagen
Remagen is a town in Germany in Rhineland-Palatinate, in the district of Ahrweiler. It is about a one hour drive from Cologne , just south of Bonn, the former West German capital. It is situated on the River Rhine. There is a ferry across the Rhine from Remagen every 10–15 minutes in the summer...

 11


An estimated 2,754 civilians were killed in London by V-2 attacks with another 6,523 injured, which is two people killed per V-2 rocket. However, this understates the potential of the V-2, since many rockets were misdirected and exploded harmlessly. Accuracy increased over the course of the war, particularly on batteries where Leitstrahl-Guide Beam apparatus was installed. Missile strikes were often devastating, causing large numbers of deaths—160 killed and 108 seriously injured in one explosion on 25 November 1944 in mid-afternoon, striking a Woolworth's
F. W. Woolworth Company
The F. W. Woolworth Company was a retail company that was one of the original American five-and-dime stores. The first successful Woolworth store was opened on July 18, 1879 by Frank Winfield Woolworth in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, as "Woolworth's Great Five Cent Store"...

 department store in New Cross
New Cross
New Cross is a district and ward of the London Borough of Lewisham, England. It is situated 4 miles south-east of Charing Cross. The ward covered by London post town and the SE 14 postcode district. New Cross is near St Johns, Telegraph Hill, Nunhead, Peckham, Brockley, Deptford and Greenwich...

, south-east London.

After these deadly results, British intelligence leaked falsified information implying that the rockets were over-shooting their London target by 10 to 20 miles. This tactic worked and for the remainder of the war most landed in Kent
Kent
Kent is a county in southeast England, and is one of the home counties. It borders East Sussex, Surrey and Greater London and has a defined boundary with Essex in the middle of the Thames Estuary. The ceremonial county boundaries of Kent include the shire county of Kent and the unitary borough of...

 due to erroneous recalibration.

The final two rockets exploded on 27 March 1945. One of these was the last V-2 to kill a British civilian: Mrs. Ivy Millichamp, aged 34, killed in her home in Kynaston Road, Orpington
Orpington
Orpington is a suburban town and electoral ward in the London Borough of Bromley. It forms the southeastern edge of London's urban sprawl and is identified in the London Plan as one of 35 major centres in Greater London.-History:...

 in Kent, evidencing the German re-calibration.

Antwerp, Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

 was also the target for a large number of V-weapon attacks from October, 1944 through March, 1945, leaving 1,736 dead and 4,500 injured in greater Antwerp. Thousands of buildings were damaged or destroyed as the city was struck by 590 direct hits. The largest loss of life in a single attack came on December 16, 1944, when the roof of a crowded cinema was struck, leaving 567 dead and 291 injured.

A scientific reconstruction carried out in 2010 demonstrated that the V-2 creates a crater 20 m wide and 8 m deep, throwing up around 3,000 tons of material into the air.

Countermeasures



Unlike the V-1
V-1 flying bomb
The V-1 flying bomb, also known as the Buzz Bomb or Doodlebug, was an early pulse-jet-powered predecessor of the cruise missile....

, the V-2's speed and trajectory made it invulnerable to anti-aircraft guns and fighters, as it dropped from an altitude of 100 kilometre at up to four times the speed of sound (approximately 3550 km/h). A plan was proposed whereby the missile would be detected by radar, its terminal trajectory calculated, and the area along that trajectory saturated by large-caliber anti-aircraft guns. The plan was dropped after operations research
Operations research
Operations research is an interdisciplinary mathematical science that focuses on the effective use of technology by organizations...

 indicated that the likely number of malfunctioning artillery shells falling to the ground would do more damage than the V-2 itself.

The defence against the V-2 campaign was to destroy the launch infrastructure—expensive in terms of bomber resources and casualties—or to cause the Germans to "aim" at the wrong place through disinformation
Disinformation
Disinformation is intentionally false or inaccurate information that is spread deliberately. For this reason, it is synonymous with and sometimes called black propaganda. It is an act of deception and false statements to convince someone of untruth...

. The British were able to convince the Germans to direct V-1
V-1 flying bomb
The V-1 flying bomb, also known as the Buzz Bomb or Doodlebug, was an early pulse-jet-powered predecessor of the cruise missile....

s and V-2s aimed at London to less populated areas east of the city. This was done by sending false impact reports via the German espionage network in Britain, which was controlled by the British (the Double Cross System
Double Cross System
The Double Cross System, or XX System, was a World War II anti-espionage and deception operation of the British military intelligence arm, MI5. Nazi agents in Britain - real and false - were captured, turned themselves in or simply announced themselves and were then used by the British to broadcast...

).

There is a record of one V-2, fortuitously observed at launch from a passing American B-24 Liberator
B-24 Liberator
The Consolidated B-24 Liberator was an American heavy bomber, designed by Consolidated Aircraft of San Diego, California. It was known within the company as the Model 32, and a small number of early models were sold under the name LB-30, for Land Bomber...

, being shot down by .50 caliber machine-gun fire.

The limitations of any countermeasures can be understood by two facts: 20 seconds after launch, a V-2 was out of reach; the time from launch to impact in London being merely 3 minutes.

Ultimately the most successful countermeasure was the Allied advance that forced the launchers back beyond range.

On 3 March 1945 the Allies attempted to destroy V-2s and launching equipment near The Hague by a large-scale bombardment, but due to navigational errors the Bezuidenhout
Bezuidenhout
Bezuidenhout is the neighborhood southeast of the Haagse Bos neighborhood. Bezuidenhout includes the Beatrixkwartier financial area near the Central Station and streets such as Bezuidenhoutseweg, Juliana van Stolberglaan, Laan van Nieuw Oost-Indië, Prins Clauslaan, and Theresiastraat.Part of...

 quarter was destroyed, killing 500 Dutch civilians.

Assessment


The German V-weapons (V-1 and V-2) cost $3 billion (wartime dollars) and was more costly than the Manhattan Project that produced the atomic bomb ($1.9 billion).
6,048 V-2s were built, at a cost of approximately 100,000 Reichsmarks
German reichsmark
The Reichsmark was the currency in Germany from 1924 until June 20, 1948. The Reichsmark was subdivided into 100 Reichspfennig.-History:...

 (GB£2,370,000 (2011)) each; 3,225 were launched.
SS General Hans Kammler
Hans Kammler
General Dr Ing. Hans Friedrich Karl Franz Kammler was a civil engineer and high-ranking officer of the SS. He oversaw SS construction projects, and towards the end of World War II was put in charge of the V-2 missile programme.He is most commonly referred to as Heinz Kammler or Hans...

, who as an engineer
Engineer
An engineer is a professional practitioner of engineering, concerned with applying scientific knowledge, mathematics and ingenuity to develop solutions for technical problems. Engineers design materials, structures, machines and systems while considering the limitations imposed by practicality,...

 had constructed several concentration camps including Auschwitz, had a reputation for brutality and had originated the idea of using concentration camp prisoners as slave
Slavery
Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation...

 laborers in the rocket program. The V-2 is perhaps the only weapon system to have caused more deaths by its production than its deployment.
The V-2 consumed a third of Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

's fuel alcohol production and major portions of other critical technologies: to distil the fuel alcohol for one V-2 launch required 30 tons of potatoes at a time when food was becoming scarce. Due to a lack of explosives, concrete was used and sometimes the warhead contained photographic propaganda of German citizens who had died in allied bombing.

The V-2 lacked a proximity fuse, so it could not be set for air burst
Air burst
An air burst is the detonation of an explosive device such as an anti-personnel artillery shell or a nuclear weapon in the air instead of on contact with the ground or target or a delayed armor piercing explosion....

; it buried itself in the target area before or just as the warhead detonated. This reduced its effectiveness. Furthermore, its early guidance systems were too primitive to hit specific targets and its costs were approximately equivalent to four-engined bombers, which were more accurate (though only in a relative sense), had longer ranges, carried many more warheads, and were reusable. Moreover, it diverted resources from other, more effective programs. Nevertheless, it had a considerable psychological effect because, unlike bombing planes or the V-1 Flying Bomb
V-1 flying bomb
The V-1 flying bomb, also known as the Buzz Bomb or Doodlebug, was an early pulse-jet-powered predecessor of the cruise missile....

 (which made a characteristic buzzing sound), the V-2 travelled faster than the speed of sound
Speed of sound
The speed of sound is the distance travelled during a unit of time by a sound wave propagating through an elastic medium. In dry air at , the speed of sound is . This is , or about one kilometer in three seconds or approximately one mile in five seconds....

, with no warning before impact, no possibility of defence and there was no risk of attacking pilot and crew casualties.

With the war all but lost, regardless of the factory output of conventional weapons, the Nazis resorted to V-weapons as a tenuous last hope to influence the war militarily (hence Antwerp as V-2 target), as an extension of their desire to "punish" their foes and most importantly to give hope to their supporters with their miracle weapon. The V-2 had no effect on the outcome of the war, but its value, despite its overall ineffectiveness, was in its novelty as a weapon which set the stage for the next 50 years of ballistic military rocketry, culminating with ICBM
Intercontinental ballistic missile
An intercontinental ballistic missile is a ballistic missile with a long range typically designed for nuclear weapons delivery...

s during the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 and modern space exploration.

Unfulfilled plans


A submarine-towed launch platform was tested successfully, making it the prototype for submarine-launched ballistic missile
Submarine-launched ballistic missile
A submarine-launched ballistic missile is a ballistic missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead that can be launched from submarines. Modern variants usually deliver multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles each of which carries a warhead and allows a single launched missile to...

s. The project codename was Prüfstand XII ("Test stand XII"), sometimes called the rocket U-boat
Rocket U-boat
The Rocket U-boat was an abandoned military project to create the first ballistic missile submarine. It was conceived of by Nazi Germany during the Second World War. Plans for the rocket U-boat involved an attack on New York City with Germany's newly-invented V-2 rockets.-Timeline:The Second World...

. If deployed, it would have allowed a U-boat
U-boat
U-boat is the anglicized version of the German word U-Boot , itself an abbreviation of Unterseeboot , and refers to military submarines operated by Germany, particularly in World War I and World War II...

 to launch V-2 missiles against United States cities, though only with considerable effort (and limited effect).

While interned after the war by the British at CSDIC camp 11, Dornberger was recorded saying that he had begged the Führer to stop the V-weapon propaganda, because nothing more could be expected from one ton of explosive. To this Hitler had replied that Dornberger might not expect more but he certainly did.

Hitler, in July 1944 and Speer, in January 1945, made speeches alluding to a campaign to have U-boats fire "robot" U-1 and U-2 bombs at the U.S. Germany did not possess any capability to fulfill these threats. These schemes were met by the Americans with Operation Teardrop
Operation Teardrop
Operation Teardrop was a United States Navy operation of World War II conducted during April and May 1945 to sink German U-boats that were believed to be approaching the United States east coast armed with V-1 flying bombs. Two large U.S. Navy anti-submarine warfare task forces succeeded in...

.

According to decrypted messages from the Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

ese embassy in Germany, twelve dismantled V-2 rockets were shipped to Japan. These left Bordeaux
Bordeaux
Bordeaux is a port city on the Garonne River in the Gironde department in southwestern France.The Bordeaux-Arcachon-Libourne metropolitan area, has a population of 1,010,000 and constitutes the sixth-largest urban area in France. It is the capital of the Aquitaine region, as well as the prefecture...

 in August 1944 on the transport U-boats U-219 and U-195, which reached Djakarta in December 1944. A civilian V-2 expert was a passenger on U-234, bound for Japan in May 1945 when the war ended in Europe. The fate of these V-2 rockets is unknown.

Near the end of the war, German scientists were working on chemical and possibly biological weapons to use in the V-2 program. By this stage, the Germans had produced munitions containing nerve agents sarin
Sarin
Sarin, or GB, is an organophosphorus compound with the formula [2CHO]CH3PF. It is a colorless, odorless liquid, which is used as a chemical weapon. It has been classified as a weapon of mass destruction in UN Resolution 687...

, soman
Soman
Soman, or GD , is an extremely toxic chemical substance. It is a nerve agent, interfering with normal functioning of the mammalian nervous system by inhibiting the cholinesterase enzyme. As a chemical weapon, it is classified as a weapon of mass destruction by the United Nations according to UN...

 and tabun
Tabun (nerve agent)
Tabun or GA is an extremely toxic chemical substance. It is a clear, colorless, and tasteless liquid with a faint fruity odor. It is classified as a nerve agent because it fatally interferes with normal functioning of the mammalian nervous system...

; they never used them.

Postwar use


At the end of the war, a race began between the United States and the USSR
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 to retrieve as many V-2 rockets and staff as possible. Three hundred rail-car loads of V-2s and parts were captured and shipped to the United States and 126 of the principal designers, including Wernher von Braun
Wernher von Braun
Wernher Magnus Maximilian, Freiherr von Braun was a German rocket scientist, aerospace engineer, space architect, and one of the leading figures in the development of rocket technology in Nazi Germany during World War II and in the United States after that.A former member of the Nazi party,...

 and Walter Dornberger
Walter Dornberger
Major-General Dr Walter Robert Dornberger was a German Army artillery officer whose career spanned World Wars I and II. He was a leader of Germany's V-2 rocket program and other projects at the Peenemünde Army Research Center....

 were in American hands. Von Braun, his brother Magnus von Braun
Magnus von Braun
Magnus "Mac" Freiherr von Braun was a German chemical engineer, Luftwaffe aviator, and rocket scientist at Peenemünde, the Mittelwerk, and after emigrating to the United States via Operation Paperclip, at Fort Bliss...

 and seven others decided to surrender to the United States military (Operation Paperclip
Operation Paperclip
Operation Paperclip was the Office of Strategic Services program used to recruit the scientists of Nazi Germany for employment by the United States in the aftermath of World War II...

) to ensure they were not captured by the advancing Soviets or shot dead by the Nazis to prevent their capture.

Britain

In October 1945, British Operation Backfire
Operation Backfire (WWII)
Operation Backfire was a military scientific operation during and after World War II, which was performed mainly by British staff. It was part of the Allies' scramble to loot as much German technology as they could....

assembled a small number of V-2 missiles and launched three of them from a site in northern Germany. The engineers involved had already agreed to move to the US when the test firings were complete. The Backfire report remains the most extensive technical documentation of the rocket, including all support procedures, tailored vehicles and fuel composition.

Post-war V-2s launched in secret from Peenemünde may have been responsible for a curious phenomenon known as Ghost rockets
Ghost rockets
Ghost Rockets Danish Spøgelsesraketter were mysterious rocket- or missile-shaped unidentified flying objects sighted in 1946, mostly in Sweden and nearby countries....

, unexplained objects crossing the skies over Sweden and Finland.

Canada
In his book My Father's Son, Canadian author Farley Mowat
Farley Mowat
Farley McGill Mowat, , born May 12, 1921 is a conservationist and one of Canada's most widely-read authors.His works have been translated into 52 languages and he has sold more than 14 million books. He achieved fame with the publication of his books on the Canadian North, such as People of the...

, then a member of the Canadian Army, claims to have obtained a V-2 rocket in 1945 and shipped it back to Canada, where it is alleged to have ended up in the National Exhibition grounds in Toronto. There was a V-2 stored outside at RCAF Station Picton, Ontario in June of 1961.

The Canadian Arrow
Canadian Arrow
The Canadian Arrow is a privately funded rocket and space travel project founded by London, Ontario, Canada entrepreneurs Geoff Sheerin, Dan McKibbon and Chris Corke...

, a competitor for the Ansari X Prize
Ansari X Prize
The Ansari X Prize was a space competition in which the X Prize Foundation offered a US$10,000,000 prize for the first non-government organization to launch a reusable manned spacecraft into space twice within two weeks...

, was based on the aerodynamic design of the V-2.

United States
Operation Paperclip
Operation Paperclip
Operation Paperclip was the Office of Strategic Services program used to recruit the scientists of Nazi Germany for employment by the United States in the aftermath of World War II...

 recruited German engineers and Special Mission V-2 transported the captured V-2 parts to the United States. At the close of the Second World War, over 300 rail cars filled with V-2 engines, fuselage
Fuselage
The fuselage is an aircraft's main body section that holds crew and passengers or cargo. In single-engine aircraft it will usually contain an engine, although in some amphibious aircraft the single engine is mounted on a pylon attached to the fuselage which in turn is used as a floating hull...

s, propellant
Propellant
A propellant is a material that produces pressurized gas that:* can be directed through a nozzle, thereby producing thrust ;...

 tanks, gyroscopes and associated equipment were brought to the railyards in Las Cruces, New Mexico
Las Cruces, New Mexico
Las Cruces, also known as "The City of the Crosses", is the county seat of Doña Ana County, New Mexico, United States. The population was 97,618 in 2010 according to the 2010 Census, making it the second largest city in the state....

, so they could be placed on trucks and driven to the White Sands Proving Grounds, also in New Mexico.

In addition to V-2 hardware, the U.S. Government delivered German mechanization equations for the V-2 guidance, navigation and control systems, as well as for advanced development concept vehicles, to U.S. defense contractors for analysis. In the 1950s some of these documents were useful to U.S. contractors in developing direction cosine matrix transformations and other inertial navigation architecture concepts that were applied to early U.S. programs such as the Atlas and Minuteman guidance systems as well as the Navy's Subs Inertial Navigation System.

A committee was formed with military and civilian scientists, to review payload proposals for the reassembled V-2 rockets. This led to an eclectic array of experiments that flew on V-2s and paved the way for American manned space exploration
Space exploration
Space exploration is the use of space technology to explore outer space. Physical exploration of space is conducted both by human spaceflights and by robotic spacecraft....

. Devices were sent aloft to sample the air at all levels to determine atmospheric pressure
Atmospheric pressure
Atmospheric pressure is the force per unit area exerted into a surface by the weight of air above that surface in the atmosphere of Earth . In most circumstances atmospheric pressure is closely approximated by the hydrostatic pressure caused by the weight of air above the measurement point...

s and to see what gases were present. Other instruments measured the level of cosmic radiation.
Only 68 percent of the V-2 trials were considered successful. A supposed V-2 launched on 29 May 1947 landed near Juarez, Mexico and was actually a Hermes B-1 vehicle
Hermes project
The Hermes project was an United States Army Ordnance Corps rocket program ....

.

The U.S. Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 attempted to launch a German V-2 rocket at sea—one test launch from the aircraft carrier USS Midway
USS Midway (CV-41)
USS Midway was an aircraft carrier of the United States Navy, the lead ship of her class, and the first to be commissioned after the end of World War II...

 was performed on 6 September 1947 as part of the Navy's Operation Sandy. The test launch was a partial success; the V-2 went off the pad but splashed down in the ocean only some 10 km (6.2 mi) from the carrier. The launch setup on the Midway's deck is notable in that it used foldaway arms to prevent the missile from falling over. The arms pulled away just after the engine ignited, releasing the missile. The setup may look similar to the R-7
R-7 Semyorka
The R-7 was a Soviet missile developed during the Cold War, and the world's first intercontinental ballistic missile. The R-7 made 28 launches between 1957 and 1961, but was never deployed operationally. A derivative, the R-7A, was deployed from 1960 to 1968...

 launch procedure but in the case of the R-7 the trusses hold the full weight of the rocket, rather than just reacting to side forces.

The PGM-11 Redstone rocket is a direct descendant of the V-2.

USSR
The USSR
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 also captured a number of V-2s and staff, letting them set up in Germany for a time. The first work contracts were signed in the middle of 1945. In 1946 (as part of Operation Osoaviakhim
Operation Osoaviakhim
Operation Osoaviakhim was a Soviet operation which took place on 22 October 1946, with NKVD and Soviet army units recruiting thousands of military-related technical specialists from the Soviet occupation zone of post-World-War-II Germany for employment in the Soviet Union...

) they were obliged to move to Kapustin Yar
Kapustin Yar
Kapustin Yar is a Russian rocket launch and development site in Astrakhan Oblast, between Volgograd and Astrakhan. Known today as Znamensk , it was established 13 May 1946 and in the beginning used technology, material, and scientific support from defeated Germany...

 in the USSR, where Gröttrup
Helmut Gröttrup
Helmut Gröttrup was a German electrical engineer and assistant of Wernher von Braun in the V-2 rocket-project. Gröttrup was responsible for the guidance system....

 headed up a group of just under 250 engineers. The first Soviet missile was the R-1, a duplicate of the V-2. Most of the German team was sent home after that project but some remained to do research until as late as 1951. Unbeknownst to the Germans, work immediately began on larger missiles, the R-2 and R-5, based on extension of the V-2 technology.

In popular culture

  • Thomas Pynchon
    Thomas Pynchon
    Thomas Ruggles Pynchon, Jr. is an American novelist. For his most praised novel, Gravity's Rainbow, Pynchon received the National Book Award, and is regularly cited as a contender for the Nobel Prize in Literature...

     makes the V-2 rocket the central point of his postmodern novel Gravity's Rainbow
    Gravity's Rainbow
    Gravity's Rainbow is a postmodern novel written by Thomas Pynchon and first published on February 28, 1973.The narrative is set primarily in Europe at the end of World War II and centers on the design, production and dispatch of V-2 rockets by the German military, and, in particular, the quest...

    .
  • The MGM movie Operation Crossbow
    Operation Crossbow (film)
    Operation Crossbow is a British 1965 spy thriller and World War II film, made from a story from Duilio Coletti and Vittoriano Petrilli and filmed at MGM-British Studios...

    dramatises Allied efforts to impede the V-1 and V-2 programmes.

Model rockets


Model rocket
Model rocket
A model rocket is a small rocket that is commonly advertised as being able to be launched by anybody, to, in general, low altitudes and recovered by a variety of means....

 V-2s are available in many sizes. Since the 1960s Estes Industries
Estes Industries
Estes Industries is a company based in Penrose, Colorado, USA that designs and builds model rocket and model aircraft engines and kits. They were the best known model rocket company during the "golden age of rocketry" in the 1970s and early 1980s, competing primarily with Centuri Engineering and a...

 has released several versions of the V-2. Currently there are no Estes V-2s in production.

Surviving V-2 examples and components


At least 20 V-2s still existed in 2005.

Australia

  • One at the Australian War Memorial
    Australian War Memorial
    The Australian War Memorial is Australia's national memorial to the members of all its armed forces and supporting organisations who have died or participated in the wars of the Commonwealth of Australia...

    , Canberra, including complete Meillerwagen transporter. The rocket has the most complete set of guidance components of all surviving A4s. The Meillerwagen is the most complete of the three examples known to exist. Another A4 was on display at the RAAF Museum at Point Cook outside Melbourne. Both rockets now reside in Canberra.

Netherlands

  • One example, partly skeletonized, is in the collection of the Royal Netherlands Army Museum. In this collection are also a launching table and some loose parts, as well as the remains of a V-2 that crashed in The Hague immediately after the launch.

Poland

  • Several large components, like hydrogen peroxide tank and reaction chamber, the propellant turbopump and the HWK rocket engine chamber (partly cut-out) are displayed at the Polish Aviation Museum
    Polish Aviation Museum
    Polish Aviation Museum is a large museum of old aircraft and aircraft engines in Kraków, Poland. It is located at the site of the no-longer functional Kraków-Rakowice-Czyżyny Airport. This airfield, established by Austria-Hungary in 1912, is one of the oldest in the world...

     in Kraków

France

  • One engine at in Toulouse
    Toulouse
    Toulouse is a city in the Haute-Garonne department in southwestern FranceIt lies on the banks of the River Garonne, 590 km away from Paris and half-way between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea...

    .
  • V-2 display at La Coupole
    La Coupole
    La Coupole , codenamed Bauvorhaben 21 , Schotterwerk Nordwest or Wizernes, is a Second World War bunker complex built by the forces of Nazi Germany between 1943 and 1944 to serve as a launch base for V-2 rockets against London and southern England...

     museum, Wizernes, Pas de Calais.
  • One rocket body no engine, one complete engine, one lower engine section and one wrecked engine on display at La Coupole
    La Coupole
    La Coupole , codenamed Bauvorhaben 21 , Schotterwerk Nordwest or Wizernes, is a Second World War bunker complex built by the forces of Nazi Germany between 1943 and 1944 to serve as a launch base for V-2 rockets against London and southern England...

     museum
  • One engine complete with steering pallets, feed lines and tank bottoms, plus one cut-out thrust chamber and one cut-out turbopump at the Snecma (Space Engines Div.) museum in Vernon

Germany

  • One complete missile and an additional engine at the Deutsches Museum
    Deutsches Museum
    The Deutsches Museum in Munich, Germany, is the world's largest museum of technology and science, with approximately 1.5 million visitors per year and about 28,000 exhibited objects from 50 fields of science and technology. The museum was founded on June 28, 1903, at a meeting of the Association...

     in Munich
    Munich
    Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

    .
  • One engine at the Museum of Technology in Berlin.


One replica was constructed for the Peenemünde
Peenemünde
The Peenemünde Army Research Center was founded in 1937 as one of five military proving grounds under the Army Weapons Office ....

 Historical and Technical Information Centre where it is displayed near what remains of the factory where it was built.

United Kingdom



  • One at the Science Museum
    Science Museum (London)
    The Science Museum is one of the three major museums on Exhibition Road, South Kensington, London in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. It is part of the National Museum of Science and Industry. The museum is a major London tourist attraction....

    , London.
  • One, on loan from Cranfield University
    Cranfield University
    Cranfield University is a British postgraduate university based on two campuses, with a research-oriented focus. The main campus is at Cranfield, Bedfordshire and the second is the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom based at Shrivenham, Oxfordshire. The main campus is unique in the United...

    , at the Imperial War Museum
    Imperial War Museum
    Imperial War Museum is a British national museum organisation with branches at five locations in England, three of which are in London. The museum was founded during the First World War in 1917 and intended as a record of the war effort and sacrifice of Britain and her Empire...

    , London.
  • The RAF Museum has two rockets, one displayed at the museum's London site and one at the Cosford site
    Royal Air Force Museum Cosford
    The Royal Air Force Museum Cosford is a museum dedicated to the history of aviation, and the Royal Air Force in particular. The museum is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and a registered charity...

    . The museum also owns a Meillerwagen
    Meillerwagen
    The Meillerwagen was a German World War II trailer used to transport a V-2 rocket from the 'transloading point' of the Technical Troop Area to the 'launching point', to erect the missile on the Brennstand , and to act as the service gantry for fuelling and launch preparation...

    , a Vidalwagen, a Strabo crane, and a firing table with towing dolly.
  • One at the Royal Engineers
    Royal Engineers
    The Corps of Royal Engineers, usually just called the Royal Engineers , and commonly known as the Sappers, is one of the corps of the British Army....

     Explosive Ordnance Disposal Museum in Chatham, Kent.
  • A fuel combustion chamber from a fired example is in Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation Museum
    Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation Museum
    The Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation Museum is a museum collection of aircraft and aviation-related artefacts, located near the former RAF Bungay airfield on the outskirts of Flixton, in the United Kingdom....

     near Bungay
    Bungay
    Bungay is a town in Suffolk, East Anglia, England.Bungay may also refer to:* Bungay railway station* Frank Bungay , former professional footballer* Stephen Bungay , British management consultant, historian and author...

  • A complete "chessboard" design V2 is lying in a field close to and visible from the M4 motorway near Slough.
  • A complete turbo-pump is at Solway Aviation Museum, Carlisle Airport as part of the Blue Streak Rocket exhibition.

United States


Complete missiles
  • One at the National Museum of the United States Air Force
    National Museum of the United States Air Force
    The National Museum of the United States Air Force is the official museum of the United States Air Force located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base northeast of Dayton, Ohio. The NMUSAF is the world's largest and oldest military aviation museum with more than 360 aircraft and missiles on display...

    , including complete Meillerwagen transporter, Dayton
    Dayton, Ohio
    Dayton is the 6th largest city in the U.S. state of Ohio and the county seat of Montgomery County, the fifth most populous county in the state. The population was 141,527 at the 2010 census. The Dayton Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of 841,502 in the 2010 census...

    , Ohio
    Ohio
    Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

    .
  • One (chessboard-painted) at the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in Hutchinson
    Hutchinson, Kansas
    Hutchinson is the largest city in and the county seat of Reno County, Kansas, United States, northwest of Wichita, on the Arkansas River. It has been home to salt mines since 1887, thus its nickname of "Salt City", but locals call it "Hutch"...

    , Kansas
    Kansas
    Kansas is a US state located in the Midwestern United States. It is named after the Kansas River which flows through it, which in turn was named after the Kansa Native American tribe, which inhabited the area. The tribe's name is often said to mean "people of the wind" or "people of the south...

    .
  • One at the National Air and Space Museum
    National Air and Space Museum
    The National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution holds the largest collection of historic aircraft and spacecraft in the world. It was established in 1976. Located in Washington, D.C., United States, it is a center for research into the history and science of aviation and...

    , Washington, D.C.
    Washington, D.C.
    Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

  • One at the Fort Bliss
    Fort Bliss
    Fort Bliss is a United States Army post in the U.S. states of New Mexico and Texas. With an area of about , it is the Army's second-largest installation behind the adjacent White Sands Missile Range. It is FORSCOM's largest installation, and has the Army's largest Maneuver Area behind the...

     Air Defense Museum, El Paso
    El Paso, Texas
    El Paso, is a city in and the county seat of El Paso County, Texas, United States, and lies in far West Texas. In the 2010 census, the city had a population of 649,121. It is the sixth largest city in Texas and the 19th largest city in the United States...

    , Texas
    Texas
    Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

    .
  • One (yellow and black) at Missile Park, White Sands Missile Range
    White Sands Missile Range
    White Sands Missile Range is a rocket range of almost in parts of five counties in southern New Mexico. The largest military installation in the United States, WSMR includes the and the WSMR Otera Mesa bombing range...

    , White Sands
    White Sands, New Mexico
    White Sands is a census-designated place in Doña Ana County, New Mexico, United States. The population was 1,323 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Las Cruces Metropolitan Statistical Area...

    , New Mexico
    New Mexico
    New Mexico is a state located in the southwest and western regions of the United States. New Mexico is also usually considered one of the Mountain States. With a population density of 16 per square mile, New Mexico is the sixth-most sparsely inhabited U.S...

    .
  • One at Marshall Space Flight Center
    Marshall Space Flight Center
    The George C. Marshall Space Flight Center is the U.S. government's civilian rocketry and spacecraft propulsion research center. The largest center of NASA, MSFC's first mission was developing the Saturn launch vehicles for the Apollo moon program...

     in Huntsville
    Huntsville, Alabama
    Huntsville is a city located primarily in Madison County in the central part of the far northern region of the U.S. state of Alabama. Huntsville is the county seat of Madison County. The city extends west into neighboring Limestone County. Huntsville's population was 180,105 as of the 2010 Census....

    , Alabama
    Alabama
    Alabama is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Alabama ranks 30th in total land area and ranks second in the size of its inland...

    .
  • One at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville
    Huntsville, Alabama
    Huntsville is a city located primarily in Madison County in the central part of the far northern region of the U.S. state of Alabama. Huntsville is the county seat of Madison County. The city extends west into neighboring Limestone County. Huntsville's population was 180,105 as of the 2010 Census....

    , Alabama
    Alabama
    Alabama is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Alabama ranks 30th in total land area and ranks second in the size of its inland...

    .

Components
  • One engine at the Stafford Air & Space Museum
    Stafford Air & Space Museum
    The Stafford Air & Space Museum is located in Weatherford, Oklahoma, USA. The museum features exhibits about aviation, space exploration and rocketry, and a collection of over 20 historic aircraft...

     in Weatherford, Oklahoma
    Weatherford, Oklahoma
    Weatherford is a city in Custer County, Oklahoma, United States. The population was 10,833 at the 2010 census.-Geography:Weatherford is located at , elevation 1,647 feet ....

    .
  • One engine at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville
    Huntsville, Alabama
    Huntsville is a city located primarily in Madison County in the central part of the far northern region of the U.S. state of Alabama. Huntsville is the county seat of Madison County. The city extends west into neighboring Limestone County. Huntsville's population was 180,105 as of the 2010 Census....

    , Alabama
    Alabama
    Alabama is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Alabama ranks 30th in total land area and ranks second in the size of its inland...

    .
  • One engine at the National Museum of the United States Air Force
    National Museum of the United States Air Force
    The National Museum of the United States Air Force is the official museum of the United States Air Force located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base northeast of Dayton, Ohio. The NMUSAF is the world's largest and oldest military aviation museum with more than 360 aircraft and missiles on display...

  • One engine at the Museum of Science and Industry
    Museum of Science and Industry (Chicago)
    The Museum of Science and Industry is located in Chicago, Illinois, USA in Jackson Park, in the Hyde Park neighborhood adjacent to Lake Michigan. It is housed in the former Palace of Fine Arts from the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition...

     in Chicago.
  • One rocket body and one engine at the United States Army Ordnance Museum
    United States Army Ordnance Museum
    The U.S. Army Ordnance Museum is a museum that is in the process of being re-located to Fort Lee, in Fort Lee, Virginia. Its previous building—at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Aberdeen, Maryland—was closed in September 2010, although many outdoor exhibits are still accessible to the...

     in Aberdeen
    Aberdeen, Maryland
    As of the census of 2000, there were 13,842 people, 5,475 households, and 3,712 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,166.2 people per square mile . There were 5,894 housing units at an average density of 922.4 per square mile...

    , Maryland
    Maryland
    Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

    . (moved to Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton Ohio in approx 2005.)
  • One rocket body at Picatinny Arsenal
    Picatinny Arsenal
    The Picatinny Arsenal is an American military research and manufacturing facility located on a lot in northern New Jersey near Lake Denmark. The Arsenal is the headquarters of the United States Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center...

     in Dover, NJ.
  • One engine in the Auburn University Engineering Lab
  • One engine in the Blockhouse building on the Historic Cape Canaveral Tour in Cape Canaveral
    Cape Canaveral, Florida
    Cape Canaveral is a city in Brevard County, Florida, United States. The population was 8,829 at the 2000 census. As of 2008, the estimated population according to the U.S. Census Bureau was 10,147...

    , Florida
    Florida
    Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

    .
  • One engine at Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology
    Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology
    Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology is a college within Saint Louis University.-History:right|thumb|[[de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver]] restored by Parks students in 1991...

     in St.Louis, Missouri

Further reading

  • Dungan, Tracy D. (2005). V-2: A Combat History of the First Ballistic Missile. Westholme Publishing. ISBN 1-59416-012-0.
  • Huzel, Dieter K. (ca. 1965). Peenemünde to Canaveral. Prentice Hall Inc.
  • King, Benjamin and Timothy J. Kutta (1998). Impact: The History of Germany's V-Weapons in World War II . (Alternately: Impact: An Operational History of Germany's V Weapons in World War II.) Rockville Center, New York: Sarpedon Publishers, 1998. ISBN 1-885119-51-8, ISBN 1-86227-024-4. Da Capo Press; Reprint edition, 2003: ISBN 0-306-81292-4.
  • Piszkiewicz, Dennis (1995). The Nazi Rocketeers: Dreams of Space and Crimes of War. Westport, Conn.: Praeger. ISBN 0-275-95217-7.


External links