Imagining a Better Future by Re-imagining the Past

Saturday, March 29, 2014

V-2 Rocket

According the web site,, on March 27, 1945, Germany launched their last V-2 missiles against the Allies from their only remaining launch site in the Netherlands. While it failed to turn the war, the attack killed almost 200 civilians in England and Belgium.

The long-range missile had been in development by German scientists since the 1930s. After numerous failures, on October 3, 1942 they achieved a successful trial launch of the V-2 from Peenemunde, an island off Germany's Baltic coast. The missile was capable of carrying a one-ton warhead and traveled 118 miles in that first test.

Click to Enlarge
Click to Enlarge to Image provides some interesting trivia about the V-2. The genius behind the creation of this terror machine was the rocket scientist Wernher von Braun, who would later be the leading scientist on the American space program after the war. Unlike bombers, the V-2 was virtually impossible to intercept. When launched, the V-2 would rise six miles vertically and then cut off its own fuel as it entered its downward arch. By the time it reached the ground, the V-2 would have been traveling at nearly 4,000 mph. The force of impact was so extreme that it would burrow itself several feet below ground before it detonated. The V-2 rocket could travel a distance of 200 miles. In addition, the launch pads were mobile, which made it nearly impossible to detect before launch.

Wernher Von Braun
Germany first used the V-2 on September 6, 1944 when they fired two rockets at Paris. Two days later, they fired two more at England. Over the following six months, Germany would launch over 1,100 more V-2s at England. Ultimately, rocket attacks killed more than 2,700 Brits. In Belgium, the death toll was much worse with a death toll of 4,483.

When the war ended, both the US forces and the Soviets rushed to grab as much of the V-2 technology and as many German rocket scientists as they could. The legacy of the V-2 project has been both positive and dark in that it resulted in both the American and Soviet space programs that advanced human understanding as well as the development of the Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM) capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

1 comment:

Jack Philpott said...

A screaming comes across the sky...