OF A V-2
V-2 was the largest and most complex missile in the German arsenal.
It could send 1,000 kilograms (1 ton) of explosives more than 240
kilometers (150 miles) down range in five minutes.
single rocket engine used a mixture of alcohol and liquid oxygen
to provide thrust for about a minute. After engine shut-off, the
missile traveled to its target on a ballistic trajectory--that is,
falling under the influence of gravity.
V-2 was guided during powered flight either by radio signals from
the ground or by onboard gyroscopes and a device to measure the rocket's
acceleration. It had control vanes in the rocket exhaust and air vanes
on the fins.
V-2 was designed and tested at remote Peenemünde, but after Allied
bombing raids there, production was moved to widely separated
sites. The main production center, Mittelwerk, was located underground
in the Harz Mountains in central Germany.
V-2s in quantity became a vast enterprise in 1944. Near the
war's end, almost 700 V-2s were being produced monthly in caverns
camp prisoners built V-2s under unbearably harsh working conditions.
Thousands perished in the process.
THE V-2 IN
V-2 missile achieved Hitler's goal as a terror weapon. From September
1944 until March 1945, about 2,900 V-2 missiles were fired against
England, Belgium, and France from mobile launchers in Germany
and its occupied territories. Shown here is a typical launch site
in late 1944. The V-2s were camouflaged to reduce their visibility
to Allied bombers.
than 1,100 V-2s hit southern England alone, causing an estimated
2,700 deaths and 6,500 injuries. Even more missiles were launched
against the port city of Antwerp, Belgium. As this chart shows,
strikes were concentrated against population centers. Because
the Germans could not pinpoint targets with precision, anyone
within the surrounding area could be hit. V-2s killed a total
of 7,000 people in Europe.
from The Blitz Then and Now (Volume 3)
is a scene in Antwerp, Belgium, just after a V-2 strike. The V-2 demonstrated
a new ability in warfare to send bombs quickly to a target. Traveling
four times faster than sound and falling silently along their trajectory
after engine shut-down, the missiles struck without warning.
photograph, courtesy of Fred Ordway