A JUMP START
IN THE MISSILE RACE
U.S. Army brought captured V-2 missile parts to White Sands Proving
Ground, New Mexico, for its Project Hermes missile development program,
managed by General Electric. Wernher von Braun and his team were
housed at nearby Fort Bliss, Texas. They advised General Electric
personnel in the reassembly, testing, firing, and evaluation of
first firings, in 1946, used all-German components. Later, modified
American-made components were substituted to gain practical experience
and to improve the basic missile design.
Army Ordnance Col. Holger Toftoy confers with Wernher von Braun.
General Electric technician inspects captured German V-2 engines at
White Sands in late 1945.
missiles were shipped on their original German transporters from the
vehicle assembly buildings to the firing facilities 10 kilometers
(6 miles) away.
V-2 missile was reconstructed by the U.S. Air Force using components
from several missiles and was exhibited at the Air Force Technical
Museum in Park Ridge, Illinois. The Smithsonian received it from the
Air Force in 1954. Technicians spent more than 2,000 hours restoring
it to its present appearance, which is patterned after the first successful
test missile fired from Peenemünde in October 1942. These markings
made the missile easily visible for accurate assessment of its flight
performance. The irregular surface of the missile reflects the condition
of the original skin.
from the U.S. Air Force
Museum's V-2 missile, when originally displayed by the Air Force,
bore the paint scheme of a wartime, camouflaged V-2.
||14 m (46 ft)
||12,800 kg (28,000
||240-305 km (150-190
||80 km (50 mi) for
240-km (150-mi) range
||alcohol and liquid
||German Army Ordnance
IN THE U.S.S.R.
development of large-scale missile technology in the Soviet Union,
as in the United States, was influenced by the German V-2. In 1947
the Soviet Union launched its first V-2 assembled from German parts.
A year later, the U.S.S.R. launched the first V-2 built in that
country. This missile was called R-1.
Soviets went on to develop a variety of sounding rockets and missiles
based on the V-2. They gradually increased engine thrust, made the
body larger, and integrated propellant tanks with the missile's skin.
These technical refinements increased the missile's range. The R-5,
the last Soviet missile based on V-2 technology, had a range of 1,200
kilometers (750 miles).
Soviet copy of the German V-2 missile, called the R-1, was first
launched in 1948.