V1 vs v2 rocket

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The V Weapons

The V weapons – the V1 and V2 – were used towards the end of World War Two with such an effect that the attacks on London became known as the second Blitz. The success of D-Day had speeded up the production of the V weapons and the first V1 was launched on June 13th, just one week after the Allied landings at Normandy.

The V weapons were built at Pennemunde, a remote island off the Baltic. Here, the Nazis had assembled a group of scientists and a workforce who worked under the greatest of secrecy. In 1943, the Polish underground movement had sent back information about the base and the RAF had aerial photographs of the site. In August 1943, a heavy bombing raid by the RAF caused serious damage to Pennemunde and pushed development back some months but the project was not halted altogether.

The V1 and V2 were to be weapons of revenge – the Vergeltungswaffens. These were the fabled secret weapons that Hitler boasted about; the weapons that would win the war for Nazi Germany.

By February 1944, 96 launch sites had been built for the V1. The R.A.F and the U.S.A.F. destroyed 73 but the remaining 23 were to cause many problems for Southern England.

The V1 carried one ton of high explosives and travelled at a maximum of 400 mph. It had a maximum flying distance of 200 miles but the weather could decrease this. A pre-set magnetic compass and gyroscopic auto-pilot determined and maintained its course. A small propeller at the front of the weapon registered the distance covered. At a pre-set distance, the guidance system cut the power to the engine and the V1 went into a steep dive.

Between 8,000 and 9,000 V1’s were launched against Southern England, primarily London. After the initial shock of the first ones, their impact was limited as V1’s could be shot out of the sky by anti-aircraft fire as these guns could lock onto the trajectory of the incoming V1. The Royal Observer Corps gave an early warning of incoming V1’s. Fighter planes were also used to tip over the ‘wings’ of the V1 so that it continued to fly but off course. Over 50% of the V1’s fired at Britain were destroyed before they crashed to the ground and exploded.

Far more dangerous was the world’s first rocket – the V2. This was developed by Wernher von Braun and his team at Peneemunde. This rocket carried one ton of high explosive but travelled at such a speed that it could not be seen. Its terminal speed was 2,386 mph.

Whereas the V1 was a visible weapon, the V2 was invisible. These weapons spread considerable fear in London. In response to them the government used its intelligence units to convince the Nazis that the government had moved its base from central London to the Dulwich area of London. This worked and the V2’s were targeted towards Dulwich. About 1000 V2’s were fired at Britain before their launch sites were overrun by the advancing Allies. In total they killed or wounded about 115,000 people.

It is difficult to assess the true military value of the V weapons. Their psychological impact was probably greater than the actual damage they did. With the V2’s no one knew in London whether they would be the next victim. But they were not used against the advancing Allied armies or against the Russians. Antwerp, a vital port for the Allies, was devastated by attacks from V weapons but, in general, they were used on civilian targets only.

Albert Speer in his book “Inside the Third Reich” claims that the V weapons (especially the V2) could have been working many months before June 1944 if the men at Peneemunde had been given more support from Berlin. Speer cited Goering as the man who had little faith in the project. Their impact, if used from an earlier date, might have been greater.

Sours: https://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/world-war-two/world-war-two-in-western-europe/the-v-revenge-weapons/the-v-weapons/

This week marks the 70th anniversary of the first V2 rocket attack on London. As our space correspondent Richard Hollingham discovers, the legacy of the missile lives on in today’s spacecraft.


On a sunny morning in autumn 1944, my father – then a teenager – was waiting for a train at Cromer railway station on the coast of eastern England. It was a beautiful clear day and, from the railway platform set high above the town, he could see across the calm North Sea to German-occupied Holland.

“On the horizon, I saw three streaks go up into the air and disappear into the stratosphere,” he recalls. “I’m quite certain these were V2 rockets being launched to crash somewhere – where I don’t know.”

Launched from mobile units, each V2 rocket was 14 metres (46ft) high and carried a ton (900 kg) of explosives. The first attack on London, on 8 September 1944, gouged a crater 10m (32ft) across, killed three people and injured 22.

However, unlike aircraft or the V2’s predecessor the V1 flying bomb, this was a new type of weapon, crashing and exploding without warning in target cities, such as London, Norwich, Paris, Lille and Antwerp. It took just five minutes from launch to landing. V stood for ‘vergeltungswaffen', or 'retaliatory weapon', and were a last-ditch attempt by the Germans to reverse the course of the war.

Having seen a rocket launch, Dad was fortunate enough to escape a V2’s return to Earth when he was waiting for another train at Queen’s Park underground station in north London.

“Suddenly there was a large bang in a road nearby and a great cloud of debris was thrown up in the air, and that was a V2 rocket,” he says. “It was a terror weapon, you didn’t hear it arriving, it was just there… bang!”

More than 1,300 V2s were fired at England and, as allied forces advanced, hundreds more were targeted at Belgium and France.

Grim history

Although there is no exact figure, estimates suggest that several thousand people were killed by the missile – 2,724 in Britain alone. However, a far grimmer statistic is that many more, at least 20,000, died constructing the V2s themselves.

“It’s something that’s often glossed over, but shouldn’t be,” says Doug Millard, space historian and curator of space technology at London’s Science Museum, where a V2 takes pride of place in the main exhibition hall. “The V2 programme was hugely expensive in terms of lives, with the Nazis using slave labour to manufacture these rockets.”

The prisoners – many pulled from other concentration camps for their technical skills such as welding – worked around the clock in an underground factory called Mittelwerk near the Buchenwald concentration camp in central Germany. They lived under appalling conditions, with no daylight, little sleep, food or proper sanitation. Many were executed for attempted sabotage. Eyewitness accounts describe prisoners being hanged from cranes above the rocket assembly lines.

Despite his complicity in the conditions at Mittelwerk, the engineer who designed the V2, Wernher von Braun, came to be feted as a hero of the space age. The Allies realised that the V2 was a machine, unlike anything they had developed themselves.

At the heart of the V2 was a powerful motor capable of taking the rocket more than 80km (50 miles) above the Earth in a trajectory of some 190 km (120 miles). Fuelled by liquid ethanol and oxygen, it was much more sophisticated that anything built before and effectively the world’s first space rocket.

“There had been smaller rockets built in the 1930s but this was far bigger with a greater range,” Millard says. “The V2 was a quantum leap of technological change.”

Pioneering principles

One of the most important new technologies developed for the V2 was an automatic guidance system, which operated independently of controllers on the ground. With the destination “programmed” into the on-board analogue computer, once a rocket was in flight, its gyroscopes could continuously track the craft’s position in three dimensions. Any deviations in course and rudders fitted to the fins on the side of the rocket would automatically adjust the heading and trajectory to keep it on target.

Not surprisingly, when the war ended, the Americans, Soviets and British scrambled to get their hands on V2 technology. With no desire to work for Stalin, Von Braun made a shrewd decision to surrender to the Americans, while the Russians got their hands on the V2 factory and test range.

“Both the Americans and Soviets took the V2s to bits to decipher their workings,” says Millard. “The Soviets completely recreated a V2 and the Americans took them over to America to launch and carry out some of the first upper atmosphere experiments.”

However, the US knew that it wasn’t the hardware that was as important as the men behind it. And they had Von Braun. Although the military’s priority was to develop intercontinental ballistic missiles, the German engineer now had the opportunity to pursue his dreams of spaceflight.

“After a brief hiatus, he started working for the American army on their Redstone missile and that was a direct derivative of the V2,” says Millard. “America’s first astronaut, Alan Shepard, was launched [in 1961] on a version of the Redstone missile.”

Enduring effects

So it is easy to draw a direct line between the V2 rocket – built by slave labourers and launched from Nazi-occupied Europe – and the first American in space.

“We got to the Moon using V2 technology but this was technology that was developed with massive resources, including some particularly grim ones,” says Millard.

So would man have landed on the Moon without Hitler’s weapon? Probably, but perhaps not as soon. As with so many technological innovations, war hastened the development of the modern rocket and accelerated the space age.

Even today, the fundamental technology of launchers remains the same as it did 70 years ago. The engine looks similar, rockets still use gyroscopic guidance and most are powered by liquid fuel. All pioneered in the V2.

Unwittingly, on a September day in 1944 my father had witnessed the dawn of the Space Age. “Rockets really haven’t changed a great deal,” says Millard. “We’re still living in the age of the V2.”

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Sours: https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20140905-the-nazis-space-age-rocket
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75 Years Ago the Nazis Took Revenge on the Allies with the V1 and V2

During the liberation at the beginning of September 1944, most Belgians thought the war would be over by the end of the year. They didn’t realize that the Germans were still holding secret weapons: the V1 and V2 rockets. Exactly 75 years ago, on 13 October 1944, the first V1 fell on Antwerp. This was the start of a long period of fear and terror.

In reality, a few days after landing in Normandy, the Germans had already dropped their first V1 on London. In early July, these bombs were most likely dropped on Flanders as well. Both the Allies and the Germans, however, provided elusive and fragmented information. The former mainly wanted to avoid causing panic among the population. The latter wanted to prevent that the remains of the weapon would end up in the hands of the enemy, who would track German launch sites and destroy them.

Retaliatory weapons

Germany had been working on a secret weapon for a long time. It was a race between the Army and the Air Force. The former developed an unmanned aircraft powered by a jet engine (VI), whereas the latter developed a ballistic missile (V2). The V2 was the first to be ready. It was designed by Wernher von Braun and successfully tested already in August 1942. Three months later the V1 was also tested, although with varying degrees of success. As it turned out, the V1 could be produced in a faster and cheaper way.

Yet Hitler was not a big fan of these secret weapons. As long as the ground troops were making progress and the German bombers were reaching their goal, there was no real need for expensive, resource-guzzling experiments. However, when the odds were stacked against them and the German troops had to be pulled back, Hitler became convinced of the value of the new weapons. They would be retaliation for the Allied bombings that killed thousands of people in German cities, such as Lübeck and Hamburg. The V stands for “Vergeltungswaffen”.

Bundesarchiv Bild 146 1978 Anh 030 02 Peenemünde Dornberger Olbricht Brandt v Braun

Aerospace engineer Wernher von Braun amidst German officers © Wikimedia Commons

Both weapons were tested at a base in Peenemünde, near the Baltic Sea. From September 1942 and onwards, V1 prototypes were launched there. The V1 flying bombs weren’t very reliable yet. When Hitler attended a demonstration in January 1943, the bomb crashed only a few seconds after the launch. Furthermore, the launch base was discovered by Allied reconnaissance flights (“spy flights”) and in the night of 17 to 18 August 1943, a large air attack took place that involved nearly 600 Allied bombers. The test center remained largely intact, but the Germans realized that the enemy had discovered them and new bombings would follow. The German Supreme Command decided to transfer the entire production of V-weapons as quickly as possible to an underground complex near Nordhausen.

Here, the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp was established and prisoners were forced to further excavate existing mineshafts. From January 1944, the site became the production unit for V1 and V2 bombs. Over 60,000 prisoners were made to work here under inhumane conditions. The exact number of deaths is unknown, but it is estimated to be 20,000. Thousands of Belgians and Dutch people have also worked in Dora. Thorough historical research has been conducted as to their fate, and that of their fellow French campmates.

The purpose of the “flying bombs” was to spread terror among the civilian population, especially in London and Antwerp. The liberators had regained control over the Belgian port city, which had remained relatively intact. It now functioned as a port of entry for the Allies. It became one of the main targets of the German “flying bombs”. Liège was also an important target.

Destructive bombing raid

The V1s were launched from catapult ramps or aircraft. Most of the launch facilities were located in France and the West of the Netherlands, but later also in the East. In the beginning, the Nazis built immense platforms for the V2. The Operation Todt, responsible for the construction of major war infrastructure, was ordered to build 96 V1 launching bases and five huge bunkers in northern France. Today this is where the historic center of La Coupole is located. These Northern French constructions were quickly discovered by the Allies, after which they were heavily bombed. None of the units ever really became operational. The V2s were eventually fired from mobile units, situated predominantly within the Netherlands.


La Coupole, near Saint-Omer © Jean-Luc Boin

A total of more than 22,000 V1s were fired, of which 6,500 reached England and approximately 7,000 breached the Belgian borders. They claimed a total of 11,000 victims, of whom 4,000 were Belgians. In addition, about 4,000 of the V2s were launched. England was hit by 1,135 rockets, and Belgium by 1,664 rockets, of which 1,610 fell down in Antwerp. A total of more than 6,000 people were killed, 50 per cent of them in Antwerp.

16 December 1944 was the bloodiest day in the history of flying bombs. That Saturday at 15h23 a V2 fell on the sold out Rex Cinema. The people of Antwerp, but also many English soldiers, were enjoying The Plainsman, a western movie about Buffalo Bill. The total number of deaths was tragic. A total of 537 visitors were killed, 291 were injured. It was the heaviest bombing during World War II. Meanwhile, the broader city of Antwerp also suffered casualties, which brought the death toll that day to 667. This created a real psychosis of fear. Whereas up until now people had not shifted their lifestyles in response to the “flying trees”, from then on public life became restrained. Events where many people gathered became forbidden, children were evacuated to the countryside and an important part of daily life would take place in air raid shelters.

Een bebloede groep mensen na een V aanval op Antwerpen c Koen Palinckx

Victims of the V2-bombs in Cinema Rex in Antwerp, 16 December 1944. © Koen Palinckx

The fact that 16 December 1944 was a bloody day in history should come as no surprise. It was the day the Ardennes Offensive began. A rain of V1 and V2 missiles had to fall on Belgium in order for the attack to succeed. From 16 December till the end of January 1945, Liège was also constantly bombed with V1s. The V1s that fell on Antwerp were mainly launched from different places located in the Zutphen-Zwolle-Enschede triangle. As a result, many victims were killed in the Netherlands as well. The V1s weren’t always calibrated accurately and would sometimes drop down too early.

Additionally, the Allied bombing of launch facilities caused many casualties in the Netherlands. A notorious example is the bombardment on 3 March 1945. The target was the forest in The Hague that the Germans had used as a launch site for V2s. The Allied pilots, however, received wrong information and they dropped 61 tons of bombs on Bezuidenhout, a residential area in the Hague. A total of 550 were killed, 3,300 houses were destroyed and almost 50,000 people fled the city.

Bombardement Carolina van Nassaustraat 672x372

Bezuidenhout, a residential area in the Hague, after the bombardment © City archive The Hague

The last V1 fell on 29 March 1945 in England. Two days before, the last fatality was reported in Belgium. After eight months of terror, the civilians were able to get out of their bomb shelters. The Americans conquered the production sites in Germany. Soon after, they saw the horrors of concentration camps with their own eyes. They filmed everything they witnessed to show the world what had been taking place. However, their attitude toward the key players in the development and production of the V-weapons was ambiguous. Almost all engineers of missile technology were able to escape justice and welcomed with open arms by the Americans and the Russians. Wernher von Braun is the prime example. He would later play an important role in the American space program.


Wernher von Braun en John F. Kennedy in 1963 © NASA

What was the final outcome of the V offensive? First and foremost, it caused a lot of human suffering. Thousands of people lost their lives; sometimes even entire families were murdered. Furthermore, the material damage was enormous. The advance of the Allies was also delayed. The war lasted much longer. The Allied bombardments also caused many casualties. In the end, thousands of civilians have paid for the highly advanced military technology with their lives.

Sours: https://www.the-low-countries.com/article/75-years-ago-the-nazis-took-revenge-on-the-allies-with-the-v1-and-v2

British Response to V1 and V2

In 1939, Britain and her allies went to war with Germany and the axis powers. To begin with, Germany was very successful in defeating its enemies. During the Blitz, 1940-1941, German bombers attacked British cities causing great damage and loss of life. Roughly 43,000 people were killed and two million made homeless by the bombing. However, by 1943 the tide of war was turning and Germany was on the defensive.

It was then that intelligence of a new threat to Britain’s cities began to emerge – missiles and rockets. The V1 missile, once launched, flew without a pilot until it ran out of fuel and came crashing down, blowing up. The V2 rocket was a long distance weapon that could travel at the speed of sound. They were known as ‘revenge weapons’ used by Germany to terrorise British civilians and undermine morale.

Use this lesson to investigate original documents which reveal how these new weapons were developed to threaten Britain from 1943.


History Hook – Starter Activity

1. Read Sources 1 and 2. You must advise the War Cabinet on the threat level from three sites: Peenemunde, Wissant and Watten. These sites are believed to be part of the German rocket project. Read the documents and then answer the questions.

  • Is Peenemunde part of the German rocket project? Should it be bombed? Give reasons for your answer
  • Is Wissant part of the German rocket project? Should it be bombed? Give reasons for your answer
  • Is Watten part of the German rocket project? Should it be bombed? Give reasons for your answer. How good was the advice you gave?

1a. Yes: 10 points No: 0 points
Should we bomb Peenemunde?
There was clear evidence that the Germans were developing a long-range rocket there. This site was so dangerous that it had to be attacked as soon as possible.

1b. Yes: 1 point No: 9 points
Should we bomb Wissant?
While answering yes is not completely wrong, it was decided not to bomb the suspected launch sites at the time.

1c. Yes: 8 points No: 2 points
Should we bomb Watten?
This site turned out to be where the fuel was put into the rockets. So it was very dangerous and had to be attacked.

Score of 27
Excellent, you could not have given better advice. If the Germans were allowed to develop their missiles and rockets, then huge destruction could have been caused to British cities. You are going to be promoted.

Score of 15 or above
Well done, you have given good advice. If the Germans were allowed to develop their missiles and rockets, then huge destruction could have been caused to British cities.

Score of 14 or less
You have given poor advice. If the Germans were allowed to develop their missiles and rockets, then huge destruction could have been caused to British cities. You are in danger of being transferred to the Ministry of Food where your job will be to give advice on nothing more serious than how to make tasty meals using powdered eggs.

2. Look at Sources 3a & 3b: Attack on Peenemunde.

  • Study the aerial photograph of Peenemunde (3a)
  • Can you identify the areas listed here in Peenemunde Site Plan/Target Map (3b):
  • Experimental station
  • Factory workshops
  • Power plant
  • Unidentified Apparatus [machinery]
  • Experimental establishments
  • Sleeping and living quarters
  • Experimental Airfield
  • Which areas would you suggest the bomber pilots aim for?
  • Give reasons for your choice of targets.

3. Read Source 4. This is an extract from the account of the raid on Peenemunde on the night of 17-18 August 1943 by Group Captain John Searby, the Master Bomber.

  • In this account of the air raid, 250 scientific workers died. What do you feel about the killing of scientists in the attack?
  • Bomber Command losses in this operation were 41 Lancasters. How many RAF men were lost if this many Lancasters were shot down? (HINT : A Lancaster had a crew of 7 men)
  • According to the source, is the raid considered a success? Why/why not?


The people of Britain called the V1 missiles ‘Buzz Bombs’ or ‘Doodlebugs’. The first was dropped at Swanscombe in Kent on 13 June 1944 and the last one at Orpington in Kent on 27 March 1945. During that time, 6,725 were launched at Britain. Of these, 2,340 hit London, causing 5,475 deaths, with 16,000 injured. Three lines of defence were put in place against the missiles: fighter planes over the English coast, anti-aircraft batteries in Kent and barrage balloons around London. These were successful in destroying 3,500 V1 missiles.

V2 rockets were first launched against England in September 1944. Over the next few months, nearly 1,400 struck London. They were less accurate than V1 missiles, but since they travelled at the speed of sound, and so made no warning noise before impact, it was almost impossible to defend against them.

The Royal Air Force began bombing the launch sites in 1944. The threat from these weapons ended in 1945 as the British army and their allies advanced across France, Belgium and Holland, capturing the launch sites.

Teachers' notes

This lesson has a History Hook starter video to help ‘hook’ students into the lesson.

Students are required in this lesson to use the first two original sources to advise the War Cabinet on the threat level from three sites: Peenemunde, Wissant and Watten believed to be part of the German rocket project. They are also provided with a framework to determine the accuracy of their answers. This format is ideal for working in pairs or discussing the sources within small groups. All sources have transcripts.

The third source concerns the plan to attack Peenemunde, a rocket development site in Germany. Here students examine an aerial photograph of Peenemunde and the Peenemunde Site Plan/Target Map. Finally students read an extract from the account of the raid on Peenemunde on the night of 17-18 August 1943 by Group Captain John Searby.

The lesson covers several themes including changing technology and warfare, showing how new inventions completely change the way war is waged.

The attacks caused by these new missiles can be included in a study of the civilian experience of the Home Front. The V1 and V2 bombings are part of the story of the Blitz. Air raids are some of the most powerful British memories of the 20th century and present opportunities for students to do independent research.

The lesson can also be used to open up discussions on the nature of ‘total war’ as the First World War has often been referred to as the first ‘total war’. With the Second World War the British people were thrown into the front line. Once again, there was no longer a distinction between soldier and civilian. The lesson could be therefore be used to compare with the experience of Zeppelin raids during the First World War. However, it was not just the use of these industrial weapons of war which impacted peoples’ lives, but their other experiences as civilians on the home front. Nations waging ‘total war’ for example, affected their people through conscription, rationing, controls over factories, railways and farms, civil defence and so on.


Illustration: V2 Rocket diagram (AIR 40/2541)

Source 1: An extract from Air Scientific Intelligence Interim Report on German Long-range Missiles, 26 June 1943 (DEFE 40/12)

Source 2: Extracts from the report by Duncan Sandys to the War Cabinet Chiefs of Staff Committee on German Long-range missile development, 26 August 1943 (AIR 20/2629)

Source 3: Aerial photograph of Peenemunde (AIR 34/184) – Transcript Peenemunde Site Plan/Target Map, 1943 (AIR 34/632)

Source 4: Extracts from the account of the raid on Peenemunde on the night of 17-18 August 1943 by Group Captain John Searby, the Master Bomber on the raid. (AIR 20/4040)

External links

Flying Bombs and Rockets
Site explaining the impact of the V1 and V2 attacks on London, including photographs of bomb damage.

MOI Digital Reports
Fully-searchable versions of all the Home Intelligence Reports and all the Wartime Social Surveys produced by the Ministry of Information.

More information on V1 & V2 rockets from the Imperial War Museum

Connections to curriculum

Key stage 3
Challenges for Britain, Europe and the wider world 1901 to the present day: the inter-war years: the Great Depression and the rise of dictators

Key stage 4
AQA GCSE History: Germany, 1890–1945: Democracy and dictatorship
Edexcel GCSE History: c1900–present: Warfare and British society in modern era
OCR GCSE History: War and British Society c.790 to c.2010; attitudes and responses to war

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Sours: https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/education/resources/british-response-v1-and-v2/

V2 v1 rocket vs


German WWII long range missiles

For descriptions of the individual weapons, see V-1 flying bomb, V-2, and V-3 cannon.

V-weapons, known in original German as Vergeltungswaffen (German pronunciation: [fɐˈgɛltʊŋsˌvafṇ], German: "retaliatory weapons", "reprisal weapons"), were a particular set of long-range artillery weapons designed for strategic bombing during World War II, particularly Strategic bombing and/or aerial bombing of cities.[1][2] They comprised the V-1, a pulsejet-powered cruise missile; the V-2, a liquid-fueledballistic missile (often referred to as V1 and V2); and the V-3 cannon. All of these weapons were intended for use in a military campaign against Britain, though only the V-1 and V-2 were so used in a campaign conducted 1944–45. After the invasion of Europe by the Allies, these weapons were also employed against targets on the mainland of Europe, mainly France and Belgium. Strategic bombing with V-weapons killed approximately 18,000 people, mostly civilians. The cities of London, Antwerp and Liège were the main targets.[3][4]

They were part of the range of the so-called Wunderwaffen (superweapons, or "wonderweapons") of Nazi Germany.


As early as 28 June 1940, a strategic bombing rationale had been advanced for the A4 (V-2 rocket) being developed at a meeting between Army Ordnance Chief Emil Leeb and Commander-in-Chief of the Wehrmacht, Walther von Brauchitsch.[5] Following the relative failure of the Baedeker Raids on Britain in 1942, development of both flying bomb and rocket accelerated, with Britain designated as the target.[6] On 29 September 1943, Albert Speer publicly promised retribution against the mass bombing of German cities by a "secret weapon".[7] Then the official 24 June 1944 Reich Propaganda Ministry announcement of the "Vergeltungswaffe 1" guided missile implied that there would be another such weapon.[8] After the first operational A-4 launch in September 1944, the rocket was renamed the V-2.[9] (although no one knows exactly who gave it this name).[10] However, the V-2 operations manual distributed to firing batteries continued to use the A-4 name for the rocket.[11]

Allen Dulles, head of the American secret service OSS in Switzerland, was in contact with the Austrian resistance group around the priest Heinrich Maier from 1943 onwards. Through this Dulles received crucial information and plans about Peenemünde, the V-1 and the V-2 rocket.[12][13][14][15]

Use against Britain and Mainland Europe 1944–45[edit]


Main article: V-1 flying bomb

Beginning in October 1943, launch sites for the V-1 were constructed in Northern France, along the coast from Calais to Le Havre. Aerial bombing attacks on these sites by the Allied airforce were only partially successful, and by June 1944 they were ready for action.[16] Prompted by the Normandy Landings of 6 June, in the early morning of 13 June 1944, the first V-1 flying bomb attack was carried out on London.[6][17] Ten missiles were launched, of which four reached England. The first of these impacted near Swanscombe, causing no casualties. At Bethnal Green, however, a bridge was destroyed, six people killed and nine injured.[18] After the 15th[clarify] the attacks became sustained at a rate of about 100 a day.[17] With the first attack the British put their pre-planned Operation Diver (after their codename "Diver" used for the V-1) into action.

The buzzing sound of the V-1's pulse jet engine was likened by some to "a motor cycle in bad running order". As it reached its target and dived, the sound of the propulsion unit spluttering and cutting out, followed by an eerie hush before impact, was quite terrifying, though the silence was also a warning to seek shelter (later V-1s were corrected to have the originally intended power dive).[19] At least one business in London advertised how quickly a patron could access a nearby shelter. Despite this, the cloudy and rainy conditions of June and July aided the effectiveness of the weapon, and casualties were high. By late August a million and a half people had left London, and the rate of work production was affected.[20] By the late summer and autumn, however, increasingly effective countermeasures against the V-1 were taken, and people started returning to London.[21]

A total of 9,251 V-1s were fired at targets in Britain, with the vast majority aimed at London; 2,515 reached the city, killing 6,184 civilians and injuring 17,981. Croydon to the south, on the flight path of the V-1s, suffered severely, taking 142 hits.[22]


Main article: V-2 rocket

For numbers fired and targets, see V-2 rocket § V-2 rocket targets.

For use of the letter V to designate experimental (German: Versuchsmuster) V-2 rockets, see List of V-2 test launches.

V-2 rocket launching sites were set up by the Germans around The Hague in the Netherlands on 6 September 1944. The first was launched from here against London on 8 September 1944 and took an estimated 5 minutes to fly the 200 miles (320 km) from the Hague to London, where it struck at 6:43pm on 8 September on Chiswick, causing 13 casualties.[23] As the V-2 explosions came without warning, the government initially attempted to conceal their cause by blaming them on defective gas mains. However, the public was not fooled and soon began sardonically referring to the V-2s as "Flying gas pipes".[24]

By October the offensive became sustained. A particularly devastating strike was on 25 November 1944, when a V-2 exploded at the Woolworth's store in New Cross Road, killing 168 people and seriously injuring 121.[25] Intercepting the supersonic V-2 missiles in flight proved virtually impossible, and other countermeasures, such as bombing the launch sites, were fairly ineffectual. Sustained bombardment continued until March 1945. The final missiles arrived on 27 March 1945, with one of them killing 134 people and injuring 49 when it hit a block of flats in Stepney.[26]

Ruined buildings in London, left by the penultimate V-2 to strike the city on 27 March 1945; the rocket killed 134 people[27]

1,115 V-2s were fired at the United Kingdom. The vast majority of them were aimed at London, though about 40 targeted (and missed) Norwich. They killed an estimated 2,754 people in London, with another 6,523 injured. A further 2,917 service personnel were killed as a result of the V-weapon campaign. Since the V-2 was supersonic and could not be heard (and was rarely seen) as it approached the target, its psychological effect "suffered in comparison to the V-1".[28]

The V-weapon offensive ended in March 1945, with the last V-2 landing in Kent on March 27, and the last enemy-action incident of any kind on British soil occurred at 09:00 on 29 March 1945 when a V-1 struck a Hertfordshire field.[29] In terms of casualties, their effects had been less than their inventors hoped or their victims feared, though the damage to property was extensive, with 20,000 houses a day being damaged at the height of the campaign, causing a massive housing crisis in south-east England in late 1944 and early 1945.[30]

The existential horror of the V-2 attack on London is the theme of Thomas Pynchon's novel Gravity's Rainbow.[31]

V-2s were launched against Antwerp and Liège in Belgium; the attack on Antwerp was to prevent use of the Port of Antwerp which was essential for Allied logistics. In the six months following liberation in September 1944, Belgian towns were targeted by German V-weapons. A total of 2,342 V-weapons (mostly of the more advanced V-2 type) fell in a 10-mile radius around Antwerp alone.[32] A post-war SHAEF report estimated V-Bombs had been responsible for killing 5,000 people and injuring a further 21,000, mostly in the cities of Antwerp and Liège.[32]

On 17 March 1945 eleven V-2 rockets were fired at the Ludendorf rail bridge across the Rhine at Remagen on Hitler's orders (see Battle of Remagen). This was the only time they were fired at a tactical target or at a target in Germany; the nearest hit to the target was 270 meters (890 ft) away; and one hit Cologne, 64 kilometers (40 mi) to the north. The General Staff were against their use as they were inaccurate and could kill German citizens and troops, but Hitler was desperate to destroy the Allied bridgehead across the Rhine. They were launched by Batterie SS Abt. 500 at Hellendoorn in the Netherlands, about 200 kilometers (120 mi) to the north.


Main article: V-3 cannon

The V-3 cannon, also designed to fire on London, was never used for this purpose due to Allied attacks on the launch facilities, especially the fortress of Mimoyecques, and the offensive in northern Europe in 1944, overrunning the launch sites. Consequently, its use was diverted, in the winter of 1944, to bombard Luxembourg, with minimal results.[33]

See also[edit]


  1. ^Basil Collier (1976) The Battle of the V-Weapons. Morley, The Elmfield Press. p. 138.
  2. ^"V-WEAPONS (CROSSBOW) CAMPAIGN". All World Wars. Retrieved 19 October 2008.
  3. ^Pieter Serrien (2016) Elke dag angst. Antwerp, Horizon.
  4. ^"History of the V-terror in Belgium".
  5. ^Neufeld, Michael J. (1995). The Rocket and the Reich: Peenemünde and the Coming of the Ballistic Missile Era. New York: The Free Press. pp. 137, 237. ISBN .
  6. ^ abBasil Collier (1976) The Battle of the V-Weapons. Morley, The Elmfield Press: 15–16.
  7. ^Henshall, Philip (1985). Hitler's Rocket Sites. New York: St. Martin's Press. p. 128.
  8. ^Johnson, David (1982). V-1, V-2: Hitler's Vengeance on London. Stein and Day. p. 80. ISBN .
  9. ^Irving, David (1964). The Mare's Nest. London: William Kimber and Co. p. 288.
  10. ^Klee, Ernst; Merk, Otto (1965) [1963]. The Birth of the Missile:The Secrets of Peenemünde. Hamburg: Gerhard Stalling Verlag. p. 47.
  11. ^McGovern, J. (1964). Crossbow and Overcast. New York: W. Morrow. p. 80.
  12. ^Hansjakob Stehle "Die Spione aus dem Pfarrhaus (German: The spy from the rectory)" In: Die Zeit, 5 January 1996.
  13. ^Fritz Molden "Fires In The Night: The Sacrifices And Significance Of The Austrian Resistance" ((2019).
  14. ^Christoph Thurner "The CASSIA Spy Ring in World War II Austria: A History of the OSS's Maier-Messner Group" (2017), pp 187.
  15. ^Widerstand und Geheimdienste
  16. ^Basil Collier (1976) The Battle of the V-Weapons. Morley, The Elmfield Press: 160-3[clarify].
  17. ^ abAngus Calder (1971) The People's War: Britain 1939–1945: 645.
  18. ^Basil Collier (1976) The Battle of the V-Weapons. Morley, The Elmfield Press: 74-5[clarify].
  19. ^Basil Collier (1976) The Battle of the V-Weapons. Morley, The Elmfield Press: 80.
  20. ^Basil Collier (1976) The Battle of the V-Weapons. Morley, The Elmfield Press: 11-12, 80-1, 125[clarify]
  21. ^Angus Calder (1971) The People's War: Britain 1939–1945: 646-7[clarify]
  22. ^Angus Calder (1971) The People's War: Britain 1939–1945: 647.
  23. ^Basil Collier (1976) The Battle of the V-Weapons. Morley, The Elmfield Press: 113, 170.
  24. ^King, Benjamin (2009). Impact: The History Of Germany's V Weapons in World War II. De Capo Press. p. 244. ISBN .
  25. ^Basil Collier (1976) The Battle of the V-Weapons. Morley, The Elmfield Press: 129.
  26. ^Basil Collier (1976) The Battle of the V-Weapons. Morley, The Elmfield Press: 135.
  27. ^Bisbach, Emily. "The last V2 on London". West End at War. Archived from the original on 4 February 2016. Retrieved 31 July 2015.
  28. ^Wade, Mark. "V-2". Encyclopedia Astronautica. Retrieved 21 October 2008.
  29. ^King, Benjamin; Timothy Kutta (2003). Impact: The History of Germany's V-Weapons in World War II. Da Capo Press. p. 309. ISBN .
  30. ^Angus Calder (1971) The People's War: Britain 1939–1945: 646-50[clarify].
  31. ^Review of Gravity's Rainbow.
  32. ^ ab"V-Bomb Damage in Belgium Extensive". Canberra Times. 17 May 1945. Retrieved 15 April 2013.
  33. ^Max Hastings (2004) Armageddon: The Battle for Germany 1944–1945: 196.

External links[edit]

Sours: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V-weapons
German Jets And V1 And V2 Flying Bombs Of WW2
A V1 missile just before impact.
A SCUD missile, which is modeled after von Braun’s V2.

Guided missiles were one of Germany’s most important technical achievements during World War II. Rockets and missiles have been part of warfare since the late 1700s. In 1812, for example, the song The Star Spangled Banner made reference to “the rocket’s red glare.” Throughout the 19th century and into the early 20th, experimenters in many nations hoped to turn simple rockets into weapons or, in some cases, as a way to travel into outer space.

At the outbreak of World War II, German experimenter Wernher von Braun and others had already been working toward rockets for space exploration. The German government began supporting rocket research in 1932, believing rockets could be used as weapons, and by 1941 German scientists were testing a missile called the Vergeltungswaffe 1 (Vengeance 1). This missile, developed by engineer Robert Lisserr, used a special kind of jet engine and relied on a mechanical type of “autopilot” for guidance. It was about 29 feet (almost nine meters) in length and weighed almost 5,000 pounds (2,300 kilograms). The V1 was first launched in the summer of 1944, and over the next several months thousands of the missiles were directed toward London. The craft could be seen flying in at low altitudes from a distance of many miles, but they were so fast that anti-aircraft guns could rarely hit them. As they flew, the engines made a distinctive sound, leading the English to call them “buzz bombs.” Allied pilots gradually learned techniques for downing some of the missiles, and with the introduction of artillery shells equipped with the “proximity fuze,” (a tiny radar set on an artillery shell) by late 1944, London was well-protected from V1 buzz bombs.

There was no defense, however, from the German’s other missile system, the V2. This liquid-fueled rocket had a longer range and a greater payload than the V1. In addition, it traveled much like a modern rocket ship—flying nearly straight up, reaching the border of space, then falling nearly straight down at speeds faster than sound. At the time, there was no way to stop such a missile or even detect its approach.

The V2 was based on von Braun’s design and produced at a secret laboratory in Peenemünde and a factory near Nordhausen, both of which used concentration camp prisoners as workers. Beginning in September 1944, the Germans sent thousands of these missiles toward a variety of targets, but most were directed at Antwerp, Belgium and London. The V1 and V2 missiles were not very accurate, but they had a terrorizing effect on civilian populations, which was part of the German strategy.

After the war, the V2 rocket became the basis of space and missile programs in Great Britain, the United States, and the Soviet Union. The allied countries grabbed rockets and rocket parts, shipping them home for study along with the German engineers who had designed them. Von Braun continued his research under contract to the U.S government, contributing to both Cold War missile systems and the space race. His counterparts in the Soviet Union did much the same thing. Most of the earliest American unmanned space flights through 1951 were made using modified versions of the V2, and were used for testing and high-altitude research.

While major design changes to the V2 led to its abandonment by NASA in the early 1950s, it survives in some form to the present day in the SCUD missile, developed by the Soviet Union and used by Iraq against Israel in the Persian Gulf war of 1990-91.

Sours: https://ethw.org/V1_and_V2_Rockets

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