V-2 rocket

TypeSingle-stage ballistic missile
Place of originNazi Germany
Service history
In service1944–1952
Used by
Production history
DesignerPeenemünde Army Research Center
ManufacturerMittelwerk GmbH
Unit cost
  • January 1944: 100,000 RM
  • March 1945: 50,000 RM[1]
  • 16 March 1942 – 1945 (Nazi)
  • Some assembled post-war
No. builtOver 3,000
Mass12,500 kg (27,600 lb)
Length14 m (45 ft 11 in)
Diameter1.65 m (5 ft 5 in)
Wingspan3.56 m (11 ft 8 in)
Warhead1,000 kg (2,200 lb); Amatol (explosive weight: 910 kg)

320 km (200 mi)
Flight altitude
  • 88 km (55 mi) maximum altitude on long-range trajectory
  • 206 km (128 mi) maximum altitude if launched vertically
Maximum speed
  • Maximum: 5,760 km/h (3,580 mph)
  • At impact: 2,880 km/h (1,790 mph)
Mobile (Meillerwagen)

The V2 (German: Vergeltungswaffe 2, lit.'Retaliation Weapon 2'), with the technical name Aggregat 4 (A4), was the world's first long-range[4] guided ballistic missile. The missile, powered by a liquid-propellant rocket engine, was developed during the Second World War in Nazi Germany as a "vengeance weapon" and assigned to attack Allied cities as retaliation for the Allied bombings of German cities. The V2 rocket also became the first artificial object to travel into space by crossing the Kármán line (edge of space) with the vertical launch of MW 18014 on 20 June 1944.[5]

Research of military use of long-range rockets began when the graduate studies of Wernher von Braun were noticed by the Wehrmacht Heer. A series of prototypes culminated in the A4, which went to war as the V2. Beginning in September 1944, more than 3,000 V2s were launched by the Wehrmacht against Allied targets, first London and later Antwerp and Liège. According to a 2011 BBC documentary,[6] the attacks from V-2s resulted in the deaths of an estimated 9,000 civilians and military personnel, while a further 12,000 laborers and concentration camp prisoners died as a result of their forced participation in the production of the weapons.[7]

The rockets travelled at supersonic speeds, impacted without audible warning, and proved unstoppable, as no effective defense existed. Teams from the Allied forces—the United States, the United Kingdom, France and the Soviet Union—raced to seize major German manufacturing facilities, procure the Germans' missile technology, and capture the V-2s' launching sites. Von Braun and more than 100 core R&D V-2 personnel surrendered to the Americans, and many of the original V-2 team transferred their work to the Redstone Arsenal, where they were relocated as part of Operation Paperclip. The US also captured enough V-2 hardware to build approximately 80 of the missiles. The Soviets gained possession of the V-2 manufacturing facilities after the war, re-established V-2 production, and moved it to the Soviet Union.

  1. ^ Cite error: The named reference Kennedy was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  2. ^ 10% of the Mittelwerk rockets used a guide beam for cutoff.
  3. ^ Cite error: The named reference Neufeld was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  4. ^ "Long-range" in the context of the time. See NASA history article Archived 7 January 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Neufeld, 1995 pp 158, 160–162, 190
  6. ^ Ramsey 2016, p. 89.
  7. ^ "Am Anfang war die V2. Vom Beginn der Weltraumschifffahrt in Deutschland". In: Utz Thimm (ed.): Warum ist es nachts dunkel? Was wir vom Weltall wirklich wissen. Kosmos, 2006, p. 158, ISBN 3-440-10719-1.

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