The V2, or Aggregat A4, was the first surface-to-surface, rocket-powered missile in history. Designed by Wehrner von Braun, it was developed between 1934 and 1944 by the German Army near Peenemünde, on Usedom Island, on the Baltic Sea, Germany. The first successful V2’s launch took place on October 3, 1942, but it would be first launched against enemy targets on September 8, 1944, from Hague, Holland, to attack London and other enemy positions in the continent. During the next seven months, more than 3,000 V2 missiles would be fired against London, Antwerp (Belgium), Paris, and other targets in Europe as over 3,100 people would be killed by the warhead blasts. It was Germany’s most advance airborne project of World War II. In 1943, Adolf Hitler had ordered that 900 Aggregat A4 rockets per month be manufactured. Under the auspices of the SS, a huge underground factory was constructed in the mountains of Nordhausen, Germany, for the production of the V2 rockets. Since it was a mobile system, the rocket was very difficult to target by Allied aircraft.
The V2 rocket was composed of five sections: 1) the spire point fore section that contained the 975-kg amatol warhead; 2) the gyroscope and radio control area; 3) the alcohol tank section; 4) the liquid oxygen tank, and 5) the combustion chamber, with the two pumps and nozzles located at the base. To stabilize the rocket in flight, the V2 was equipped with tail fins, which were fitted with rudders. The missile could fly at the maximum speed of 3,465 miles per hour (5,580 km/h) and had a range of 205 miles (330 km), reaching a maximum altitude of 55 miles. A Müller type, pendulous gyroscopic accelerometer for engine cut-off was used as a guidance system.
Type: medium range, surface-to-surface missile
Length: 45′ 11″ (14 m)
Diameter: 5′ 5″ (1.68 m)
Lift-off weight: 12,820 kg
V2 Rocket (video)