V-2 ROCKET (Inventions)

The invention: The first first long-range, liquid-fueled rocket, the V-2 was developed by Germany to carry bombs during World War II.

The people behind the invention:

Wernher von Braun (1912-1977), the chief engineer and prime motivator of rocket research in Germany during the 1930′s and 1940′s
Walter Robert Dornberger (1895-1980), the former commander of the Peenemunde Rocket Research Institute Ing Fritz Gosslau, the head of the V-1 development team Paul Schmidt, the designer of the impulse jet motor

The “Buzz Bomb”

On May 26,1943, in the middle of World War II, key German military officials were briefed by two teams of scientists, one representing the air force and the other representing the army. Each team had launched its own experimental aerial war craft. The military chiefs were to decide which project merited further funding and development. Each experimental craft had both advantages and disadvantages, and each counterbalanced the other. Therefore, it was decided that both craft were to be developed. They were to become the V-1 and the V-2 aircraft.
The impulse jet motor used in the V-1 craft was designed by Munich engineer Paul Schmidt. On April 30,1941, the motor had been used to assist power on a biplane trainer. The development team for the V-1 was headed by Ing Fritz Gosslau; the aircraft was designed by Robert Lusser.
The V-1, or “buzz bomb,” was capable of delivering a one-ton warhead payload. While still in a late developmental stage, it was launched, under Adolf Hitler’s orders, to terrorize inhabited areas of London in retaliation for the damage that had been wreaked on Germany during the war. More than one hundred V-1′s were launched daily between June 13 and early September, 1944. Because the V-1
flew in a straight line and at a constant speed, Allied aircraft were able to intercept it more easily than they could the V-2.
Two innovative systems made the V-1 unique: the drive operation and the guidance system. In the motor, oxygen entered the grid valves through many small flaps. Fuel oil was introduced and the mixture of fuel and oxygen was ignited. After ignition, the expanded gases produced the reaction propulsion. When the expanded gases had vacated, the reduced internal pressure allowed the valve flaps to reopen, admitting more air for the next cycle.
The guidance system included a small propeller connected to a revolution counter that was preset based on the distance to the target. The number of propeller revolutions that it would take to reach the target was calculated before launch and punched into the counter. During flight, after the counter had measured off the selected number of revolutions, the aircraft’s elevator flaps became activated, causing the craft to dive at the target. Understandably, the accuracy was not what the engineers had hoped.

Vengeance Weapon 2

According to the Treaty of Versailles (1919), world military forces were restricted to 100,000 men and a certain level of weaponry. The German military powers realized very early, however, that the treaty had neglected to restrict rocket-powered weaponry, which did not exist at the end of World War I (1914-1918). Wernher von Braun was hired as chief engineer for developing the V-2 rocket.
The V-2 had a lift-off thrust of 11,550.5 newtons and was propelled by the combustion of liquid oxygen and alcohol. The pro-pellants were pumped into the combustion chamber by a steam-powered turboprop. The steam was generated by the decomposition of hydrogen peroxide, using sodium permanganate as a catalyst. One innovative feature of the V-2 that is still used was regenerative cooling, which used alcohol to cool the double-walled combustion chamber.
The guidance system included two phases: powered and ballistic. Four seconds after launch, a preprogrammed tilt to 17 degrees was begun, then acceleration was continued to achieve the desired trajectory. At the desired velocity, the engine power was cut off via one of two systems. In the automatic system, a device shut off the engine at the velocity desired; this method, however, was inaccurate. The second system sent a radio signal to the rocket’s receiver, which cut off the power. This was a far more accurate method, but the extra equipment required at the launch site was an attractive target for Allied bombers. This system was more often employed toward the end of the war.
Even the 907-kilogram warhead of the V-2 was a carefully tested device. The detonators had to be able to withstand 6 g’s of force during lift-off and reentry, as well as the vibrations inherent in a rocket flight. Yet they also had to be sensitive enough to ignite the bomb upon impact and before the explosive became buried in the target and lost power through diffusion of force.
The V-2′s first successful test was in October of 1942, but it continued to be developed until August of 1944. During the next eight months, more than three thousand V-2′s were launched against England and the Continent, causing immense devastation and living up to its name: Vergeltungswaffe zwei (vengeance weapon 2). Unfortunately for Hitler’s regime, the weapon that took fourteen years of research and testing to perfect entered the war too late to make an impact upon the outcome.


The V-1 and V-2 had a tremendous impact on the history and development of space technology. Even during the war, captured V-2′s were studied by Allied scientists. American rocket scientists were especially interested in the technology, since they too were working to develop liquid-fueled rockets.
After the war, German military personnel were sent to the United States, where they signed contracts to work with the U.S. Army in a program known as “Operation Paperclip.” Testing of the captured V-2′s was undertaken at White Sands Missile Range near Alamo-gordo, New Mexico. The JB-2 Loon Navy jet-propelled bomb was developed following the study of the captured German craft.
The Soviet Union also benefited from captured V-2′s and from the German V-2 factories that were dismantled following the war. With these resources, the Soviet Union developed its own rocket technology, which culminated in the launch of Sputnik 1, the world’s first artificial satellite, on October 4,1957. The United States was not far behind. It launched its first satellite, Explorer 1, on January 31,1958. On April 12,1961, the world’s first human space traveler, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri A. Gagarin, was launched into Earth orbit.
See also Airplane; Cruise missile; Hydrogen bomb; Radar; Rocket; Stealth aircraft.

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