germany V-2

V-2 (Jane's Strategic Weapon Systems)
Originated From:Germany
Possessed By:Germany
Alternate Name:A-4
Basing:Surface-based
Length:14.00 m
Diameter:1.65 m
Launch Weight:12900 kg
Payload:Single warhead, 1000 kg
Warhead:750 kg HE
Propulsion:Single-stage liquid propellant
Range:350 km
Status:Obsolete
In Service:1944-1945

The German V-2 was the first ballistic missile system ever deployed. The aptly named “Vengeance” rocket was a short-range, surface-based, liquid-propellant, single warhead ballistic missile designed as a terror weapon to be deployed against civilian populations.

In the early 1930s, development began under the direction of Captain Walter Dornier and Dr. Wernher von Braun. The final version looked somewhat like a streamlined bomb. The V-2 was 14.0 m long, 1.65 m. in diameter, and weighed 12,900 kg. It used a single-stage liquid propellant engine and carried a 750 kg high explosive warhead with an accuracy of 15,000-20,000 m CEP. Its complete payload weighed 1,000 kg. The V-2 had a range of 350 km (217 miles), and used a combination of radio-command and inertial guidance. It was designed to be road and rail-mobile, with a complete launch time of approximately one hour. 1

V-2 rocket on transporting trailer.

The first successful V-2 test launch took place at Peenemünde in 1942, and the missile entered service two years later. Between September 1944 and March 1945, the Germans launched approximately 4,300 V-2 missiles, or about 20 per day. However, as demonstrated by its low accuracy rate, the V-2 was ineffective as a military weapon. Of the 1,359 aimed at London, only 1,054 (78%) actually landed somewhere in England. Of these, only 517 landed within the 1,890 km (1174 mile) area of Greater London. Although 2,480 people were killed, the V-2 was essentially worthless against military targets and the damage done did not justify the cost per unit. 2 Moreover, the V-2 missiles did not succeed in undermining British war morale, as intended.

In April 1945, the US Army captured the V-2 manufacturing center, effectively ending development and deployment. The Americans brought over 100 completed missiles back to White Sands Missile Range, where they served as the basis from the US missile program. It is also important to note that the Russians were able to capture scientists from the V-2 program as well. In 1949, the US used a V-2 as the boost stage for the Bumper WAC rocket, the first vehicle to penetrate space. 3

Last Updated 9/17/2012

  1. Lennox, Duncan. “V-2 (A-4).” Jane’s Strategic Weapon Systems (Obsolete Systems). October 13, 2011. (accessed September 12, 2012).
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
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