V-2 rocket was the first man-made object to fly into outer space. Designed by pioneer rocket scientist Werner von Braun, the V-2 was a great technological breakthrough used as a terror weapon by Hitler’s Germany in the last year of World War II.
Fired from long range, the rockets targeted London and cities in Belgium. V-2s were inaccurate, cumbersome to launch in combat conditions, and could not be built in sufficient numbers to turn the tide of war. However, the approximately 3,000 weapons launched caused terrible casualties in Allied cities. The missiles flew too high and too fast to be intercepted or destroyed. There was no warning before a V-2 strike; the rocket, carrying more than 2,000 pounds of TNT and ammonium nitrate, impacted the ground travelling faster than the speed of sound. Nearly 3,000 people died in V-2 attacks in England and additional attacks struck in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and even a few aimed within Germany itself.
After Germany’s surrender, captured missiles (and German scientists) were brought to the United States. Technologies pioneered in the German V-2 program formed the basis for America’s ballistic missile and space programs through the Apollo moon landings and beyond.
History of the Artifact
The FHCAM’s V-2 was restored from interior components recovered in the 1990s from an underground production facility near Nordhausen, Germany. Labor for this factory came from the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp.
Did you know?
Only around 4 percent of V-2 rockets fell within their 3 by 4-mile aim point.