A4/V2 Test Stands

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The V2 was the largest and most advanced rocket of that time. It was 14.20 metres long, 1.65 metres in diameter and weighed more than 12,000 kilogram's. It carried its 1,100 kilogramme payload from 290 to 340 kilometres, propelled by an engine using turbo-pumped liquid oxygen and alcohol and generated an average thrust of 25,000 to 30,000 kilogram's. It had a range nearly double that of Germany's famous Paris Gun of World War I and it carried a warhead with ten times as much explosive.

In May 1942 Flight Lieutenant D. W. Steventon flying a Spitfire on a routine photo-reconnaissance mission over northern Germany, brought back photographs of the Peenemunde airfield that revealed evidence of construction activity with circular emplacements on the ground. Photographic interpreters, however, were unable to locate anything out of the ordinary from the photographs. Intelligence reports months later disclosed that rockets at Peenemunde had been test-fired.

V2 Test Stands
To the north of the Peenemunde peninsula , on the boundary between the forest and the sandy foreshore, the `Test Stands' used for the test firing of rockets were constructed. In this image from left to right you can Test Stand VIII, I and the large VII from which the famous V2 was actually launched.

V2 Test Area A close up image of Test Stand VII, It clearly shows a V2 rocket on its trailer inside of the test firing area.
This imagery was taken by 540 Sqn on the 23rd June 1943.
The two red arrows on the building on the left, show possible anti-aircraft gun positions.

V2 rocket on its trailer V2 Test take off
V2 Rocket on its trailer.
V2 Rocket lifting off

The V-2 was propelled by 3800 kg of alcohol (ethanol and water) fuel, and the oxidizer was 4900 kg of liquid oxygen. The fuel and oxidizer pumps were steam turbines, and the steam was produced by concentrated hydrogen peroxide with potassium permanganate catalyst. The water-alcohol fuel was kept in a tank of aluminium to save weight, which put a high pressure on German war economy, as this metal was rare and valuable. Ignition was by injecting two hypergolic substances into the combustion chamber, self-igniting upon mixing, basically creating the spark that would light the main thrust.

The combustion burner reached a temperature of 25002700 C. The alcohol-water fuel was pumped along the double wall of the main combustion burner. This cooled the chamber and heated the fuel. The fuel was then pumped into the main burner chamber through 1,224 nozzles, which assured the correct mixture of alcohol and oxygen at all times. Small holes also permitted some alcohol to escape directly into the combustion chamber, forming a boundary layer that further protected the wall of the chamber, especially at the neck where the chamber was narrowest. This boundary layer ignited in contact with the atmosphere, accounting for the long, diffuse exhaust plume of the V-2.

Bomb Damage after a raid

Following the discovery of the V-2 rocket, the Defence Committee decided that Bomber Command should make the heaviest possible attack on Peenemunde at the earliest opportunity.

The raid was made on the night of the 17-18th August 1943 and Peenemunde was 'bombed not as a general area but as a collection of precise targets, selected priority being made possible by study of the excellent PR evidence'.

This image shows Test Stand but after a major bombing raid

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