The first German Army experimental station established solely for the purpose of conducting rocket experiments was the Abteilung Versuch West at the Kunersdorf Artillery Range in 1930.This station tested the performance of propellants and was under the direction of Hauptmann Dornberger. A student group led by Werner von Braun, which had been using facilities at Reinickendorf was merged with the Dornberger group in 1933.
After six years of research and development the first successful firing tests took place at Peenemunde, but it was not until 1942 that a combustion chamber producing 25 tons thrust was developed. Work continued on improving the accuracy and performance of the rocket, and on the 8th September 1944 the first A-4 (V2) was launched against England.
During the war German research establishments were experimenting with several different types of rocket missiles. These, however, were of a defensive nature and did not receive the same priority as the V1 and V2 terror weapons. In the later stages of the war further development and production of such weapons was stopped completely.
GERMAN MISSILES - descriptive details
A4 - Popularly known as the V2 (Victory weapon). Surface to surface missile: A long-range fin-stabilised rocket, using a liquid oxygen and alcohol propellant, and carrying a one-ton explosive warhead, maximum range 225 miles. The launching site required only a hard surface, strong enough to support the missile and fuel-weight, and therefore with mobile firing equipment the site could be changed frequently. The weapon was essentially a large area random missile for use against cities.
It is estimated that about 3000 A-4's were used for testing and training purposes, with a 25% failure rate due to launching errors and structural defects.
HS 117 - Schmetterling. Surface to air missile: Designed for use against dircraft. Development of this weapon was curtailed in 1942, because of its defensive nature. When the tide of battle turned against Axis powers, work was recommenced but the missile never became operational.
Wasserfall. Surface to air missile: A radio-controlled super-sonic rocket, weighing less than 4 tons, with a length of 25-ft, using a nitric acid and hydro-carbon propellant. It could be transported on a standard freight railway wagon and lifted into a vertical launching position without special equipment. Mechanical construction was simplified by the use of a compressed gas fuel feeding system and by replacing valves with diaphragms.
Work on the Wasserfall commenced during 1942 and by the end of 1944 some 25 missiles had been tested. Further development was stopped in the following year.
Enzian - Surface to air missile: A powerful ground-launched flak rocket intended to operate as a pilotless aircraft against heavy bomber formations. Experimental models were built from the end of 1943 until production ceased in March 1945.
Natter (Walter Power Unit) Surface to air missile: A small piloted, rocket propelled interceptor, intended to provide defence for vital targets. The missile was to be guided by an automatic pilot in the initial stages of flight, when closing in on a target the pilot would take over and fire a salvo of rockets from the nose of the craft. The pilot would then eject and descent by parachute; the propulsion would also break clear and descend by the same method for recovery and re-use.
Flight tests began in November 1944 and of the 30 units built, only one survived the tests. The drawings for this weapon relate only to the Walter Power Unit, which was the main constituent of this missile.
Rheintochter I Surface to air missile: A ground launched sub-sonic radio-controlled anti-aircraft rocket. Up to January 1945, 82 missiles had been test fired but development was stopped in February of that year. The weapon was not approved for mass production, but was used as an experimental model for further development.
Hecht - No information available.