Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Was the V2 a complete waste of time and money?

No, in fact, the answer is completely opposite.


The Vergeltungswaffe-2 (V-2) - or ‘Retribution’ rocket has not only reaped Nazi Germany ‘great’ strategic values and results: It is also a marvel of technology in itself and morbidly deserves to the last ounce the title of ‘Wunderwaffe’ - or ‘Wonder Weapon’ the Nazi’s propaganda machine has branded it.
For its time, the V-2 was a strange and revolutionary weapon. Before Wernher von Braun - the mastermind behind the rocket, no one has ever thought of such a thing and the weapon could even be considered a stuff of fantasies.
It wasn’t until von Braun’s studies about the possibility of a long-range strategic weapon that’s capable of delivering large firepower accurately and from large distance on its own without sacrificing any manpower to the Wehrmacht that the idea of a rocket gained traction.
So first:

The V-2 is:
  • The first serious attempt (and successful) at rocketry in history.
  • The first long-range ballistic missile.
I won’t consider that a waste of time or money, technically speaking.

(Wernher von Braun)

Strategically speaking, the only thing that kept the V-2 from reducing London to a smoking pile of rubble was because British’s intelligence had actively tried to fool the Germans into thinking that they’ve overshot the target that is London by several kilometres.
And they succeed.
The Germans truly thought that they’ve screwed up their aiming, re-calibrate the missiles and for the rest of the war, continuously thought that they were doing a good job when the British leaked information about how: ‘Devastating rocket attacks are’.
While in reality, the rockets were then truly landing a great distance away from London at less-populated areas in rural Kent.
Of course, conforming to their outlandish and weird culture, the Brits decided to bestow the area the nickname: ‘Bomb Alley’.
As you can see below:

All in all, it’s the human factor that contributes to the failure of the weapon. Without the many hoaxes British’s intelligence spread, that could be London.
And that has been London many times:
This is the aftermath of the first V-2 strike on Britain at Chiswick, West London - 8th of September, 1944. Killing 3 and injured 17.

The most devastating attack on London during the afternoon of November 1944. The rocket hit a Woolworths store in New Cross, South East London. Killing 168.
A group of people teaming up to rescue trapped victims in Smithfield’s market after a V-2 strike in March of 1945. Women and children were also included in the list of 110 casualties.

London was not the only place struck by the V-2 during the war:
One of the victim of a V-2’s strike in Teniers Square, Antwerp on the 27th of November, 1944. Killing 126 - with 26 Allied troops dead in the strike.
A different view from the same strike at Teniers Square.
One of the 1610 V-2 strikes that hit Antwerp.
The remnant of the most devastating attack of the V-2 when it hit the fully occupied REX Cinema in Antwerp on the 16th of December, 1944. Killing 567 and injured 291.

In total, the V-2 rockets are responsible for either killing or injuring rougly 115,000 people.
In London alone, an approximate of 2,754 people were killed and 6,523 injured. The total casualty all over Britain can be as high as 7,000. Remember, this is the softer number with the tricks pulled by British’s intelligence in place, without it, things could have been worse by several times.
Antwerp takes devastating damage, but not as bad as London. With 1,736 dead and 4,500 injured.
V-2 strikes are also peppered across France, Netherlands, many parts of Belgium, United Kingdom and even right on Germany when the Allies were gaining ground with 11 strikes on the town of Remagen.
If that’s not ‘splendid’ efficiency, I don’t know what else is.

When the war ended, the V-2 technology was captured by both the Allies and the Soviets, Wernher von Braun secretly moved to the U.S. with 1,500 other Nazi key scientists and engineers as part of Operation Paperclip.
The Operation is simple: Work for the U.S, or be prosecuted for war crimes.
Well, we all know they opted for the latter.
The technologies used by the V-2 were carefully dissected and replicated, but this time, however, the V-2 ‘kind-of’ redeem itself by leaving its destructive nature behind and lead humanity to space instead.
This is the first photograph of Earth from space - captured by a V-2 rocket on 24th of October, 1946.
The V-2’s basic concepts were implemented into virtually all future rockets, from ballistic missiles to orbital vehicles - it is the spark that kick start Space Age despite its initial beginning.

…and Wernher von Braun?
He went on to help the U.S. launched its first artificial satellite into Earth’s orbit: Explorer I.
He’s also the main reason that this picture exists, contributing majorly to the Apollo Program that put the first man on the Moon with all of his expertise on rocketry.
We probably would not have GPS, satellites, International Space Station, and even the Internet if it wasn’t for the V-2.
I would not say that it’s a bad investment.

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