Subject: Re: Secret Weapons of WWII
From: Rick Ballard <email@example.com>
Date: Oct 14 1996
Timothy C Holtom wrote:
> From firstname.lastname@example.org (Timothy C Holtom)
> I'm looking for information on the secret weapons of
> World War II in particular information on such things as
> the following:
> 1) the V3, were the Nazis working on such a weapon when
> the Allies over ran the research and development facilities?
> Would it have able to hit New York? How close were they to
> production? etc. etc.
The A-9/A-10 "Amerika Rakete" never left the drawing board. It was a
two-stage combined missile system which would have had a range of 2500-3000
miles. The A-10 first stage booster supposedly was to use nitric acid
oxidizer and diesel oil fuel to produce 200 tons of thrust.
The A-9 second stage was an A-4 (V-2) derivative that also never left the
drawing board. It could be either fired by itself or mounted on the A-10
booster. It was supposed to utilize lighter materials, full-length control
fins, and a more advanced rocket engine to more than double the range of
the A-4 to 400 miles. The engine used nitric acid oxidizer and "Visol"
fuel to produce 75000 pounds of thrust. Visol is mixture of vinyl isobutyl
ether with aniline.
> 4) Jet and rocket propulsion technologies, how advanced were
> they and what new developments might have been fielded had the Allies
> not closed down R&D when they did.
I have studied rocket engine technology from a historical standpoint and I
am always surprised at how unimportant rocket technology was considered in
the U.S. before WWII. The military considered rocket engines to be the
exclusive realm of science fiction afficionados, tinkerers, and crackpots.
Compared to the Germans (who enjoyed official government support/funding),
rocket engine and vehicle development was practically nonexistent the U.S.
Hell, even the Russians were years ahead of of the U.S. before the war --
but the war and Stalin's purges of the intelligentsia pretty much hamstrung
Russian rocket development (fortunately).
It wasn't until the Germans actually began fielding and effectively using
large rocket-based weapons that the Allies actually began to sit up and
take notice. This began around 1942, and although the Americans missed the
boat initially, they were pretty good at playing catch-up.
The following is a pretty complete list of German rocket engines using
liquid propellants. There are also many, many solid-propellant rocket
motors developed by Germany before/during WWII, but they were mostly used
for either artillery rockets or assisting aircraft take-offs.
109-500 Aircraft take-off (reusable)
109-501 Aircraft take-off (reusable)
109-502 Aircraft take-off (reusable)
109-507 Hs-293/294 ASM (rocket-propelled glide bomb, 4.5 mile range)
109-508 P-1077 Julia interceptor (conceptual, never built)
109-509 Me-163 Komet interceptor (many engine versions developed)
109-510 Ju-248 interceptor (modified Me-163c interceptor)
109-511 Hs-293 ASM
109-548 X4 AAM (wire-guided air-launched missile)
109-558 Hs-117 Schmetterling (Butterfly) SAM
109-718 Me-262 superperformance
109-729 Hs-117 Schmetterling SAM
A-1 Experimental rocket - ca. 1933
A-2 Experimental rocket - ca. 1934
A-3 Experimental rocket - ca. 1934
A-4 V-2 tactical missile (SRBM)
A-5 Experimental rocket - ca. 1937
A-7 Experimental rocket - ca. 1941
C-2 Wasserfall (Waterfall) SAM
SG-20 F-55 Feuerlilie (Firelily) SAM
TP-1 He-112 research aircraft - ca. 1937
TP-2 He-176 and DFS-194 aircraft (precursors to the Me-163 series)
? Enzian SAM
? Hecht (Pike) SAM
? Rheintochter-3 SAM
? Taifun-F SAM
> 5) Did the Allies in particular the Americans have a ballistic
> missile technology in any way comparable to that of the Nazis?
Hardly, in fact none whatsoever. Aside from what they could calculate
on paper, the Allies were pretty clueless until they were able to get some
captured V-2s and test them out for themselves (ref. Operation Paperclip).
The Russians did likewise, but were not able to capture as much men and
material as the Americans.
The only significant amount of missile development done in the U.S. before
WWII was conducted by 1) Robert Goddard, and 2) the American Rocket Society
(which later became the AIAA). Both managed to develop and launch
several liquid-propellant rockets. Goddard did most of his work in secrecy
outside of Roswell, New Mexico and was considered by most as a bit of a
reclusive eccentric. The ARS was a bit more public about their activities,
but the public at large assumed that they would probably blow themselves up
eventually. Overall, they were not taken seriously by the public,
government, or industry, and were largely ignored.
In fairness, I should mention that a lot of rocket engine development work
was done by Goddard (for the Army), Truax (for the Navy), and GALCIT.
However, they didn't really get started (i.e. funded) until late in the war
and were easily a decade behind the Germans when they started.
> Are there any publications containing such material?
"V-2" by Dornberger is THE reference on the German rocket program, although
a copy is usually pretty hard to find. I have a lot of related information
that I have collected on my own. If you have any specific questions,
inquire by email.
Any opinions expressed in the above message are my own, and does not
indicate any views supported by NASA or Sverdrup Technology.