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  Space Cover 440: V2 comes to America!

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Author Topic:   Space Cover 440: V2 comes to America!

Posts: 258
From: millersville, maryland, usa
Registered: Jul 2004

posted 10-28-2017 08:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for stevedd841   Click Here to Email stevedd841     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Space Cover of the Week, Week 440 (October 29, 2017)

Postcard showing the von Braun rocket team servicing a V2 rocket for launch at Peenemunde, Germany. The postcard, SP-11, was printed in 1978, New York, New York, by the Space Unit from a WW II photo of the rocket team servicing a V2 rocket for launch, provided by the Imperial War Museum, London, UK.

Registered mail letter sent from L. Siwinski to Arbeitsmann Christof Siwinski of the Reichs Arbeit Dienst (RAD), August 16, 1942, at the Arbeitslager, Pennenumunde, Germany. The RAD was involved in Pennemunde rocket base construction and was an auxiliary unit of the Wehrmacht. The cover pictured above is mailed from Peenemunde and backstamped at Peenemunde, Germany on the important V2 rocket test date of August 16, 1942. This early V2 rocket test cover is from the author's V2 rocket cover collection.

The above handcancel on the back of the V2 rocket test cover above is cancelled August 16, 1942, Peenemunde, Germany. The date is an important V2 rocket test date because the first V2 rocket test was made at Peenemunde on June 13, 1942, and resulted in failure after the roket exploded shortly after launch. This test was the second V2 rocket test achieving an 11.7 km altitude on August 16, 1942. However, during its test, the rocket suddenly exploded crashing into the nearby Baltic Sea within view of a high ranking German military delegation witnessing the rocket test.

This postcard shows a V2 rocket in transit to the rocket firing site at White Sands Proving Ground, Las Cruces, New Mexico, with the Werner von Braun rocket team following the rocket transportation vehicle. In the group accompanying the V2 rocket vehicle in the far right last truck and wearing a white wide brimmed hat is V2 rocket Technical Director, Wernher von Braun, now head of the U.S. Army's V2 rocket test program in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

Space Cover #440: V2 rocket comes to America!

Technical Director of the top secret Peenemünde Rocket Facility, Wernher von Braun, had barely escaped Germany at the end of the war, May 2, 1945, near Reutte, Austria. The German Schutzstaffel, the feared SS, was looking for him, Soviet Union Military Intelligence agents were looking for him, and the United States Counter-Intelligence Corps also was scouring Germany looking for him.

Von Braun, a protégé of Lieutenant General Walter Dornberger, had been instrumental in the start-up of the V2 German rocket program during the war. He believed he could jumpstart a United States' rocket program seen as vital for ending World War II in the Pacific theater. Playing for time, he had decided to turn-in himself and his team of rocket engineers and scientists to the United States military as Götterdämmerung enveloped Germany.

Turning himself and his key team members in to the U.S. military, and later brought under contract to work with the U. S. Army to develop its own rocket program, von Braun and his colleagues crossed the Saar river into France to an airfield to fly to the United States. Von Braun said to his colleagues, "Well, take a good look at Germany, fellows. You may not see it for a long time to come."

Puzzled by his remark, August Schulze, a systems engineer at Peenemünde's Elektromechanische Werke, said, "What do you mean? You know we only have a six-month contract with the Americans." Von Braun thought and then commented, "We may have only a six-month contract now; but I still don't think we will be back for a long time to come."

Ten years later, Wernher von Braun becomes a U. S. citizen and is more involved than ever in U.S. rocket engineering for the Juno, Jupiter, and Redstone rocket programs. In 1960, von Braun becomes Director of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, to direct development of the Saturn Apollo rocket, Saturn 1B rocket, and finally, the Saturn V Moon rocket which will make John F. Kennedy's stated goal come true to land an astronaut on the Moon and return him safely to Earth, before this decade is out.

This, then, begins the story of how the U.S. Saturn Apollo rocket as conceived by Wernher von Braun and a dedicated team of rocket engineers and scientists achieved an unparalleled success rate of ten out of ten major successes in completing their battery of Saturn Apollo rocket tests. The solid engineering work, test successes, and qualification of the Saturn Apollo rocket enabled NASA to see that its primary objective of landing astronauts on the Moon was indeed possible. It was also a race against time and against a valiant competitor attempting to upstage NASA with its own team of German rocket engineers and scientists making every effort to win a fierce space race for Russia to land cosmonauts on the Moon.

— Steve Durst, SU 4379

Bob M

Posts: 1673
From: Atlanta-area, GA USA
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 11-03-2017 07:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Bob M   Click Here to Email Bob M     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Fascinating and informative presentation, Steve, on a fascinating period in early space and rocketry history.


Posts: 258
From: millersville, maryland, usa
Registered: Jul 2004

posted 11-12-2017 08:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for stevedd841   Click Here to Email stevedd841     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Bob, many thanks for your response and comments to my SCOTW, V2 Rocket Comes to America! It is very much appreciated.

The development of the V2 rocket program in Germany is a favorite topic of mine and I have received other comments about this early space cover topic from the U.S., Belgium, Austria, and of course Germany. Covers for Peenemunde can be found but it takes serious hard work to find them. But, they can be found!

Ken Havekotte

Posts: 2509
From: Merritt Island, Florida, Brevard
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 11-12-2017 08:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Wow, Steve, enjoyed your cover feature for this week of a depicted registered mail letter from Peenemunde during WWII! What an incredible find, and as you pointed out, this was the second A4 (V2) flight test (with production No. 3) on a clear summer day on Aug. 16, 1942. Unfortunately, the rocket's nose cone broke off when the V2 was just a little bit over 5 miles high.

Like you and Bob, I have always been fascinated by German rocket history, especially with all the developments at Kummersdorf and Peenemunde during the 1930/40's.

But in moving on...if it had not been for the original von Braun rocket development team that came to America in 1945-46, I don't think our nation would have developed the Saturn family of heavy launch vehicle carriers throughout the 1950/60/70's as we did.

I'll even go a step further and say that landing U.S. astronauts on the moon during Project Apollo/Saturn, without the prior rocket development programs of the von Braun team's V2, Redstone, Jupiter, Juno, and the Air Force Atlas, Thor, and Titan launch vehicle programs, would probably not had been possible. With the V2 on American soil, it provided the pathway in getting Americans into space and on the moon, and has been in a big way ever since.

As a minor side bar, though, I don't think the above depicted V2 postcard produced by the Space Unit was a German V2 being prepared for launch at Peenemunde. It looks to be one of the early V2 mobile deployment missile sites aimed at Paris, London, or Antwerp in 1944.

The ground support checkout service structures pictured around the missile on the postcard resembles a mobile firing battery rather than Peenemunde's oval-constructed Test Stand VII.


Posts: 783
From: Texas * Earth
Registered: Apr 2011

posted 11-18-2017 05:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Cozmosis22     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Nice rare old WWII covers there. Thanks for sharing.

Remember that when the Project Paperclip rocket scientists were being debriefed in the summer of 1945 they were asked how they came up with the liquid fuel concept. They responded, "Why do ask us? We got a lot of vital information from your American experimenter Robert Goddard."

The great rocketry pioneer who was demeaned by the mainstream media in the US, laughed at by the scientific community, and all but ignored by the military died suddenly of natural causes later that summer at the age of 62, on August 10, 1945.

Unfortunately, Werner von Braun and Robert H. Goddard never got a chance to meet each other and discuss their fantastic dreams of human space expeditions out into the cosmos.

Ken Havekotte

Posts: 2509
From: Merritt Island, Florida, Brevard
Registered: Mar 2001

posted 11-19-2017 02:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ken Havekotte   Click Here to Email Ken Havekotte     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
So true of your remarks about our own American rocket genius and pioneer Dr. Robert Goddard.

The German rocket team knew of Goddard's work, and von Braun himself credited Goddard with so many rocket developments of his time. He was a true rocket creator in every area that "blazed the trail and incorporated many features used in today's modern rockets and space vehicles."

"Moon Mad Goddard," as many would label him in the media, did secure a solid fuel rocket production contract during WWI, though, for the U.S. Army.

But with the ending of the first world war, it was cancelled in 1918 only a few days after his successful demonstration of the hand-held launcher-fired rocket.


Posts: 50
From: Geraardsbergen, Belgium
Registered: May 2014

posted 11-25-2017 05:26 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for astrobv   Click Here to Email astrobv     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Could anyone help me to get the feldpostnumbers relating to the V2 units?
Peenemunde — blind and others — Karlshagen — Dora — Blizna...

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