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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

German Missiles

Dr. von Braun was a good salesman for his group, but did not always present the distinctions between foreseeable scientific development and fancy.

The German effort on guided missiles and pilotless aircraft was aimed at three tactical problems: (1) the bombing of Allied ships, both naval and merchant vessels; (2) defense against Allied bombers and (3) long-range strategic bombing of England;. Some thought and effort had also been given to the problem of the long-range strategic bombing of America by unmanned missiles.

When on 11 November 1918, the canons of the Great War fell silent, the military-industrial area in the Ruhr was not destroyed and remained under German control and administration. This would have allowed the still functioning General Staff Organisation to prepare for rapid reconstitution of both forces and armament. The peace settlement, signed a half a year after the Armistice, was characterised by an elaborated and coercive mechanism of German disarmament that was enshrined into the Versailles Peace Treaty. The air clauses stated that Germany was not to have any military or naval air forces. Part V of the Versailles Treaty, signed 28 June 1919 and put in to effect on 10 January 1920, prohibited Germany from undertaking any activity whatsoever in the field of military aviation and in the manufacturing of military aircraft, including weapons and equipment.

The question of German non-compliance and circumvention of the Versailles disarmament regime has become an integral part of the history of German disarmament. The German Army, on the assumption that rocketry could become an extension of long-range artillery and because the construction of rockets was not prohibited by the Treaty of Versailles, had inaugurated a modest rocket development program in 1931, employing several of the Society for Space Travel (Verein für Raumschiffahrt) members. One of these was a 21-year-old engineer named Wernher von Braun.

The principal German advantage in the field of guided missiles was the lead in time in the development of rockets, which were considered to have serious military applications as early as 1935. Much effort was put into this field and as a result the supporting industrial developments were ready as a foundation for missile designers. They could buy rocket motors and rocket fuels from commercial sources. The V-2 development was successful not so much because of striking scientific developments as because of an early start, military support, and a boldness of execution. Looking over the great variety of projects one finds that the V-2 rocket was the most outstanding technical achievement and that the Peenemünde group of scientists, working for the ground forces, was the most capable missile research group in Germany.

In the spring of 1930, a young Wernher von Braun enrolled at the Berlin Institute of Technology and in his spare time assisted Oberth in his early experiments in testing a liquid fueled rocket stage with about 15 pounds of thrust. In September 1930, Oberth returned to a teaching post in Romania while Von Braun continued experiments under the sponsorship of the German Society for Space Travel.

During July and August 1932, the society impressed officers of the German Army Ordnance by successfully firing a rocket to a height of 200 feet. As a result, the German Army formalized the rocket development program by placing Captain-Doctor Walter Dornberger in charge of Research Station West at Kummersdorf.

For five years Wernher Von Braun served as chief of the research station where the forerunners of the famous V-2 (the liquid-fueled A-1, A-2, and A-3) rockets were developed. During December 1934, the Germans launched two A-2 rockets to a height of 1.4 miles on the Island of Borkum in the North Sea. A little over a year later, in February 1936, the Germans tested an A-3 rocket with 3,300 pound thrust. Three years later they successfully fired and recovered an A-5 development rocket with gyroscopic controls and parachutes, attaining an altitude of 7 1/2 miles and a range of 11 miles.

Von Braun's success in German rocketry continued. In 1937 he was named technical director of the Peenemuende Rocket Center on the Baltic Sea. There Von Braun and his growing team of specialists would work on the development of the V- 2. The first test of a V-2 failed on June 13, 1942. Success came, however, on October 3, 1942, when a 5 1/2 ton V-2 traveled 120 miles. On February 17, 1943, the V-2 traveled 121.8 miles.

On 27 August 1943, the Eighth Air Force sent out its first CROSSBOW mission-an attack by 187 B-17’s on the German construction at Watten. British intelligence estimated that the damage inflicted would require as much as three months to repair, but continued reconnaissance of the French coast revealed new constructions of a similar type, all in the Pas-de-Calais. In addition to the immense buildings at Watten, later described by General Brereton as “more extensive than any concrete constructions we have in the United States, with the possible exception of Boulder Dam,” the British discovered large constructions under way at Lottinghem and Wizernes.

In September, other constructions of the same magnitude were observed at Mimoyecques and Siracourt, and within a short time thereafter similar activity was revealed at Martinvast and Sottevast, on the Cherbourg peninula. Within five months’ time (the Watten site had been discovered in May 1943), seven “Large Sites,” as they came subsequently to be described, had been identified from which, it was believed, the Germans were preparing to fire rocket missiles against London and other British targets.

The large sites, which were mainly underground, embraced related but sometimes separate structures thousands of feet long, often with steel and concrete walls zs to 30 feet in thickness. The connecting tunnels and underground chambers of the more massive of the large sites could have sheltered, it has been estimated, at least 200,000 people in a single site. It has been established that the Germans intended to quarter that many operating personnel in the seven large sites. Throughout the CROSSBOW operations the Allies generally assumed that these large sites were primarily associated with large rockets (V-2’s).

After inspection of the seven captured sites by an Allied mission in February 1945, it was concluded that Siracourt and Lottinghem (Pas-de-Calais) and Sottevast and Martinvast had been intended as storage, assembly, and firing sites for the V-1; that only Wizernes had been conceived as a site for assembling and firing V-2’s; that the Mimoyecques site had been designed to house batteries of long-range guns of unorthodox design; and that Watten had been designed as an underground factory for chemicals used in firing both types of V weapons. Though Dornberger and von Braun agree in substance with the foregoing estimate, they did not give so precise a statement as to the original purpose of the seven large sites.

Development of high-angle and glide bombs was started about the end of 1939 or the beginning of 1940 and resulted in the PC-1400-FX and Hs­293 missiles, first used in August and October, 1943. Both missiles were direct-sight radio-controlled and became unusable as soon as air superiority was lost.

Development of guided missile defense against bombers began early in 1943. The missiles were all rocket-propelled and, in their final development, many were to be automatically controlled with homing devices and equipped with proximity fuses. Many of these missiles (X­4, Hs-298, Schmetterling, Rheintochter, Enzian, and Wasserfall) reached their fina ltesting and early production stage but with direct­sight radio control only.

The well-known V-1 and V-2 were used to meet the problems which arose after the failure of the attempt to bomb England by conventional aircraft because of the efficient British air defense. Although the fundamental scientific research and development work on these missiles had its root in projects initiated for other purposes early as 1935, the focusing of effort on the tactical problem of long-range bombing of England appears to have started in 1941.

The German scientists believed, although some German engineers in industry disagreed, that the ultimate guided missile would be completely automatic in its operation. Although for quick development and for test purposes they favored the use of manual radio control, their long-range plans contemplated first automatic blind tracking of the missile and target, then the connection of the two tracking devices through a computer to the radio control channels, and finally the use of a homing device for the last part of the trajectory and a proximity fuse.

Post War Developments

After World War II, the out-break of the Cold War dramatically changed the outlook of what to do with Germany’s military potential. The Korea shock of 1950 convinced policy-makers in the West to re-arm Germany. An elaborate re-armament control mechanism was put in place with the help of the Western European Union.

On 01 June 1950 the t Society for Space Travel (Verein fuer Raumschiffahrt or VfR) was resurrected. The German Rocket Society, disestablished by Hitler in 1933, passed resolution calling for international conference of all astronautical societies.

On September 14, 1958 the first two German post-war rockets, designed by the German engineer Ernst Mohr, reach the upper atmosphere. The redesigned Mohr rockets were 2.5 m long, 30 cm in diameter, had a total mass of 80 kg and produced 7.8 tonnes thrust. Cutoff velocity was 1200 m/s at 1200 m altitude. The payload dart then separated and coasted up to 50 km altitude. It was later planned to install meteorological instruments on these rockets.

A year after its formation, the Deutsche Kommission fur Raumfahrttechik (West German Space Technology Committee) made a proposal in 1962, representing the West German Aeronautical Sciences Association (DGF). This was submitted to the Federal Minister of Atomic Energy. This four-year plan involved an overall budget of DM 933 million, under which research and industry hoped to solve jointly the most urgent problems of space technology. The aim of the project was to make it possible for West Germany to cooperate actively in space de velopment and research at the international level. This is an introductory program capacity, and would at the same time train several thousand scientists and technicians.

By 1963 production of more than 30,000 COBRA antitank missiles had established Boelkow Entwicklungen of West Germany as one of Europe's most important manufacturers of guided weapons. Close to 90% of the company's work was for the German Defense Department. The US Marines and Army evaluated COBRA, which was light in weight (31 lbs. including control box), simple, and inexpensive (about $600).

The first military launches were made from Cuxhaven since the Backfire V-2 launches of 1945 were conducted 05 December 1963. Seliger, under contract to Waffen und Luftruestung AG (Weapons and Air Development Inc) of Hamburg launched a test rocket. The altitude was restricted to 30 km by a new regulation of the Lower Saxony Economy and Trade Ministry.

The Missile Technology Control Regime is an informal and voluntary association of countries which share the goals of non-proliferation of unmanned delivery systems capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction, and which seek to coordinate national export licensing efforts aimed at preventing their proliferation. The MTCR was originally established in 1987 by Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.

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Page last modified: 14-01-2018 18:45:11 ZULU