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launch of Von Braun
launch of Von Braun -

Credit: © Mark Wade. 11,208 bytes. 157 x 347 pixels.



Launch Vehicle: A1. First in series of rockets leading to V-2. Exploded at Kummersdorf in first launch attempt. Considered aerodynamically unstable (stabilising fins were mounted forward) and no further launch attempts were made. Propellants Lox/75% alcohol.

Launch Vehicle: A2. First flight test rocket in series that led to V-2. Two were built, dubbed Max and Moritz. Both were successfully flown at Kummersdorf to an altitude of 2 km. Propellants Lox/75% alcohol.

Launch Vehicle: A3.

Subscale test model of A4 (V-2). Wingspan 0.93 m. The rocket's expected longer range required moving the launch site from Kummersdorf to the island of Greifwalder Oie (within site of the permanent new rocket test facilities being built at Peenemuende). All of the test launches were failures. A total redesign, the A5, was used for subscale development of A4 technology. Propellants Lox/75% alcohol.


Launch Vehicle: A5. Subscale test model of A4 (V-2). Replaced the A3 in this role after its unsuccessful test series. Numerous example successfuly flown from 1938 to 1942, proving aerodynamics and other technology for the A4. Propellants Lox/75% alcohol.

Launch Vehicle: A6.

The A6 was designed to further extend the range of the A4b winged rocket through use of a ramjet for cruise propulsion. The A6 was proposed to the German Air Ministry as an invulnerable photo reconnaissance aircraft (anticipating the SR-71 aircraft by twenty years). The rocket engine would accelerate the vehicle to supersonic speed and an apogee of 95 km. After re-entering the atmosphere and beginning the supersonic glide phase, the ramjet would be ignited. Burning synthetic petrol or coal slurry, it provided fifteen to twenty minutes of cruise at 2,900 km/hr. This would have allowed the aircraft to return to base, unlike the A4b. One pilot was provided with a pressurized cockpit. The reusable A6 would be launched vertically but land on a conventional airfield using landing gear and a drag parachute.

The German Air Ministry had no identified requriement for such an aircraft and the project was rejected. However unmanned variants were considered after the war in both the United States and Soviet Union. These were developed during the course of the 1950’s into the awesome intercontinental Mach 3 cruise missiles: the American Navaho in the United States and the Russian Burya / Buran.

The A6 designation was also applied to a version of the A5 subscale V-2 using alternate propellants. This had the same dimensions as the A7.


Launch Vehicle: A7. Subscale test model of A9 rocket. 1.612 square meter wing area.

Launch Vehicle: V-2.

First operational liquid fuel rocket. Developed by Germany in a huge development program as large in proportion to the German gross national product as the Manahattan atom bomb project was in America.. Development program cost $ 2 billion; 5,789 built; unit cost $ 17,877. 3,225 launched; total failure rate unknown, but 169 of 1359 against London unsuccessful. After the war captured German V-2's were launched by the British, Americans, and Russians. Personnel and technology from the V-2 formed the basis for subsequent rocketry developments throughout the world.


Launch Vehicle: A4b.

Winged version of V-2 missile. A-4b designation used to disguise work on A-9 program. Two flown; manned version planned. The A4b had an empty mass 1350 kg greater than the basic V-2, with wings of 52 degree sweep. Another variation was conceived and under construction at the end of the war - a boosted version. This would use a ring of 10 solid propellant rockets to achieve Mach 6 cruise at 20,000 m altitude, extending the range by a further 400 km.


Launch Vehicle: A8.

Launch Vehicle: A9/A10.

The A9/A10 was the world’s first practical design for a transatlantic ballistic missile. Design of the two stage missile began in 1940 and first flight would have been in 1946. Work on the A9/A10 was prohibited after 1943 when all efforts were to be spent on perfection and production of the A4 as a weapon-in-being. Von Braun managed to continue some development and flight tests of the A9 under the cover name of A4b (i.e. a modification of the A4, and therefore a production-related project). In late 1944 work on the A9/A10 resumed under the code name Projekt Amerika, but no significant hardware development was possible after the last test of the A4b in January 1945.


Launch Vehicle: A9/A10/A11. The A11 was planned at Peenemuende to use the A9/A10 transoceanic missile atop the tubby A11 stage to form the basis for launching the first earth satellite - or as an ICBM.... Payload/orbit performance estimated.

Launch Vehicle: Von Braun.

Typical of studies done in 1940's/early 1950's by Von Braun's team for a space shuttle to launch crews and payloads to earth orbit for space station assembly, lunar and Mars expedition spacecraft assembly. The lower two stages became less tubby in each succeeding iteration.


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Last update 3 May 2001.
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© Mark Wade, 2001 .