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Post-War Testing and Development

Parts of downed V-1s were assembled and studied closely. Note the armed guard at the upper left and "SECRET" stamp on upper right. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Parts of downed V-1s were assembled and studied closely. Note the armed guard at the upper left and "SECRET" stamp on upper right. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Liftoff of "Bumper 8," a research rocket using a V-2 as a first stage, July 24, 1950. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Liftoff of "Bumper 8," a research rocket using a V-2 as a first stage, July 24, 1950. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Post-war testing of a captured V-2 at White Sands, N.M. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Post-war testing of a captured V-2 at White Sands, N.M. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Germany's technologically advanced V-weapons foreshadowed weapons to come. Modern cruise missiles, nuclear ballistic missiles and space boosters were developed in part from V-weapon experience.

During World War II, German technicians were well ahead of the Allies in making advanced rockets and flying bombs. While the Allies concentrated on making huge numbers of bombers, ships and other proven armament, the Germans looked to new technologies to turn the tide of the war and save the collapsing Nazi state. This effort failed, but some German designs were nonetheless breakthroughs in arms development. The Allies exploited captured German technology and knowledge to create more effective weapons.

The United States thought the V-1 flying bomb might be useful in subduing Japan after Germany surrendered. American technicians copied its design and anticipated using the bombs to support an invasion of Japan in 1945. After extensive testing and study at Wright Field, Ohio, and at Eglin Field, Fla., Republic Aviation and Ford made about 1,000 flying bombs. Designated JB-2 Loons, these American copies were shipped across the Pacific. The atomic bombs of August 1945, however, made the Loons unnecessary.

The V-2 rocket was very useful to the United States in developing nuclear ballistic missiles and boosters for human spaceflight. Soon after the war ended, captured rockets were brought to the United States to support Project Hermes, the American effort to study V-2 technology at the White Sands, N.M., test range. More than 100 German engineers, including rocket pioneer Wernher von Braun, were brought to Fort Bliss, Texas, to assist. The goals of the project were to study techniques for working with large rockets, learn more about rocket ballistics, and study the upper atmosphere. In 70 launches at White Sands, Americans gained practical experience that led to larger, more efficient missiles and boosters. These outgrowths of V-2 technology eventually enabled human spaceflight to the moon and provided powerful boosters for American nuclear strategic missiles and satellites.

Click here to return to the German V-Weapons Overview.

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