permanganate, which were housed in special tanks on the rocket itself. These two solutionswere forced through the system by pressurized air, also stored in a tank aboard the vehicle.
The alcohol propellant and the oxidizer that fueled the rocket were fed from theirholding tanks into a small precombustion chamber through 1,224 small nozzles that atomizedeach liquid. The atomization, similar to a bottle of perfume spray, allowed for proper mixing of
the fuel, while the precombustion chamber helped lower the rocket engine’s operating
temperature and reduce thermal damage on the fuel injection nozzles.The fuel would last about 60 seconds, but that would be long enough to propel therocket upwards of 60 miles into the air while moving at about 4,400 feet per second. Thecombustion of the propellants raises the temperature of the engine to about 5,000 degreesFahrenheit, hot enough to melt steel. To reduce the chances of a catastrophic failure due tothese large thermal stresses in the thrust nozzle, the alcohol fuel is circulated around theengine
before it is burned in order to cool the engine down. This is very similar to howthe cooling system in a car works.
Of course, to be effective in wartime, the rocket had to be controlled and guided into itstarget. Vanes made of graphite (to resist the extreme temperatures) were located on the finsand redirected the exhaust gases in order to direct the rocket during flight. These vanes werecontrolled by gyroscopes,
a simple device, similar to a child’s toy top that
maintains orientation,mounted on an inertially fixed platform. This means that the platform would not move withrespect with the ground, even as the rocket around it moved through its trajectory.
This development allowed the rocket’s position and acceleration to be measured, and
ensured that when the proper velocity needed to hit the target was achieved, fuel to the burnchamber would be cut off. The technology was developed in house, and its relative immaturityof this technology was evident, as it was unable to accurately strike a target from its launch site.From about 200 miles away, its impact area was approximately the size of a large city, whilecruise missiles today can accurately target something the size of a standard window.
“I Aim for the Stars”
The V-2 was perhaps the most feared German weapon during the Second World War. Ithit its targets at three times the speed of sound, allowing no advanced warning of its impendingimpact. Parts of London were destroyed by the rockets, and over 3,000 civilian lives were lost.The weapons were produced during the dying days of Nazi Germany, proclaimed as a wonder