As a weapon system, the V-2 was fairly ineffective. It’s real purpose was to terrorize and punish Germany’s enemies, hence it’s use on England and Antwerp. More people died producing the V-2 than were killed by it in military use. At the time the V-2 program went into high gear, Germany had bomber systems capable of delivering bombs and rockets to London with higher accuracy and at less cost to Germany in terms of both Reichsmarks and diversion of resources. Despite all this, Germany pressed on with the V-2 program. The Fuhrer wanted to terrorize London, and he wanted a propaganda win for his loyal subjects. It’s an absolutely horrible weapon system, and it’s failure as a weapon system should have relegated it to a historical footnote. It did inflict significant damage on its targets, though, and it laid the groundwork for all modern rocket systems. For that reason, it is quite important.
Hit the jump for some video of test failures of the V-2 rocket.
Continue reading German V-2 Tests im Video!
Focke Wulf Triebfluegel
Desperation can lead to creativity. When you have nothing else to lose you will look into every option possible. This led to one of the more interesting designs in the wars waning days with that in mind we look at our next point defense aircraft.
Continue reading Point Defense – When All Else Fails Be Really Different
In glorious Mother Russia, we do not need to build another plane for close ground support. We install 88 PPSh-41 submachine guns in a bomber and we kill the Nazi scum! We call it Fire Hedgehog!
Continue reading In Soviet Russia, Hedgehog Shoots You!
Pratt and Whitney R-4360 VDT
[image credit enginehistory.org]
Starting in the mid nineteen forties there was a move to this newfangled jet turbine technology. Still it was mostly untested and the good old internal combustion engine was better known. Into this small fragment of time was an interesting innovation of Pratt & Whitney’s.
Continue reading The Last Gasp For Large Piston Engines
One issue with planning a paratrooper attack is figuring out how to give those troopers equipment and mobility when they jump in behind enemy lines. In World War II, the British Special Operations Executive developed the Welbike, a single seat folding motorcycle that could be dropped along with a paratroop invasion. While only built in small numbers, one has survived to find a home in the Military Aviation Museum in Virginia, where I snapped a few of these images. One of the images, cropped for mysterious effect, was yesterday’s mildly esoteric Q³. Even with such a unique specimen, Toasters commenters do not disappoint, and the answer was quickly submitted by EnsignSlow. As promised, now let’s learn a little more about this bodacious bantam bike!
Continue reading Wee Willy Welbike
In order to expand the radar early warning picket line out into the Atlantic, the US Air Force undertook a project to mount shore based radar systems on offshore platforms. Because of their similarity to the oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico, they were known as the Texas Towers. A week-ish (or so) ago we took a look at the development and systems of these towers in Part 1. By summer of 1955 the first platform, TT-2, was ready for installation, and was towed out to be placed on temporary legs. Once it was jacked up into place, the permanent caisson legs could be installed.
The caissons were at least 160 feet long, with approx 48 feet embedded into the shoal, leaving 55 feet in the water, and the other 60 feet or so lifting the platform high out of the water. In addition to supporting the tower, each leg contained a 140 foot internal fluid storage tube, one filled with sea water to supply the drinking water distillation equipment. The Air Force assumed occupancy of the tower in early December of 1955, and began operation if the radars. They were able to detect targets similar to a B-47 at 50,000 feet, up to 200 nauntical miles away.¹
Continue reading Expand Your Radar Horizons (Part Deux)
In 1984, the US Navy, DARPA and Lockheed teamed up to see if they could apply the lessons of stealth aircraft to surface ships. The result was an eerie black hull seemingly riding on razor’s edge.
Continue reading Abandoned Awesome
Empires rise and fall, alliances swarm and splinter, and for five hundred years, the Swiss have remained armed and neutral, dangerous to any invader. Popular wisdom holds that Switzerland doesn’t have an army or forts, Switzerland is an army, the country itself is a fortress. The Alps in their natural state can be as forbidding as any place on earth, and enormous though invisible military improvements have been built deep in the mountains.
Continue reading The Labyrinthine History of Secret Swiss Bunkers