V1, V2 - Hitler's secret weapons

V1, V2 - Hitler's secret weapons

 

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Rocket V2, Blizna, 1943

V-1  German Vergeltungswaffe-1,vengeance weapon no. 1) – German unmanned cruise missile Fieseler Fi 103,known as „flying bomb”.
V-2  German . Vergeltungswaffe-2,vengeance weapon no. 2) – German ballistic missile (SSM) Aggregat 4, A4.

 

On July, 5th 1927 in Wrocław, Society for Space Travel (German: Verein für Raumschifahrt) was founded. A pioneer in rocket science, an engineer Johannes Winkler was the founder and the first president of the VfR. Its other members were i.a.: Rudolf Nebel, Wernher von Braun, Hermann Oberth, Walter Hohmann, Hermann Noordung. The Society published its own magazine Die Rakete (Rocket) and since 1930 would carry out tests on its own property close to the current airport Berlin-Tegel. Their Repulsor rockets reached a level of 1 km.

V-1-300x185 Tajna broń Hitlera - V1, V2Peenemunde-original-289x350 Tajna broń Hitlera - V1, V2In June 1932 at Kummersdorfrange, the VfR organised for Wehrmacht a show (unsuccessful) of a rocket constructed by engineer Rudolf Nebel.Cpt. Walter Dornberger offered to back the research on the military use of this technique provided the army would be allowed to classify it and take the full control over it. The VfR President Rudolf Nebel rejected the offer however it was accepted by other members i.e. Wernher von BraunIn mid 1934 the German army took control of the VfR achievements and in December 1934 on the Borkum Island the army conducted a succesful attempt to launch a liquid propellant rocket.

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Start V2, June 21, 1943, source: German Federal Archives

In 1936 Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe started to build two classified rocket research centres on the Usedom (Uznam) Island, near Peenemünde.In 1937 two teams started their work independently. The Peenemünde-East Centre operated under Wehrmacht command and was working on the vertical launch rocket (later V-2) under the supervision of gen. Walter Dornberger. The  Peenemünde-West Centre operated under Luftwaffe and was working on the new kinds of aerial weapons (later unmanned jet missile Fi-103, known as V-1) under the supervision of Wernher von Braun.

V-2-300x160 Tajna broń Hitlera - V1, V2In 1939 an experimental rocket A-5 (weight 1,3 t) reached the level of 13 km. On September 13, 1942 a prototype of A-4 rocket (V2) weight 13 t) flying ballistic track rached the level of 83 km, flew 193 km and fell 5 km from its destination. On December 1943 a first unmanned flying missile Fieseler Fi-103 (V-1) was launched.

 

 

The Home Army Intelligence Operations

Peenemunde-original-2-300x286 Tajna broń Hitlera - V1, V2The first intelligence report containing technical parameters of the rockets was delivered to the Allies by the intelligence services of the Home Army on December 2, 1942 . It came from an agent of the HA Intelligence in the Czech steelworks in Witkowice where Germans led experiments on the production of special shells made of 70x1200 mm blocks in Mannesman rolling process. In January 1943 the HA Intelligence discovered also that the 80% of the used iron ore was delivered from the Sweddish Kiruna and Gellivare mines by the sea to Stettin, then by the river to Racibórz and by train to Witkowice.

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Map of Peenemunde targets, 1943

The most vital information from Peenemünde. was delivered by the sources of the Home Army’s offensive intelligence network “Lombard” - the “Bałtyk” cell which was founded and led by Bernard Kaczmarek “Wrzos”, “Jur” and further by a Silent and Unseen Lt. Stefan Ignaszak pseudonym “Nordyk”.

At the beginning of 1943 an engineer Jan Szreder pseudonym „Furman” informed on the existence of a classified centre on the Uznam Island where a reasearch on the air torpedoes was under way and where multiple transports of machinery and materials were being sent as well as thousands of prisoners of the concentration and labour camps located there.

In the monthly reports from February and March 1943 , the Home Army Intelligence informed on the construction works in Peenemünde of: “a research and development centre for rocket aircrafts” with 800 km/h propulsion, involving a workforce of 8 thousand people at its factory, with laboratories and an airfield and the whole complex accessed within a few kilometers only with a special pass.

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Stefan Ignaszak

At the night of January 29/30th 1944 a Silent Unseen Stefan Ignaszak pseudonym „Nordyk” who led the ”Bałtyk” intelligence network, had an access to the information delivered by the „Bałtyk 303” cell on the German tests of new weapons „V-1” and „V-2” thanks to the help of his source Roman Träger pseudonym “As”, “T-2”, “Junior” who was a Wehrmacht soldier in a unit installing telephone cables at the Peenemünde Centre. He was the son of agent Augustyn Träger “Sęk”, “Tragarz”, “T-1”, a Polish officer of the 2nd Department (Intelligence Services) of the General Staff of the Polish Army. Roman Träger delivered also the plans of the Peenemünde Centre.

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Rocket V-1, source: German Federal Archives

It was him who worked out the Pustków, Blizne proving ground where Germans tested their new weapons. He got to the SS Truppenubungsplatz Blizne map, took photos of the V2 rocket which did not explode when landing next to Mężenin (close to Sarnaki) as well as the photos of the V2 explosion crater, not to mention acquiring its parts (turbine, nozzles, compressors) and the hydrogen peroxide propellant samples.

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V-1 rocket on the training ground Blizna

In the first phase of the explosions next to Sarnaki - recalled Silent Unseen Stefan Ignaszak pseudonym Nordyk - Nordyk sent there A. Pieńkowski “Klimont” who delivered soon to Warsaw different small remaining parts of the rockets. “Later I went together with “Klimont” to Sarnaki where in a nearby village I took photos of a crater which was so deep I had to reach its bottom by a ladder. On our way back to Warsaw we took a sample of the propellant which was sheltered by a local smith”..” (Michał Wojewódzki – Akcja V-1, V-2, Instytut Wydawniczy PAX 1975, s. 244)

In 1943 on April, 22, May, 14, June, 21 and 22 the British Intelligence operated reconnaissance flights that confirmed the Polish Intelligence reports. The British intelligence report „German Long-Range Rocket Development”  was accepted by Winston Churchill on April 27th 1943 which led to the bombardment of the Centre.

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V-2 rocket, source: German Federal Archives

At the night of 17/18 August 1943 a raid of 597 British bombers took place, which led to a partial destruction of the centre, factory halls, residential district and the prisoners camp. There were 735 victims, out of which 178 were members of the German research and management personnel. Podczas tak zwanej „Operacji Hydra” zrzucono 1795 ton bomb.

After the bombardment V-1 were still being produced in Kassel whereas the production of V-2 was transferred to Mittelbau-Dora (sub-camp of KL Buchenwaldin Nordhausen in the Harz Mountains. The research personnel working on the attempts to launch the rocket was transferred to Blizna near Mielec to the testing ground named Heidelager Blizna “Frieda”. The first rocket test there took place on Nov, 5th 1943. Heidelager Blizna, miał kryptonim „Frieda”. Pierwszą próbę rakietową na nowym poligonie przeprowadzono 5 listopada 1943.

In this area the Home Army possessed an active intelligence network of Dębica Inspectorate which would send reports on the creation of a research centre there already in September 1943. Once the attempts to launch the rockets were renewed, the Home Army intelligence started to register the launched rockets noting the time they were fired and their itinerary. They tried to collect the pieces which did not explode (first within 15km, then at the range of 150-170 km and even as far as 250-300 from the testing ground). 

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Peenemunde Museum in the former power plant building

On April 24th 1944 the Home Army intelligence acquired an electromagnetic gyrocompass of a V-2 rocket which fell on the farm of Daniel Łopatiuk in Klimczyce Kolonia near Sarnaki. The found liquid after the analysis by prof. Marceli Styryszuński (at the Warsaw’s University of Technology) proved to be 80% stabilized perhydrol (hydrogen peroxide). The gyrocompass was hidden inside a beehive in the Czuryłłogarden that is why it was not found by Germans who appeared right away in the village in search of the remaining parts of the rocket.

On May 20th, 1944 the Home Army intelligence managed to take over the entire rocket which fell in the muddy wicker field at the Bug river next to Mężenin near Klimczyce. Soldiers of Tadeusz Jakubski “Czarny” platoon (22nd Home Army Regiment) masked the remaining parts of the rocket with wicker and rush which made it impossible for Germans to find it. After a week, a part of the rocket was transported to Hołowczyce where it was measured and photographed. The most important elements were sent to Warsaw.

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Fragments of Polish intelligence documentation on V1 and V2

The analysis of construction and functioning of the V-2 was conducted by engr. Antoni Kocjan engr. Stefan Waciórski and prof. engr. Janusz Groszkowski. who cooperated with the HA intelligence. . They worked out that a V-2 had a liquid propellant engine composed of a proper propellant and oxidizer. The rocket was controlled by a servomechanism steered by a gyrocompass and that in the initial phase a radio navigation was possible.

On June 12, 1944 and and July 3rd, 1944 these findings were sent to London through radiotelegrams no.366 and 403/1327. In general, the HA intelligence delivered 4 radio telegrams and 2 monthly reports in 1943, and as for 1944: 15 telegrams and 5 monthly reports on the German V-1 and V-2 rocket tests. What is more, Poles operating in France sent to London 173 reports as to the location of the V-1 launchers, 5 reports on the location of the V-2 launchers and 2 reports on the place where German launchers’ personnel was staying.

 

Operation Wildhorn (MOST 3/BRIDGE 3)

At the night of July 25/26th 1944 the legendary operation MOST 3/BRIDGE 3 took place when Dakota KG-477 “V” with Polish-British crew (267 RAF Squadron and 1586 PAF Squadron ) landed on the “Motyl’ airfield at the Kisielina river near Wał-Ruda, 18 km from Tarnów (N50°08′ E20°47′). The main purpose of the operation was delivering information and parts of V-2 acquired by the HA intelligence in the occupied territory of Poland to the West.

A Home Army intelligence officer Lt. Jerzy Chmielewskipseudonym “Rafał” took to London seven key elements of the rocket and a 30 page “Special Report 1/R no. 242 Rocket missiles”

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Douglas C-47 Skytrain Dakota

The report contained:

  • 18 pages of the general text
  • 12 appendices,
  • 65 photographs with description,
  • 12 drawings – outlines of the radio and steering devices, pomp, engine etc.
  • Description of the construction and operation of the rockets,
  • Description and the map of Blizna testing ground,
  • Description of the launcher accessory,
  • Register of 118 rocket flights (when launched and fell),
  • A list of factories producing parts for V-2,
  • Data sheet, including flights and the results of the explosions,
  • Register of tags and inscriptions on the elements of V-1 and V-2.

 

5 minutes after touching down the Dakota was ready to fly back however its wheels sank in the muddy field. Finally the 4th attempt was successful and the aircraft reached Campo Casale at 5.43 after a 10.15 h flight (stay on the airfield included).

On July 28th 1944 an aircraft with the intelligence report and parts of the rocket touched down on RAF Hendon (now RAF Museum). 

 

Maciej Żuczkowski - Wywiad Armii Krajowej (Eng. Intelligence of the Home Army)
w: Pamięć.pl nr 4-5/2012, Instytut Pamięci Narodowej Warszawa, s. 44 – 49

 

Grażyna Bołcun – Wyrzutnia pocisków rakietowych V1 i V2 w Bliźnie (Eng. V1 and V2 rocket launcher in Blizna)
we wspomnieniach kpt. Józefa Rządzkiego ps. Boryna
komendanta obwodu AK Kolbuszowa „Kefir”: 1942-1945
w: Rocznik Kolbuszowski 2015 nr 15, s. 7-26

 

 

Sources:
  • Own sources
  • Tadeusz Dubicki, Daria Nałecz, Tessy Stirling – Polsko-brytyjska współpraca wywiadowcza podczas II wojny światowej. t. I. Ustalenia Polsko-Brytyjskiej Komisji Historycznej, Naczelna Dyrekcja Archiwów Państwowych, Warszawa 2004, s. 472-481, ISBN 83-89115-11-5
  • Michał Wojewódzki – Akcja V-1, V-2, Instytut Wydawniczy PAX 1975

 

 


Text translated from Polish to English by Aleksandra Duda.
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