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 (nazwa utajniona: Frakzielgerat FZG-76), zwany „latającą bombą”, o kryptonimie „Kirschkern” (pestka wiśni).
V-2  German . Vergeltungswaffe-2,vengeance weapon no. 2) – German ballistic missile (SSM) Aggregat 4, A4.


The beginnings of rocket technique

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, V2W 1939 doświadczalna rakieta A-5, o wadze 1,3 ton, osiągnęła pułap 13 km. 3 września 1942 prototyp rakiety A-4 rocket (V-2) o wadze 13 ton, lecący torem balistycznym, osiągnął pułap 83 km, przeleciał 193 km, spadając zaledwie 5 km od zaplanowanego celu. 10 grudnia 1942 do swego pierwszego lotu wystartowała bezpilotowa bomba latająca Fieseler Fi-103 (V-1) was launched.



The Home Army Intelligence Operations

Peenemunde-original-2-300x286 Tajna broń Hitlera - V1, V2Pierwszy meldunek wywiadowczy, zawierający parametry techniczne rakiet, już December 2, 1942 provided the Allies with the Home Army intelligence. It came from an informant from the Home Army intelligence service in the Czech Witkowice steelworks, where the Germans experimented with the production of special casings from steel blocks 70 x 1200 mm, rolled in the Mannesman process. In January 1943, the Home Army intelligence also found that 80 percent. the used iron ore was delivered from the Swedish mines of Kiruna and Gellivare by ships to Szczecin, then by barges to Racibórz and by rail to Witkowice.

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”.
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Plan Peenemunde sporządzony przez wywiad AK

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.

Wywiad i kontrwywiad Polskiego Państwa Podziemnego w starciu z V-1 i V-2
Agencja Bezpieczeństwa Wewnętrznego,Warszawa 2020, ISBN 978-83-956907-2-3


Silent unseen ("Polish SOE") Stefan Ignaszak
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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

At the night of January 29/30th 1944 a Silent Unseen Stefan Ignaszak ps. Nordyk personally worked out the terrains of experiments on new weapons of the Third Reich in Pustków, Blizne. He obtained a map of the SS Truppenubungsplatz Blizne, took photos of the V2 rocket, which landed without exploding near the village of Mężenin (near Sarnak), photos of the crater after the V2 rocket explosion, obtained its parts (turbines, nozzles, compressors), and samples of fuel - hydrogen peroxide.

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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)


Bombardment Peenemunde

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Map of Peenemunde targets, 1943

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Peenemunde Museum in the former power plant building

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 oraz wydał rozkaz zbombardowania ośrodka.

On the night of August 17/18, 1943, a raid of 597 British bombers took place. They partially destroyed the center, factory halls, housing estate, labor camp, and caused 735 casualties, including 178 from German research and management personnel. During this raid, code-named Operation Hydra, as many as 1,795 tons of bombs were dropped.


Blizna proving ground and the activities of the Home Army intelligence

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 Heidelager Bliznanear Mielec to the testing ground named Heidelager Blizna “Frieda”. The first rocket test there took place on Nov, 5th 1943.

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Fragment meldunków AK nt. rakiet. Ze zbiorów Andrzeja Glassa

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). 

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. Marcelego Struszyńskiego (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.

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Fragment rakiety V-2, wyłowiony z Bugu

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 ps. Black of the 8th company of the 22nd Infantry Regiment of the Home Army masked the remains of the rocket with rushes and wicker, making it impossible for the Germans to find it. After about a week, some of the rockets were taken to Hołowczyce, where they were viewed, measured and photographed. The most important elements, packed in crates and bags, were transported by three trucks (covered with potatoes) to Warsaw.

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Fragments of Polish intelligence documentation on V1 and V2

Analizy konstrukcji i rozszyfrowania sposobu działania rakiety dokonali współdziałający w wywiadzie AK inż. 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.

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



Operation Wildhorn (MOST 3/BRIDGE 3)
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Rysunki części rakiety z Sarnak

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”Later, incl. as an instructor of the "Officer Training Course for Military Administration" (camouflage of the Polish intelligence school) he trained Cichociemni (eng. Silent Unseen) future intelligence officers Home Army (pol. Armia Krajowa) on the realities of occupied Poland.

The report contained:

  • 18 pages of the general text
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    Douglas C-47 Skytrain Dakota

  • 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). 

Kazimierz Iranek Osmecki – Meldunek specjalny 1/R. Nr 242. Pociski rakietowe
w: Zeszyty Historyczne, Instytut Literacki Paryż 1972, zeszyt 22, s. 65-81



V1 and v2 rocket parameters
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V-2 rocket, source: German Federal Archives

V-1 with a length of 8.3 m, a total weight of 2,200 kg (830 kg of explosive charge, 650 kg of fuel), it reached a speed of 580-640 km / h, had a range of 300 km. It required only 240 hours of work in production, its cost was PLN 5,000. brands. Germany produced 30 thousand. V-1 missiles, 22 thousand were used, approx. 75 percent reached the target.

V-2 14 m long, with a total weight of 12,700 kg (980 kg of explosive charge, 5,000 kg of liquid oxygen, 3,500 kg of spirit), it reached the speed of 5,000. km / h, flight altitude 90 km, had a range of 300 km and a flight time of 5 minutes. It required 13 thousand. hours of work during production, its cost was about 100 thousand RM. Germany produced 5.6 thousand. V-2 missiles, 5.5 thousand were used, including 5 thousand for combat purposes.

Work on the rocket was carried out V-4b with a range increased to 600 km, as well as over a two-stage rocket A-9/A-10 for bombing the USA, with a range of 5 thousand. km.


Wywiad Armii Krajowej

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



The contribution of Polish intelligence in 1945 was assessed by the MI6 liaison officer (1940-1946), Commander Wilfred Dunderdale:
"Of the 45,770 intelligence reports from occupied Europe that reached the Allies during the war,
22,047, i.e. 48 percent, came from Polish sources (...)
It follows that over the last five years Polish agents in Europe have been working non-stop
and that they provided, despite the great danger to themselves and their families,
a large amount of material of all kinds and topics. "
In 2004 and 2005, extensive findings of the Polish-British Historical Commission were published
Fri "Polish - British intelligence cooperation during World War II"
(wyd. Naczelna Dyrekcja Archiwów Państwowych, Warszawa 2004, 2005 ISBN 83-89115-11-5 oraz ISBN 83-89115-37-9.

In 2005, the British government officially confirmed
że ok. that about half of all secret reports for the Allies from occupied Europe came from Poles.
37 Cichociemnych (Silent Unseen, "Polish SOE") served in the Home Army intelligence ...



  • 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
  • Andrzej Glass – Akcja V-1 i V-2 – wkład Polaków w rozszyfrowanie tajnych broni niemieckich, w: Polska myśl techniczna w II wojnie światowej. Materiały pokonferencyjne. Warszawa, 2015 s. 134-150 , ISBN 978-83-63050-28-3
  • Michał Wojewódzki – Akcja V-1, V-2, Instytut Wydawniczy PAX 1975



Text translated from Polish to English by Aleksandra Duda.
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