V-2 Operations
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Sub Launched V-2

In December 1944, Art. Abt. 1./836 Mob, one of the German mobile V-2 rocket battalions, moved into positions near Hillscheid, Germany, close to Koblenz in southwest Germany, trying to distance themselves from the Allied advance. This factual employment is the basis for the setting the novel in the area. The Germans, with slave labor, constructed four launch platforms at this position (three concrete pads remain - even today), situated on turnouts from a hard surfaced road. The  firing platforms were concrete except for one which was a rough plank platform over a base of logs embedded in the ground. The 1./836 Technical Troop field store for the Hillscheid positions was located between Dernbach and Hillscheid near Höhr-Grenzhausen in the Stadtwald (Art. Reg. 1./901, ART. being the German abbreviation for artillery unit). These locations were all camouflaged by suspending branches from wires strung high among the trees. In total, 189 V-2's were fired from Hillscheid positions with 23 failures of various nature.

On October 12, 1944, the employment of the V-2 rocket units for the bombardment of military goals was terminated. At Hitler's direction, General Field Marshal von Rundstedt instructed that from this point on V-2 targeting by all operational batteries be concentrated exclusively on London and Antwerp.

In March, 1945, Hitler learned of the Americans bridgehead at Remagen, and ordered V-2s to be launched from Hellendoorn, in Holland, against Remagen, the only tactical use of the rocket, and the only V-2 use against a target on German soil. Eleven missiles were fired, killing three GIs and at least six German civilians. After days of attack by bombers and heavy artillery, the bridge finally collapsed.

Twenty-eight American Engineers died in  the collapse, mostly from drowning in the river, with many others injured.

The German high command gave credit for the collapse to the nearby V-2 impacts. But by this time the Americans had completed two pontoon bridges and were steadily reinforcing the east side of the river. Hitler was so incensed by the loss of the bridge he relieved von Rundstedt and four of the officers stationed at the bridge were executed for allowing the bridge to be captured.

The diagram is part of a US Army report, a product of Operation Crossbow, the overall operation against all German long range weapons. Crossbow intelligence and targeting had resulted in the destruction of Peenemünde and the other fixed launch sites and many V-1 Buzz Bomb launching sites.

The saddest part of the entire "Vengeance Weapon" program was that an estimated 12,000 forced laborers and concentration camp workers died under terrible conditions while producing the over 3,000 V-2s that resulted in an estimated 9,000 Allied civilians and military deaths. The deaths include a few hundred German soldiers and non-combatants in Germany and The Netherlands killed by faulty rockets soon after or during launch.

A principal camp for the Mittlewerk complex of factories and supporting facilities used workers from the camp codenamed "Dora," a subcamp of Buchenwald, until liberated by US Army troops in April, 1945.

All of my WWII V-2  information was extracted from the web pages of V2ROCKET.COM or the Book "V-2, A Combat History of the First Ballistic Missile" both by T. D. Dugan.

For a wealth of technical details about the V-2 and its guidance system, read "Notes of A4/V2" by Cor Lulof.

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