The scientific tourist #67 — the visible V-2

This week’s image comes to you from the Deutsches Museum in Munich, Germany:

V-2, looking up

Here you see a V-2 rocket, with a large strip of skin removed from one side, and the interior conveniently color-coded to help visitors make sense of all the plumbing.

The V-2 has a somewhat ironic history. It was built in no small part based on Goddard‘s work which was largely ignored by the U.S. millitary, then used as a weapon against the Allies in the second world war, but probably did more damage to the Axis powers’ fortunes than to the Allies’. Essentially, the V-2 was far better as a rocket than as a weapon (the state of guidance technology at the time was  relatively primitive), and so was primarily a psychological weapon against the Allies.

Nobody knew where the next one would land — and this applied almost equally to the targets as to the people launching it.

Meanwhile, the development of the exciting and exotic V-2 drained critical resources from the Nazi war effort — resources that could potentially have been used on less flashy but far more lethal applications. After WWII wrapped up, both the U.S. and U.S.S.R. raced to capture as much of the V-2 technology as they possibly could — helping equip both sides for the Cold War, and leading (at least indirectly) to many of the launch vehicles used to this day.

So this beast was born from peaceful tinkering, but built for war, caused grave damage to its makers’ goals, but eventually broke ground that led to both the military and peaceful uses of space. It’s an odd and ambivalent sort of monument when you think about it…

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