V2 Rocket Warheads

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Ando
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V2 Rocket Warheads

Post by Ando » 27 Sep 2002 03:22

As we all know during the war German scientists invented a range of remarkable weapons. But one of the most inspiring was undoubtedly the long-range rocket known to history as the V-2. Accorded the highest priority of all by Hitler, the V-2 was nevertheless an expensive white elephant. Why did the Germans spend so much time and effort developing a space age weapon only to arm it with less than one ton of conventional explosives? Did Hitler have plans to arm the rocket with a more sinister and a deadly warhead?

What are your views on these questions?

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Post by Mark V » 27 Sep 2002 09:16

Hi.

Don't have exact info what were their plans, but i can give some light to technical aspects of A4/V-2 warhead.


Firstly: If Germans would have been able to make workable nuclear weapon the A4 was still unable to carry it. Early implosion assemblies were too large diameter (60 inches) and way too heavy for A4. Even gun-type assembly (to which Germans for sure didn't have capacity) would not have saved them alltough that would have solved the diameter problem.

Secondly: A4 didn't have warhead separation or effective heat-insulation to warhead. This makes using any other warhead than heat resistant (and low-powered) Amatol very difficult. The thin sheet metal of warhead skin warmed up to 650 degrees Celsius during re-entry to atmosphere. CBW agents really don't like such heat. There wasn't suitable proximity fuzes available to make effective dispersion system for chemical or biological payload either. Violent vibrations and tumbling caused by empty missile body that was carried with the warhead to the ground (if it didn't fail and broke off during re-entry) really doesn't help on mounting any kind of sophisticated weapons payload system either.


My two cents.

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Post by Scott Smith » 27 Sep 2002 11:00

The warhead weighed about 800 kilograms, i.e., less than a ton. It couldn't have been increased much more than that and still have acceptable range. The atomic bomb designs of the period, at least the ones used by the Americans in 1945, weighed several tons so the V-2 couldn't have carried them. Chemical warfare would not have been a problem, although, as has been mentioned, the Germans needed to develop a proximity-fuse to aid in dispersion. Building a workable proximity-fuse for an artillery shell was technically challenging because of size and weight limitations, which the Allies solved in 1944, but this wouldn't have been a problem for the V-2. The heating of the warhead upon reentry was only sufficient to scorch the paint, and it was easily mitigated with simple insulation, even surrounding the warhead with plywood worked. Heating was ruled out as the major cause of the airburst problem, which was eventually solved with structural reinforcement of the rocket-body. The V-2 was only a white elephant because a firing-rate of 600-900 per month could not hope to compete as a deterrent for the thousand-ton bombing raids that were occurring almost daily when the weapon was finally deployed in late-1944. Dornberger says that at least two years of development time was lost when the war started in 1939 and the A4 project got put at the bottom of the food-chain as an expensive and unproven concept. A crash-program beginning in early-1943 when the situation became desperate could not make-up for the lost time.
:)

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Post by Mark V » 27 Sep 2002 11:35

To Scott:

Yep. Simple plywood-insulation was enough for Amatol. For some CBW-agent and it's dispersion system much more effective (and same time heavier) insulation would have been needed. Possible ?? Yes, but limiting usefull payload.

I think developing workable dispersion system would have though been the most difficult task.

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Post by Scott Smith » 27 Sep 2002 12:18

Mark V wrote:Yep. Simple plywood-insulation was enough for Amatol. For some CBW-agent and it's dispersion system much more effective (and same time heavier) system would have been needed. Possible ?? Yes, but limiting usefull payload.

I think developing workable dispersion system would have though been the most difficult task.

I agree that developing dispersion for chemical warfare would have been the greatest challenge, but IIRC, the plywood-insulated warhead was not even used for the operational model of the V-2, just for testing in an attempt to solve the perplexing airburst problem, and therefore insulation was found not to be needed for amatol. The liquid-oxygen tank used fiberglass insulation, and surely this would have sufficed for a chemical warhead as well.

As far as chemical dispersion, I think this would have been fairly simple in principle. Just mix Sarin with a binding-agent or thickener like wax to make it more persistent and then use a proximity-fuse to detonate the dispersion-charge at the proper altitude. A simple radar unit as used for the electronic altimeters on night fighters and an all-weather version of the Me 262 would have worked with some adaptations.

The 20 meter altitude proximity-fuse desired for the conventional exposives would have been much more challenging to develop because the weapon's speed was over Mach three. However, if the proximity-fuse had not fired the blast would not be any less effective than the standard contact-fuse, so the proximity-fuse would have been designed to insure that it never fired too early, if at all.

For chemical dispersion at a somewhat higher altitude the tolerances would not have been so tight. IIRC, the proximity-fuse on the atomic bombs was a standard tailgunner's warning radar that was crudely adapted as an altimeter. The detonation-altitude was about 1,500 feet for the Little Boy bomb. I'm guessing that a dispersion-altitude of 500 meters would have done a very good job for a V-2 loaded with Sarin nerve agent at incoming velocity. And the imprecise accuracy of the V-2 would have only improved its unpredictability and therefore psychological effects.
:)

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Post by Mark V » 27 Sep 2002 12:53

Too bad that Germans had only about half a ton of Sarin by 1945. :)

OK, OK... They could do same thing with slightly less effective Tabun which they had good stockpiles by 1944.

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Post by Scott Smith » 27 Sep 2002 13:13

Mark V wrote:Too bad that Germans had only about half a ton of Sarin by 1945. :)

OK, OK... They could do same thing with slightly less effective Tabun which they had good stockpiles by 1944.

Good point. Sarin was hard to manufacture but Soman was much more lethal yet, and it had been developed experimentally by 1944 and would have been easier to produce than Sarin by 1945, assuming that the German chemical industry was still intact, as it was not producing any more posion gas after late-1944.
:)

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Post by Zygmunt » 27 Sep 2002 17:43

Scott Smith wrote: Sarin was hard to manufacture but Soman was much more lethal yet, and it had been developed experimentally by 1944 and would have been easier to produce than Sarin by 1945, assuming that the German chemical industry was still intact, as it was not producing any more posion gas after late-1944.
:)


There's a real difference in the facilities and materials needed to produce them? I didn't know that. But why then, did the cult attacking the Japanese subway use Sarin. Wouldn't it have been easier to manufacture another one?

As for the V2, would anyone agree that it was just the first working model of the ballistic concept, and that as such, it may not have been intended for an atomic bomb, but one of its successors may have been?

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Post by A-Bomb » 28 Sep 2002 02:55

It was a terror weapon. Imagine hearing a roar overhead, looking out your window and seeing a rocket scream by.

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Post by Mark V » 28 Sep 2002 06:03

A-Bomb wrote:It was a terror weapon. Imagine hearing a roar overhead, looking out your window and seeing a rocket scream by.


You wouldn't hear the roar of flight before impact, nor see the missile...

8O 8O

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Proximity fuse

Post by gabriel pagliarani » 28 Sep 2002 10:17

Proxymity fuse is not necessary on a wide range ballistic warhead requiring "high ceiling" jettison systems. A simple watch is enough: if you want to release Sarin or Anthrax no matter if the war-head opens at 18000 ft or only at 3000 ft. Not only: a never produced detachable war-head( U2's warhead was always fixed on exhausted missile after reaching the apogee of its own parabolic trajectory till grounding at high speed)could be drag after atmospheric re-entry by mean of a landing-parachute: in this way a thin layer of plywood (better cork) is enough to prevent both overheating than overcooling of the payload and a simple baromether could switch-on the release. (Cork is better than plywood and it was just used on Russian re-entry vehicles. About cool, in open space in shadowed position the main temp could reach -200°C) In my opinion Hitler never thought to gases or bios as weapons on warheads for V2. Both weapons require constant air pressure, temperature, air composition: therefore a true small spacecraft is always necessary. About nukes, the 60 cm round geometry of "Fat Boy" A-bomb could be easily slimmed (as it happened on "Tall boy"). The rough problem of Nazi-nuke was not in geometry or how drawing the bomb but in achieving fixionables because during '40s the only sources of pechblenda, the raw material from which Uranium has to be extracted were in North America and Soviet Union. The african sources of South Africa & Namibia and Congo had to be discovered. If all WW2 began as a big race for the bomb, V2 was a necessary pit stop for Nazi A-bomb program. So U2 was not studied as A-bomb carrier, but Nazi-ICBMs were close to come out from it.

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Re: Proximity fuse

Post by Mark V » 29 Sep 2002 09:04

gabriel pagliarani wrote:Proxymity fuse is not necessary on a wide range ballistic warhead requiring "high ceiling" jettison systems. A simple watch is enough: if you want to release Sarin or Anthrax no matter if the war-head opens at 18000 ft or only at 3000 ft. Not only: a never produced detachable war-head( U2's warhead was always fixed on exhausted missile after reaching the apogee of its own parabolic trajectory till grounding at high speed)could be drag after atmospheric re-entry by mean of a landing-parachute: in this way a thin layer of plywood (better cork) is enough to prevent both overheating than overcooling of the payload and a simple baromether could switch-on the release. (Cork is better than plywood and it was just used on Russian re-entry vehicles. About cool, in open space in shadowed position the main temp could reach -200°C) In my opinion Hitler never thought to gases or bios as weapons on warheads for V2. Both weapons require constant air pressure, temperature, air composition: therefore a true small spacecraft is always necessary. About nukes, the 60 cm round geometry of "Fat Boy" A-bomb could be easily slimmed (as it happened on "Tall boy"). The rough problem of Nazi-nuke was not in geometry or how drawing the bomb but in achieving fixionables because during '40s the only sources of pechblenda, the raw material from which Uranium has to be extracted were in North America and Soviet Union. The african sources of South Africa & Namibia and Congo had to be discovered. If all WW2 began as a big race for the bomb, V2 was a necessary pit stop for Nazi A-bomb program. So U2 was not studied as A-bomb carrier, but Nazi-ICBMs were close to come out from it.



Hi Gabriel:

I don't even know where to start ?!?!

But let's just say few things:

- It was Fat Man design, and it was 60 inches diameter, not centimetres.

- 18000 feet or 3000 feet makes great difference.

- Parachute retarded warhead ?? Do you know what kind of precision technology is needed even before you start to dream about such..

- Easily slimmed nuclear bomb?? It did take Americans with their vast resources about 5 years to gain first significant size reduction on implosion system.

- Tall Boy was deep penetrating air-droppable bomb with conventional chemical explosives.

- Uranium from Congo BTW had been found. Of course it was not available for Germans though.


....

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Precision with a-bomb? a-ha

Post by gabriel pagliarani » 29 Sep 2002 10:38

TO MARKUS V:
I have done a lot of errors but my theory still stands!
1) What kind of bio-weapons or chemicals requires ACTUALLY the high precision you are pretending? A moderate ground-wind could easily change the position an density of a lethal fog. This is a problem never solved at today.
2) For the same reasons a re-entry vehicle using jettisons no care of height: a mild ground wind is today impredictable, what 50 yeats ago!
3) I made a mistake confusing cm and inches :monkee: ...it's time to use SI units in America too. Only last year a probe launched towards Mars was lost for such an error...
4) I confused Tall boy (10 ton English conventional bomb) with the Plutonium charged A- bomb throwed on Nagasaki. It was completely different from the bomb dropped on Hiroshima by mean of
-fixionables(Plutonium Pu 239-240 versus Light Uranium U 233-235)
-geometry (non implosive but additive)
-weight
-diameter
5)I remember you that the Nagasaki bomb exploded at lower ceiling respect with the previous ceiling scheduled by mean of a probable failure in baromether. The town was completely burned anyway.
6) About the precision (calculated as diameter of highest probability of destruction centered on the main target) I remember you that soviet H-bombs were born only to solve this problem. If I want to destroy a whole town as New York by mean of a rocket draft bomb, it's necessary the bomb dropping in a circular area having a 50 km diameter centered on Manhattan. What kind of precision do you need using such a weapon? The term "precision" has been previously correlated to what?
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
And finally a logical matter. If you want to destroy a theory you must show a better theory: if you think that a theory is wrong you have not to submit allowable exceptions, because allowable exceptions reinforce the theory you want to attack. Therefore the effect you have now obtained is the contrary you wanted formerly. The allowable exceptions make the rule stronger! Now I want hear from you a better theory than the mine about mass-destruction devices. Now I can only congratulate with you for the collaboration.Thank you. :mrgreen:
Last edited by gabriel pagliarani on 29 Sep 2002 10:41, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Proximity fuse

Post by Scott Smith » 29 Sep 2002 10:38

Zygmunt wrote:
Scott wrote:Sarin was hard to manufacture but Soman was much more lethal yet, and it had been developed experimentally by 1944 and would have been easier to produce than Sarin by 1945, assuming that the German chemical industry was still intact, as it was not producing any more posion gas after late-1944.

There's a real difference in the facilities and materials needed to produce them? I didn't know that. But why then, did the cult attacking the Japanese subway use Sarin. Wouldn't it have been easier to manufacture another one?

As I understand it, Tabun was produced largely with waste from the German petrochemical and munitions industry. Sarin was much more potent but harder to manufacture and only a small pilot plant was built. Soman was more potent yet, and was apparently simpler to produce, but was only made in the laboratory in 1944.

I don't think cost would be a problem in small quantities for a terrorist attack. But the cost-conscious Germans were just making poison gas as a deterrent, to "payback" the enemy if they used mustard gas, as Churchill considered having Bomber Command do. The existence of nerve-gases was a big surprise upon the Allied victory but the Allies knew that the Germans had plenty of the potent blister-agent mustard gas as their deterrent. Oppenheimer also considered dropping radioactive waste such as the extremely dangerous strontium-90 produced by the Manhattan Project.

gabriel pagliarani wrote:Proxymity fuse is not necessary on a wide range ballistic warhead requiring "high ceiling" jettison systems. A simple watch is enough: if you want to release Sarin or Anthrax no matter if the war-head opens at 18000 ft or only at 3000 ft.

Yes, you could do that because the projectile will arrive at target (or detonation altitude) at a precise ballistical time. In other words, a very accurate chronometer triggered by the Brennschluss or cutoff signal could have controlled detonation within a certain range of altitude. The "Brennschluss signal" cutoff the rocket motor to determine exact range, and the command was either internally-generated by velocity-integrating acceleratometers once the missile got to the exact speed, or by a more-precise direct radar measurement from the ground that allowed an externally-commanded Brennschluss. The precise Brennschluss timing has to be very close otherwise the missile will fall too long or short because it was not at the proper velocity when the motor was commanded to cutoff (usually with some fuel still in the tanks).

For an altitude detonation that does not need a precise tolerance a simple time-delay following Brennschluss might have sufficed. However, the missile is travelling at almost a mile per second near the time of impact so it must be quite accurate, to the second. I think we would want something more predictable than a range of from 3,000 to 18,000 feet, but I am only guessing at what we would need or what we could achieve with a simple time-delay fuse.

Surely the Little Boy atomic bomb could have been detonated with a simple time-delay instead of a radar proximity-fuse, because we can calculate ballistically exactly how long from release it will be when the bomb reaches its approximately 1,500 feet altitude. And yet the designers chose a quadruple proximity-fuse. If memory serves, four radar altimeters "voted" and when most or all said the bomb had reached its proper altitude they would trigger thedetonation. I suppose an aneroid fuse would not be accurate enough. A chronometer would have been simpler than the four radar-altimeters, so I wonder why they used radar proximity-fuses instead... :idea:

Mark V wrote:Uranium from Congo BTW had been found. Of course it was not available for Germans though.

The Germans had a large amount of excellent uranium from the Belgian Congo that was captured from Belgium in 1940. It was sufficient to make several uranium bombs and for experimentation. It was captured in Germany in 1945 and immediately processed in Tennesee where the U-235 was extracted and became the fuel for the Little Boy bomb.

There is a lot of uranium ore in the Uintah basin (the four-corners area of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona) but uranium mining was not very developed in 1945. In fact, there was a moratorium placed on it as the government sought to control atomic energy during the war. My great-grandfather mined pitchblende and even supplied some to Madame Curie, but it wasn't until the 1950s that he made any money prospecting uranium. Anyway, the Germans had access to low-grade uranium ores from Joachimsthal in Bohemia. And they were also experimenting with uranium chemistry to produce armor-piercing incendiary ammunition.

I agree that the V-2 was not conceived for nuclear warheads; that would require a second generation. But I think adapting the V-2 to chemical weapons would have been only a minor problem.
:)
Last edited by Scott Smith on 30 Sep 2002 08:49, edited 2 times in total.

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Von Scott Smith

Post by gabriel pagliarani » 29 Sep 2002 10:50

Scott Smith, another time you are demonstrating to be the very expert in V2/A4 of all the forum. Congratulations!

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