Test Stand VII
Test Stand VII was the principal V-2 rocket
V-2 rocket
The V-2 rocket , technical name Aggregat-4 , was a ballistic missile that was developed at the beginning of the Second World War in Germany, specifically targeted at London and later Antwerp. The liquid-propellant rocket was the world's first long-range combat-ballistic missile and first known...

 testing facility at Peenemünde Airfield
Peenemünde Airfield
Peenemünde Airfield is an airfield along the Baltic Sea north of Peenemünde, Germany. Today round trips in light aircraft take place from Peenemünde Airfield. Bus tours are also available, on which one can visit the former shelters of the NVA and the remnants of the of the V-1 flying bomb...

 and was capable of static firing of rocket motors up to 200 tons thrust. Notable events at the site include the first successful V-2 launch on October 3, 1942, visits by German military leaders, and Allied reconnaissance overflights and bombing.


Two distinguishing features of P-7 were the 670-yard-long elliptical high-sloped sand wall and the wide concrete-lined trench (flame pit) with a large symmetrical water-cooled flame deflector of molybdenum
Molybdenum , is a Group 6 chemical element with the symbol Mo and atomic number 42. The name is from Neo-Latin Molybdaenum, from Ancient Greek , meaning lead, itself proposed as a loanword from Anatolian Luvian and Lydian languages, since its ores were confused with lead ores...

-steel pipes. The concrete trench, nearly 25 feet (7.6 m) wide with 3 foot (0.9144 m) concrete walls, sloped gradually away from each side of the flame deflector to a depth of 20 feet (6.1 m), rising again symmetrically toward the side of the arena. Beside the flame pit was a long underground room where 4 feet (1.2 m) diameter delivery pipes were housed to route cooling water at 120 gallon per second from three huge pumps in the pumphouse to the flame deflector in the pit.

While the elliptical sand wall was for blocking high sea winds and blown sand, concrete structures were integrated into the wall and under the ground to protect equipment and personnel from rocket explosions and enemy bombing (a sand-filled dummy warhead, called "the elephant", was normally used). A large gap in the wall allowed easy entry by vehicles (particularly railcars with propellants), and an open tunnel through the ellipse wall at the narrower southern end also allowed entry. Integrated into the ellipse wall next to the tunnel was a massive observation and measuring blockhouse
In military science, a blockhouse is a small, isolated fort in the form of a single building. It serves as a defensive strong point against any enemy that does not possess siege equipment or, in modern times, artillery...

 containing the control center. The control center had a double door with a bulletproof glass window from which an observer maintained telephone communication with the Telemetering Building at a remote location from P-7. A receiver in a lighthouse near Koserow
Koserow is a municipality in the Vorpommern-Greifswald district, in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany. As of 2009 it has a population of 1,693.A small coastal bathing resort, Koserow lies on an isthmus on the island of Usedom on the Baltic Sea, near the border with Poland...

 provided telemetry from rockets with the Wolman System for Doppler
Doppler radar
A Doppler radar is a specialized radar that makes use of the Doppler effect to produce velocity data about objects at a distance. It does this by beaming a microwave signal towards a desired target and listening for its reflection, then analyzing how the frequency of the returned signal has been...

 tracking. For rockets that used radio control for V-2 engine cutoff, the Brennschluss
Brennschluss is an English borrowed term :*The moment in the trajectory of a rocket when the fuel burns out, after which it continues with its own momentum for some distance and then begins to succumb to gravity....

 equipment included a transmitter on the bank of the Peene
The Peene is a river in Germany. The Westpeene, Kleine Peene and Ostpeene flow into the Kummerower See, and from there as Peene proper to Anklam and into the Oder Lagoon....

 about 7.5 miles (12.1 km) from P-7 and the Doppler radar
Doppler radar
A Doppler radar is a specialized radar that makes use of the Doppler effect to produce velocity data about objects at a distance. It does this by beaming a microwave signal towards a desired target and listening for its reflection, then analyzing how the frequency of the returned signal has been...

 at Lubmin
Lubmin is a coastal resort in the German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Lubmin is situated near Greifswald and on the Bay of Greifswald.Apart from tourism, Lubmin is a major transport and industry hub and investment location in the German energy sector...

 (a motorized Würzburg radar
Würzburg radar
The Würzburg radar was the primary ground-based gun laying radar for both the Luftwaffe and the German Army during World War II. Initial development took place before the war, entering service in 1940. Eventually over 4,000 Würzburgs of various models were produced...

, the "rhinoceros").

Control room

The control room also had switchboards, a row of four periscope
A periscope is an instrument for observation from a concealed position. In its simplest form it consists of a tube with mirrors at each end set parallel to each other at a 45-degree angle....

s, manometers, frequency gauges, voltmeter
A voltmeter is an instrument used for measuring electrical potential difference between two points in an electric circuit. Analog voltmeters move a pointer across a scale in proportion to the voltage of the circuit; digital voltmeters give a numerical display of voltage by use of an analog to...

s and ammeter
An ammeter is a measuring instrument used to measure the electric current in a circuit. Electric currents are measured in amperes , hence the name. Instruments used to measure smaller currents, in the milliampere or microampere range, are designated as milliammeters or microammeters...

s, green/red/white signal lamps, and switches at the propulsion console and guidance panel to dynamically display approximately 15 measurement points within the rocket. Additionally, the control room had a big "X-time" countdown
A countdown is a sequence of counting backward to indicate the seconds, days, or other time units remaining before an event occurs or a deadline expires. Typical events for which a countdown is used include the launch of a rocket or spacecraft, the detonation of a bomb, the start of a race, and the...

 clock that display the time until launch, which was announced via loudspeakers as "X minus four minutes", etc. In addition to the control room, the blockhouse also contained offices, a conference room, a small dormitory with double bunks and an adjoining shower, a wash room, and a workshop. A long underground corridor led from the measurement blockhouse to a room in the concrete foundation by the flame pit, and multiple rows of measurement cables covered the walls of the tunnel. A different gradually rising tunnel led from the long flame pit room to the exterior of the arena near the pumphouse . Near the pumphouse were high wooden towers to cool the water, and 25 feet (7.6 m) high tanks for the recooling water were integrated into the ellipse wall.

Test tower

The prominent tower within the arena was a mobile test frame/crane (Fahrbare Kranbühne) which could be moved over the flame pit to position the rocket nozzle 25 feet above the deflector, and which allowed an entire missile to be gimbaled in two directions up to five degrees from vertical. The tower included an elevator and a German-made Toledo scale for thrust measurements. Actual launches were from a steel table-like structure (firing stand, Brennstand) across the railway from the flame pit on the test stand's large concrete foundation. Under the concrete foundation were the recorder room, a small shop, an office, compressed nitrogen storage cylinders, and catch tanks. The arena also included an engine cold-calibration pad for conducting flow test measurements by pumping water (instead of Liquid oxygen
Liquid oxygen
Liquid oxygen — abbreviated LOx, LOX or Lox in the aerospace, submarine and gas industries — is one of the physical forms of elemental oxygen.-Physical properties:...

) and alcohol (which was recovered afterward) via the turbopump through the combustion chamber. Since the V-2 motor had no controller for the turbopump, cold-calibration allowed the determination of "freak cases" of equipment.


Outside of the arena was the 150x185x100h foot assembly and preparation hall/hangar
A hangar is a closed structure to hold aircraft or spacecraft in protective storage. Most hangars are built of metal, but other materials such as wood and concrete are also sometimes used...

 , which had been designed to be able to handle a larger A9/A10
Aggregate series
The Aggregate series was a set of rocket designs developed in 1933–1945 by a research program of Nazi Germany's army. Its greatest success was the A4, more commonly known as the V-2. The German word refers to a group of machines working together.-A1:...

 multi-stage rocket that was planned, but never built. The roof of the hangar had camera stations for filming events.

Allied reconnaissance and bombing

On May 15, 1942 after photographing German destroyers berthed at the port of Kiel, Spitfire
Supermarine Spitfire
The Supermarine Spitfire is a British single-seat fighter aircraft that was used by the Royal Air Force and many other Allied countries throughout the Second World War. The Spitfire continued to be used as a front line fighter and in secondary roles into the 1950s...

 pilot Flight Lieutenant D. W. Stevenson photographed 'heavy construction work' near the Peenemünde aerodrome. Later in the month Constance Babington Smith
Constance Babington Smith
Constance Babington Smith MBE Legion of Merit FRSL was a journalist and writer.Babington Smith was the daughter of the senior Civil Servant Henry Babington Smith. She was educated at home at Chinthurst, England and in France, before moving to London in adult life...

 decided the scale was too small … then something unusual caught my eye … some extraordinary circular embankments … I then dismissed the whole thing from my mind. Then a year later on April 22, 1943, Bill White and Ron Prescott in RAF de Havilland Mosquito
De Havilland Mosquito
The de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito was a British multi-role combat aircraft that served during the Second World War and the postwar era. It was known affectionately as the "Mossie" to its crews and was also nicknamed "The Wooden Wonder"...

 DZ473 were sent from Leuchars
RAF Leuchars
RAF Leuchars is the most northerly air defence station in the United Kingdom. It is located in Leuchars, Fife, on the east coast of Scotland, near to the university town of St Andrews.-Operations:...

 to photograph damage from Allied bombing at the Stettin railyards: "On leaving Stettin, we left our cameras running all down the north coast of Germany, and when the film was developed, it was found to contain pictures of Peenemünde." The Medmenham
RAF Medmenham
RAF Medmenham was a Royal Air Force station based at Danesfield House near Medmenham, in Buckinghamshire, England.Activities there specialized in photographic intelligence, and it was once the home of the RAF Intelligence Branch...

 interpreters studied the elliptical earthworks (originally photographed in May 1942) and noticed an "object" 25 feet (7.6 m) long projecting from what was thought to be a service building, although it had mysteriously disappeared on the next frame.

On 22 April 1943 a large cloud of steam was photographed near the embankments, which was later identified as coming from a rocket engine being test fired. Duncan Sandys
Duncan Sandys
Edwin Duncan Sandys, Baron Duncan-Sandys CH PC was a British politician and a minister in successive Conservative governments in the 1950s and 1960s...

' first photographic reconnaissance report on Peenemünde was circulated on April 29, 1943, which identified that the lack of power-station activity (Germany had installed electrostatic dust and smoke removers on the power station near Kölpin) indicates that "The circular and elliptical constructions are probably for the testing of explosives and projectiles. … In view of the above, it is clear that a heavy long-range rocket is not an immediate threat." Then on May 14, an "unusually high level of activity" was visible at "the Ellipse" on photos from two sorties on May 14, which was the date the Reich Director of Manpower (Gauleiter Fritz Sauckel
Fritz Sauckel
Ernst Friedrich Christoph "Fritz" Sauckel was a Nazi war criminal, who organized the systematic enslavement of millions from lands occupied by Nazi Germany...

) was a distinguished visitor at a launch.
The first solid evidence of the existence of a rocket came with a sortie (N/853) on 12 June, when a Spitfire
Supermarine Spitfire operational history
The Supermarine Spitfire, the only British fighter to be manufactured before, during and after the Second World War, was designed as a short-range fighter capable of defending Britain from bomber attack and achieved legendary status fulfilling this role during the Battle of Britain. According to...

 flown by Sqn Ldr Gordon Hughes photographed Peenemünde: one photograph included an object on a railway truck. Reginald Victor Jones
Reginald Victor Jones
Reginald Victor Jones, CH CB CBE FRS, was a British physicist and scientific military intelligence expert who played an important role in the defence of Britain in -Education:...

 identified the object on 18 June as "a whiteish [sic] cylinder about 35 feet long and 5 or so feet in diameter with a blueish nose and fins at the other end...I had found the rocket."
After Operation Hydra bombed other areas of Peenemünde
The Peenemünde Army Research Center was founded in 1937 as one of five military proving grounds under the Army Weapons Office ....

 in 1943, the P-7 blockhouse roof was reinforced, and in a 1944 raid, the blockhouse occupants suffered one injury when a periscope fell. (Hermann Weidner's Test Stand 8 was lost in the 1944 July and August raids).

The last V-2 launch at Peenemünde was in February 1945, and on May 5, 1945, the 2nd Belorussian Front
2nd Belorussian Front
The 2nd Belorussian Front was a military formation of Army group size of the Soviet Army during the Second World War...

 under General Konstantin Rokossovsky
Konstantin Rokossovsky
Konstantin Rokossovskiy was a Polish-origin Soviet career officer who was a Marshal of the Soviet Union, as well as Marshal of Poland and Polish Defence Minister, who was famously known for his service in the Eastern Front, where he received high esteem for his outstanding military skill...

 captured the port of Swinemünde
Świnoujście is a city and seaport on the Baltic Sea and Szczecin Lagoon, located in the extreme north-west of Poland. It is situated mainly on the islands of Uznam and Wolin, but also occupies smaller islands, of which the largest is Karsibór island, once part of Usedom, now separated by a Piast...

 and the Usedom
Usedom is a Baltic Sea island on the border between Germany and Poland. It is situated north of the Szczecin Lagoon estuary of the River Oder in Pomerania...

island. Russian infantry under Major Anatole Vavilov stormed Peenemünde and found it "75 per cent wreckage" (the research buildings and test stands had been demolished.) A former adjutant at Peenemünde, Oberstleutnant Richar Rumschöttel, and his wife were killed during the attack, and Vavilov had orders to destroy the facility.
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