David Knights' Weblog

July 23, 2015

Book review: V-2 A Combat History of the First Ballistic Missile

Filed under: Modeling — dknights @ 10:37 pm
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Book Cover

Book Cover

Book review: V-2 A Combat History of the First Ballistic Missile
Author: T. D. Dungan
ISBN 1-59416-012-0
250 Pgs
Review by: D.M. Knights

The German “wonder-weapons” at the end of World War II are a source of endless fascination for me.  Not only due to the technical brilliance shown by the developers and scientist, but also for the amount of resources that a dying country devoted to these projects.  Chief among these projects is the V-2; the world’s first ballistic missile.

This book, which showed up on my Amazon recommendations due to previous books I had purchased, turned out to be an undiscovered gem.  I’d never heard of or seen the book before. It is great.

The author tells the tale of the V-2 from the group of scientists who prior to WWII formed a German rocket and space exploration society, all the way to the end of the war with many of the same scientists seeking to surrender themselves to US or British troops.  In fact, Werner Von Braun’s brother was the person entrusted to make contact with the US troops on behalf of the German rocket scientists at the end of the war.

In between the beginning and the end, the author covers the V-2 story from development, thru testing and into combat, in great detail. A great deal of detail is provided as to the formation, operations and movement of the launching units and the targets hit by the launches.  While we think of London when we think of the target of the V-2s, Antwerp was as much of a target due to being the main port used by the Allies in late 1944 and 1945.  Also, the author covers in detail the Allied efforts to counteract the V-2 threat.  Of course, there was no defense against the V-2 and despite devoting a huge amount of air resources to hunting down and attacking the V-2 launching units, the Allies had almost no success.  The most effective anti-V-2 efforts were attacks on the development sites and factories producing the V-2 and its components

The book is printed on high quality paper which makes the many black and white photos very useful, even if they are all a bit smaller than a modeler might like. However, the real gems in the book are the line drawings of the V-2 and its launch trailer and the drawings of the layout of vehicle placement during the V-2 launching process.  These are invaluable to the modeler and diorama builder.

There are plenty of books that provide the history of various aspects of the V-2.  However, this book provides a comprehensive history for the first time reader on the subject as well as the details that a modeler or person more familiar with the subject will still find interesting.  I highly recommend this book for anyone with even a passing interest in the subject.  It makes a great companion to the Special Armor 72nd scale V-2 kit that was issued a year or two ago.

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