British recover tail fin from V2 rocket

04/03/2012

Seven decades after World War II, explosives continue to be uncovered throughout Europe, a reminder of the bloodiest conflict in human history.

This past week, however, British authorities found something a little more uncommon than the typical unexploded 500-pound aerial bomb.

Along the east coast of England a British bomb disposal squad recovered the tail section of a Nazi V2 rocket, found sticking out of the mudflats of Harwich Harbor.

Royal Navy divers dug out the casing on Saturday and found the warhead section was missing, along with the original 2,000 pounds of explosive, according to a German English-language paper called The Local.

The find was very unusual as remnants of V2 rockets, which were 46-feet long, were usually destroyed when the missile came down at three times the speed of sound.

A witness remembered a V2 rocket exploding over the port in 1944, according to a BBC report.

A Royal Navy diving team and bomb disposal experts had been working at the site since the middle of last week, waiting for the right conditions to remove it.

After the tail section was recovered, it was loaded onto a barge and transferred to dry land. It will be donated to a local sailing club, the BBC reported.

V2 rockets launched by Nazi Germany against Allied targets killed more 7,000 Allied military personnel and civilians during World War II.

The Nazis mostly fired them at London and Antwerp in Belgium from 1944 onwards, though Ipswich, close to where the remnants were found, was also targeted.

The liquid-propellant rocket was the world’s first long-range combat-ballistic missile and first-known human artifact to enter outer space, according to Walter Dornberger’s book on the Nazi rocket program, Peenemünde.

The V2 took just four seconds to reach its target at speeds of up to 3,500 mph.

In all, the Germans fired more than 3,000 V2 rockets during last year or so of the war.

(Above: A V2 rocket in flight during World War II.)

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