Monday, March 13, 2017

Military History and Warfare: Weapons: The V-4 Rheinbote

The fourth V-weapon was a rocket missile known as the Rheinbote (“Rhine Messenger). Unlike the V-2 rocket, the V-4 used powdered, rather than liquid fuel. It stood at 11 metres and weighed 1,715 kg. 

Like the V-2, the V-4 was designed to deliver a warhead over a long distance. This was achieved through a four stage system. The V-4 had a range of 220 km and could reach speeds almost six times the speed of sound. However, unlike the V-2, the V-4 was not a guided missile and was less technologically sophisticated. The V-4 was fired at an angle using a ramp based system.

Approximately 200 V-4 rockets were launched against Antwerp from December 24 1944 until February 1945. However, none of the missiles hit the city. The designers had assumed that the rocket would only only have a range of 165km. In fact the V-4 reached 220km and overshot Antwerp by some distance. All work on the missile was stopped on 6 February 1945. The only casualties of the V-4 occurred during a test fire when a prototype V-4 landed on a German farm, damaging a building and killing and injuring a number of chickens, cows and a dog.

Like the V-1, V-2 and V-3, the V-4 was not a war winner. The modest size of the missile warhead did not justify the two tonnes of steel which was used for each V-4. The V-4 is therefore another example of a Nazi terror weapon which was deployed in insufficient numbers with technology which was too primitive to allow it be used effectively on the battlefield.