Operation Backfire (WWII)

Operation Backfire (WWII)

Operation Backfire was a military scientific operation during and after World War II, which was performed mainly by British staff. It was part of the Allies' scramble to acquire German technology.

For this operation, four V-2 rockets were launched during October 1945 from a launch pad at 53°50′50″N 8°35′32″E / 53.84722°N 8.59222°E / 53.84722; 8.59222 north-east of Arensch near Cuxhaven in Germany, in order to demonstrate the weapon to Allied personnel.

The Americans had already taken away most of the V2 rocket technology from the German underground Mittelwerk factory at the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp near Nordhausen. Before the Soviets took control of that area, the British were given the opportunity to gather material. They were able to assemble parts sufficient to build eight V2 rockets. Some parts were still missing and there was a search throughout Germany. Some 400 railway cars and 70 Lancaster flights were used to bring the quarter-of-a-million parts and 60 specialized vehicles to Cuxhaven, the most elusive part being batteries to operate the guidance gyros. The US supplied some tail assemblies from those that they had taken. Many of the rockets and the hydrogen peroxide fuel used in the operation was provided by T-Force, a secretive British Army unit that had, in spring and summer 1945, searched for German military technology and scientists.

The handling and launch procedures were unknown, so German personnel were ordered to perform these, which for the most part they did willingly. The launches were filmed and because the personnel wore their original uniforms and the rockets were painted in near to their original livery, this footage (often used for documentaries) has been mistaken for footage of wartime German launches.

At the site of the former launchpad there is a trough and some remnants of shelters.

During and after the launches, the British attempted to recruit German personnel, even those transferred from US custody and due to be returned, to assist with their own missile programme.

Read more about Operation Backfire (WWII):  Launch Details

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