A-4/V-2 Rocket with Meillerwagen trailer
Australia PV Australian War Memorial - Treloar Centre Annex
(Photos supplied by Mikael Olrog, Stephen Remato and Alan Scheckenbach)
After the V-2 tests of Operation Backfire, the British government retained the bulk of leftover equipment collected for the trials at Cuxhaven/Altenwalde in 1945. Instead of scraping this material, we can be thankful that the British authorities decided to preserve the material by making it available for study to various allies, museums and institutions.
This rocket, located at the Australian War Memorial, is the second of two V-2 rockets that were given to the Australians by the British authorities. It was shipped to the Long Range Weapons Research Establishment at Salisbury in 1947. Along with the V-2 rocket, a Meillerwagen trailer, a Vidalwagen road transport trailer, an oxygen transport tanker trailer, and 18 cases of other related material arrived in October of 1947. Everything was taken to the Long Range Weapons Research Establishment at Salisbury. There it was placed into storage.
In February of 1948 this V-2 was put on display for a short time at Adelaide. The rocket was mounted upon the Meillerwagen and raised to a 45-degree angle. Afterwards, it appears that the rocket and equipment were stored again for almost a decade, appearing briefly once more in public for Air Force Week in September of 1954 at RAAF base in Mallala.
Back in 1945, this rocket was prepared for possible use during Operation Backfire. In the official British report of Operation Backfire this rocket is identified by serial markings and interior component details. At the time of the Backfire trials all rockets acquired by the British were painted in the alternating black and white paint scheme. It was black and white when it arrived in Salisbury. However, sometime between 1948 and Air Force Week in September of 1954, the rocket was painted a solid color.
In January of 1957 the British Department of Supply authorities, who had only loaned the missile, offered to donate it permanently to the Australian War Memorial. In September arrangements had been finalized for the move. After a short stint in Sydney for Air Force Week, August 1957, the rocket and Meillerwagen arrived in Canberra in October of 1957. Later the rocket was painted with the (incorrect) scheme as shown in photos below. As for the disposition of the other equipment that was stored at Salisbury, no one knows what became of the Vidalwagen road transport trailer, an oxygen transport tanker trailer and 18 cases of other related material.
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Mike Cecil - Assist. Curator Military Technology AWM
Collected information from Alan Scheckenback