A-4/V-2 Rocket and Engine Display - Science Museum, London, England
Photos by Ed Straten

   A-4/V-2 on display at Science Museum in London. This rocket is one of the eight rockets built by the British Army and German POWs during Operation Backfire in late 1945. It was acquired by Cransfield University in the early post-war years.

   However, it was not the first V-2 in the Science Museum's collection. There was an earlier V-2 from Operation Backfire that was given to the museum in 1949. It came with a Vidalwagen trailer and was left outside for a number of years and deteriorated. It was eventually parted-out, some of it scrapped in 1962. The rocket engine, one fin and other components were kept for display, but the mid-section, tanks and forward compartments with warhead seem to have been sent to Germany in early 1970s. Whereabouts are unknown, as is the location of the original Vidalwagen trailer (probably scrapped).

   In 1981 Cransfield University loaned the V-2 to the Science Museum and it arrived at the RAF Wroughton stores that summer. Wroughton airfield was an RAF maintenance unit up until 1972. It was taken over by the Science Museum in 1978 for large object storage.

   In 2000 the Borley Brothers firm was contracted to raise the V-2 to its current erected position. They developed a permanent wheeled-base plate and nose lifting/stabilizing attachment in conjunction with a lifting/stabilizing point for mounting at the top of the guidance compartment; similar to the work they had done years earlier on the Imperial War Museum's example.

The Science Museum holds the world's largest and most significant collection illustrating the history and contemporary practice of science, technology, medicine and industry. The Museum welcomes about 1.6 million visitors per year.

Above: August 15th, 1947. Westcott, Buckinghamshire. This department, operated by the Ministry Of Supply, was the central experimental establishment for all applications of rocket propulsion after the end of the war. The staff, among whom were 12 German scientists, was led by Dr. J. Schmidt (later killed in an explosion). Photos above show all types of captured war equipment; the V-2 being the Science Museum example. Many of the other missiles in the photos are now seen at Cosford.

Above: A-4/V-2 on display at Cransfield University.
Photos below show the first V-2 with Vidalwagen (eventually scrapped) and then the arrival of the Cransfield University V-2 at Wroughton facilities. In the late nineties the Science Museum V-2 was displayed on the horizontal, with the warhead section still attached. In 2000 the rocket was erected vertically, but for ceiling clearance reasons the warhead was removed. Other interesting photos are the gyroscopic control platform and the detailed example of the engine assembly.


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