Peenemünde Army Research Center
|Historical Name of Location||Peenemünde, Pommern, Germany|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseIn 1936, the German aviation ministry purchased the northern peninsula of the island of Usedom in Pommern (English: Pomerania), Germany. In 1937, the property was divided into two sections; the eastern portion was given to the Germany Army, and the western portion was assigned to the Air Force. By the end of 1938, the separation of the property by the two military branches became complete. The Army portion became the Peenemünde Army Research Center (Heeresversuchsanstalt Peenemünde) under the direction of the Army Weapons Office (Heereswaffenamt), while the Air Force portion was known as the Air Force Test Site (Erprobungsstelle der Luftwaffe).
ww2dbaseThe staff at the Peenemünde Army Research Center was best known for the development of guided missiles and rockets, the most well known example being the V-2 (A-4) rocket. In Nov 1938, German Army chief Walther von Brauchitsch ordered the building of a A-4 production plant at Peenemünde, and the planning for the construction began, under Walter Dornberger's general direction and G. Schubert's direct supervision, in Jan 1939. In early 1943, Polish janitors smuggled out maps of the facilities, which led to an Allied aerial attack of Peenemünde in mid-1943. The facility housed about 200 technical staff members at this time. Also, the equipment at Peenemünde was highly advanced by this time; for example, Peenemünde had a wind tunnel that produced winds measured at Mach 4.4. In Oct 1943, the Army approved the relocation of the rocket production plant to underground locations further away from the borders, although the test flights of rockets continued to be held at Peenemünde. Allied bombers would attack Peenemünde several more times in 1944.
ww2dbaseAside from the V-2 (A-4) rocket, other projects developed at Peenemünde also included Wasserfall surface-to-air missile, Hs 117 Schmetterling surface-to-air missile, Rheintochter rocket, Taifun air-to-air rocket, and Enzian surface-to-air missile.
ww2dbaseThe final V-2 (A-4) rocket launch at Peenemünde took place in Feb 1945. It was captured by the troops of Soviet 2nd Belorussian Front on 5 May 1945. Even though the Soviets found a bulk of the equipment having been sabotaged by the Germans prior to capture, the capture of drawings and scientists at Peenemünde and elsewhere would still contribute to the post-war Soviet Space Program. The Americans also secured similar resources from the Germans, to an even greater degree. Operation Paperclip, specifically, saw the transfer of more than 1,600 scientists and engineers to the United States; many of them had spent some time working at Peenemünde.
ww2dbaseThe Peenemünde Historical Technical Museum was established at 1992.
Last Major Update: Dec 2017
Peenemünde Army Research Center Interactive Map
Peenemünde Army Research Center Timeline
|2 Apr 1936||The German aviation ministry paid 750,000 Reichsmarks to the town of Wolgast in Pommern (Pomerania), Germany for the northern peninsula of the island of Usedom.|
|25 Feb 1942||The first A4 rocket was placed on Test Stand VII at Peenemünde, Germany.|
|18 Mar 1942||The first A4 rocket exploded on Test Stand VII at Peenemünde, Germany during a combustion chamber test.|
|13 Jun 1942||The first launch of an A4 rocket was achieved at Peenemünde, Germany, but after only 54 seconds the motor cut out and the missile fell into the sea less than a mile from its launch pad.|
|22 Apr 1943||British Mosquito reconnaissance aircraft photographed a German rocket at Peenemünde, Germany but intelligence analysts could not be certain of the object photographed.|
|14 May 1943||British Mosquito reconnaissance aircraft photographed a German rocket at Peenemünde, Germany; it was estimated to be 38 feet in length and 2 feet in diameter.|
|26 May 1943||At Peenemünde, Germany, before Hermann Göring, Erhard Milch, and other top German leaders, an A-4 rocket and a flying bomb were tested. The A-4 rocket flew perfectly, while the flying bomb crashed only after a mile or two of flight.|
|4 Jun 1943||A Luxembourg national working at Peenemünde, Germany reported to the United Kingdom the presence of a 10-meter-long rocket with 150- to 250-kilometer range which was fueled by "bottles containing gas".|
|17 Aug 1943||British bombers launched to attack German rocket research site at Peenemünde at 2100 hours London time. At 2230 hours London time or 2330 hours Berlin time, air raid sirens went off at Peenemünde, but many ignored it, thinking it was to be yet another false warning as Allied bombers flew over the region to bomb German cities further inland. At 2317 hours London time or 0017 hours Berlin time on the next day, the first of the British bombers struck Peenemünde.|
|18 Aug 1943||Between 0017 and 0043 hours Berlin time (2317 and 2343 hours London time, on 17 Aug 1943), three waves of British Lancaster, Halifax, and Stirling bombers (227, 113, and 180 aircraft, respectively) struck the German rocket research site at Peenemünde, dropping a total of 1,600 tons of high explosive bombs and 250 tons of incendiary bombs. Initially the damage appeared to be extensive, especially considering that 180 German scientists and engineers were killed, but the site returned to operation within four to six weeks. Strategically, however, this attack did retarded the eventual rocket attack on Britain by some months. Many buildings would remain unrepaired and craters unfilled in order to trick the British into thinking that the site was abandoned after the raid. The British Royal Air Force lost 40 bombers during this successful mission. Over 500 Polish forced laborers were also killed during this attack.|
|26 Aug 1943||Albert Speer called a meeting with Hans Kammler, Walter Dornberger, Gerhard Degenkolb, and Karl Otto Saur to negotiate the move of V-2 (A-4) rocket main production from Peenemünde Army Research Center on the Baltic Sea coast to an underground factory in the Harz mountains deeper inland.|
|18 Jul 1944||US Eighth Air Force attacked Peenemünde Army Research Center in Germany to counter suspected hydrogen peroxide production.|
|4 Aug 1944||US Eighth Air Force attacked Peenemünde Army Research Center in Germany to counter suspected hydrogen peroxide production.|
|25 Aug 1944||US Eighth Air Force attacked Peenemünde Army Research Center in Germany to counter suspected hydrogen peroxide production.|
|16 Dec 1944||German Army engineers were awarded at the Peenemünde Army Research Center in Germany.|
|5 May 1945||Soviet 2nd Byelorussian Front captured Swinemünde, Pommern, Germany (now Swinoujscie, Poland) and Peenemünde Army Research Center, both located on the island of Usedom.|
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|WW2-Era Place Name||Peenemünde, Pommern, Germany|
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James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy, 23 Feb 1945