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December 22, 1942 - Adolf Hitler signs the order authorizing development of the V-2 rocket (right) as a weapon. The end result of a decade's work by noted rocket scientist Wernher von Braun and his team at Peenemunde, the V-2 was the world's first large, liquid-fueled rocket and the forerunner of modern ballistic missiles. Entering service in late 1944, the V-2 was launched against a variety of Allied cities and killed over 2,500 and wounded almost 6,000. Possessing breakthroughs in rocket engine design, guidance, and telemetry, the V-2 was virtually impossible to intercept once launched. Only when Allied troops pushed German forces back and placed London out of range did the V-2 attacks on that city come to an end. After the war, both American and Soviet forces scrambled to capture the remaining missiles and the men who designed them. Tested further in both countries, the V-2 became the basis for the rockets that would carry men into space.

German Weapons of World War II:

Photograph Courtesy of the US Air Force

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