V2 rocket on launch pad, Operation Backfire, Cuxhaven, Germany, 1945.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
The V2 rocket was developed at the German Rocket Test Centre at Peenemunde by a team led by Wernher von Braun (1912-1977), and first successfully tested in 1942. Over 3000 of the missiles were fired at targets in Britain and the Low Countries in 1944-1945. The V2 was propelled by a rocket engine which used alcohol and liquid oxygen as fuel. Operation Backfire was a British post-World War II operation designed to evaluate the V2 rocket system. The tests were undertaken in the months after the fall of Nazi Germany at a gun testing range at Cuxhaven, in the British zone of occupation, using 8 complete rockets, all of which were painted black and white. Captured German firing troops and rocket scientists were employed in the operation.