V2 rocket test kit, Germany, 1943.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
This test kit was used to check the German V2 misile just before launch. The V2 was developed at the German Rocket Test Centre at Peenemunde by a team led by Wernher von Braun (1912-1977), and first succesfully tested in 1942. Over 3000 of the misiles were fired at targets in Britain and the Low Countries in 1944-1945. The first to hit Britain fell on Chiswick in West London on 8th September 1944. The V2 was propelled by a rocket engine which used alcohol and liquid oxygen as fuel. It carried about 2000 lb (900 kg) of high explosive and had a preset guidance system with no in-flight corrections. At the end of the Second World War, British forces supervised the launch of three V2s by German technicians in order to learn more about the misile.