Spaceplanes pp 39-50 | Cite as

Rocket Science: Wings Added

  • Matthew A. Bentley

The date is sometime in January 1945. The place, the North Sea German rocket installation known as Peenemünde. The rocket, the dreaded V-2, is about to be launched, but something is strange here. This V-2 has large swept-back wings. The countdown starts… Zehn!… Neun!… Acht!… Sieben!… Sechs!… Fünf!… Vier!… Drei!… Zwei!… Eins!… Feuer! The vertical winged A-4b, as this new creation has been christened, thunders to life and roars off the launchpad. Soon it has disappeared from view, but is tracked with long-range instruments. The winged rocket flies effortlessly through the speed of sound, coasts upward to the peak of its trajectory, and arcs over into a high-speed dive. A slight buffet arises as one of the wings begins to work itself loose. Then it suddenly rips off at Mach 4. The first supersonic rocketplane has just been born – and killed.

Ballistic missiles are structurally simpler than any winged vehicle, with the requirement to handle only longitudinal loads rather than transverse...


Space Shuttle Rocket Engine Launch Vehicle Landing Gear Specific Impulse 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthew A. Bentley
    • 1
  1. 1.Rock RiverUSA

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