Despite the abundance of V-2 material brought to White Sands certain components such as control compartment hardware were in short supply. For instance, only 50 control gyroscopes had been received from Germany, most of which were in poor condition. Each rocket required two gyroscopes. Another item which was found to be incomplete was a group of 70 electrical distribution panels with many of them missing wiring.

Photo: V2 being prepared for launch During the later stages of the firing program, General Electric provided gyros, mixer-computers, wiring, servo motors, and propellant piping to replace those German parts missing or which had deteriorated with age.

Major changes in configuration were made on 52 percent of the V-2s launched from White Sands Missile Range (WSMR), and 71 percent were above designed weight. Empty weight of the standard V-2 was 8,000 pounds which included 2,200 pounds of payload - warhead - and the average empty weight of all missiles launched was 9,218 pounds, an increase of 19 percent in terms of payload.

By 1951 all V-2s launched had major contour modifications and carried more than 47 percent added payload, bringing the maximum loaded weight to 28,400 pounds.

Assembling and testing V-2s were tedious jobs. Each rocket required days of preparation. All basic components were individually inspected for performance and condition prior to assembly. Repair and adjustments were made as required, and then they were tested again. Large subassemblies were completely tested before being installed and then the completely assembled missile was given two over-all tests before it left the assembly building.

After the V-2 was assembled and tested, a German-made trailer called the Meilerwagon towed it to the launch pad. An integral lift frame on the Meilerwagon elevated the rocket to a vertical position on a low portable steel "launch table". The table incorporated a blast deflector, a mast for electrical wiring, and fittings for liquid propellant hoses.

At the launching site, one over-all test was made prior to launching day, and the same test was repeated immediately prior to loading the propellant on firing day. No connection could be broken after the final test was made. Following a thorough check of all components, the rocket was fueled with alcohol and liquid oxygen.

This page was last updated on 10/26/2018 2:23 PM