V-2 Gyroscope

Whole Object Name

V-2 Gyroscope

Collection

Rockets

Description

This gyroscope was designed for use in a V-2 rocket, which was the world’s first long-range guided ballistic missile. The V-2 was 14 metres high and carried an explosive warhead. V-2s would drop from the sky without warning on target cites, leaving a crater around 20 metres wide. When a V-2 rocket was fired during a vertical test launch on 20 June 1944, it became the first human-made object to reach space.

This formidable weapon used cutting edge technology at the time. Its automatic guidance system used gyroscopes to continuously track the position of the rocket in flight. If the rocket deviated from its intended course, electrical signals were sent to steering mechanisms in the tail of the rocket to adjust its course accordingly.

The V-2 was developed in Germany during the Second World War. The missiles themselves were manufactured mostly by prisoners pulled from the concentration camps. When the war ended, the Americans, Soviets, and British raced to obtain the V-2 technology and the German scientists behind it. Wernher von Braun, who was leading the work on the V-2, surrendered to the Americans and went on to be heavily involved in their space programme - leading the way on the development of the Saturn V and landing a man on the Moon.

Object number

2010-8
  • image V-2 Gyroscope - on loan from the Royal Air Force Museum
  • image A V-2 launch from 1943 - Credit: German Federal Archives
  • image V-2 cross-section showing some of the key component parts - Credit: Eberhard Marx
  • image U.S. Army V-2 cutaway drawing showing engine, fuel cells, guidance units and warhead - Credit: US Air Force
  • image V2 Rocket Launch - Credit: Naval Research Laboratory
  • image V-2 Gyroscope - on loan from the Royal Air Force Museum
  • image A V-2 launch from 1943 - Credit: German Federal Archives
  • image V-2 cross-section showing some of the key component parts - Credit: Eberhard Marx
  • image U.S. Army V-2 cutaway drawing showing engine, fuel cells, guidance units and warhead - Credit: US Air Force
  • image V2 Rocket Launch - Credit: Naval Research Laboratory

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