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New Vanguard 82: V-2 Ballistic Missile 1942–52

by Steven J Zaloga, illustrated by Robert Calow

Osprey Publishing Ltd: ISBN 1-84176-541-4

Steve Zaloga is well known as a writer, as well as a frequent visitor to Missing-Lynx.com, with particualr regard to tank modelling and tank history. What is not so well know is that he’s also an expert on missiles, and in fact edits a magazine about them. Here he turns to the first and most famous 20th-century rocket weapon, the V2.

This, actually designated A-4 originally, was intended to reach London. It stemmed from the1930s' German interest in rocketry which had led to thoughts of military use. Steve Zaloga gives us the story of the early experiments that led to the A-4 as well as that of the A-4 itself, from the first failed launches to full production. He also describes the missile itself and its production facilities, some even underground in tunnels dug by slave labour, and the launching arrangements. Finally, he gives us a look at post-war V-2 use by the US and the USSR, and how this fed into modern missile designs.
The A-4 was hardly a precision weapon – in fact its accuracy was abominable. But it arrived undetectably at supersonic speed, on a ballistic trajectory through the stratosphere after engine burnout, so there was no way to defend against it other than air or ground attack on the launcher sites. These attacks are described too and, as students of the fighting in Europe in 1944-45 know, all the launchers not knocked out from the air were overrun on the ground.

The photographs here are a great selection, including some very rare shots of A-4s being prepared for combat firing. The ground support vehicles including the notorious armoured feuerleitpanzer fire control halftrack are shown as well, and so is the firing platform. There’s a description of the camouflage schemes used for the missiles, with photographs of each, and all are shown in the colour plates too.

Resin kits are available of the feuerleitpanzer and the meillerwagen transporter/erector trailer, and of course there’s the DML/Revell kit of the V-2 itself. This book is just what anyone building them needs, and in any case belongs on your bookshelf if you have any interest in missiles.

Osprey Publishing website, New Vanguard 82 page

John Prigent