Built by the Germans in World War II as a response to Allied bombings, the V2 is the world’s first long-range guided missile. First used against London in September 1944, V2s were 45ft 11in high (14 m), with a diameter of 5ft 5in (1.65 m) and weighed 28,000 lbs (12,500 kg). They carried over a ton (980 kg) of amatol, a highly explosive mix of TNT and ammonium nitrate, which can flatten large urban areas. They were powered by liquid ethanol fuel, delivered by steam driven pumps. Their rocket engines propelled them to the edge of space, with altitudes of 52–60 miles (84–97 km). They had an operational range of 200 miles (320 km) and a speed of 5,200 ft./s (1,600 m/s). The V2’s advanced auto gyro provided thrust and kept the craft on its trajectory. The rocket impact was at three times the speed of sound and there would be an eerie silence until the warhead landed, followed by a loud ‘whomf’ sound.
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