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Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Rocket Museum at Peenemünde

Peenemünde is located a the northern tip of Usedom, an Island on the Baltic Sea, north of Germany. It is famous because during WWII, it hosted a research facility that focused on rocket propelled weapons. It is here that Wernher von Braun and his team of scientists developed and tested the V1 and V2 flying bombs which caused quite a bit of concern when they started raining down on Britain. The facility was subject to bombing from mid 1943 onwards, and by the time it was captured in May 1945, most of it had already been relocated to other sites in Austria, Thuringia, and Poland, or had been destroyed as was the case with the  liquid oxigen fuel plant and the launch sites. Today the only portion that still stands is the power plant, which has been transformed into a museum explaining the origins of rocket science. Let's take a look at some of its contents.

This was the watch bunker at the entrance to the power station. I suspect the brick was added later, but they left a section bare to show the concrete underneath. 

The power plant from a distance. The lawns around it are used to exhibit several types of planes and rocket-based weapons.

A crane used to unload trains coming into the station. I suppose the conveyor belt was likely used to move coal to the power plant.

View of one of the furnaces from behind. The machinery and equipment is all rusty and basically abandoned. A few rooms have been remodeled to host the exhibits.

One of the exhibit rooms inside the power plant. I find the top poster particularly ironic. It is for an exhibition in 1937 in which Hitler wanted to show his countrymen what he would do in the next four years... Little did they know.

A VI flying bomb. 
It could be launched from the ground or from a flying aircraft. Close to 2500 of these were launched, and even though they were not very accurate or reliable, they were still a more efficient way of attacking from a safe distance. The British often relied on their fighter planes to fly next to them and tip them over with their wings. Their range was 160 miles, with a top speed of 400 mph, which allowed them to get to theri target in about 24 minutes.

V2 Rocket.
The world's first long range ballistic missle, capable of reentering the atmosphere. It could travel up to 3580 mph, and had a range of 200 miles, wich means that it could cover that distance in about 3 minutes... a hard weapon to defend against! About 3000 of these were launched. At 50,000 to 100,000 Reichmarks per unit, it was 10-20 times more expensive than its V1 predecesor.

A cold war missile.

Surface to air missiles.

Looks like a MiG 15, one of the first jets made by the Soviets after the war.

A more recent MiG 23 from the German Democratic Republic

The former control room for the power plant, craftily converted into a gift shop that you go by towards the end of the tour.


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