A good short (6 minute) documentary here about the aerial photography based intelligence about the V weapons in WW2. Well worth a watch. Related to this and mentioned in the film was Constance Babington-Smith.
I blogged about a related operation, here, and the remarkable technical intelligence operation to recover a V2 from Poland.
Further to that, I’ve just come across this fascinating story – apparently some test rockets (six V-1s and a V-2) launched from Peenemunde that the Germans expected to have been lost in the Baltic, actually landed in Sweden. They were recovered secretly by the Swedish military and underwent technical exploitation with the technical insights contributing to Swedish technical missile programs. I wish I read Swedish, because the technical intelligence reports of the exploitation are now available.
It is apparent that the British tried to set up a clandestine SIGINT facility in Sweden to exploit the test flights, and the radio communications to the V-2s from the Peenemunde test flights. It’s also apparent that once they had exploited their V-2, the Swedes transferred the captured missile to London. I’m amused too that perhaps in an attempt to demoralise the Germans, the full technical details of the V-2 were published in “the Illustrated London News” in September 1944.
In parallel with that the Russians put together a technical intelligence unit, after a personal request from Churchill to Stalin to capture and preserve any hardware found as the Russians advanced across Poland. (The V weapons were not used against Russian forces, at Hitler’s direction.) Churchill also asked if British technical intelligence experts could accompany the Russians as they entered the Polish town of Debica, were a German test site had been established. Stalin agreed, but only after a delay which allowed the Russians to exploit the material first – “first come, first served!”. Details of the Russian efforts are here . (and here) Also note that the British gave a crashed V-1 to Russia to exploit, which they copied, as they did the gift of a B-29. It’s clear that by 1944, all the Allies had quite extensive efforts to capture and exploit enemy materiel. I’ll blog more about these WW2 efforts in the future.
The US and Russia both exploited German rocket technology significantly – and on a much smaller scale so did the British with Operation Backfire. (more here) The Brits actually launched three V-2s from Cuxhaven.
For you IMSL data hounds – there’s some lovely data here on V2 launches etc.