More V2 Technical Intelligence Operations

By Roger Davies / 14 November 2013 / History, TechInt

In earlier blog posts here and here  I discussed some of the Technical Intelligence operations associated with the V2 rocket system of  WW2.

I have continued digging and unearthed some other aspects associated with the  V2 secretly recovered from Sweden, that was cross linked to the exploitation of the one recovered by the Polish resistance.

Here’s a further detailed document about the exploitation, with a huge amount of technical detail from British and Swedish Top Secret reports, declassified in the 1970’s. The reports clearly suggest that technical exploitation of these was based on aircraft crash investigation techniques. It’s a fascinating set of documents. Looking back on declassified Top Secret documents from 1944 is simply remarkable. Note the detailed plans, photographs and re-construction of battered electronics.

Declassified TOP SECRET diagram from the British report.

Declassified TOP SECRET diagram from the British report.

I note too that the transport of the 2 tons of debris from Sweden to the UK was done by the US Army Air Force.

I’m also intrigued that the Swedish authorities understood that locals had recovered elements of the crashed V2 as souvenirs, and put the word out that they needed all such souvenirs in the national interest. People were asked to leave these on their doorsteps where they were then collected by the authorities. Crowd sourced tech int!

I strongly suspect that the “Wasserfall” manual guidance system recovered from the Backebo V2 eventually informed the development of Swedish anti-tank missiles after the war. The Swedes, I think largely as a result of technical intelligence from German “missiles” became one of the world leaders in missile development after WW2. But I can’t really understand why a manual, observer controlled guidance system would have been fitted to such a large missile. I don’t buy the idea it was for anti-aircraft use (too big and inefficient a missile), yet its speed could not surely allow for terminal guidance towards a target at distance, such as a capital ship or a specific land target. It simply doesn’t make sense to me. Does anyone have any thoughts?

This material of course reinforces the huge importance of RV Jones to the allied war effort in terms of the technical and scientific Intelligence effort.  His wikipedia entry does not do him justice, so read his book “Most Secret War”. The whole world of electronic counter measures can still learn huge amounts just from the ingenious story of the “Battle of the Beams”. One has to think about the lives that RV Jones saved as a direct result.

I’m also intrigued that the German OPSEC of the V-1 and V-2 was apparently so loose. At least 7 V-1 or V-2s crashed in Sweden before they were used against the UK.

I’m now digging hard at other TECHINT from WW2. There are some more stories to come.

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