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A-2 launch

Above: On December 20, 1934, minutes after sun rose over the Baltic, the A-2 "Moritz" blasted off from the Island of Borkum and climbed to about 1.8 kilometers solidifying the success of the first A-2 rocket -- "Max" -- the day before. This artist rendering shows how the launch could've looked from an observation aircraft. Apparently, no actual photos of the A-2 launches exist.

Previous chapter: A-1

After giving up their very first attempt to build a liquid-propellant rocket in 1933, Wernher Von Braun's group in Kummersdorf immediately started a redesign. In the most significant upgrade, the stabilizing flywheel was repositioned from the top of the rocket to a space between the two propellant tanks. (174) Additionally, the nitrogen pressurization reservoir was taken out of the interior of the oxidizer tank and placed above it, in the top part of the rocket. The propellant flow hardware was also upgraded, in part with a valve developed under a contract with the Heylandt company. (314)

In accordance with artillery tradition, A-2 was also referred to as 4.5-caliber long rocket. The static testing of the new configuration was completed in Kummersdorf by Oct. 1, 1934. (296)

Two copies of the A-2 rocket nicknamed Max and Moritz after comic-book characters were launched successfully to an altitude of around two kilometers from the island of Borkum in the Baltic Sea near the mouth of the River Ems. (213)

Chronology of the A-2 project

1933 middle or the end of the year: The A-1 rocket powered by a 300-kilogram oxygen/alcohol engine is tested and fails in Kummersdorf.

1934 May 29: Test firing of the 2B.2 engine for the A-2 rocket commences in Kummersdorf.

1934 Oct. 1: Static testing of the A-2 rocket is completed in Kummersdorf.

1934 Dec. 19-20: Two A-2 rockets blast off from the Island of Borkum on the North Sea. (174)

A-2 technical overview:

1,610 mm
Maximum diameter:
314 mm (312)
Dry mass:
72 kilograms (312)
Launch mass:
107 kilograms (312)
Engine thrust on the surface:
300 kg (213) originally planned for 2 tons (297)
Engine burn time:
16 seconds (296)
Fuel mass (295):
35 kilograms alcohol
Oxidizer mass (295):
liquid oxygen

Next chapter: A-3

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Writing, photography and illustrations: Anatoly Zak; Last update: October 10, 2008

Page editor: Alain Chabot; Last edit: October 5, 2008

All rights reserved


A-2 exterior

The exterior of the A-2 rocket. Click to enlarge.


The internal layout of the A-2 rocket. Click to enlarge.

A1 engine

The combustion chamber of the 2B.2 engine, which likely powered the A-1 and A-2 rockets.