A German V-2 rocket fired by the
British during Operation Backfire, 1946.
was a military scientific
operation during and after World War
, which was performed mainly by British staff. It was part of
the Allies' scramble to acquire as much German technology as they
operation, four V-2 rockets were launched
during October 1945 from a launch pad at
north-east of Arensch near
Cuxhaven in Germany, in order to
demonstrate the weapon to Allied personnel.
Americans had already removed most of the V2 rocket technology from
the German underground Mittelwerk
facility at the Mittelbau-Dora concentration camp near Nordhausen.
Before the Soviets took occupation of that
area, the British were given the opportunity to gather material
themselves. They were able to assemble parts sufficient to build
eight V2 rockets. Some parts were, however, still missing and there
was a large-scale search throughout Germany. Some 400 railway cars
and 70 Lancaster
flights were used to
bring the quarter-of-a-million parts and 60 specialized vehicles to
Cuxhaven, the most elusive part being batteries to operate the
guidance gyros. The US supplied some tail assemblies from those
that they had taken. Many of the rockets and the hydrogen peroxide
fuel used in the operation was provided by T-Force
, a secretive British Army unit that had, in
spring and summer 1945, searched for German military technology and
The handling and launch procedures were unknown, so German
personnel were ordered to perform these, which, for the most part,
they did willingly . The launches were filmed and, because the
personnel wore their original uniforms and the rockets were painted
in near to their original livery, this footage, often used for
documentaries, has been mistaken for actual footage of wartime
At the site of the former launchpad there is a trough and some
remnants of shelters.
During and after the launches, the British attempted to recruit
German personnel, even those transferred from US custody and due to
be returned, to assist with their own missile programme.
Three rockets were launched, as follows: