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Rocket recollections.

Sir Frank Ewart Smith's role as chairman of the Ministry of Supply's Scientific Advisory Council is well described in The Mare's Nest by David Irving (Archive, PE January).

The fly in the ointment was Churchill's chief scientific adviser, Lord Cherwell, who refused to believe that a pump could be made for a rocket to deliver the quantities of fuel and liquid oxygen necessary to launch a one-ton warhead. It had been. You can see the sectioned V-2 in the vertical launch position on display in the Imperial War Museum in London.

I lived with my parents near the receiving end of the few V-2s that landed in Croydon in late 1944. Their spectacular arrival (if they missed you) was announced by a loud explosion, followed 3 or 4 seconds later by a mighty roar of their descent at 3,600mph.

The engineering of both the V-1 (168 attacks) and V-2 fascinated me post-war. I worked in the Ariane launcher project from 1988 to 1992. The museum of the main contractor, Societe Europeenne de Propulsion, at Vernon, Normandy, sets out very well Ariane's development from the V-2, and is well worth a visit.

The designer of the V-1 cruise missile, Dr Robert Lusser, is credited with initiating the study of reliability engineering, in his development of the auto-pilot. My friend and I collected several pieces of scrap V-1 fuselage, as our assumed contribution to the war effort.

The V-2 was an intermediate-range ballistic missile, not intercontinental. That was to be the A-9, under development in Peenemunde for attacking New York. The development of the A-4 (as V-2 was typed) is well described on the German side by Peenemunde's director, Major General Walter Dornberger, in his 1954 book V-2.

Bob Barnes, Winchester

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Title Annotation:LETTERS
Author:Barnes, Bob
Publication:Professional Engineering Magazine
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Feb 1, 2015
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