White Sands V-2 Launching Site

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Las Cruces, New Mexico 88002
Dona Ana , New Mexico

White Sands V-2 Launching Site (Launch Complex 33, originally "Army Launch Area Number 1")is the White Sands Missile Range site "closely associated with U.S. testing of the German V-2 rocket... The V-2 Gantry Crane and Army Blockhouse here represent the first generation of rocket testing facilities that would lead to U.S. exploration of space"(cf. the 1937 Test Stand VII at Germany's Peenemunde Army Research Center, 1931 Kummersdorf test range facilities).

Identifies World War II launches of the A4 rocket (renamed V-2 in 1944). Test launches were made at Peenemunde Test Stand VII, Blizna and Tuchola Forest using experimental and production rockets fabricated at Peenemunde and at the Mittelwerk. Post-war launches were conducted at Cuxhaven, White Sands Proving Grounds, Cape Canaveral, Kapustin Yar, and on the USS Midway during Operation Sandy.

National Historic Landmarks

Designated historic sites on WSMR land include:

Trinity Site

Selected in November 1944 for the Trinity (nuclear test) detonated on 16 July 1945 (National Historic Landmark district on 21 December 1965,NRHP on 15 October 1966).

White Sands V-2 Launching Site: A V-2 static test firing was 15 March 1946, and the 1st US V-2 launch was 16 April 1946 (landmark designation 3 October 1985).

The White Sands V-2 Launching Site, or Launch Complex 33, was developed specifically to accommodate V-2 rocket tests at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The launch complex has two important structures: the old Army Blockhouse and the launching crane, also known as the Gantry Crane. The Army Blockhouse was completed in late September 1945 and was primarily used as an observation point and laboratory in the pioneer development of the V-2 rocket in the United States. The Gantry Crane, a steel tower 75 feet tall and 25 feet wide, was constructed in November 1946 to launch the V-2 and Viking rockets. The German V-2 Rocket-Vergeltungswaffen-2, or "weapon of retaliation"--the most advanced rocket of its type, was developed to support the German war effort and by 1945 hundreds of these rockets were launched against Allied targets in England and on the continent of Europe. The American government in Operation Paperclip captured more than 100 V-2 rockets and numerous German scientists and engineers associated with the V-2 development program, including Dr. Werner Von Braun. The Army brought Dr. Von Braun and the captured V-2s to the newly opened White Sands Missile Range.

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