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Army Research Station Kummersdorf

5. West Missile Test Site


At the end of the twenties, rockets were very interesting as a weapon carrier for the Reichswehr, as this weapon technology, unlike heavy artillery, for example, was not part of the disarmament requirements of the Versailles Treaty. The Heereswaffenamt (HWA) therefore supported young developers with financial grants and from 1932 made new laboratory and research facilities available near the Kummersdorf firing range. Initially, solid rockets (that worked with black powder) were tested by the Reichswehr, and in 1932, for the first time, rockets with liquid propulsion, which had been developed at the Reinickendorf rocket airfield. Liquid thrusters (which work on liquid oxygen and alcohol) had the advantage that, unlike solid rockets, they also worked in space. The engines of the A1, A2 and A3 rockets were tested in Kummersdorf. From October 1932, Wernher von Braun worked in the Kummersdorf test center. Shortly before, in the immediate vicinity of the powder rocket test stand, the first test stand made of concrete must have been built (it was 6 m long and 4 m high, it included two barracks with a study, construction room and darkroom, as well as a workshop). The first attempt took place in December 1932; he failed; the facilities were largely destroyed, but immediately restored. In 1934 a second test bench was probably built. At this time work was being carried out on the first complete liquid-powered rocket and on liquid-powered fighter planes; in addition, solid rockets were further developed. In Kummersdorf only the liquid propulsion units were tested; the A1, A2 and A3 rockets did not launch. The increasing number of attempts with larger and larger missiles increasingly turned out to be a security risk for the surrounding villages; the Kummersdorf site was too small for that. A new rocket test center was set up in Peenemünde; where the West Experiments moved to in May 1937 - even before the last test stands in Kummersdorf were completed. After that, some of the tests continued to be carried out in Kummersdorf. A total of five rocket test rigs were built in which tests for liquid propulsion and aircraft engines were carried out. The core of the test facility consisted of 2 building blocks over 500m long, an ammunition bunker and an experimental shooting range. Both building blocks, divided into a total of 5 building groups, each consisted of 8 test halls, which in their groups were connected to one another via a splinter-proof corridor.

After the end of the war in 1945, the entire facility was initially dismantled and the laboratory equipment was transported to the Soviet Union as reparations. The rest was looted by local residents. Scientists were forced to work in the Soviet Union. Then the Russians blew up large parts of the facility. The site became a restricted military area, and an ammunition depot was built on the ruins of the former test site. The corridor system between the buildings was blown up or bricked up, many walls were torn down and new walls were bricked up on the existing structures.

Today some test stands and storage buildings are still preserved as ruins and are under monument protection.




The remains of test stand 1 :

 Wernher von Braun made the measurements on test stand 2  to the rockets A1 and A2 for his dissertation:

At the missile test stand 4  Complete A3 missiles were tested. Here there were two 12 meter high assembly towers that were connected by a track. This carried the frame with the rocket during the fire attempt. The A3 was the world's first liquid-powered large rocket with a length of almost 7 meters and a thrust of 1500 kp, powered by alcohol and liquid oxygen. The first launch of the rocket then took place on December 4, 1937 from the island of Greifswalder Oie, as Peenemünde was not yet finished. The observation and observation post is still in good condition  Measuring bunker.

 These are pictures of large rocket test bench 5 :

These are ancillary systems such as measuring and workshop bunkers near test stand 5: