Skip to comments.Remember the time we bombed Mexico with German rockets?
Posted on 05/11/2012 3:28:38 PM PDT by DogByte6RER
Remember the time we bombed Mexico with German rockets?
Germany spent the end of the 1930s and half the 1940s inventing and perfecting missiles. They made so many, they still had a ton of them left over after the end of World War II. So of course, the leftover weapons were confiscated by the United States. And here's one of the things we did with them.
Anyone who knows the details about a V-2 rocket has to wonder how any nation managed to make so many of them. The V-2 ran on alcohol and liquid oxygen, only one of which was easy to get. It was a giant behemoth, standing forty-six feet high and weighing fifty-six thousand pounds. It moved through the air at 3,500 miles per hour. Production started on these models in the mid-1930s, but the first one wasn't actually launched as a military weapon until September 1944, when the Germans bombed London with it.
Wernher von Braun, one of the head developers, never wanted to make a missile. He was jailed, briefly, for continuing to talk about the V-2 as a space-going rocket instead of a bomb delivery system. Nevertheless, as the war was winding down, von Braun was fairly sure that no one who had a country within the possible range of the V-2 would welcome him, and so he and a team sought out American soldiers to surrender to. The Americans grabbed all the V-2s and V-2 parts that they could, and carted them back to the United States to do exactly what von Braun had originally wanted to do with the rocket: go to space.
Or, at least, that was the plan. The V-2s were the free spoils of war, and so they were treated as mad money by the early space scientists. They used the rockets to figure out payload capabilities, to conduct upper-atmosphere experiments, and to kill scads of monkeys in the most expensive way possible. Since the monkeys were intended to survive their rides, it's clear that these tests didn't always go exactly as planned, but on one occasion they went very wrong indeed.
One night, a couple of rockets went entirely off course. And set off what could have been politely referred to as an international incident and, not so politely, as America bombing a friendly country with Nazi rockets.
An article in The El Paso Times, published on May 30th, 1947 had this to say about it:
El Paso and Juarez were rocked Thursday night when a runaway German V-2 rocket fired from the White Sands Proving Ground in New Mexico crashed and exploded on top of a rocky knoll three and a half miles south of the Juarez business district. The giant missile burst in a desolate area of jagged hill, gullies and bondock. No one was injured. Lt. Col. Harold R. Turner, White Sands commanding officer, said failure of the rocket's German-made gyroscope caused it to swerve from its set northerly course.
That's it, Lieutenant Turner. Blame the Germans. The paper goes on to say that the rocket scooped out a crater fifty feet wide, and twenty-four feet deep. It was not a good way to welcome a neighbor to the space age. Despite the giant smoking crater, America got pretty lucky with its mistakes. No one was hurt.
The explosion did cause momentary panic, though. People who didn't see the actual bang, which shook nearby planes, thought that an oil plant in the area had exploded. Others, who saw the blast, mistook it for a small atomic bomb. It sent up a mushroom cloud. Still, when officials "expressed their regret" about the rocket, Mexican officials were what can only be termed exceptionally cool about the whole thing. The army had to fix some light damage to windows of nearby buildings, but otherwise there was little fuss one way or another. No one even insisted that they stop testing pirated missiles nearby. The crater, which is still there, turned out to be another souvenir of the early space race. The V-2, fortunately, is gone.
More for reference:
V-2 Rocket, Off Course, Falls Near Juarez
May 30, 1947
Wernher von Braun Lyrics
Performed by Tom Lehrer
Gather round while I sing you of Wernher von Braun,
A man whose allegiance
Is ruled by expedience.
Call him a Nazi, he won’t even frown.
“Ha, Nazi Schmazi,” says Wernher von Braun.
Don’t say that he’s hypocritical,
Say rather that he’s apolitical.
“Once the rockets are up, who cares where they come down?
That’s not my department,” says Wernher von Braun.
Some have harsh words for this man of renown,
But some think our attitude
Should be one of gratitude,
Like the widows and cripples in old London town
Who owe their large pensions to Wernher von Braun.
You too may be a big hero,
Once you’ve learned to count backwards to zero.
“In German oder English I know how to count down,
Und I’m learning Chinese,” says Wernher von Braun.
With thousands of square miles of empty desert in northern Mexico it just had to land 3 1/2 miles from Juarez. Murphy's Law!
[ V-2 Rocket, Off Course, Falls Near Juarez ]
A couple of Coyotes died of heart failure.. no doubt scared the Beep right out of all the Road Runners.. in the area..
We crash tons of drones in Mexico to this day.
Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?
Was it over when the South Africans nuked Liechtenstein?
They made so many, they still had a ton of them left over after the end of World War II. ~~~~~~ It was a giant behemoth, standing forty-six feet high and weighing fifty-six thousand poundsSo at the end of the war, the Germans had about 1-twentyfifth of a single V-2 in inventory. Doesn't seem much.
Interesting bit of history, but boy the contrast of the agenda driven modern story is stark compared to the 1947 story from the El Paso paper. It is clear how normal bias is in modern writing.
Lost to history are my father’s old black and white photos of V2 rockets in the Southwest US from 1945-46. Standing next to each other in a launch area were three V2 rockets. The 1st had a german swastika on it. The 2nd had a partial paint job 1/2 German & 1/2 US army and the third was painted 100% american.
He wasn’t a scientist, just a colorblind civilian electrician lucky enough to work on newly developed airplane radars during WW2, V2 rockets after WW2, and Nuke sub wiring during the Korean War.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.