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Notes on Project Paperclip

The United States was interested in the technical capability of the Germans. A team of American scientists was dispatched to Europe on August 14, 1945, to collect information and equipment related to German rocket progress. As a result, the components for approximately 100 V-2 ballistic missiles were recovered and shipped from Germany to White Sands Proving Grounds in New Mexico. Also recovered was an invaluable cache of documentation. During October 1945, the Secretary of War approved a plan to bring the top German scientists to the United States to aid military research and development. Near the end of the year, more than 100 Germans, who had agreed to come to the United States under Project Paperclip, arrived at Fort Bliss, Texas. Their assignment was to begin work at nearby White Sands on the V-2 rockets that had already arrived from Germany.

The first American-assembled V-2 was static fired on March 15, 1946, at White Sands. By April 1946, the Americans and Germans were ready to begin flight testing the V-2. June 28, 1946, marked the first successful launch at White Sands of a V-2 rocket fully instrumented for upper-air research. The rocket attained a height of 67 miles. On October 24, rocket number 13 was launched, carrying a camera that took motion pictures of the Earth from an altitude of approximately 65 miles.

The days at White Sands were both important and exciting for the German team and their American associates. One V-2 strayed from its path before impacting harmlessly in Juarez, Mexico. The result was an increased emphasis on safety as the work progressed at the testing site.

At White Sands, the Germans also experimented with a two-stage rocket called the Bumper Wac which was intended to provide data on upper atmospheric research. On February 24, 1949, a without attitude control (WAC) Corporal rocket boosted by a V-2 obtained a peak altitude of more than 240 miles.

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