On the moon thanks to Versailles

19 2019

On the moon thanks to Versailles

On the 50th anniversary of the landing on our satellite

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After World War I, in 1919, a peace treaty was signed, the Treaty of Versailles; this treaty, in addition to redrawing the borders of Germany and dismembering the colonial empire, imposed very strict military restrictions on that country, reducing its army to 100,000 men, prohibiting various types of weapons, including tanks. As is known, since 1933 Hitler's Nazi Germany circumvented restrictions in every way, studying and constructing weapons in secret even in collaboration with the communist Soviet Union. What is little known is that the Treaty of Versailles, which also forbade the development of heavy artillery, omitted to ban rockets due to an oversight or underestimation of its potential. The history of rockets goes far back in time, already the Chinese in 300 BC tried to develop an entertainment one with black powder; already in the XI century they appeared in Europe as weapons of war but were considered little more than a curiosity. In 1706 the French engineer Amédée Frézier wrote the "Treatise on fireworks" and at the end of the same century they were used militarily in India against the English; the latter used them the following century against the Zulu, so the rockets developed militarily in an increasingly sophisticated way, reaching those mounted on the wings of the French planes of the First World War used to knock down the aerostatic balloons but these, for their imprecision, were soon abandoned in favour of incendiary bullets. In the twenties, always for the forgetful of Versailles, the Germans began to develop liquid propelled rockets, to achieve, in the next two decades, very sophisticated weapons. During the Second World War the Germans were not the only ones to use rocket weapons, in fact we remember the Russian Katiusha rocket launchers that entered service in 1941 but German weapons in this field were undoubtedly the most sophisticated. Among the weapons of the Germanic Third Reich that made the use of the rocket, the Nebelwerfer, an artillery weapon, often mounted on an Opel Mauliter armoured half-track, developed in two variants with different calibre between them: 150mm the one and 210mm the other. In the aviation field, again thanks to the rockets, the Germans developed the Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet interceptor fighter that with its rocket engine, whose prototype flew in on September 1, 1941, while series specimens were delivered in January 1944, to be ready for action in May. It should be noted that the first flight of the Me 163 preceded of one year the first jet engine flight (a type of engine other than the rocket engine) of the well-known Me 262 which took place on 18 July 1942 and entered service in the April '44. With the rocket engine the Nazi scientists also developed a guided bomb, the SD 1400 "Fritz X" which sank the battleship of the Italian Royal Navy on 9 September 1943 and a missile, designed to sink ships, the Henschel Hs 293, which entered into service since 1943. But the most well-known air weapons were certainly the "flying bombs" Fieseler FI 103 V1 and the Peenemunde Aggregat A 4 V2, which entered service in 1944 and were used mainly to bomb London. Among the minds that developed the V2 one remembers mainly Wernher von Braun (1912-1977), who with his specialists, after having surrendered to the Americans, moved to the USA already on June 20, 1945 and were then the main minds and the architects of NASA, of which von Braun became director, and of the race to the Moon that on July 20, 1969 with the Apollo 11 brought the man to the Moon. Neil Armstrong, commander of Apollo 11, was the first man to set foot on the moon, six hours after the landing, on 21 July at 02.56 UTC.

Matteo Cornelius Sullivan

In the picture (from left to right):

1) Russian Katiusha
2) Nebelwerfer on an Opel Mauliter armored half-track
3) Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet
4) SD 1400 "Fritz X"
5) A Henschel Hs 293 is loaded on a He 111 bomber
6) Fieseler FI 103 V1 and the Peenemunde Aggregat A 4 V2
7) Wernher von Braun (1912-1977)
8) The Saturn V with the Apollo 11 shuttle
9) Buzz Aldrin photographed on the Moon by Neil Armstrong, also in the photo through the reflection on the helmet visor

Source by Matteo_Cornelius_Sullivan

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