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Britain was the first country to ever suffer a ballistic missile attack from beyond its borders. This book tells the story of that attack.
During 1942 and 1943, confusing rumours circulated about the German development of a 'giant rocket'. Most experts, including Winston Churchill's own scientific adviser Lord Cherwell, declared that such a weapon was impossible. It was only after the patient sifting of European intelligence that the most influential doubters were convinced such a weapon was being built.
Then on 8 September 1944, the first V-2 landed in Chiswick. Between then and the final rocket impact on 27 March 1945, more than a thousand landed on British soil, killing nearly three thousand people and seriously injuring more than six thousand. Arriving at supersonic speed, without warning, and with the defences powerless against them they did enormous damage and had a serious effect on morale.
In Hitler's Rockets, Norman Longmate tells the story of this technically brilliant weapon, the ancestor and forerunner of all subsequent ballistic missiles. He reveals the devious power-play within the German armed forces and the Nazi establishment which so influenced the creation of the rockets. He also shows through contemporary documents and protagonists' accounts how the British intelligence skilfully pieced together often contradictory evidence as it sought to establish the true nature of the threat.
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