In 1935 Werner von Braun and Walter Dornberger visit a small Baltic coast island called Usedom. They both agree that this isolated and densely wooded location is ideal for their rocket research centre.
During 1936, under the greatest secrecy, the centre takes shape. Wind tunnels, test stands, a liquid oxygen plant, a power station and accommodation are all built near the former fishing village of Peenemünde.
An aerial photograph showing several area of the research centre.
Werk-Ost is just visible on the left.
Centre is Werk-Süd (from 1939-1943)
The housing area with sports ground are on the right.
A diagram of the layout of Werk-Ost (The Experimental Works).
Building 15 is the absolutely vital wind tunnel facility.
Building 14 is where V2s were assembled.
Building 4 is where the office of Wehrner von Braun was located.
Test Stand 7 is a few hundred metres to the right of the image.
The "Brandenburg Gate" at one entrance to the housing area.
June 12th 1943
A photo reconnaissance Mosquito flown by Flt Lt R A Lenton brings back a picture of a V2 rocket lying horizontally on a trailer at Test Stand VII. Unfortunately, the interpretation officer fails to recognise the object for what it is. However, when Dr R V Jones examines the photographs a few days later he correctly identifies the rocket.
Following a Cabinet Defence Committee meeting on the 29th June 1943, Churchill orders, “we must attack it on the heaviest possible scale.”