Rheinb˘te (Rhine Messenger)
The Rheinb˘te was the first multi stage rocket.
It was developed by the Luftwaffe as a replacement for the V1 flying bombs,
should the development of the V1 falter.
It was given the V4 name by Hitler who was obsessed by the idea of new high tech
It was always the poor relation, never being given the financial resources of
its more glamorous stable mates the V1, and V2.
The rocket used four stages and was unguided and had a range of just over 200
kms. At the launch, the rocket weighed 1715 Kg and carried a 44 kg warhead.
Because it was unguided the launch had to be very accurate, and this caused many
problems. Firstly the rocket was very slim and was over 11 meters high.
It was prone to bend slightly and really needed a specially designed launcher,
although it has been suggested that the V1 launch ramp could have been easily
modified to take the Rheinb˘te, had there been a problem with the V1. Around 200
were launched at Antwerp in 1944, from converted V2 launch wagons (Meillerwagen).
These launchers were intended to launch a V2 vertically and were not ideal for
launching the V4 at an angle of 450.
This did not help the accuracy of an already inaccurate weapon. None of the
rockets launched did and great damage and were looked upon by the Allies as just
a nuisance weapon. After the war, the four Allies in the European theatre
developed the V4 for their own use.