The fuel flow was fine-tuned to optimize consumption vs. thrust. This was done in a
calibration stand where the fuel pump to be used on the rocket motor for TF-1 was operated
pumping water instead of fuel. This determined its actual pumping capacity and an optimum
orifice diameter of the pump outlet could be selected for maximum fuel efficiency. Also
LOX and alcohol tanks would be topped off minutes before launch.
Next step - moving the rocket to the launch pad.
The preliminary work, assembly and test of all the components, was accomplished in a
structure which may be familiar to many associated with military aircraft or missile
work, a Mills Building. This was a hanger like structure having the characteristics of
a prefabricated building. The following may have many imitators but I feel that the V-2
Section was original, at least in our own minds, when we hung a sign on the V-2 assembly
Mills building after moving TF-I to the firing pad that read "OUT TO LAUNCH".
The launch facilities were very interesting. As described earlier the blockhouse was
an impregnable bastion whose only communications with the outside were through radio,
wire (telephone, etc.) or optical (periscopes for viewing).
Inside there were contacts to various range monitoring facilities, range radar, optical
observation points, range safety, and so on. To those of us associated directly with TF-1,
the only thing that counted was the launch control console. This device, about the size of
two office desks, incorporated all the necessary functions that were needed to launch the
V-2 as a weapon, but in addition numerous other functions related to its use as a
The launch control desk had inscribed panels that illuminated from behind when certain
functions in the launch procedure were achieved. In the event of a malfunction occurring
that would place the countdown on hold one such panel lit up to read "TILT". When the
whole countdown gets to the final step, or the starting of the fuel pumps thus sending
the missile on it's way, the "Main Stage" or "GO" button was pressed. Should this step
malfunction a panel would light up reading "AW SHIT!" Some one had a sense of humor.
A device known as a firing table supported the rocket in the typically vertical position
for launch. This was a four-legged open framework about four feet high with a large ring
like member resting on the top of the legs. In turn four equally spaced 4" diameter pads
were mounted on the ring. It was on these small pads that missile tail fins rested, and I
might add, rested precariously.
The ring could be rotated so that the rocket could be
launched at a precise azimuth.
Once the V-2 was positioned on the firing table a tall
scaffolding like structure, the
gantry crane, was moved in position to surround it. The gantry traveled on tracks and
railroad type wheels. One had to be part monkey to service the missile from the gantry
as there were no elevators or stairs, it was all ladders and six stories tall.