Walter R. Dornberger

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Walter R. Dornberger

Walter Dornberger circa 1970
Birth Name Walter Robert Dornberger
Birth Date September 6 1895
Birth Place Giessen Germany
Date of Death Jun 7 1980
Occupation Engineer, Army Officer,
Nationality German
Notable Works V-2

Walter R. Dornberger was born at Giessen, Germany, on September 6, 1895, and began his military career two days after the outbreak of World War I by volunteering for service in a German heavy Artillery Regiment. He was commissioned as an officer a few months later and saw active combat service until captured by the Allies in October, 1918.

After the Armistice had been signed, Dornberger continued in the small professional army Germany was allowed to maintain and attended a number of engineering and technical schools. Berlin Technical Institute awarded him three degrees — a B.A., a M.A., and an engineering Doctorate — during the period 1925 - 1930.

In 1930, when he held the rank of Captain in the German Board of Ordnance, he was given charge of the development of solid fuel rockets for use as modern weapons.

Dornberger was placed in command of the German Army’s new experimental station at Kummersdorf in 1931. Pioneering work was begun there in the development of liquid fuel rockets in 1932.

From 1932 to 1945 he was division chief for rocket development, German Board of Ordnance and commanding officer of the German Rocket Development Center at Peenemünde, where the A1 - A10, the V-2 and the Wasserfall weapons were developed. From 1944 - 1945 he was also special commissioner of the German Reich for all V-weapons and anti-aircraft guided missiles. Dornberger held the rank of major general when he became a prisoner of war in 1945.

At the end of World War II Dornberger was captured and taken to England where he was imprisoned in Bridgend in Glamorgan until he was released in mid 1947. He was transferred back to Germany and on July 23rd he sailed on the SS USAT Edmund B Alexander from Bremerhaven with twelve other German scientists, bound for Camp Kilmer in New Jersey. He arrived and was processed at New York on August 2nd 1947. He eventually traveled to Canada and returned back to the United States as a permanent resident through Niagara Falls on September 2nd 1949. From 1947-1950 he held a post as Consultant at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base at Dayton, Ohio.

He was then Guided Missile Consultant for the Bell Aircraft Corporation of Buffalo, New York, from May 1950.

He was the author of the book “V-2” which was published in several countries. He was an associate fellow of the Institute of Aeronautical Sciences, a member of the Buffalo Aero Club, and an honorary member of the German Society for Space Research.