"Rheinbote" - "Raketen-Sprenggranate 4831" - "RH Z 61/9"

The V4 or "Rheinbote" missile is undoubtedly the least known weapon that had to serve as a weapon of retaliation. In the end it was only used against Antwerp, for strategic reasons just like the more famous V1 and V2 at that time.

The principle of the multi-stage rocket has existed in the Far East since the Middle Ages and was already researched in the years before WW2.

To increase the range of artillery without the mobility problems of increasingly heavier guns, the Rheinmetall-Borsig company from 1943 developed a design with 4 separate drives or "stages". The great distance that could be bridged and the potential to deploy them in large numbers meant that this weapon was also considered a useful tool for those planning retaliation against England. Despite the plans for the production of thousands of units, 220 were eventually produced.

To deliver a projectile of 40 kg (of which about 30 kg were explosives) over the desired 160 km, a combination of 4 missiles more than 11 m long was used. The first stage with 6 exhausts fired for only 1 second with the rocket rocketing into the air at 20m per second. Despite the short time for its decoupling, this stage already fell about 3 km from the launch point. Subsequent stages fired at 2, 12 (duration 5 seconds), and 22 seconds (3 seconds). The last stage remained attached to the charge after firing. With a top speed of almost 6000 km/h and an altitude of about 80 km, the right parabola could hit a target at a great distance.

They were fired from modified Meillerwagens, developed for the V2. This was set up in the desired direction and angle of fire.

Despite the low impact as a weapon and the high cost of materials with each shot, the order came to prepare for operational deployment.

In December 1944, Artillerie-Abteilung 709 arrived in Nunspeet (NL) and fired the first “Rheinboten” at Antwerp, 165 km away. This first deployment on 24.12.1944 started promptly at 12 noon and consisted of a pre-salvo of 4 missiles, after which the planned 6 similar salvos could be fired within the hour. Although the launches succeeded, it was far from certain that the correct distance had been covered, verifying this was almost impossible. The preparation of a correct firing table, which indicated the correct degree of inclination for a certain distance, was not yet completed at this first deployment, so that a theoretical calculation had to be used. Locating the relatively small impact crater of about a meter after each shot to determine its accuracy was a challenge in tests carried out in area's under German control and virtually impossible in enemy territory.

After a few more launches towards Antwerp from near Nunspeet in January 1945, the entire project was halted a few weeks later.
In the meantime, additional tests had shown that all previous shots landed well beyond the target. The 64 degrees that was calculated and used as a setting did not give the projectiles the expected range of 165 km, but an average of about 230 km.

On February 6, 1945 it was decided to stop the Rheinbote project which would be the fastest missile in WW2.

In the press the name V4 was regularly used incorrectly for the Re4 “Reichenberg” from 1945, which causes confusion to this day.
After the V3 (multi-stage gun), the multi-stage missile was the “Vengeance weapon 4”, the Re4 evolved from a V1 but was not one itself.