Encyclopedia Astronautica
Steinhoff, Ernst


Steinhoff, Ernst August Wilhelm (1908-1987) Austrian-German engineer in WW2, member of the Rocket Team in the United States thereafter.

German expert in guided missiles, worked at Peenemuende on submarine-launched rockets during World War II. Member of the German rocket team, arrived in America under Project Paperclip on 16 November 1945 aboard the Argentina from La Havre. As of January 1947, working at Fort Bliss, Texas. Died at Alamogordo, New Mexico.

Birth Place: Traysa.
Born: 1908.01.11.
Died: 1987.02.12.

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
See also
Bibliography
  • Michels, Juergen and Przybilski, Olaf, Peenemuende und seine Erben in Ost und West, Bernard & Graefe, Bonn, 1997.
  • Objective List of German and Austrian Scientists, Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency, 2 January 1947.

Steinhoff, Ernst Chronology


1943 July 7 - . Launch Site: Peenemuende. LV Family: V-2. Launch Vehicle: V-2.
  • Peenemuende given highest priority - . Nation: Germany. Related Persons: Dornberger; Hitler; Speer; Steinhoff, Ernst. Dornberger, Von Braun, and Steinhoff (at the controls) fly aboard a He-111 to the Fuehrer bunker in East Prussia. There they give Hitler a review of the V-2 program, the first since his visit to Kummersdorf in March 1939. The appointment was for 11:30, but then delayed to 17:00.

    When they were finally ushered into his presence, Dornberger was shocked at the terrible and changed appearance of the Fuehrer. The team begins their briefing, in the presence of Hitler, Keitel, Jodl, Butale, and Speer. The presentation began with a film of preparations and launch of an A4 on the 3 October 1942. Von Braun narrated the film, which had proven a real crowd-pleaser in the past. It showed the A4 in production at the vast assembly hall at Peenemuende, the vertical roll-out, the huge launch complex, and finally launch. Von Braun then presented a model and plans for the hardened production/launch bunker that was being built on the English Channel.

    Hitler loved the bunker model, and declared he wanted to build not one, but three such facilities. Dornberger argued that mobile launchers would be militarily less vulnerable and less costly, but Hitler was unconvinced. The 7 m thick bunker walls, he declared, would 'draw every allied bomber like flies to honey. Every bomb they drop there will be one that does not fall on Germany'. Hitler asks if the payload can be increased to 10 tonnes (in order to accommodate a nuclear warhead) or if a 2,000 per month production rate was possible (in order to make mass attacks on Britain with conventional explosive or chemical payloads). Dornberger replies that it would take four to five years to develop a missile with greater payload, and that production was limited by the German industrial capacity for alcohol (used as fuel in the missile).

    Dornberger noted that they did not dream of the possibility of short-term availability of nuclear energy in 1936, when the specifications for the missile were set. In any case, after the loss of the heavy water plant in Norway, it would take years to develop nuclear weapons. Hitler was visibly upset that the V-2 would not turn out to be a war-deciding weapon. But Dornberger pointed out it was a great psychological weapon - unstoppable, something against their which there was no defence.

    Hitler stated that 'I have only had to excuse myself to two men in my life - and one of them was von Brauchtisch, who always championed the importance of your work, and the other is you. If we had this weapon in 1939, Britain would have conceded, and there would have been no war.

    Hitler finally ordered that the V-1 and V-2 missile programs be given the highest priority in the defence ministry. Immediately needed staff and material began flowing into the program. Saur immediately ordered a production goal of 2,000 missiles per month, despite the fact that there was no prospect of producing enough alcohol fuel or training enough launch crews to actual fire the missiles at such a rate. However, there was no disagreement, since any industry leader who did not commit to meeting this production goal was threatened with immediate replacement. German alcohol production would mean the maximum number that could ever be fired was 900 per month.


1944 March 15 - . Launch Site: Peenemuende. LV Family: V-2. Launch Vehicle: V-2.
  • V-2 problems begin to be understood - but Peenemuende Rocket Team leaders arrested by SS - . Nation: Germany. Related Persons: Dornberger; Hitler; Riedel, Walter; Steinhoff, Ernst. The cause of early detonation of the warhead during the engine burn time is understood, but the crashes at the end of the trajectory are still a mystery. Dornberger is ordered to report to Hitler at Berchtesgaden. The call is received at 7 pm in the evening, following a bomb raid and ice storm. Dornberger is told that on the following morning Von Braun, Riedel II, and Groettrup are to be arrested for sabotage of the A4 program. Groettrup selects Dr Steinhoff as his representative. The men are accused of not putting all their energy in development of the A4 as a weapon - instead only using the financing of the Reich to support their private plans for manned spaceflight. Dornberger know he cannot complete the program without these men - Von Braun and Riedel were the key leaders, and Groettrup was head of the electrical systems section. Dornberger finally achieves their release by demonstrating to the SS that the biggest impediment to the program was Hitler's dream that the A4 would never reach London. After a few days in detention, Von Braun was moved to Schwedt, and then freed. The others were allowed out a bit later.

1987 February 12 - .
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