Walter HJ Riedel

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Walter HJ Riedel (* December 5, 1902 in Königs Wusterhausen ; † May 15, 1968 in East Berlin ) ("Riedel I") was a German engineer, the head of the design office of the Peenemünde Army Research Institute and chief designer of the ballistic missile Aggregat 4 (V2 ) was. The Riedel crater on the moon was named after him and the German rocket pioneer Klaus Riedel ("Riedel II").


In December 1929, Riedel was commissioned by the Heylandt company to take over the development of rocket motors with liquid fuels, initially in collaboration with Max Valier , who had joined the company at that time. Riedel took full responsibility for rocket motor development in 1930, after Valier's untimely death from a rocket motor explosion during a test with paraffin oil (kerosene) as fuel instead of ethyl alcohol.

In 1934, Heylandt's research and development was taken over by the army and merged with the Wernher von Braun group on the army test site in Kummersdorf near Berlin to enable the research and development of long-range missiles. In March 1936, Wernher von Braun and Walter Riedel began to look at much larger rockets than the A3, which was still in development at the time and was only a test vehicle and could not carry a payload. Together with Walter Dornberger , plans were drawn up for a more suitable and better equipped test site for large rockets in Peenemünde to replace the rather limited Kummersdorf. On May 17, 1937, after the rocket activities were transferred from Kummersdorf to the army's new rocket factory in Peenemünde, Riedel headed the technical design office as chief designer of the A4 (V2) ballistic rocket.

After the British Royal Air Force ( Operation Hydra ) air raid on Peenemünde in August 1943, the development facility was relocated to a location that offered better protection against air raids. The air strike had Dr. Walter Thiel (head of drive) and Erich Walther (head of maintenance of the workshops), two leading men at the Peenemünde Army Research Institute, cost their lives. In mid-September 1943, Riedel and two others checked the Austrian Alps for a new location for rocket development to replace the one in Peenemünde. The chosen location was Ebensee , at the southern end of the Traunsee around 100 km east of Salzburg . The complex consisted of a system of tunnel galleries that were driven into the mountains and was given the code name cement. Work on the construction site began in early 1944 and should be completed in October 1945. From October 1, 1943, Riedel was responsible for overseeing the relocation of the Peenemünde plant to Ebensee.

From May 29, 1945 to September 20, 1945, after the end of the Second World War, Riedel was imprisoned in the security camp of the US Third Army in Deggendorf (between Regensburg and Passau ). From November 1, 1945 to March 10, 1946 he was employed by the branch of the Ministry of Supply (MoS) in Altenwalde (near Cuxhaven ) and from March 11 to July 31, 1946 in the MoS company in Trauen (near Braunschweig ).

After the Trauener facility was dissolved, Riedel emigrated to Great Britain to work first (from 1947) at the Royal Aircraft Establishment , Farnborough and later (from 1948 until his death in 1968) at the MoS Rocket Propulsion Department (RPD) in Westcott (near Westfield) to work in Aylesbury, (Buckinghamshire). In 1957 Riedel became a British citizen.

Walter Riedel died on a visit to East Berlin in East Germany.


  • Riedel, WHJ, Rocket Developments With Liquid Propellants (1950), (Translated from the original by Dr JC Kelly), Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust, Technical Series No 7, 2005.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Bergaust, Erik (1979). Wernher von Braun. Vienna: Econ Verlag Düsseldorf. p. 71. ISBN 978-3-430-11301-4 .
  2. Planetary Names: Crater, craters: Riedel on Moon. In: International Astronomical Union . Retrieved January 13, 2020 .
  3. Brandecker, Walter G. A life for an idea. The rocket pioneer Max Valier, Union Verlag, Stuttgart, 1961.
  4. Dornberger, Walter. V2 - The shot into space, p. 55, Bechtle Verlag, Esslingen, 1952.
  5. Ordway III, Frederick, I; Sharp, Mitchell, R (1979). The Rocket Team. London: Heinemann. pp. 30-33, 123. ISBN 978-0-434-55300-6 .
  6. ^ Neufeld, Michael, J (1995). The Rocket and the Reich. The Free Press. p. 204. ISBN 978-0-02-922895-1 .
  7. ^ Riedel, WHJ, "Rocket Development with Liquid Propellents," Rolls-Royce, 2005