Old technical recording. R1 (V2/A4) replica. Events behind the film.
In part 4 of 1948 the documentary explained all failure rocket/engines/systems and then briefly mentioned successful launches. All test failure analyzed, problems and fixes recorded on film and explained in details.
Test 1. Rocket #4. Failure explained by Boris Chertok:- “I was responsible for the first crash,” declared Chernov. “At the launch site, Korolev saw me, called me over to the launch pad, and explained, ‘This missile is Soviet, but the launch pad is still German. Do you see the onboard skid contact? It starts the timer at the moment of launch. Its rod rests in a corresponding niche on the launch pad. The pad needs to be fixed so that everything will be ready by morning.’” Chernov was devising and designing all evening. He woke up the metalworkers in the middle of the night and by morning in the workshop on the special train they had produced his version of the skid contact stop, or more correctly speaking, the liftoff contact. According to Chernov’s version of the story, his student design did not withstand the powerful pop, and the contact broke after the “ignition” command rather than after the missile lifted off from the launch pad. The horizon gyro timer started ahead of time; a pitch command was sent to the control surfaces, tilting the missile immediately while it was still on the pad. As the missile was leaving the pad, the plume was pointed, not vertically, but at an angle, and it hurled the pad off into the steppe."
Test 2. Rocket #3. Failure - "The second missile proved to be even more obstinate. To begin with, the ground crews eliminated all the defects in the ground-based cable network. Next, during two launch attempts the engine did not start, despite the fact that the system did not reset. After long experiments on a missile standing on the pad, they discovered that the main oxygen valve had frozen. Eventually they removed the oxygen valve from one of the missiles and checked its ability to freeze. They determined that the cause of the failure was the stiffening of the abundant amount of oil in its bellows assembly. The missile tests were discontinued. The main oxygen valves were removed from all the missiles and sent to the factory in Khimki for degreasing. This was a powerful blow to engine designer"
After third test failure - "The high-ranking leaders had been fully convinced that we had not only studied and reproduced German technology, but had substantially increased the missiles’ reliability. And now suddenly they discovered that the missiles, for various reasons, simply refused to fly."
Event behind film - "The next missile launch scheduled for 1 November was postponed due to severe fog. During the night, the sentry guarding the launch site showed exceptional vigilance and for some unknown reason shouted, “Stop! Who goes there?” No response came out of the fog and he fired a warning shot. The guard raised by the alarm found nothing suspicious in the surrounding area. Arriving at the site the next morning, the launch team immediately smelled the strong scent of alcohol. An inspection showed that the shot the night before had not been fired into the air, but rather into the filled alcohol tank. The missile’s entire tail section was drenched with alcohol from the bullet hole. They removed the missile and shipped it to the factory in Podlipki for restoration and sent the sentry to the brig. Voznyuk was advised of the guards’ utterly unsatisfactory training."
Operator turned launch's key actually launched first satellite and first man into the space. All military personal recorded in film rest of their life was involved in space launches.
Official conclusion: “The first series of R-1 domestic missiles in terms of their flight characteristics, as demonstrated by the flight tests, were not inferior to the captured A4 missiles. Fundamental issues during the reproduction of R-1 missiles from domestic materials were correctly resolved … The flight characteristics of the first series of R-1 missiles conform to the characteristics specified by the tactical and technical requirements, with the exception of range scatter.”
Combat general statement - "What are you doing? You pour over four metric tons of alcohol into a missile. And if you were to give that alcohol to my division, they could take any city easily. And your missile wouldn’t even hit that city! Who needs it?"
All military likes alcohol! What else to say. Perfect choice made by Von Broun for space exploration!