MAY 23, 1928
The Opel RAK 2 rocket car is armed with 24 powder rockets manufactured by Friedrich Sander. Fritz von Opel ignites these with a foot pedal. The 6,000 kilograms of total thrust have enough force to blow up an entire block of residential /office buildings. The pilot is separated from the explosives by a single steel armor plate. There are stabilizing wings on the sides with a negative angle of attack, whose function is to compensate for the uplift and keep the car on the ground. The RAK 2 does actually lift off in the end, but von Opel manages to keep it under control. The entire run lasts around two minutes. The chassis came from an Opel 10 / 40 HP; the car had no engine and no transmission.
Three thousand invited guests from sports, cinema, science, and politics – including actress Lilian Harvey, boxer Max Schmeling, and racecar driver Karl Jörns – as well as reporters, photographers, and filmmakers from Germany and abroad – have gathered at the AVUS.
The rocket run is featured on the front page of all the newspapers the next day, and has made an indelible impression on people, turning up as a theme in cultural media such as comics.
Length: approx. 4,880 mm
width, not including stabilizing surfaces: approx. 1,400 mm
height: approx. 1,200 mm
Feedback on the RAK 2
»The vehicle hurtled along the track towards the grandstand, propelled by a mighty force. (…) The Opel rocket car demonstration offers an interesting view into the research lab of forward-thinking, boldly daring men whose ambition is to tackle the problem of stratospheric flight.«
Heinrich Kluth, journalist
»… Nevertheless, few, if any, among the many thousands of onlookers who witnessed the demonstration on the AVUS track could help but feel that we are poised at the beginning of a new era.« (…)
P. Friedmann, Das Motorrad No. 12/1928, June 9, 1928
»The amazing thing about Opel’s rocket run on the AVUS track in Berlin is not just the daring feat itself, but its aftermath: Both the public and academics have finally seen the light and have begun to believe in the future of the rocket as an engine for new rapid transit devices.«
Otto Willi Gail, Illustrierte Zeitung, Leipzig, 1928