White Sands Missile Range Hall of Fame

Herbert Karsch
Range Technical Director
Served 1945 – 1956
Inducted 1983

Herbert L. Karsch graduated from the University of Texas in 1937 with a BS in Engineering. He entered the US Army in 1942 as second lieutenant and served in the areas of explosive ordnance disposal and foreign weapons systems intelligence. He was decorated for action in the European and Pacific Theaters. By war’s end Karsch had attained the rank of Major.

Karsch came to White Sands Proving Ground (WSPG) in June 1945 as an Ordnance Technical Intelligence Officer. He participated in Operation Paperclip, the movement of German rocket scientists and V-2 parts to WSPG, and served as Deputy Commander of the Proving Ground from January to September 1946. From October 1946 to January 1954, Karsch was the civilian WSPG Technical Director. From January 1954 until he left the federal service in September 1956, he was Assistant to the Commander for Engineering.

In addition to his involvement in the world-famous Operation Paperclip, Karsch also served on the WSPG Upper Atmosphere Research Panel. This was a multi-service group involved in the implementation and study of near-space sounding rocket missions. The best known of the sounding rockets was the Navy Aerobee that was in service for several decades after its WSPG debut. He was also involved in the initial ground-testing and eventual aerial test firings of the V-2, Corporal, Nike, and Talos missiles.

Karsch was also responsible for providing support for technical facilities operated by the Army, Navy, and Air Force at WSPG. Among Karsch’s more prominent activities in this regard included establishing flight safety procedures for Army and Navy missile firings and serving as a liaison to the Army Corps of Engineers units and civilian contractors who built a great part of the Installation’s infrastructure in the 1950s. Karsch was WSPG’s liaison with the many government laboratories that provided technical services to the Proving Ground from 1945 until WSPG began its own Flight Determination Laboratory in 1952.

After leaving WSPG in 1956 Karsch participated in military research, development, and engineering with the Ford Motor Company, General Motors, and other US corporations. In 1967 he began to focus his attention increasingly on the development of gas and diesel turbine products and their military and industrial applications.

Mr. Karsch died on 17 Dec 1993.