V-1 Flying Bomb
images1.jpegIn June, 1942, Germany began working on a new secret weapon. It was officially known as the F2G-76 but was also called Vergeltung (Retribution) as it was built in response to the mass bombing of urban areas in Germany.

British intelligence first became aware of this new weapon when on 22nd August, 1942, a Danish naval officer discovered an early test version that had crash landed on a small island between Germany and Sweden. The officer sent a photograph and a detailed sketch of the bomb to Britain and preparations began to deal with this new weapon that had the potential to win the war for Germany.

Military intelligence eventually discovered that the V-1 missile was being built at Peenemünde and in May, 1943, Winston Churchill ordered Operation Crossbow, a plan to destroy V-1 production and launch sites. Over the next few months over 36,000 tons of bombs were dropped on these targets.

The V-1 (also known as a flying bomb, buzz bomb or doodlebug) was a pilotless monoplane that was powered by a pulse-jet motor and carried a one ton warhead. They were launched from a fixed ramp and travelled at about 350mph and 4,000ft and had a range of 150 miles (240km). It was 8 metres (25 feet) long and had a wingspan of about 5.5 metres (20 feet).

Evacuated Child: "What, you ain't got no sirens or doodle-bugs! It must be very dull here."

Germany launched its new weapon from Pas-de-Calais on the northern coast of France, on 12th June, 1944. The first ten failed to reach the country but on the following day one landed in Essex. Over the next few months 1,435 hit south-east England. These attacks created panic in Britain and between mid June and the end of July, around one and a half million people left London.
Germany fired 9,521 V-I bombs on southern England. Of these 4,621 were destroyed by anti-aircraft fire or by RAF fighters such as the new turbojet fighter, the Gloster Meteor. An estimated 6,184 people were killed by these flying bombs. By August only 20 per cent of these bombs were reaching England.
V-1 Specifications:


Length: 27 ft., 3 in.
Wingspan: 17 ft. 6 in.
Loaded Weight: 4,750 lbs.


Power Plant: Argus As 109-014 pulse jet engine
Range: 150 miles
Max Speed: 393 mph


Warhead: 1,870 lbs. Amatol

V-1 Design :

The idea of a flying bomb was first proposed to the Luftwaffe in 1939. Turned down, a second proposal was also declined in 1941. With German losses increasing, the Luftwaffe revisited the concept in June 1942 and approved the development of an inexpensive flying bomb that possessed a range of around 150 miles. To protect the project from Allied spies, it was designated "Flak Ziel Geraet" (anti-aircraft target apparatus). Design of the weapon was overseen by Robert Lusser of Fieseler and Fritz Gosslau of the Argus engine works.
Refining the earlier work of Paul Schmidt, Gosslau designed a pulse jet engine for the weapon. Consisting of few moving parts, the pulse jet operated by air entering into the intake where it was mixed with fuel and ignited by spark plugs. The combustion of the mixture forced sets of intake shutters closed, producing a burst of thrust out the exhaust. The shutters then opened again in the airflow to repeat the process. This occurred around fifty times a second and gave the engine its distinctive "buzz" sound. A further advantage to the pulse jet design was that it could operate on low-grade fuel.
Gosslau's engine was mounted above a simple fuselage which possessed short, stubby wings. Designed by Lusser, the airframe was originally constructed entirely of welded sheet steel. In production, plywood was substituted for constructing the wings. The flying bomb was directed to its target through the use of a simple guidance system which relied on gyroscopes for stability, a magnetic compass for heading, and a barometric altimeter for altitude control. A vane anemometer on the nose drove a counter which determined when the target area was reached and triggered a mechanism to cause the bomb to dive.
V-1 Development:

Development of the flying bomb progressed at the Peenemünde where the V-2 rocket was being tested. The first glide test of the weapon occurred in early December 1942, with the first powered flight on Christmas Eve. Work continued through the spring of 1943, and on May 26 Nazi officials decided to place the weapon into production. Designated the Fiesler Fi-103, it was more commonly referred to as V-1, for "Vergeltungswaffe Einz" (Vengeance Weapon 1). With this approval, work accelerated at Peenemünde while operational units were formed and launch sites constructed.

While many of the V-1's early test flights had commenced from German aircraft, the weapon was intended to be launched from ground sites through the use of ramps fitted with steam or chemical catapults. These sites were quickly constructed in northern France in the Pas-de-Calais region. While many early sites were destroyed by Allied aircraft as part of Operation Crossbow before becoming operational, new, concealed locations were built to replace them. While V-1 production was spread across Germany, many were built by slave-labor at the notorious underground "Mittelwerk" plant near Nordhausen.
Operational History:
The first V-1 attacks occurred on June 13, 1944, when around ten of the missiles were fired towards London. V-1 attacks began in earnest two days later inaugurating the "flying bomb blitz." Due to the odd sound of the V-1's engine, the British public dubbed the new weapon the "buzz bomb" and "doodlebug." Like the V-2, the V-1 was unable to strike specific targets and was intended to be an area weapon that inspired terror in the British population. Those on the ground quickly learned that the end of a V-1's "buzz" signaled that it was diving to the ground.

Early Allied efforts to counter the new weapon were haphazard as fighter patrols often lacked aircraft that could catch the V-1 at its cruising altitude of 2,000-3,000 feet and anti-aircraft guns could not traverse quickly enough to hit it. To combat the threat, anti-aircraft guns were redeployed across southeastern England and over 2,000 barrage balloons deployed. The only aircraft suitable for defensive duties in mid-1944 was the new Hawker Tempest which was only available in limited numbers. This was soon joined by modified P-51 Mustangs and Spitfire Mark XIVs.

At night, the DeHavilland Mosquito was used as an effective interceptor. While the Allies made improvements in aerial interception, new tools aided the fight from the ground. In addition to faster traversing guns, the arrival of gun laying radars (such as the SCR-584) and proximity fuses made ground fire the most effective way of defeating the V-1. By late August 1944, 70% of V-1s were destroyed by guns on the coast. While these home defense techniques were becoming effective, the threat was only ended when Allied troops overran German launch positions in France and the Low Countries.
With the loss of these launch sites, the Germans were forced to rely on air-launched V-1s for striking at Britain. These were fired from modified Heinkel He-111s flying over the North Sea. A total of 1,176 V-1s were launched in this manner until the Luftwaffe suspended the approach due to bomber losses in January 1945. Though no longer able to hit targets in Britain, the Germans continued to use the V-1 to strike at Antwerp and other key sites in the Low Countries that had been liberated by the Allies.Over 30,000 V-1s were produced during the war with around 10,000 fired at targets in Britain. Of these only 2,419 reached London killing 6,184 people and injuring 17,981. Antwerp, a popular target, was hit by 2,448 between October 1944 and March 1945. A total of around 9,000 were fired at targets in Continental Europe. Though V-1s only struck their target 25% of the time, they proved more economical than the Luftwaffe's bombing campaign of 1940/41. Regardless, the V-1 was largely a terror weapon and had little overall impact on the outcome of the war.v-1.jpegDuring the war, both the United States and Soviet Union reverse engineered the V-1 and produced their versions. Though neither saw combat service, the American JB-2 was intended for use during the proposed invasion of Japan. Retained by the US Air Force, the JB-2 was used as a test platform into the 1950s.
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Some of the components are heavily simplfied.
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