The V1 flying bomb reference article from the English Wikipedia on 24-Jul-2004
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V1 flying bomb

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V1 flying bomb
First modern cruise missile
Description
Role Flying bomb
Crew none
Dimensions
Length 7.90 m 25' 11"
Wingspan 5.37 m 17' 7"
Height 1.42 m 4' 8"
Wing area
Weights
Empty
Loaded 2,150 kg 4,750 lb
Powerplant
Engine 1x Argus As 14 pulsejet
Power 2.9 kN 660 lb
Performance
Maximum speed 656 km/h 410 mph
Range 240 km 150 mile
Service ceiling 3,050 m 10,000 ft
Rate of Climb
Armament
Amatol warhead 830 kg 1,832 lb

The Vergeltungswaffe 1 FZG-76 (V1), known as the Flying Bomb, Buzz Bomb or Doodlebug, was the first modern guided missile used in wartime and the first cruise missile. Vergeltungswaffe means "reprisal weapon", and FZG is an abbreviation of Flak Ziel Gerät ("anti-aircraft aiming device"), a misleading name.

Called the Buzz Bomb because of the characteristic buzzing sound of the engine, it caused considerable fear in targeted areas. People would listen for the missile approaching, but then be relieved when it could be heard overhead as that meant it had actually passed them. If the engine noise cut out, it was time to duck, as the missile would then go into its terminal dive.

The V1 was developed by the German Luftwaffe during the Second World War and was used operationally between June 1944 and March 1945. It was used to attack targets in south-eastern England and Belgium, mainly the cities of London and Antwerp. V1s were launched from "ski-jump" launch sites along the French (Pas-de-Calais) and Dutch coasts until they were over-run by Allied forces. It was later complemented by the more sophisticated V2 rocket.

Table of contents
1 Description
2 Operation and impact
3 Intelligence
4 Countermeasures
5 After the war
6 See also
7 References

Description

The V1 was jointly designed by Robert Lusser of the Fieseler company and Fritz Gosslau from the Argus engine works as the Fi 103. It was powered by an Argus pulse jet engine providing 2.9 kN (660 pounds) of thrust for a top speed of 630 km/h (390 mph) and a range of around 250 km (150 mile) later 400 km (250 mile). It was 7.9 m (26 ft) long, 5.3 m (17 ft) in span and weighed 2,180 kg (4,800 pound). It flew at an altitude of between 100 to 1000 m (300 to 3000 ft). It carried a 850 kg (1,870 pound) warhead. The missile was a relatively simple device with a fuselage constructed mainly from sheet metal, and could be assembled in around fifty man-hours.

The guidance system was very crude in construction but sophisticated in conception (and had a few flaws in execution). Once clear of the launching pad, an autopilot was engaged. It regulated height and speed together, using a weighted pendulum system to get fore and aft feedback linking these and the device's attitude to control its pitch (damped by a gyromagnetic compass, which it also stabilized). There was a more sophisticated interaction between yaw, roll, and other sensors: a gyromagnetic compass (set by swinging in a hangar before launch) gave feedback to control each of pitch and roll, but it was angled away from the horizontal so that controlling these degrees of freedom interacted (the gyroscope stayed trued up by feedback from the magnetic field, and from the fore and aft pendulum mentioned before). This interaction meant that rudder control was sufficient without any separate banking mechanism. On reaching the target, the desired altitude was reset to be negative; this should have led to a power dive, but the steep descent caused the fuel to run away from the pipes and so the power cut out. As there was a belly fuse as well as a nose fuse, there was still usually an explosion, although not always with the device buried deep enough to increase the effect of the blast.

Operation and impact

The first test flight of a V1 was in late 1941 or early 1942 at Peenemünde. Early guidance and stabilization problems were finally resolved by a daring test flight by Hanna Reitsch, in a V1 modified for manned operation. The data she brought back after fighting the unwieldy V1 down to a successful landing enabled the engineers to devise the stabilization system described above.

The first offensive launch was on June 12 to June 13, 1944. The Allies has previously organized a heavy series of air attacks on the launch sites (beginning in December 1943) and now also attacked the V1s in flight (see Countermeasures below). Due to a combination of defensive measures, mechanical unreliability and guidance errors, only a quarter successfully hit their targets.

Once the Allies had captured or destroyed the sites that were the principal launch points V1s aimed at England, the Germans switched to missile launches aimed at strategic points in the Low Countries, primarily the port of Antwerp.

image:v1_fall.jpg
Final dive of a V1

Although most V1s were launched from static sites on land, from July 1944 to January 1945 the Luftwaffe launched a number of V1s from Heinkel He 111 aircraft flying over the North Sea. This would also have been the launch method for the proposed piloted version of the weapon, and is how the very earliest experimental versions of the V-1 were tested. Late in the war, it was hoped to use the Arado Ar 234 jet bomber to deploy V1s, either by towing them aloft, or by launching them from a "piggy back" position atop the aircraft. Neither Ar 234 concept was employed before the end of the war.

Almost 30,000 V1s were manufactured. Approximately 10,000 were fired at England up to March 29, 1945. Of these, about 7,000 were "hits" in the sense that they landed somewhere in England. A little more than half of those (3,876) landed in the Greater London area.

An almost equal number were shot down or intercepted by barrage balloons. When the V1 raids began, the only effective defense was interception by a handful of very high performance fighter aircraft, in particular the Hawker Tempest.

In the London area, roughly 5,500 people died as a result of V1 attacks, with some 16,000 more people injured.

Intelligence

The codename Flak Ziel Gerät 76, was somewhat successful in disguising the true nature of this device, and it was some time before references to FZG 76 were tied to the V83 pilotless aircraft (an experimental V-1) which had crashed on an island in the Baltic, and to reports from agents of a flying bomb capable of being used against London. Initially British experts were skeptical of the V-1 because they had considered only solid fuel rockets as a means of propulsion, which put the stated range of 130 miles out of question. However when other types of engine were considered they relented, and by the time German scientists had achieved the needed accuracy for the deployment of the V-1 as a weapon British intelligence had a very accurate characterisation of it.

A deception concerning the V-1 was played on the Germans using double agents. M.I.5 arranged for these agents to provide Germany with damage reports for the June 1944 V-1 attacks which implied that on average the bombs were travelling too far, while not contradicting the evidence presumed to be available to German planners from photographic reconnaissance of London. In fact the bombs had been seeded with radio-transmitting samples to confirm their range, but the results from these samples were ignored in favour of the false eye-witness accounts, and many lives may have been saved by the resulting tendency of future V-1 bombs to fall short of built up areas.

Countermeasures

Anti-aircraft gunners found that such small, fast-moving targets were difficult to hit. At first, it took, on average, 2500 shells to bring down a single V1. Most fighter aircraft were too slow to catch a V1 unless they had a useful height advantage. Even when caught, the V1 was difficult to bring down. Machine gun bullets had little effect on the sheet steel structure, and 20mm cannon shells had a shorter range, which meant that detonating the warhead could easily destroy the intercepting fighter as well. Barrage balloons were a theoretical obstacle, but the leading edges of the V1's wings were equipped with balloon cable cutters and fewer than 300 V1s are known to have been destroyed by hitting cable.

When the attacks began in mid-June of 1944 there were fewer than 30 Tempests in 150 Wing to defend against them. Few other aircraft had the low altitude performance to be effective. Initial attempts to intercept V1s were often unsuccessful but interdiction techniques were rapidly developed. (These included the hair-raising but effective method of using the airflow over an interceptor's wing to raise one wing of the Doodlebug, by sliding the interceptor's wingtip under the V1's wing and bringing it to within six inches of the lower surface. Done properly, the airflow would tip the V1's wing up, overriding the buzz bomb's gyros and sending it into an out of control dive. At least three V1s were destroyed this way.)

The Tempest wing was built up to over 100 aircraft by September; Griffon-engined Spitfire XIVs and Mustangs were polished and tuned to make them almost fast enough, and during the short summer nights the Tempests shared defensive duty with Mosquitoes. Specially modified P-47 Thunderbolts (P-47Ms) with half their fuel tanks, half their 0.5 in (12.7 mm) machine guns, all external fittings and all their armor plate removed were also pressed into service against the V1 menace. (There was no need for radar—at night the V1's engine could be seen from 16 km (10 mile) or more away.)

In daylight, V1 chases were chaotic and often unsuccessful until a special defence zone between London and the coast was declared in which only the fastest fighters were permitted. Between June and mid-August 1944, the handful of Tempests shot down 638 flying bombs. (One Tempest pilot, Joseph Berry, downed fifty-nine V1s, another 44, and Wing Commander Beaumont destroyed 31.) Next most successful was the Mosquito (428), Spitfire XIV (303), and Mustang, (232). All other types combined added 158. The still-experimental jet-powered Gloster Meteor, which was rushed half-ready into service to fight the V1s, had ample speed but suffered from a readily jammed cannon and accounted for only 13.

By mid-August 1944, the threat was all but overcome—not by aircraft, but by the sudden arrival of two enormously effective electronic aids for anti-aircraft guns, both developed in the USA by the Rad Lab: radar-based automatic gunlaying, and above all, the proximity fuse. Within weeks, the vast majority of V1s launched were shot down by anti-aircraft guns as they crossed the coast. The kill rate increased from one V1 for every 2500 shells fired to one for every hundred.

After the war

After the war, the armed forces of both the United States and the Soviet Union experimented with the V1 in an assortment of scenarios. The most successful was a U.S. Navy experiment to mount V1s on submarines. This was called the KGW-1 Loon, which was an adaptation of the U.S. Army's JB-2 Loon.

See also

Flying Bomb at National Air & Space MuseumEnlarge

Flying Bomb at National Air & Space Museum

References


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