1) The V1 stands for Vergeltungswaffe-1, German for retaliatory weapons. They were developed to strike back at Britain in retaliation of the bombing of German cities.
2) Eventually there were three V-weapons developed, the V2 was the first ballistic missile, the V3 was a super gun which was never finished.
3) The first V-1 was launched at London on 13 June 1944, one week after the invasion of France. It’s first flight, launched from a bomber, took place on December 10th 1942.
4) It was powered by a simple pulsejet engine which pulsed 50 times per second which gave it a characteristic buzzing sound causing it to be named “buzz bomb” or “doodlebug” by the British.
5) This is how a V1 sounded:
6) The V1 was guided by a simple autopilot that regulated airspeed and altitude, a weighted pendulum system provided fore-and-aft attitude measurement to control pitch.
7) To determine the flight time an odometer driven by a vane on the nose calculated when the approximate target area had been reached. Before launch, the counter was set to a value that would reach zero upon arrival at the target in the prevailing wind conditions.
V-1 (Fieseler Fi 103) in flight – Bundesarchiv
8) The V1 was launched from a ramp which was pointed in the approximate direction, when it left the ramp it would fly at about 150 mp/h.
9) In earlier versions when the V1 went in a dive towards the target the engine would cut out due to fuel starvation, this problem was fixed in later version when the engine kept powering the V1 all the way down.
10) To defend London against the V1s anti aircraft guns were redeployed on the approach routes of the rockets.
11) On the first night of sustained bombardment, the anti-aircraft crews around Croydon were jubilant – suddenly they were downing unprecedented numbers of German bombers; most of their targets burst into flames and fell when their engines cut out. There was great disappointment when the truth was announced.
12) It proved very difficult to shoot down these small and fast rockets on top of that they flew just above the effective range of light anti-aircraft guns, and just below the optimum engagement height of heavier guns.
13) A proximity fuse and gun laying radar were used against the V1s with ever increasing success.
14) At first seventeen per cent of all flying bombs entering the coastal “gun belt” were destroyed by guns in their first week on the coast. This rose to 60 per cent by 23 August and 74 per cent in the last week of the month, when on one day 82 per cent were shot down. The rate improved from one V-1 destroyed for every 2,500 shells fired initially, to one for every 100.
15) Hawker Tempest fighters were employed to counter this thread as they were fast enough and able to fly low enough (controlled) to keep up with the V1s which flew at over 340 MPH.
A Spitfire using its wingtip to “topple” a V-1 flying bomb
16) One of the tactics used was to use the airflow over an fighters wing to raise one wing of the V-1, by sliding the wingtip to within 6 in of the lower surface of the V-1’s wing. If properly executed, this manoeuvre would tip the V-1’s wing up, overriding the gyros and sending the V-1 into an out-of-control dive. At least 16 V1s were destroyed this way.
17) To adjust and correct settings in the V-1 guidance system, the Germans needed to know where the V-1s were landing. Therefore, German intelligence was requested to obtain this impact data from their agents in Britain. However, all German agents in Britain had been turned, and were acting as double agents under British control giving inaccurate reports to the Germans.
18) A certain number of the V-1s fired had been fitted with radio transmitters, which had clearly demonstrated a tendency for the V-1 to fall short. The commander of the V1 campaign compared the data gathered by the transmitters with the reports obtained through the double agents. He concluded, when faced with the discrepancy between the two sets of data, that there must be a fault with the radio transmitters, as he had been assured that the agents were completely reliable.
19) By September 1944, the V-1 threat to England was temporarily halted when the launch sites on the French coast were overrun by the advancing Allied armies. 4,261 V-1s had been destroyed by fighters, anti-aircraft fire and barrage balloons.
20) The last enemy action of any kind on British soil occurred on 29 March 1945, when a V-1 struck Datchworth in Hertfordshire.
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