V-1: The Flying Bomb

“The Flying Bomb” from C.I.C. (Combat Information Center), U.S. Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, August 1944.

V-1 The Flying Bomb

the flying bomb

The pilotless airborne bomb which was first used by the Germans on June 13, has been officially designated as the “Flying Bomb”. (Newspapers have referred to it also as “Doodle Bug” and as “Buzz Bomb”.)

This weapon, known to the Germans as V-1, appears to be one answer to Allied air supremacy in the Channel area. While the inaccuracy of the missiles as used to date is such as to make it impossible to assign specific military targets as objectives, approximately 35 percent of the bombs have landed in the London area causing considerable damage to non-military installations.

The bomb, as may be seen from the illustration, is of relatively simple construction and apparently designed for mass production.

From an examination of fragments and parts of unexploded bombs recovered in England, it has been possible to determine the method of operation. The bomb is originally launched from an inclined ramp on the mainland, by means not yet determined, at an initial speed of approximately 270 miles per hour and continues under the drive of the jet propulsion motor which operates as a result of the increased pressure developed on the forward side of the air intake grill by the high speed of the missile.

A clockwork mechanism which precesses the gyro normally under control of the magnetic compass allows the bomb to be put into a turn within three minutes after launching. The maximum duration of the turn is one minute and corresponds to about 40° in azimuth. After being put on course by this method, the missile flies in a straight line under control of the magnetic compass which precesses a gyro controlling a servo motor actuated by air pressure from two high pressure air bottles located in the fuselage. The gyro is further precessed by a barometric capsule which can be preset for any desired altitude up to 10,000 feet. A small two-bladed propeller, 10 centimeters long, mounted on a shaft geared to a veeder counter, registering to 9999, constitutes an air log. By pre-setting the counter, which is turned backwards during flight, the electrical fuse can be armed, the radio transmitter turned off, and the detonators in the tail assembly exploded. The radio transmitter, which appears in approximately one out of every twenty missiles, is provided in order that shore D/F stations may obtain fixes on the bomb for the purpose of correcting errors in flight. A prisoner of war has reported that the fix must be obtained and telephoned to the control central within ten seconds in order to insure sufficient accuracy. The detonators in the tail assembly operate at a pre-determined time prior to the end of the flight, shutting off the fuel supply and causing the elevators to operate and put the plane in a dive. At the same time, two small spoilers of different sizes are projected from the surfaces of the elevators presumably causing the plane to spin in.

Some instances have been reported in which the plane glided in to the target after the motor had stopped instead of diving. Later reports have indicated that some of the bombs circle before going into a dive. The exact reason for this is not known. but it is assumed that it is for the purpose of obtaining a fix as a check on the accuracy of the flight.

Countermeasures to date have consisted of:
     a. Bombing launching sites.
     b. Destruction of missiles by fighter planes.
     c. Destruction of missiles by antiaircraft fire.
     d. Use of barrage balloons.

On one instance a fighter pilot who had run out of ammunition succeeded in crashing a bomb by tipping it over with his wing tips.

A summary of the results of the flying bomb attacks on England (as excerpted from Prime Minister Churchill’s address of July 6th) appears in “German Flying Bombs” in the July 12, 1944 issue of The O.N.I. Weekly.


How Radio-Controlled Bombs Were Jammed

The following article was printed in the December 1945 issue of C.I.C. (Combat Information Center) published by the U.S. Office of the Chief of Naval Operations.

How Radio-Controlled Bombs Were Jammed

The long, violent history of this war saw the rise of many new or radically improved weapons, from the magnetic mine in the early days to the “personnel-controlled bomb” (suicide plane) of recent fame. The story of Allied countermeasures to the threat of Axis weapons is in many cases as dramatic as the weapons themselves.

Henschel Hs 293 Missile

German planes carried the radio-guided missiles under their wings.

For instance, take the case of the German radio-controlled bomb. As early as 1941 British Intelligence began receiving reports that the Germans were developing a bomb which could be remotely controlled from a parent aircraft. Development and operational use, however, are two different things, and it was not until August, 1943, that the Luftwaffe was ready to unveil it. A group of corvettes on anti-submarine patrol in the Bay of Biscay were attacked by what was identified as a remotely controlled bomb—a missile resembling a small fighter plane—capable of radical maneuvering both in azimuth and elevation. The parent aircraft were DO217 twin-engined bombers. One of the corvettes was sunk, another damaged. Later in August further highly successful attacks were made against shipping in the Mediterranean and Bay of Biscay. The bomb (designated HS293) was released by the parent plane at altitudes of 3000-5000 feet and ranges of three to five miles from the target. The missile was jet-assisted shortly after its release; its speed, variously estimated at the time, is now known to have been about 325 knots. The controlling operator in the plane was able to follow the bomb visually by observing a light in the tail.

During and immediately following the Salerno landings the German guided missile program moved into high gear. The enemy introduced another type of controlled missile, the FX, a radio-corrected 4400 pound bomb of tremendous power and accuracy, as anyone present in Salerno Gulf at that time will testify. The Luftwaffe caught units of the Italian Fleet racing to reach Allied ports and scored heavily with both HS293 and FX bombs. They attacked Allied shipping in Salerno Gulf, sinking and damaging several British and United States warships, large and small. It was estimated that nearly 50% of the bombs launched were hits or damaging near misses.

At that time radio control was suspected (on the basis of prisoner-of-war reports) but was by no means confirmed. The control hand was supposed to lie in the 20 Mc region, and desperate, hastily improvised jamming effort was concentrated in this band, which seemed to improve morale without affecting the accuracy of the missiles.

Continue reading How Radio-Controlled Bombs Were Jammed

1/35th V-1 Models

Bronco Models has introduced a series of 1/35th scale models of the German Fieseler Fi 103 (German “Vergeltungswaffe 1” or V-1; Allied “Buzz Bomb” or “Doodlebug”) pulse-jet powered missile. Piloted variants of the Fieseler Fi 103, known as “Reichenbergs”, were also manufactures but were never used in combat.

V-1 Fieseler Fi 103 A-1 Flying Bomb (CB35058):
V-1 Bomb Fieseler Fi 103 A-1 Buzz Bomb

V-1 Fieseler Fi 103 Re-4 Piloted Flying Bomb (CB35059):
WW2 Piloted V-1 Bomb Fieseler Fi 103 Re-4 Reichenberg

V-1 Fieseler Fi 103 Re-3 Flying Bomb Trainer (CB35060)
V-1 Bomb Fieseler Fi 103 Trainer Re-3 Reichenberg