V-1 in Flight
The pilotless V-1 aircraft was powered by a pulse jet engine and could carry an 850 kg (1,870 lb) warhead at speeds of up to 645 km/h (400 mph). It was first used as an offensive weapon by the Nazis against London on June 13, 1944, as part of a ten-month-long offensive against Britain. The V-1s became popularly known as "doodlebugs".
V-1 Missile, first guided missile to be used in warfare, launched by Nazi Germany during World War II (1939-1945). The V-1, along with the V-2 rocket, was developed to attack Allied cities in reprisal for the Allied bombing offensive against Germany. The letter V stands for Vergeltungswaffe (German for “reprisal weapon”).
The V-1 was a small, pilotless aircraft, powered by a pulse jet engine. It carried an 850 kg (1,870 lb) warhead and flew at speeds of up to 645 km/h (400 mph). It was generally catapulted into the air from a ramp, but could also be launched from modified Heinkel He-111 bomber aircraft. A gyroscopic guidance system maintained a pre-plotted flight path for ranges of up 240 km (149 mi), later extended to 400 km (249 mi). At a predetermined distance the engine cut out, sending the V-1 into a steep dive onto its target.
The first V-1 attack took place against London on June 13, 1944, commencing a ten-month-long offensive. The city was eventually attacked by 9,251 V-1s, 4,621 of which were shot down before reaching their targets. Over 6,000 British civilians were killed by V-1s, with many more injured. Antwerp, Belgium, was also a major V-1 target; the city was attacked by 8,696 of the missiles.
Initially the British defenses had difficulty in shooting down “buzz bombs” or “doodlebugs,” as the V-1s became popularly known. A relatively effective set of defenses was eventually mounted. Barrage balloons were used to tangle the wings of V-1s with long cables. In addition to shooting down V-1s, British fighter aircraft developed special maneuvers to destabilize the flying weapons in midair, causing them to crash before reaching their targets. Radar-controlled anti-aircraft guns also targeted V-1s with proximity-fused shells that exploded near the flying bombs. In addition, captured German spies were compelled to send false information regarding the location of V-1 detonations. This deception caused the Germans to adjust their range, so that a higher proportion of the V-1s dropped in the countryside south of London.