The Fieseler Fi 103, better known as the V-1, also colloquially known in Britain as the ‘Doodlebug’, was an early pulse jet powered rocket. The V-1 was developed at Peenemünde Airfield by the German Luftwaffe during the Second World War. The first of the so-called Vergeltungswaffen series designed for terror bombing of London, the V-1 was fired from “ski” launch sites along the French (Pas-de-Calais) and Dutch coasts. The first V-1 was launched at London on 13 June 1944, one week after (and prompted by) the successful Allied landing in Europe. At its peak, over a hundred V-1s a day were fired at southeast England, 9,521 in total, decreasing in number as sites were overrun until October 1944, when the last V-1 site in range of Britain was overrun by Allied forces. This caused the remaining V-1s to be re-targeted on the port of Antwerp and other targets in Belgium, with 2,448 V-1s being launched. The attacks stopped when the last site was overrun on 29 March 1945. In total, the V-1 attacks caused 22,892 casualties.
The RLM at first planned to use a radio control system with the V-1 for precision, but the government decided instead to use it against London. However, some flying bombs were equipped with a basic radio transmitter operating in the range of 340-450 kHz. Once over the channel, the radio would be switched on by the vane counter, and a 400-foot aerial deployed. A coded Morse signal, unique to each V1 site, transmitted the route, and impact zone once the radio stopped transmitting.
An odometer driven by a vane anemometer (Luftlog) on the nose determined when the target area had been reached. Before launch, it was set to count backwards from a value that would reach zero upon arrival at the target in the prevailing wind conditions. As the rocket flew, the airflow turned the propeller, and every 30 rotations of the propeller counted down one number on the odometer. This odometer triggered arming after about 60 km (37 mi). When the count reached zero, two detonating bolts were fired. Two spoilers on the elevator were released, the linkage between the elevator and servo was jammed, and a guillotine device cut off the control hoses to the rudder servo, setting the rudder in neutral. These actions put the V-1 into a steep dive. While this was originally intended to be a power dive, in practice the dive caused the fuel flow to cease, which stopped the engine. The sudden silence after the buzzing alerted listeners of the impending impact.
Initially, V-1s landed within a circle 19 miles (31 kilometres) in diameter, but by the end of the war, accuracy had been improved to about 7 miles (11 kilometres), which was comparable to the V-2 rocket.
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