V-1 flying bomb


Science Museum

Science Museum

This pilotless aircraft, carrying nearly a ton of high explosive, was used to attack London and southeast England during 1944. In the two and a half months of the attack, 8600 were launched from northern France.

The weapon was kept on course by a magnetic compass and autopilot. The windmill propeller on the nose measured the air distance covered. After a preset distance the control system caused the aircraft to dive into the ground.

This guidance system was inaccurate, but sufficiently good for reaching a target the size of London. Many flying bombs were destroyed by anti-aircraft gunfire and fighters, but more than 2000 fell on the capital. Eventually Allied armies overran the launching sites in northern Europe, and though some V-1s were launched from Heinkel He-111 bombers they ceased to be a major threat.

This example came from a store of unused missiles captured in northern Germany at the end of the war.

Credit: War Office

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  • Title: V-1 flying bomb
  • Date Created: 1944