Fieseler Fi 103 V-1

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The V-1 (Vergeltungswaffe: German for “vengeance weapon”) was the first guided missile used in war.  Most V-1s were launched from catapult ramps, while others were dropped from aircraft. A simple pulse jet engine gave a flying V-1 a distinctive sound, earning it the nickname of “buzzbomb” or “doodlebug” (after an Australian insect). Before launch, a counter was set to reach zero upon arrival at the target. As the missile flew, a small propeller in the nose turned. When the counter reached zero, the V-1 went into a steep dive. Sudden silence alerted those below that the V-1 would impact nearby.

The V-1 was manufactured at various sites but the main production facility was the notorious underground complex known as Mittelwerk at Nordhausen in the Hartz Mountains. Here, slave-laborers assembled V-1s in appalling conditions. Around 35,000 V-1s were fabricated, with approximately 10,000 fired at England. Of that number only 2,419 actually reached London—about a 20 percent success rate.

Did you know?
V-1 wings were made of wood, skinned with plywood.
General Statistics
Crew: none
Length: 25 ft 10 in
Wing span: 17 ft 6 in
Height: 4 ft 6 in
Weight: 4,858 lbs
Engine: 1 x Argus Schmidt AS 109-014 pulse jet
Maximum speed: 415 mph at 4,500 ft
Range: 125-130 miles
Ceiling: 8,840 ft
1 x 1,870 lb high-explosive warhead