either of two long-range guided missiles built and used by Germany at the close of World War II to demoralize the population of Great Britain and to force Great Britain to withdraw from the war.

On June 13, 1944, attacks were mounted on London by winged V-l (Fi-103 or FZG-76) flying bombs, developed by the Argus and Fieseler firms. They were designed by H. Bunse (according to other sources, by P. Schmidt) in the form of a pilotless midwing monoplane 7.6 m long with a wingspan of 5.3 m and a launch weight of 2.2 tons, including a warhead weighing 1 ton and 0.5 tons of fuel. The pulse-jet engine, with a thrust of 2.7 kilonewtons (0.27 ton-force), gave the missile a flight velocity of 550 km/hr and a range from 240 to 370 km (in the final version). The V-l had a control system based on a pneumatic gyroscopic autopilot with magnetic correction and a mechanism to read the distance traveled and issue the command to dive. The missile was launched from a catapult 47.8–65 m long, operating on hydrogen peroxide. The missile was remarkable for its simplicity of design, but it had poor flight performance characteristics and was extremely vulnerable to antiaircraft weapons. The Germans launched 10,500 V-l missiles, approximately 2,500 of which exploded on London.

The ballistic V-2 (A-4) rocket, developed at the Penemünde Research Center and designed by W. Von Braun, was first used on Sept. 8, 1944. The missile was 14 m long and had a diameter of 1.65 m and a launch weight of 12.7 tons, including a warhead of 1 ton and approximately 8.5 tons of oxygen-alcohol fuel. The liquid-fuel rocket engine provided a thrust of 270 kilonewtons (270 tons-force), powering the missile to velocities up to 1,700 m/sec within 68 seconds, with a range of 270 km; the final versions had ranges up to 320 km. The V-2 was equipped with an autonomous inertial gyroscopic control system. Preparations and launching were carried out by means of a group of mobile hoisting and transport, fueling, testing, and launch units. The V-2 had a complex design and cost ten times as much to produce as the V-l, but it was totally invulnerable to the antiaircraft weapons of the day; however, design flaws and the low payload of the warhead made it impossible to use this advantage effectively. Of the 4,300 V-2 missiles launched, 1,400 were directed against Great Britain and 517 exploded on London.

Germany’s objectives in using the V-bombs were not achieved. However, the development and use of the V-2 demonstrated the great potential of long-range missiles.


Ley, W. Rakety i polety v kosmos. Moscow, 1961. (Translated from English.)
Orlov, A. S. Sekretnoe oruzhie tret’ego reikha. Moscow, 1975.


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