Hitler's last weapons
On June 10, 1944 took place the first strike of German V1 flying bombs, launched on Great Britain. By this new “secret weapon”, Hitler hoped to terrorize the British population and break the determination of the allies.
The first experiments on ballistic flying bombs had begun in 1936, when Hitler decided to build a research center in Pennemunde, on the Baltic coast. The first successful flight of the future V1 took place on October 3, 1942, and the Todt organization was in charge of the construction of launching sites in northern France . However, for very impressive that they were, the attacks of V1 did remain rather unefficient: on the 9.000 rockets that were launched, half were destroyed in flight, only 2.700 of them reaching their target. The number of deaths caused by these attacks is also weak: 6.000 dead is means two killed per fallen V1!
Only the launching of V2, as from September 1944, will prove much more dangerous, the speed of this first rocket making impossible any interception. First V2 struck Paris on September 8, 1944, but it is against London that the greatest part of them was going to be fired. For seven months, the British capital, but also Antwerp - which became meanwhile the main allied port in Europe - underwent the bombardments of V2. 1.350 V2 fell on the United Kingdom, nearly 1.300 on Antwerp, a hundred on Liege, 65 on Brussels. However, as for the V1, the lack of precision of the V2 (limited to a 11 km-wide circle!) and reliability problems (40% of the shootings turned into failure) limited this weapon's offensive possibilities, and resulted in a (relatively) limied list of victims, which did not exceed the 5.000. The last V2 was fired in March 1945.
Interestingly enough, the English had received the plans and of whole elements of V2 as of early as July 1944: Polish resistance AK had indeed managed to recover a whole V2 which had not exploded during tests. Dismounted and analyzed, this V2 was entrusted to a committee of scientific experts, who established the plans and the operating mode of the machine. The night of July 25, 1944, a C47 Dakota flew in from Italy (operation „Most III”), managed to land clandestinely in Poland, and to bring back the most significant plans and parts of the flying bomb.
Length : 7,90 m
Wingspan : 5,40 m
Weight : 2 150 Kg (of which 550 of fuel and 830 of explosives)
Speed : 644 Km/h
Range : 230 Km
Height : 14 m
Diameter : 1,65m
Weight : 12,9 T (of which over 8T of fuel and 1 T of explosives)
Speed : 5 760 Km/h
Reach : 320 Km