The Fieseler Fi 103 was an instrument of terror in the hearts and minds of the elder people of Great Britain and other countries in Europe who have outlived the ravages and anguish brought by World War II. Better known by the designation “V-1 Buzz Bomb” or locally called “Doodlebug” in Britain, the V-1 was an early form of cruise missile powered by a pulse jet engine made possible by the German’s advanced military technology during the war. As could be recalled, when the US sent the ultimatum for Japan to surrender, it was made through atomic bombs loaded on B-25s and emptied at the center of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Despite the devastation effects, the technology employed on that historical event couldn’t be compared to the advance means by which the Germans designed the V-1 rocket that could be launched from a remote place with guidance systems enabling it to hit its target.
The V-1 has a fuselage made of welded sheet steel and wings of partial plywood construction. Its pulse jet engine, an Argus As 109-014 pulsed 50 times a second accounting for the buzzing sound characteristic which earned it a name “buzz bomb” or “doodlebug” which refers to certain types of insects. It has an Amatol-39 warhead weighing 850 kg (1,870 lb) which was a mixture of TNT (Trinitrotoluene) and ammonium nitrate. Considering the low static thrust of the engine and high stall speed of the wings, the V-1 was unable to take-off on its own thereby requiring a catapult system on the ground for it to effectively attain take-off speed and make use of its engine.
Launch sites could launch an average of 15 V-1s a day with only 25% of it hitting their targets owing to mechanical and guidance errors. An estimated 30,000 V-1s were made by March 1944 out of which about 10,000 were directed at Britain with 2,419 reaching London and killing about 6,184 and injuring some 17,981. Among other targets Antwerp, Belgium received the second highest hit with an estimated 2,448 V-1s from October 1944 to March 1945.
In Britain defense against the V-1s were consisted of anti-aircraft guns, barrage balloons with tethering cables and aircraft interceptors. A fleet of Hawker Tempests, P-51 Mustangs and Griffon engined Spitfires XIVs fitted into the role of chasing V-1s, firing at them and when opportunities allowed, tipping the V-1s wing with the aircraft wing to screw up the guidance system and causing it to dive out of control.
The advancing Allied armies put a temporary end to the V-1 attack in Britain by capturing the launch sites along the French coast. 29 March 1945 marked the last V-1 attack that struck Hertfordshire. The overall estimate reached 22,892 casualties (mainly civilians) were attributed to the V-1 attacks. “Operation Crossbow” carried out by the Allied troops finally put an end to V-1 launch sites and underground storage depots.