Fieseler Fi 103 (Vergeltungswaffe 1 or V1) at the Military Aviation Museum, Kamp Zeist (the Netherlands)
The V-1 (Vergeltungswaffe 1 or V1) flying bomb was an early pulsejet-powered predecessor of the cruise missile or Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). The V-1 was designed under the codename "Kirschkern" (Cherry Stone) by Robert Lüsser of the German aircraft factory Fieseler and Fritz Gosslau of the Argus Motoren company, with a fuselage constructed mainly of welded steel sheets and wings built of plywood. The simple Argus-built pulse jet engine pulsed 50 times per second and the characteristic buzzing sound gave rise to the colloquial names "Buzz Bomb" or "Doodlebug" (a common name for a wide variety of insects). It was known briefly in Germany (on Hitler's orders) as "Maikäfer" (May Bug) and "Krähe" (Crow). The V-1 could reach a maximum speed of 656 km/h (407 mph) flying between 600 to 900 metres (2000 to 3000 ft) and had originally a maximum range of 240 km (about 150 miles) but this was improved to 420 km (about 260 miles) to allow for it to be launched from Holland. The V-1 weighed 2150 kg (4740 lb), including the gasoline fuel and a 850 kg (1874 lb) warhead. The first of the so-called Vergeltungswaffen (retaliatory weapons or reprisal weapons) designed for terror bombing of London, the V-1 was fired from launch sites along the French (Pas-de-Calais) and Dutch coasts. The first V-1 was launched at London on 13 June 1944, one week after the successful Allied landing in Europe. At its peak, more than one hundred V-1s a day were fired at south-east England, 9521 in total, decreasing in number as sites were overrun until October 1944, when the last V-1 site in range of Britain was overrun by Allied forces. After this, the V-1s were directed at the port of Antwerp and other targets in Belgium, with 2448 V-1s being launched. The attacks stopped when the last launch site was overrun on 29 March 1945.