Encyclopedia Astronautica

Family of launch vehicles.

More... - Chronology...

Associated Launch Vehicles
  • V-1 First significant cruise missile. German engineer, Paul Schmidt, working from design of Lorin tube, developed and patented a ramjet engine later modified and used in the V-1 Flying Bomb. More...
  • Loon American short range cruise missile, a copy of the German V-1 (Fieseler Fi 103). More...
  • Kh-101 Russian air-to-surface missile. Chelomei mobile-launched version of V-1 More...
  • Kh-102 Russian air-to-surface missile. Chelomei mobile-launched version of V-1 More...
  • 10Kh Chelomei mobile-launched short range cruise missile derived from the German V-1. Did not reach production. More...

V-1 Chronology

June 1932 - . LV Family: V-1. Launch Vehicle: V-1.
  • V-1 engine concept patented. - . Nation: Germany. Related Persons: Schmidt, Paul. German engineer, Paul Schmidt, working from design of Lorin tube, developed and patented a ramjet engine later modified and used in the V-1 Flying Bomb. The concept of the world's first jet-powered cruise missile was originated by Flight Staff Engineer Bree. The pulse engine was based on a French patent dating to the 1890's. The engine, which operated by creating 500 fuel-air explosions per minute, was designed for a specific operational altitude. The guidance system consisted of propellor in the nose. When this had turned a preset number of times (corresponding to the desired range to the target), the counter pushed the missile's rudder hard over, resulting on a dive to the ground. A V-1 could be produced for one tenth of the cost of a V-2.

Late 1939-1943 - . Launch Site: Peenemuende. LV Family: V-1; V-2. Launch Vehicle: A4b; A9/A10.
  • A9 basic research and design - . Nation: Germany. By adding wings to the A4, the 800 m/s of kinetic energy the rocket had at cut-off could be exploited in a glide attack, extending the range of the missile from 250 km to 550 km. Such a supersonic aircraft had never been flown and presented many aerodynamic and engineering problems in 1943. Various tests of the A4's with wings began in early 1940. These were successful, and the configuration was dubbed the A9. The trajectory for such a missile involved a boost to an apogee of 29 km, then a stable glide at 20 km altitude at a speed of 1250 m/s. At the end of the glide, the missile would have descended to 5 km altitude, then make a vertical dive on the target in the fashion of the Fi-103/V-1. The A9 would be equipped with wings with a total area of 13.5 sq m. A manned version of this boost-glide rocketplane was also designed. This could reach a conventional airfield 600 km from the launch point in only 17 minutes, landing at a speed of 160 kph. Another possibility to further extend range would be a catapult-launched A9, using the technology developed for the V-1. This would provide an extra velocity of 350 m/s, further extending the missile's potential range.

May 1942 - . Launch Site: Peenemuende. LV Family: V-1; V-2.
  • A4 reliability development - . Nation: Germany. The early failure rate of the A4 prototype missiles was extremely high, so the Peenemuende rocket team had to develop new measures to test and improve reliability down to the component level. This included improved quality control during manufacture, and test of the missile's components in all weathers, not just in heated laboratories. This resulted in the overall missile failure rate declining from 17% in the early test series to 4% in the final series. The V-1/Fi-103 cruise missile had a 28% higher failure rate, even though it was a simpler design.

March 1943 - . LV Family: V-1; V-2.
  • Hitler's dream - . Nation: Germany. Related Persons: Hitler. Hitler dreamed that no A4 missile could ever reach England. The result was that the program lost its priority amidst other pressing armaments programs, and the necessary engineers and production rocket engines could not be obtained. While losing priority, the high security classification remained, so it was not possible to recruit non-German engineers and technicians for the work. The production schedule inevitably slid. Finally the government decided to competitively evaluate the Fi-103 cruise missile (V-1) against the A4 ballistic missile (V-2) leading to the selection of a single weapon for mass production by July of 1943.

1943 May 26 - . Launch Site: Peenemuende. LV Family: V-1; V-2.
  • V-1/V-2 fly-off - . Nation: Germany. Related Persons: Degenkolb; Dornberger; Speer. A government commission, consisting of Speer, Milch, Doenitz, and Fromm viewed launches of the competing missiles at Peenemuende. The V-1/Fi-103 was much cheaper than the V-2/A4, but it was slow and low - it operated at 160 m/s at an altitude of between 200 and 2000 m - and vulnerable to enemy flak batteries and interceptors. It provided the enemy with a forewarning of attack by its characteristic engine noise and the cut-off of that noise when it went into its terminal dive. It could only be launched from fixed concrete launch ramps, making the launchers vulnerable to enemy air attack. The V-2 was mobile, more accurate, could not be intercepted, and gave the enemy no warning of attack in its supersonic ballistic course to the target. In the end, the commission could find no overwhelming advantage to either of the very different weapons, and both were ordered into production. The positive advantages of each weapon outweighed the negatives. In the tests before the commission, the Fi-103 had bad luck, and achieved no successful shots for two of the A4. '2:0 for your team', Milch told Dornberger. Speer claimed he 'always supported' the A4 but Dornberger ruefully noted they had lost 18 months in delays, primarily due to Degenkolb's incompetence. Speer pressed Dornberger - if Degenkolb really can't make it happen, then just give me the word. He'll be dismissed. But Degenkolb was not dismissed - he had Saur's complete backing.

October 1943 - . Launch Site: Peenemuende. LV Family: V-1. Launch Vehicle: V-1.
  • German 'ski ramps' - . Nation: Germany. British photo-intelligence interpreters discover what they call 'ski ramps' along the Atlantic coast of occupied Europe. These are 100 m long, and a total of 21 are discovered by mid-November. It is soon noted that whatever their location, all of the ramps point toward London. Fantastic theories are proposed - they are iceberg or poison gas launchers.

1943 December 3 - . Launch Site: Peenemuende. LV Family: V-1. Launch Vehicle: V-1.
  • Decision to destroy the ski ramps - . Nation: Germany. Summary: Although their purpose is not understood, it is decided to start a bombing campaign to destroy the German 'ski ramps'. By December 1, 64 had been found, and 75 by 21 December..

1943 December 25 - . Launch Site: Peenemuende. LV Family: V-1. Launch Vehicle: V-1.
  • Raid against V-1 launchers - . Nation: Germany. Summary: A raid is launched by Allied 1300 aircraft. The tactics have been developed at Eglin AFB, Florida, where a replica 'ski ramp' was built in an effort to understand its purpose and how best to bomb it..

1944 June 1 - . LV Family: V-1. Launch Vehicle: V-1.
  • Manned V-1 test flights. - . Nation: Germany. Summary: Geman "Reichenberg" program began for use of manned V-1's air launched from He-111's for suicide missions..

1944 June 13 - . LV Family: V-1. Launch Vehicle: V-1.
  • V-1 first attacks. - . Nation: Germany. Summary: The first German V-1's fired in anger, launched from France against England with 4 of the 11 striking London..

1945 April 1 - . LV Family: V-1; V-2.
  • The end of the V-weapons. - . Nation: Germany. The V-weapon launch corps remained in service until the end of March. Then Kammler went to the Harz Mountains, to command a planned final effort to use the weapons to prevent a link-up of the American and Soviet forces - a plan that came to nothing. In all, 9,300 V-1's had been fired at Great Britain in its seven months of service, of which 6,000 reached the coast. 4,300 V-2's had been launched in combat, 1,500 at London, and 2,100 at Antwerp. 20% of these used the radio guidance system. The V-1's range had been extended in test models to 370 km, although only a few of these modifications had reached the front. On the other hand, the range of the V-2 had been extended to 350 km, and this was the version provided to the front-line troops in the last months. But at the end of March 1945 the Germans evacuated the V-weapon firing areas in Holland.

1946 January 7 - . LV Family: V-1. Launch Vehicle: V-1.
  • Loon first launch. - . Nation: USA. First missile launched at Naval Air Facility, Point Mugu, Calif., a KVW-1 Loon, USN name for AAF robot bomb (JB-2) modeled on the German V-1. The inert Loon was launched from an XM-1 launcher, a split-tube catapult with seven sequentially fired powder chambers.

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