Monday, March 1, 2021

The V-1 Flying Bomb: A WWII Terror Weapon

by Cindy K. Stewart

A V1 flying Bomb which is on display at the Muckleburgh Collection in North Norfolk, United Kingdom

In an effort to terrorize and demoralize British civilians, the Germans unleashed a new weapon on England just one week after Allied troops landed in France on D-Day in 1944. The V-1 flying bombs were launched from ramps on the northern coast of France until the Allies overran the launching sites. The last one left France on September 7, 1944. Later the Germans launched the V-1's from other locations, including from special mounts attached to bombers, although this proved dangerous to the German airmen.

A German Crew Rolls out a V-1
Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-1973-029A-24A / Lysiak / CC-BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Each V-1 was twenty-five feet long with a wingspan of about twenty feet. The bombs, resembling small airplanes, traveled at a speed of 400 miles per hour and crossed the English Channel in five minutes. They had a range of 150+ miles and were capable of reaching London from northern France. The Germans launched 25,000 V-1's at targets in England and later Belgium, but only about 2,400 hit the capital city and its environs. Because the bombs flew straight and level, gun batteries posted along the southern and eastern coasts of Britain, Allied fighter planes, and barrage balloons successfully stopped thousands of V-1's from reaching their targets. 

Barrage balloons on the south-eastern approaches to London to combat V-1 flying bombs, 1944 
Courtesy of Bellamy W (Flying Officer) Royal Air Force Official Photographer via IWM

A Bofors gun battery fully manned, situated on the South Coast of England
Courtesy of O'Brien (Lt.) War Office Official Photographer via IWM

Powered by a jet engine, the V-1 could be heard ten miles away, and it was nicknamed "doodlebug" and "buzz bomb" because of its noise. An air-driven gyroscope and a magnetic compass controlled the bomb's course, and a barometric altimeter controlled its altitude. Once the V-1 reached its programmed target, a device mounted in the rear caused it to pitch nose-down and the engine quit. Once the buzzing engine died, those on the ground knew they had twelve seconds to seek shelter. The warhead exploded on impact. 

Back in Germany, the Nazis called the V-1 a wonder weapon (Wunderwaffe) and tried to convince the German people that it along with other weapons could turn the war in their favor. Although Hitler was advised to launch the V-1 at southern England where the Allies were gathering ships and equipment to invade France, he was intent on targeting London. 

In an effort to fool the Germans, the British publicized inaccurate information and recruited double agents to send back false reports on where the V-1's had landed. The Germans believed the reports and adjusted the flight patterns, causing the bombs to fall short of their targets.

Searching for belongings in the rubble of a home
Ministry of Information Photo Division via IWM

Civil defense rescue workers dig survivors out of collapsed buildings
Ministry of Information Photo Division via IWM

In all, fifty-five hundred people were killed, sixteen thousand were injured, and more than a million were forced to evacuate due to the V-1 flying bombs.

Have you known anyone who was personally impacted by the V-1 bomb?



"The Terrifying German 'Revenge Weapons' of the Second World War" - 

"V-1 Missile" -

"Hitler's Buzz Bombs" -

"V-Weapons" -


Cindy Stewart, a high school social studies teacher, church pianist, and inspirational historical romance author, was a 2020 finalist for the Georgia Romance Writers Maggie Award of Excellence, placed second in the 2019 North Texas Romance Writers Great Expectations contest, semi-finaled in the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Genesis contest, and won ACFW’s First Impressions contest in the historical category. Cindy is passionate about revealing God’s handiwork in history. She resides in North Georgia with her college sweetheart and husband of thirty-nine years. Their married daughter, son-in-law, and four adorable grandchildren live only an hour away. Cindy’s currently writing a fiction series set in WWII Europe.


  1. Thanks for the post. I've never heard anyone tell war stories. Most vets I've ever known don't talk about their wartime experiences.

    1. Thank you for dropping by Connie! It's always a pleasure. :)

  2. Very interesting, Cindy. I knew about the V-1s, but never researched them to find out what they looked like or how large they were. My friend Ralph served mostly in France and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. He rarely discussed his experiences before he passed away.

  3. My mom had 2 brothers who died at Normandy on D-Day.