Spitfires Vs. Buzz Bombs

June 13th, 1944: At approximately 0430, the first V-1 flying bomb struck London. The “buzz bomb” detonated on a railway bridge crossing over Grove Street, between Devonshire Street and Osborne Road in Bethnal Green. Six persons were killed by the explosion, and twenty-six others were injured. Twelve homes were demolished and at least fifty others badly damaged.

Pictured here....an RAF Spitifre pilot as he attempts to intercept an inbound Buzz Bomb. The pilot maneuvers his wing underneath the flying bomb to tumble its gyros and cause the V-1 to crash.
The average speed of V-1s was 350 mph and their average altitude was 3,000 ft to 4,000 ft.

Fighter aircraft required excellent low altitude performance to intercept them and enough firepower to ensure that they were destroyed in the air rather than crashing to earth and detonating. Most aircraft were too slow to catch a V-1 unless they had a height advantage, allowing them to gain speed by diving on their target.

When V-1 attacks began in mid-June 1944, the only aircraft with the low-altitude speed to be effective against it was the Hawker Tempest. Fewer than 30 Tempests were available. They were assigned to No. 150 Wing RAF. Early attempts to intercept and destroy V-1s often failed, but improved techniques soon emerged. These included using the airflow over an interceptor's wing to raise one wing of the V-1, by sliding the wingtip to within 6 in of the lower surface of the V-1's wing. If properly executed, this manoeuvre would tip the V-1's wing up, overriding the gyros and sending the V-1 into an out-of-control dive.

The anti-V-1 sorties by fighters were known as "Diver patrols" (after "Diver", the codename used by the Royal Observer Corps for V-1 sightings). Attacking a V-1 was dangerous: machine guns had little effect on the V-1's sheet steel structure, and if a cannon shell detonated the warhead, the explosion could destroy the attacker.




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