Launched from Nazi-occupied Europe, V-1 flying bombs and V-2 supersonic missiles rained down on the south of England during 1944 and 1945, killing almost 9,000 people. These 'Vengeance Weapons' were seen by Hitler as a way of winning World War Two, and are considered the precursors to today's missile technology.
Photo: A V-1 pilotless flying bomb on its launching platform, circa 1944. The background has been retouched by German censors. (Getty Images)
Throughout the war, the Nazis were secretly developing missiles at Peenemunde, their research centre on the Baltic coast of Germany.
Throughout the war, the Nazis were developing missiles at Peenemunde, their research centre on the Baltic coast of Germany. By 1942 they had successfully test-launched a flying bomb (the V-1) and a supersonic missile (the V-2). Hitler believed these ‘vengeance’ weapons would win him the war.
Aerial intelligence experts reveal how difficult it was to defend England from the V-2 supersonic rockets.
Aerial intelligence experts reveal how it was impossible to defend England from the V-2 supersonic missiles. The attacks ended when the Allied armies over-ran Europe after D-Day, and destroyed the V-2's supporting infrastructure.
Photographic Interpreters (PIs) from RAF Medmenham working in aerial reconnaissance recount how they discovered that mysterious structures across Nazi Europe were designed to launch the V-1 flying bombs.
Photographic Interpreters (PIs) from RAF Medmenham working in aerial reconnaissance recount how they discovered that mysterious structures across Nazi Europe were designed to launch the V-1 flying bombs towards southern England. This discovery during the planning of D-Day prompted Operation Crossbow - the destruction of the bombs, their launch sites and supporting infrastructure.
Eyewitness Eileen Alexander remembers how she was caught up in the V-1 explosion that destroyed her childhood home in East London.
Eyewitness Eileen Alexander remembers how she was caught up in the V-1 bomb explosion that destroyed her childhood home in East London. As thousands of British people were being killed by the V-1 campaign, the Allies fought back by attacking the launch sites across Nazi Europe and shooting the bombs down in mid-flight.
V-weapons, known in the original German as Vergeltungswaffen (German pronunciation: [fɐˈgɛltʊŋsˌvafṇ], German: "retaliatory weapons", "reprisal weapons"), were a particular set of long-range artillery weapons designed for strategic bombing during World War II, particularly terror bombing and/or aerial bombing of cities. They comprised the V-1, a pulsejet-powered cruise missile, the V-2, a liquid-fuelled ballistic missile (often referred to as V1 and V2), and the V-3 cannon. All of these weapons were intended for use in a military campaign against Britain, though only the V-1 and V-2 were so used in a campaign conducted 1944–5. After the invasion of Europe by the Allies, these weapons were also employed against targets on the mainland of Europe, mainly Britain and Belgium. The V-terrorbombing killed approximately 18,000 people, mostly civilians. The cities London, Antwerp and Liège were the main targets.
They were part of the range of the so-called Wunderwaffen (English: superweapons or literally 'wonderweapons') of Nazi Germany.