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Hitler's Terrorism: Missile Attack on London, 1943-4

Updated on March 14, 2012
The V-1 in 1943
The V-1 in 1943
The V-2 in 1944
The V-2 in 1944
V-2 launch in 1943
V-2 launch in 1943

The Birth of Real Terrorism

World War Two seemed to have brought many firsts to the world and most of these "firsts" are associated with Hitler. While most were bad, Hitler, did have his engineers create many things that the post-WW2 enjoy even today, such as: highways (autobahns), VW, rockets, blitzkrieg military tactics.

They also gave birth to the first real terrorism in an attempt to scare the inhabitants of London and the British overall. To do so, he also used another first, the V-1 cruise-like missile and the V-2 rocket, to which was so fast, the Allies had no defense to. It was this rocket after the war that was copied and improved on that eventually would put the first US astronaut into space.

The V-1 was liquid fueled, pulse jet. It usually flew low (2-3,000 ft.) @ 400 mph. It was just a aim and fire type rocket with a gyro to keep the wings level in flight with a 160 mile range. Once fired, it would impact somewhere unless shot down by aircraft. The 400 mph was at the higher end of the fast props. Once spotted, aircraft were somewhat successful of downing them. They carried a 2000 lb. bomb that could easily destroy buildings and caused hysteria because of the whine sound of their approach. Like in Israeli today, civilians scrambled into bomb shelters when sirens blared when Iranian missiles attack.

The V-1 attacks averaged about 190 missile attacks daily from June 12, 1943 until October, 1944. When the allies captured the port at Antwerp, over 11,000 V-1 total terrorized its citizens. Records seem to indicate that only 25-35% of the V-1 rockets impacted because of the allied defenses that shot most down in mid-air (this is a similar rate that the Israeli "Iron Dome" missile interceptor has accomplished near Gaza today).

The V-1 was not good enough for Hitler. Next to terrorize London far more was the incredible V-2, the first true ballistic missile to which there were no warnings before impact and so fast the allies had no defenses. It was the first rocket to reach outer space. It was also called, the retaliation weapon. It weighed 28,000 lbs., had a 2200 lb. warhead, 45 ft. in length and 5 ft in diameter. Its range was 200 miles and 128 miles vertically, moving at a speed of 3600 mph!

The impact in London (starting in Sept. 1944) was truly shock and awe. The impact shattered and killed. Imagine, walking in the park or shopping downtown and without any warning, a massive explosion occurs. Because the rocket was so fast, air defenses could not even warn the public-it just instantly happened. That, is a true terror weapon, so familiar to the Israelis today. Over 3000 of them were fired, about 1358 at London and 1610 at Antwerp, killing over 7,000 people. Because of the liquid fuel and mishaps, 12,000 lost their lives trying to launch and make them. The early models used an analog computer to adjust the azimuth, later models, were directed to their targets using a radio signal.

All of the missiles used today originated in Germany with these two rockets. Terrorism is alive and well.


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    • perrya profile image

      perrya 5 years ago


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      Jayfort 5 years ago

      Really good Hub, Perry! Nice job!