World War 2

The flying bombs and rockets

V2 Rocket
V2 Rocket

The early summer of 1944 also witnessed the start of the last and most significant German attempt at a retaliatory strategic bombing campaign through the use of missiles. Though technologically in advance of any comparable Allied device, the V-weapons caused consternation but did not materially alter the course of the war. The V-1, essentially an unguided cruise missile, was lunched for the most part from fixed sites that could be bombed or overrun in France and later the Low Countries.

V-1s could also be shot down by anti-aircraft fire or fast fighters, which meant that only about a third of the 2,452 launched in June 1944 reached London. The more sophisticated V-2, a true ballistic missile that could be lunched from a mobile platform and decent on its target at an angle and speed impossible to counter, was a greater menace when attacks on London began in September 1944.

Production difficulties and the closing in of Allied armies meant that between May 1944 and March 1945 an average of only three V-2s a day were fired by the Germans: not enough to undermine morale in a really significant manner.