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Posted by on May 7, 2020 in TellMeWhy |

What Are the V-weapons?

What Are the V-weapons?

What Are the V-weapons? V-weapons also known as retaliatory weapons or 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 were part of the range of the so-called Wunderwaffen (superweapons, or “wonderweapons”) of Nazi Germany.

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 1944–45.

What Does the V Stand for in V-weapons? In German, the V stood for revenge and these were the fabled secret weapons of revenge – the Vergeltungswaffens that Hitler boasted about; the weapons that would win the war for Nazi Germany. Hitler promised that his revenge weapons would punish the Allies for their bombing of German cities. And these jet-propelled missiles almost won the war.

V-1 and V-2 were developed during the final stages of the Second World War. V-1 (Vengeance weapon 1) was a simple jet-propelled bomb with wings, which had a limited range and very poor accuracy.

The V-2 (Retribution Weapon 2), was the world’s first long-range guided ballistic missile, however, was a formidable 14m (46 ft) long rocket which carried 900 kg (1985 lb) of high explosive at 5000 km/h (3105 mph). It was fired from a mobile transporter-erector-launcher called a Meillerwagen. It landed without warning, and the Allied forces had nothing to combat it, halting its use only by destroying the factories and launch sites.

v2 rocket, royal engineers museum, 1944

V-2 was the first modern rocket and the man who built it, Wernher von Braun, played a major role in the American space program after the Second World War. Captured V-2s were also used to start both Russian and American space exploration before each nation developed its own launch systems.

After the invasion of Europe by the Allies, these weapons were also employed against targets on the mainland of Europe, mainly France and Belgium. Terror bombing with V-weapons killed approximately 18,000 people, mostly civilians. The cities of London, Antwerp and Liège were the main targets.

We must be thankful that the V-Weapons never achieved their full potential. Thanks to the photo interpreters, the deadly program was delayed by several months and the Nazis simply ran out of time and jet fuel. Had they developed V-weapons earlier in the war, there might have been a very different outcome!

Content for this question contributed by Lynda Mitzel, resident of Berlin, Germany