Sunday

JB-2 (V-1) 'Loon' Flying Bomb


All my information the MOTAT example is very sketchy but I understand it the V-1 is in fact an American copy used for testing and evaluation. It is on long term loan from the Smithsonian Institute, Washington DC.

Latest information on the V-1 is from this Facebook post from the Air Force Museum of New Zealand:

"Under somewhat gloomy skies today, a special delivery arrived at the Museum, having come all the way from Auckland. A large crate was unloaded from a Mainfreight truck and opened to reveal a JB-2 surface-to-surface missile, also known as a ‘Loon’. This particular Loon is on long-term loan from the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum in the United States, and has come to us from MOTAT (Museum of Transport and Technology) in Auckland.

During its time at MOTAT, the Loon had been repainted to look like a German V-1 flying bomb, or ‘doodlebug’. New Zealanders serving with the RAF late in World War Two were very familiar with V-1s. No. 486 (NZ) Squadron, flying Hawker Tempest fighters, was part of the fighter network protecting London in 1944 from V-1 attacks, and shot down over 220 of them. The Loon was developed by the United States in 1944 after reverse-engineering crashed German V-1s that had been shipped from England. The body and warhead were produced by Republic Aviation, and Ford manufactured the PJ31 pulsejet engine. 1,931 Loon missiles were produced, and while they were never used operationally during World War Two, they did form part of the post-war US cruise missile development programme until they were removed from service in 1950. The Loon has now been moved to our Reserve Collection area, and can be viewed on our free behind the scenes tours."

It was for some time in the 1990s displayed on top of the entrance to the main aircraft hanger. It was in excellent condition and had clear viewing ports over the rear inner workings of the flying bomb. An aircraft searchlight was situated in the middle of the hanger to light up the V-1 high in the corner. I remember well building the little mezzanine floor and staircase in the corner. We used a small crane to lift the V-1 into position, and then lifted the Miles Magister into position on the Fleet Air Arm display in the other corner of the museum.


Item from the web with further information:

"The American copy version of the V-1 was know as the JB FLYING BOMB aka Loon. The JB-2 is a U.S. made copy of the famous German V-1 surface-to-surface pilotless flying bomb first used against England on June 12-13, 1944. The airframe for the JB-2 was built by the Republic Aviation Corporation and the engine by the Ford Motor Company from drawings prepared at Wright Field, using dimensions taken from the remains of several V-1s brought from Germany. About 1,000 JB-2s were built for the Army and Navy. Production delivery began in January 1945, but it was cancelled on VJ Day. The first one to be test flown in the U.S. was launched at Eglin Field, Fla., in October 1944. Just before the end of the war, JB-2s were placed aboard an aircraft carrier en route to the Pacific for possible use in the proposed invasion of the Japanese home islands. Although the JB-2 was never used in combat, it provided valuable data for the design and construction of more advanced weapons.

Despite the V-1's limitations, the US military was very interested in it. In comparison to the bumbling American efforts in radio-controlled flying bombs such as the BQ weapons the German V-1 looked pretty good, and in July 1944 captured V-1 components were shipped to Wright-Patterson Field in Ohio for evaluation. Within three weeks, the USAAF and American industry had built their own V-1, which was designated the "Jet Bomb 2 (JB-2)" and more informally known as the "Thunderbug". In August, the USAAF placed an order for 1,000 JB-2s with improved guidance systems: Ford built the pulsejet engine, designated "PJ-31"; Republic built the airframe, though that job would later be subcontracted to Willys-Overland; and other manufacturers built the control systems, launch rockets, launch frames, and remaining components. First successful launch of a JB-2 was on 5 June 1945.

The JB-2s were launched off a rail with a solid rocket booster, in contrast to the somewhat complicated steam catapult system used by the Germans. Two versions of JB-2s were built, one with a gyroscopic guidance system like that used with the V-1, and the other with a radio-radar guidance system. The USAAF also experimented with air-launching the JB-2. Most of the launches were from a B-17 bomber, though some were performed from B-24s and B-29s, but the USAAF decided it wasn't a good idea in any case. The Air Force was so enthusiastic with the results that they increased the order for JB-2s to 75,000 in January 1945. However, the end of the war in August dampened enthusiasm for the weapon, and the program was terminated in September of that year after over a thousand had been built.

The US Navy experimented with their own V-1 variant, the "KUW-1 (later LTV-N-2) Loon". After initial ground launch tests in 1946, a submarine, the USS CUSK was modified to launch the flying bombs. In February 1947, the CUSK successfully launched a Loon. The flying bomb was stored in a watertight hanger on the deck of the submarine, and assembled and launched by solid rocket boosters while the submarine was on the surface. It was tracked by radar and controlled by radio.Another submarine, the USS CARBONERO, was used in the tests as a tracking and control platform. In 1948, a surface vessel, the USS NORTON SOUND, was modified for Loon launches, and performed four launches in 1949 and 1950. It doesn't appear that the Navy was ever serious about fielding the Loon but saw it as a useful test vehicle for improved naval cruise missiles.

The Soviets also built copies and derivatives of the V-1 and the French operated a target drone based on the V-1 and designated the "Arsenal 5.501" well into the 1950s, though it differed from the original design in having twin tailfins and radio control. In the summer of 1944, about 2,500 pounds of salvaged German V-1 parts were shipped from England to the United States for analysis. The U.S. Army Air Force planned to copy the pilotless flying bomb design and use the weapon against Germany, so engineers at Wright-Patterson Field studied the V-1 components carefully. Within three weeks the plans were copied and the first American-built V-1 was finished, designated the JB-2. However, USAAF officials noted the flying bomb design's inherent inaccuracy over long ranges and realized the device was really only effective as a "weapon of terror" unless the long-range accuracy was significantly improved. Despite this realization, the government ordered the JB-2 into production for use in the European Theatre, with thousands of the flying bombs to be built.

Republic Aircraft Corporation was given the contract for the overall airframe (later subcontracted to Willys-Overland), Ford Motor Company was to produce the pulsejet engine, Jack and Heintz the control devices, and Alloy Products the pressurized containers for the fuel and compressed air. Northrop was contracted to produce the launch sleds and Monsanto the launch rockets. USAAF flight testing was conducted at Eglin Field in Florida and Wendover Field in Utah to perfect the guidance system for the JB-2JB-2 flight testing at Wendover Field, Utah The JB-2 (and the U.S. Navy variant of the JB-2, the "Loon") differed very little from the original German V-1 design. Only the method of launch and the guidance system were changed appreciably by American designers. The USAAF also experimented briefly with air launch of the device from Boeing B-17s, but concentrated on ground launch techniques after a time. Early test flights failed, but finally on 5 June 1945 the USAAF JB-2 flew successfully for the first time. However, World War II was fast drawing to a close and the need for the JB-2 weapon system was reduced. When production was finally terminated in September 1945 only 1,385 JB-2s had been delivered to the War Department."

Other New Zealand Examples

One other real V-1 exists on display at the Auckland War Memorial Museum, suspended in one of the main staircase at the front of the main building.

I remember well seeing it when I was a kid on display alongside the Zero aircraft amongst a scattered random collection of other WWII artifacts including guns and cannons. I remember thinking it was very dusty and also that it didn't look real with all its dents and dings.

Photos
- Motat V-1 1989 (Richard Wesley)
Motat V-1 being lifted into position 1989 (Richard Wesley)
Motat V-1 being lifted into position 1989 (Richard Wesley)
- Auckland Museum example of display 2007 (Richard Wesley)

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