Cruise Missile Defense 101: How the Allies Defeated Nazi Robot Bombs in World War II

Cruise Missile Defense 101: How the Allies Defeated Nazi Robot Bombs in World War II

Sebastien Roblin

History, Europe

https://airandspace.si.edu/sites/default/files/images/collection-objects/record-images/NASM-A19600341000-NASM2018-10160.jpg

That solution came in the form of Operation Diver—a multi-layered defense system designed to thin-out the incoming V-1 barrages.

Key point: London and Washinton came up with a wide variety of innovative defenses to stop Berlin’s buzz bombs.

London was under siege as it never had been before. Starting June 13, 1944—merely a week after the triumph of the D-Day landings—V-1 cruise missiles launched from Nazi-occupied France began raining down upon the metropolis, their rapid-firing pulset jet motors emitting a horrid buzzing drone. 

These attacks—which increased in volume to 100 a day—killed thousands, and the threat posed by them caused over a million Londoners to flee for the countryside, leading to major economic disruptions.

Unlike the bombardment during the Battle of Britain in 1940, during which Royal Air Force fighters inflicted unsustainable losses on German bombers, the unmanned V-1s were cheap and expendable.

While Allied armies struggled to breakout of the hedgerows of Normandy to seize V-1 launch sites around Calais, the British military had to devise solutions to the new threat—fast.

That solution came in the form of Operation Diver—a multi-layered defense system designed to thin-out the incoming V-1 barrages. 

Fighter Versus Cruise Missiles

Fortunately, the V-1—described in greater detail in a companion article—flew in a straight line from its launch site, meaning they would approach from certain predictable avenues and couldn’t dodge defensive fire.

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