Robot Bombs Plenty Destructive But Lack Essential Accuracy

Continued use against southern England moves civilians underground again.

Though the US and Britain have, through the years, experimented with robot bombs, it remained for the Germans to introduce them into warfare. The bombs presently being sent into London are judged to be small versions of several types available to the Germans. Whether the larger jet- and rocket-propelled bombs and torpedoes will be used would seem to depend on Allied measures aimed at nipping the menace in the bud. Thus far, the missiles have lacked target precision.

Fact that the bombs explode on contact made initial investigation of their construction difficult, but at this writing considerable data has been compiled. First versions, gauged at speeds up to 350 mph, were described as having spans of 30' to 35' and closely resembling conventional planes in construction. The large launching platforms were ready targets for our airmen. More recent bombs are from 18' to 20' in span and are thought to be launched from small, simply prefabricated, easily concealed concrete platforms, taking only a few days to construct.

Present type bombs are described as stub-winged flying torpedoes carrying about a ton of explosives. A relatively simple jet motor is mounted over the tail. A single spark plug is said to ignite the mixture of fuel and air to start the jet operation. After initial spark-plug ignition, firing continues through jet combustion phases. Correct fuel-air ratio is said to be maintained by a spring loaded valve located in the front section of the unit. Spring opens the valve, allowing air to enter the combustion chamber, then, upon ignition, the force of the explosion closes the valve. This action gives a series of interrupted bursts rather than a continuous jet flow.

That the Germans have solved range and directional problems is confirmed by Mr Churchill, who states that, through mid-July, approximately 2,750 projectiles have been sent over and, of the number that got through the Channel defenses, the major portion hit London. They have caused 10,000 casualties. At this writing, interception of the bombs by fighters over the Channel, anti-aircraft fire by guns with predictors, and barrage balloons appear to be the major means of defense.

This news clip was originally published as part of the "Aviation Abroad" column in the August, 1944, issue of Aviation magazine, vol 43, no 8, p 224.