Published October 01, 2007
V-1 "Buzz Bomb"/JB-2 Flying Bomb
Engine: One Ford IJ-15-1 pulsejet of 770 lbs thrust (copy of German Argus-Schmidt pulsejet)
Wingspan: 17 ft 4 1/2 in
Length: 25 ft 4 1/2 in
Height: 4 ft 8 in
Weight: 4,796 lbs
Speed: launch: 220 mph; cruise: 375-400 mph
Range: 100-150 miles
Operating altitude: 2,000 to 4,000 ft
Armament: 2,100 lb high-explosive warhead
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-2
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 June 5, 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.
This JB-2 flying bomb is an American-built duplicate of the German V-1. It was recovered from the test range at Wendover Field, where captured German V-1s and their American counterparts underwent evaluation and flight testing during the late 1940s.
Army JB-2s earned the nickname "Wendover Willie" during testing in the Utah desert, and each example usually made several flights before being either retired or destroyed in crashes or explosions. This example was restored by the 649th Combat Logistics Support Squadron at Hill Aerospace Museum in 1995.