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STEVEN J. ZALOGA, illustrated by JIM LAURIER
The US Army Air Force was quick to exploit captured V-1 technology and manufactured a copy, the JB-2, in late 1944. This shows a test example in a wind tunnel. (NARA)
The first JB-2 Thunderbug was launched at Eglin Air Force Base in October 1944. The USAAF had many of the same problems its the Germans and, by early December 1944, only two often test launches had been successful. By June 1945 the record had improved to 128 out of 164 test launches. The USAAF tested several launch methods including a 400ft inclined ramp, a level ramp with rocket sled, and 50ft trailer ramps. Air launches were also attempted, flying two JB-2 Thunderbugs under the wings of a B-17G bomber. The USAAF also tested improved guidance, using radar tracking to provide data for radio commands to update the inertial autopilot. After expending the remaining missiles during tests in 1949, the air force abandoned the JB-2 due to its poor accuracy and the limitations of its pulse-jet engine. None were used in combat.
The US Navy was not keen on long launch ramps, and eventually developed a zero-length launcher using rocket-assisted take-off, as seen here with Loon No. 244 aboard the test ship USS Norton Sound in August 1949. (NARA)
Not to be cut off from this new technology, in 1945 the US Navy asked the USAAF to set aside 351 missiles which it called the LTV-N-2 Loon (Launch Test Vehicle-Naval). Under Project Derby, these were initially launched from shore-based ramps and surface ships. The Navy had many problems with these, managing only five successful launches out of its first 84 from January 1946 to December 1947. The Navy shifted the emphasis of the program in 1946 to study the use of cruise missiles from submarines, and conducted the first launch of a cruise missile from a surfaced submarine on February 12th, 1947. The Navy wanted a less cumbersome launcher, and developed a zero-launch ramp using an improved rocket booster that was first tested from the USS Norton Sound on January 26th, 1949. During the last series of trials from January 1948 to March 1949, 37 of 70 launches were successful. However, the Navy was never very happy with the Loon, and began working on a jet-powered cruise missile, the Regulus, in November 1947. Some thought was given to firing a few Loons at North Korea during the 1950-53 war, but there was no compelling reason to do so. Curiously enough, a Hollywood movie. The Flying Missiles (starring Glenn Ford), was made based on the missile submarines.
The US Navy Loon program was intended to examine the suitability of future cruise missiles for submarine launch. Here, Loon No. 995 is launched from SSG-337 USS Carbonera off the California coast on December 2nd, 1950.
News of the German missile attacks on London prompted Stalin on June 13th, 1944, to order the start of a program to develop a Soviet counterpart. Vladimir Chelomey had been working on pulse-jet engines, so was assigned the task in October 1944 and given control of the OKB-51 design bureau after the famous fighter designer N.N. Polikarpov died. The Red Army collected a partial V-1 at the Blizna test range in Poland. The initial V-1 copy was called the 10Kh and later Izdeliye 10 ("Article 10"). The Russian Cyrillic letter "Kh" resembles the Roman "X" so these early missiles were nicknamed the "Iksy" or "Xs" for this reason. Serial production was scheduled to begin in March 1945 starting at 100 per month and building up to 450 monthly by later in the year.
Since no launch ramps were ready, the first launch was conducted from a Pe-8 bomber on March 20th, 1945, in central Asia near Tashkent.
By late August, 63 missiles had been launched, of which about a third reached the target area, A batch of 180 improved 10Kh (Izdeliye 30) missiles with wooden wings was built, and 73 more air launches were conducted in December 1948. A ground-launched version called the 10KhN was also tested in 1948 using rocket-assisted take-off and a ramp. In all the program dragged on for more than five years as improvements were made to the guidance, propulsion and launch system but the last series of tests in 1951 was disappointing.
The Germans provided the Japanese with considerable information on the V-1 and its Argus pulse-jet engine. The only tangible outcome of this cooperation was the construction of prototypes of the Maru Ka-10 pulse-jet engine for the still-born Kawanishi Baika kamikaze. One is seen here in the foreground along with a Toko Ro.2 rocket motor copied from the Walter HWK 509A of the Me-163 Komet fighter. (NARA)
In parallel to the improved 10Kh with its D-3 pulse-jet, ten improved 14Kh with the more powerful D-5 engine were built in 1947. These had a tapered wooden wing with ailerons, but otherwise resembled the 10Kh. Test launches were conducted from Pe-8 bombers in July 1947.
By this time it was becoming clear that both the 10Kh and 14Kh were a technological dead-end due to the inaccuracy of their guidance system. A new radar beam-riding system was in development at the time, codenamed Kometa, and this was fitted to the new 16Kh Priboy ("Surf') missile, which also introduced paired D-14-4 pulse-jet engines. Test launches of the 16Kh were initially conducted from a Tu-2 bomber and 17 launches were made in January-June 1948. Improvements were made to the Priboy, and work on a TV-guided version also started. Following 1951 tests from the Tu-4 bomber, the state commission recommended putting the missile into production, but the Soviet Air Force was unhappy with its poor accuracy, unreliability, and cold weather performance. In parallel to the 16Kh, the Mikoyan fighter bureau was developing a jet-powered cruise missile, the KS-1, that offered a more satisfactory performance. KS-1 production began in late 1952, and the first series production missiles were turned over to a Tu-4K bomber regiment of the Black Sea Fleet in May 1953. This missile was later called the AS-1 Kennel by NATO. As a result, the 10KhN land-launched missile and 16Kh air-launched missile programs were terminated on February 19th, 1953, in favor of the Mikoyan missile, though there were some efforts to revive them its test drones in the mid-1950s. In spite of the failure of the program, Chelomey later went on to head NPO Mashinostroyenie which became one of the most successful Soviet missile design bureaus, developing numerous cruise missiles, ballistic missiles, space boosters, and satellites.