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Republic/Ford JB-2 Loon (V-1 Buzz Bomb)

The JB-2 was a U.S.-made copy of the famous German V-1 surface-to-surface, pilotless flying bomb first used against England in June 1944. The Republic Aviation Corp. built the airframe for the JB-2 from drawings prepared at Wright Field, using dimensions taken from the remains of several V-1s brought from Germany. The Ford Motor Co. built the engine, which was a copy of the V-1's 900-lb. thrust Argus-Schmidt pulse-jet.

Republic and Ford built 1,000 JB-2s for the Army and Navy. Production delivery began in January 1945, but the U.S. Army Air Forces cancelled further production when World War II ended. The first JB-2 test flight in took place at Eglin Field, Fla., in October 1944. Just before the end of the war, an aircraft carrier en route to the Pacific took on a load of JB-2s for possible use in the planned invasion of the Japanese home islands. Although never used in combat, the JB-2 provided valuable data for the design and construction of more advanced weapons.

The JB-2 on display was obtained from the Continental Motors Corp., Muskegon, Mich., in December 1956.

V-1 Buzz Bomb Operations
The V-1 was launched from a 200-ft. inclined ramp using a steam-powered catapult. Launching accelerated the missile to about 250 mph, fast enough for the winged bomb's jet engine to operate. Since the V-1's range was only around 150 miles, launch sites were set up on the French coast in order to bombard London. Magnetic compasses, a timer and a system of gyroscopes guided Buzz Bombs along a preset course and distance at an average altitude of 3,000 to 4,000 feet. When the course was complete, the 1-ton warhead armed automatically and the engine shut off. The bomb then free-fell onto its target. The V-1's unique pulse-jet engine gave the Buzz Bomb its nickname: Louvers opening and shutting rapidly near the intake made a distinctive buzzing noise as the engine's "pulsating" thrust gave the V-1 a cruising speed of about 360 mph.

A single Luftwaffe Flak (antiaircraft) regiment launched all Buzz Bombs in combat. These specially chosen troops had good technical skills, and they trained at Peenemunde and other sites for months before setting up V-1 operations on the coasts of France and later Holland. Each of the 64 original V-1 units consisted of 55 soldiers and could usually launch one missile in an hour. Some V-1s were also launched from Heinkel He 111 bombers, but this effort was mostly unsuccessful.

Germany produced more than 30,000 V-1s in 1944-1945, and an estimated 8,000+ actually reached England and Belgium between the first launch on June 12, 1944, and the last impact on March 30, 1945. About half the missiles fell within eight miles of their targets. Allied countermeasures included bombing launch sites, antiaircraft fire, barrage balloons with wires to snag the missiles, and fighter interception. The Allies dropped some 98,000 tons of bombs on V-1 launch and manufacturing sites. Combined defenses in England and on the continent destroyed a total of 6,176 Buzz Bombs, and an estimated 25 percent of V-1s launched crashed due to malfunction or manufacturing defects.

In England, more than 6,000 people died in V-1 attacks, and another 18,000 were wounded.

Armament: 2,100-lb. high-explosive warhead
Operating speed: 375-400 mph
Range: 150 miles
Operating altitude: 2,000-4,000 ft.
Span: 17 ft. 8 in.
Length: 27 ft. 1 in.
Height: 4 ft. 8 in.
Weight: 5,023 lbs. loaded

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