Rediscovering the V1
The launch sequence
This was standard practice for all the sites, the only differences being the availability of certain facilities as the sites became lighter and lighter, to the point where some were little more than a ramp and fire control bunker.
Bringing the V1 to the ramp
Despite the fact that the missile’s engine achieved full power from the moment it was started, it was incapable of achieving the velocity required to get it into the air. For that it needed either launching from another aircraft or a catapult system.
The later method was by far the most prevalent and was achieved via a specially designed structure.
The ramp was anchored to the platform with a system of three braking blades weighing about 400 kilos. This was needed for the structure to contain the forty tons of thrust created by the launch.
The launch piston with its hook would be pushed up into the launch tube
The V1 would be brought to the ramp from the Richthaus on a special trolley, Zubringerwagen, made of two pieces. The lower part was a basic trolley with four extended shafts to assist the crew manoeuvre the vehicle to the end of the tramp. The upper part was a moving structure that allowed the crew to slide the V1 up onto the ramp.
The rear of the V1 rested on a luge which, not only supported the missile, but also, by means of a pin fitting into a socket on the underside, started the electrical system as the luge fell away on leaving the ramp.
The trolley was brought up to the ramp and by means of the articulated upper section the V1 was slid up over the ramp. Once into place and suspended over the launch piston, the V1 could then be lowered precisely onto the hook of the piston.
The trolley was now removed and the Dampferzeuger was brought up. This would be used to create the chemical explosion necessary to enable the launch of the missile. Although a very complicated looking affair, it was basically a trolley with three cannisters of compressed air connected to two separate chambers containing the chemicals : Z-stoff (potassium permanganate) and T-stoff (hydrogen peroxide).
These in turn were connected to the reaction chamber, locked by means of a bayonet interface, onto the base of the tube running up the length of the ramp. The air would blast the two chemicals into the reaction chamber where they would combine to form a massive amount of steam and sufficient pressure to force the piston (and with it the rocket) up the ramp.
Another piece of equipment was brought up onto the left hand side of the rocket. This Anlaßgerät (control tower) combined all the necessary controls to power up the V1. This was a sort of tripod. At its base was a compressed air cannister containing a hundred litres of a mixture of fuel and oil. It was connected to the starter nozzles of the pulse-jet motor (an Argus AS 109-014). The mix was blasted past a spark plug which would ignite it and start heating the combustion chamber. Once the engine had reached the minimum temperature the cannister was disconnected because the combustion cycle was now auto-reproductive.
Above the cannister were two near identical control panels. The one on the left (when looking at the ramp) controlled the flow from the air cannister and the initial start sequence. That on the right controlled the electric circuits and required a key, held by the team leader, to open it.
Just above the command boxes was an arm that connected to the Dampferzeuger and by extension to the firing bunker control box (which was the same as that on the control tower). It was also fitted with cables to the detonator safety rings. These would be pulled out (arming the detonators) as the rocket took off.
The upper part of the structure had two moveable arms which would connect to the rocket. The one at the bottom was of supreme importance for the safety of the crew as this included a safety mechanism which would halt the flow of fuel cutting the motor.
The upper part of the tower comprised a cable which was connected to the spark plug in the reaction chamber.
Once the engine was functioning properly the launch sequence was finished by starting the Dampferzeuger mixing its two highly reactive components. The force of the created explosion was sufficient to propel the piston up the tube dragging the V1 along with it. As the V1 left the ramp the piston and luge would fall away to be collected later. The velocity of the piston was enough (usually) to get the V1 into the air where its own engine would be sufficient to keep it airborne.
The guidance system would start up and the tiny propeller on the nose cone would control the countdown on the odometer. Once it reached zero the supply of fuel was cut off and the V1 would fall.
Posted : 13 May 2022