American Guided Missiles of World War II

Published on
September 17, 2020
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
Steven J. Zaloga
Other Publication Information
Square Softbound, 7.25” x 9.75”, 48 pages
Product / Stock #
NV 283
Company: Osprey Publishing - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Osprey Publishing - Website: Visit Site
American Guided Missiles of World War II

Steven J. Zaloga was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts to John and Muriel Zaloga on February 1, 1952. Steven earned his undergraduate degree Cum Laude in History at Union College and his Masters’ degree in History at Columbia University. He obtained a Certificate in International Affairs from the graduate program of the University of Cracow. He has worked in the aerospace industry for some twenty years as an analyst specializing in missiles, precision guided munitions and unarmed aerial vehicles. Steven has served with a federal think tank, Defense Analyses. He was the writer director for The Discovery Channel's "Firepower" series from 1987 to 1992. He has authored many books on military technology, especially in armored warfare. Steven is a noted scale armor modeler and is a member of AMPS (Armor Modeling and Preservation Society).

Illustrator Jim Laurier, a native of New England, provides the color profiles. Jim has been drawing since he could hold a pencil. He graduated with honors from Paier School of Art in Hamden, Connecticut, from 1974-78. Throughout his life, Jim has worked in many mediums creating artwork on a variety of subjects. He has worked on the Osprey Aviation list since 2000, and has been featured in hundreds of aviation books. Jim Laurier prefers working in oils on canvas and has specialized in Vietnam War era aircraft. He currently lives in New Hampshire. You can find his artwork at . Check him out!

Osprey's 283rd book in the New Vanguard series is a square back soft cover including 48 gloss paper pages. The front cover features a color painting of four of the 413 VB-1 Azon dropped in Burma on December 1944, by Jim Laurier (a larger one-page landscape version is included inside on Page 37). I counted 35 black and white pictures, five color photographs, and five tables. Jim Laurier contributes four battle-scene color illustrations in addition to a two-page keyed color cutaway of the BQ-7 (B-17G). Jim also provides color side and top views of the GB-1 and TDR-1. Steven J. Zaloga contributes a color illustration of one of two PB4Y-1 Privateers that was converted to the Anvil guided bomb.

Steven J. Zaloga kicks off this tome with a short introduction to the Kettering Bug of World War I. Budgets were slashed after the war, and of course this “cruise missile” was a casualty. General ‘Hap’ Arnold’s familiarity with the Kettering Bug, returned with his promotion to Chief of the Air Corps in 1938. Charles Kettering again became involved and pushed Arnold to be more ambitious with the concept. The desire for a greater load and range led to the concept of using war weary four engine bombers. Many are more familiar with this program, Operation Aphrodite, since John F. Kennedy’s brother was killed when the bomb load prematurely exploded. Steven J. Zaloga also covers many of the other programs that sought to match the perceived effects of the German missiles. This included purpose built aircraft like the TDR-1 that actually saw missions in the Pacific theatre. In the end, the guidance technology simply was not mature enough to make the investment from the Air Corps or Navy’s perspective. Guided vertical bombs in the form of the VB-1 Azon had some success in attacking bridges in Burma, but again success was limited. The contents include:

  • Author’s Note
  • Introduction
  • Cruise Missiles
  • The Aerial Torpedo
  • Project Castor: Weary Willies [Page 07]
  • Project Anvil
  • Table: AAF Aphrodite Missions
  • Color Cutaway Illustration: BQ-7 Missile Aircraft
  • Table: Castor BQ-7x Expended in the ETO
  • Table: Old Codename – New Codename
  • Navy Assault Drone Programs
  • Color Illustration: Interstate TDR-1 “Dog” Assault Drone, South Pacific [Page 15]
  • Jet Bombardment Missiles
  • Guided Glide Bombs
  • Grapefruit and Batty: The AAF Guided Guide to Bombs
  • Color Illustration: GB-1, Operation Grapefruit, Mission 376, Cologne, May 28, 1944
  • Color Illustration: GB-4, Operation Betty, La Pallice, France, August 17, 1944
  • Table: Controlled Guide Bombs
  • Pelican and Bat: The Navy Guided Glide Bombs
  • Color Illustration: SWOD Mark 9 Bat, VPB-109, Philippines, 1945 [Page 29]
  • Color Illustration: Taylorcraft LBT-1 Glomb
  • Guided Vertical Bombs
  • VB-1 Azon
  • Color Illustration: VB-1 Azon, Sittang River, Burma, December 1944
  • VB-3 Razon
  • Table: AAF Guided Vertical Bombs
  • Air Defense Missiles
  • Air-To-Air Missiles [Page 44]
  • Surface-To-Surface Ballistic Missiles
  • Analysis
  • Further Reading
  • Books and Publications
  • Index

America’s efforts in guided missiles was largely kept secret and has not received the attention that the Axis countries did in WWII. I found quite a few of the programs that never came to fruition to be quite interesting. The US’s attempts to copy the German V-1 cruise missile was troubled by not fully understanding all the technology involved. In the end, the American version, the JB-1 Loon, never solved its issues before the end of the war. It was instrumental in the later development of cruise missiles, but that would not support its planned use for the bombardment of Japan prior to landing troops. Perhaps showing off the huge issues faced in guidance systems, the US even considered utilizing pigeons to guide missiles. This would be accomplished by having a pigeon pecking at one of three television screens that showed the target. This would cause the missile to alter course. Luckily for the pigeons, this plan never became operational.

Steven J. Zaloga provides a very readable text with plenty of photographs that is supplemented illustrations from Jim Laurier. I was able to read the book easily over two evenings. If you own one the previous releases in the New Vanguard series, you know what you are getting. If this is your initial entry into this series, you will be quite pleased.

My thanks to Osprey Publishing and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great book.

Highly recommended!


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