Meteor I vs V-1 Flying Bomb 1944

Published on
November 28, 2012
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
Donald Nijboer, illustrated by Jim Laurier and Gareth Hector
Other Publication Information
Softcover, 80 pages, historical photos, color profiles and paintings
Product / Stock #
Duel 45
Company: Osprey Publishing - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Osprey Publishing - Website: Visit Site


During World War II, a total of 10,500 V-1 missiles were launched against Britain, of which over 3,900 were destroyed by air and ground defenses. Overall, the attack and subsequent damage could have been much worse, for by the end of the war the Germans had manufactured close to 32,000 flying bombs. The Allied defenses put forward to guard against the V-1 included 23,000 men and women with aircraft, guns, radar, and communications networks installed on coastal sites.

The average speed the V-1 was 350 mph and their average altitude was 3,000 to 4,000 ft. Fighter aircraft required excellent low altitude performance to intercept them and enough firepower to ensure that they were destroyed in the air rather than crash and detonate. Most aircraft were too slow to catch a V-1 unless they had a height advantage, allowing them to gain speed by diving on their target.

The anti-V-1 sorties by fighters were known as "Diver patrols" (after "Diver," the codename used by the Royal Observer Corps for V-1 sightings). Attacking a V-1 was dangerous: machine guns had little effect on the V-1's sheet steel structure, and if a cannon shell detonated the warhead, the explosion could destroy the attacker.

Squadrons of Britain’s newest Spitfires XIVs, and Hawker Tempest Vs were kept at home to battle the new menace. Tempests shot down 498 flying bombs, Mosquitos (623 victories), Spitfire XIVs (227), and Mustangs (232). All other types combined added 158. Even though it was not fully operational, the jet-powered Gloster Meteor was rushed into service to fight the V-1s. It had ample speed but its cannons were prone to jamming, and it shot down only 12.5 V-1s.

The Meteor’s first V-1 victory occurred in early August, 1944. After closing on a flying bomb, the Meteor’s guns jammed. Using the aircraft’s speed, the pilot was able to overtake the missile and, using his wing tip, he tipped the craft over and sent it to crash into the ground away from its intended target. The first meeting of the V-1 and Meteor were historic, ushering in a new era of aerial combat.


The softcover book contains 80 pages with informative narrative, vintage photographs with captions, plus color artwork by the two talented illustrators.

Introduction – Here the author offers an overall picture of the Allies’ effort to blunt the German efforts to launch and land the flying bombs on targets in Britain. The battle between the Meteor and V-1 was short, but would prove to be modestly successful for the British.

Chronology – The parallel histories of the development of British jet engines and the V-1 are detailed here.

Design and Development – First addressed is the Meteor I power plant as first developed by Frank Whittle for the Gloster E.28/29. Next, the development of the V-1 is covered in some detail. The concepts are followed from the initial design and test efforts to production. The failures are described in detail as are the ultimate successes. For the time, the Whittle engine was considered a technological accomplishment, while the V-1 was innovative, but overall a crude design.

Technical Specifications – A detailed look inside each aircraft is covered in this section. The performance of the Meteor was described as inferior in rate of climb when compared to the Spitfire Mk. XIV, the Tempest V, and the Mustang III, and was only slightly faster than the Mustang. The various versions of the V-1 are also covered in limited detail.

The Strategic Situation – The bombing campaigns by both Germany and Britain is discussed. Oddly enough, one of the most success German attacks was performed by the single seat Bf-109 and Fw-190 during the “tip and run” attacks. Also, the first evidence of the German weapons was revealed to the British by French spies and aerial photography of the development and launch site.

The Combatants – Training of the RAF pilots and the German Flak crews is detailed in this section. The V-1 launch crews needed to be highly trained and competent individuals, and many of the men drawn to serve were held back in their current roles by their commanding officers who were reluctant to lose their talent. Training of V-1 launch crews was delayed by several months by this action.

Combat – V-1 launching and interceptions are covered in great detail in this section. The defense network consisted of a belt of ground-based antiaircraft guns, barrage balloons, and high-performance aircraft. The normal altitude for the V-1 was approximately 2,000-3,000 feet where the performance of the Meteor bettered the Spitfires, Tempests, and Mustangs.

Statistics and Analysis – Tempests destroyed 498 V-1s, Spitfires 227, and the Meteor 12.5. Certainly not impressive.

Aftermath – The V-1 may be looked upon as both a success and a failure. Hitting a large city such as London was possible with some regularity, but hitting a specific military target was impossible. The V-1 program siphoned off valuable resources in manpower, fuel, and ammunition sorely needed by the German military. While the Meteor is considered as a mediocre performer, it created the foundation for further development of jet-powered aircraft for the RAF and Royal Navy.

Further Reading – For the interested, there are two pages of additional references on this topic and related interests.

I wish to thank Osprey and IPMS/USA for the opportunity to review this book. I found this material to be informative and well written. Several details were brought to light that may be considered crude by today’s standards, but the V-1 introduce the cruise missile concept to modern warfare, and the Meteor may be considered as the first anti-missile defense system. Well worth reading.


Add new comment

All comments are moderated to prevent spam

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.