How 501 Sqn Hawker Tempests downed 95 V1 flying bombs

For the Royal Auxiliary Air Force’s No 501 Squadron with its new Hawker Tempest Vs, the task was a stark one: destroy V1 flying bombs at any cost. Tom Spencer detailed the unit’s efforts in the August 2016 issue of Aeroplane Magazine

On 13 June 1944, the Germans fired the first of their long-awaited secret weapons against southern England. One exploded in Bethnal Green, east London, killing six people and seriously wounding nine. The age of missile warfare had begun.

The new menace was the Fieseler FZG 76, usually called the V1 (V for Vergeltungswaffe, or ‘revenge weapon’) in enemy propaganda, and nicknamed the ‘buzz-bomb’ or ‘doodlebug’ by the British. The scale of the attack quickly grew and became an overriding priority for the Air Defence of Great Britain, as the remnants of Fighter Command left on home shores became known in 1943. It quickly re-organised its defences, re-deploying new high-performance fighters. However, with such large numbers of Allied fighters across the Channel, there were many ad hoc encounters with the sinister weapon.

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