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V1 launch ramp

V1 launch ramp

Useless V1 launch ramp

During the Second World War, the German Air Force developed an unmanned flying bomb, the V1 (Vergeltungswaffe).

The V1 was the deadly predecessor of the V2 rocket, developed in Peenem├╝nde. The unmanned vehicle initially had a range of 240 kilometers and could transport a payload of 830 kilograms.

Operation of the launch ramp

The launch ramp is 48 meters long and has a slope of 6┬░. It is oriented towards the center of London (about 200 kilometers from Hazebrouck as the crow flies).

At launch, the V1 rocket was placed on a cart. From this almost intact launch ramp, the cart, with the missile on it, was shot into the air at high speed using high-pressure steam from a guide rail between the two walls.

The walls on both sides of the launch ramp had to absorb the fragments released during the launch. The side walls are made of concrete blocks.

After each launch, all chemical residues from the steam piston were rinsed with large amounts of water (photo left). Soft water was used to avoid damaging the machines. The pumping station with the tank (photo right) served this purpose.

The V1 rockets, without wings, were stored in these 80-meter-long bunkers. Seen from above, the buildings have the shape of a ski to limit the impact of a possible bombardment.

Storage space for the carts on which the V1 rockets were mounted.

Launch base

To get the V1 into the air, the Germans built 96 bases in France, including one in the Bois des Huit Rues near Hazebrouck in 1943. Bombing by the Allies prevented a V1 from ever being fired here.

Elsewhere, they succeeded in their aim: on June 13, 1944, a week after D-Day, the Luftwaffe fired the first of thousands of V1 bombs destined for London and later Antwerp.

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