Flipping over V-1s

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Chocks away!

Senior Airman
Jan 16, 2005
I don't know if this has been discussed before in these forums, but it's something i have difficulty understanding:
Why on earth did RAF pilots go into the trouble of flying level with a V-1, positioning his fighter's wing beneath the buzz-bomb's and flipping it over, as opposed to just shooting it down?! :confused:
Shooting it down was more dangerous than you might think. The pursuing aircraft was just as apt to end up getting caught in the resulting explosion, which was extremely likely. Flipping was thought to be a safer method.
I can't find it but there is a pic of a 418 sqn bird with all the paint burnt off after shooting down a v1 with guns
Although flipping a V-1 might seem a lot safer that shooting the thing down (as mentioned by Sys and PB) you really had to watch what you were doing. The wingtips of both Spits and Tempests, while not weak are not the strongest part of the wing and are areas where you don't want to put a lot of undue stress to. The Spit's aileron runs almost to the wingtip. The aileron hinge is a few feet inboard. Putting stress on that part of the structure could knock the structure out of alignment, putting stress on the aileron hinge and possibly causing it to fail, if not immediately it could happen a time in the future where it won't be convenient! The Tempest seems to have a similar situation but it also appears the wing is a bit stronger. In either case, thinking as a maintainer, if I was that squadron's maintenance officer I would of been watching this area very carefully as the pilots are actually inducing a controlled mid-air collision!!!

Gotta admit - those guys had a set of big ones!!!
I've heard a story about a Hurricane pilot that was so good in the formation he used to tap the other planes wings on purpose. And they sometimes landed with dents in the wings to prove it! Looks they knew what was coming. :lol:
plan_D said:
I've heard a story about a Hurricane pilot that was so good in the formation he used to tap the other planes wings on purpose. And they sometimes landed with dents in the wings to prove it! Looks they knew what was coming. :lol:
:lol: Like I said, a set of "big ones."
43 Sqdn. CO. (Tangmere) Group Captain T.F Dalton-Morgan -

"...P/O Roy DuVivier and Joe Pippa saw me. Jow flew over me at about 200 feet and threw out his Mae West up wind of me. I eventually picked it up, so that was dear old Joe, he was such a good pilot that when he used to fly in close formation with me he would touch the edge of my wing tip with the edge of his and once there was a dent in my wing tip to prove it."

So, stating the obvious, the man I was talking about was Pilot Officer Joe Pippa of 43 Sqdn.
Here's how the technique began. This is a exerp from an article I once wrote-

RAF pilots used Tempests and hopped up Spitfires to intercept V-1s too and in desperation at times employed the highly dangerous method of tipping over the buzz bombs by matching speed with them as they tucked a wingtip under the V-1's wing and then maneuvered to flip the machines. The gyrostabilizer could not compensate for such maneuvers without ailerons and the robot would crash and explode.

Dicey stuff but a Pole with the RAF, Taduesz Szymanski, got two in this manner flying a Mustang III, one on July 12, 1944. Szymanski and wingman were on 'diver patrol' and directed to a doodlebug intercept.

"You had to hit them from dead astern and not get closer than 300 yards or you might be brought down by the explosion. This meant you were presented with a very small target and it took several hundred rounds to bring one down."

After finishing off the V-1 he received another call and told his wingman to hit it after he spotted it but he was not there. With radio problems he'd returned to base so Szymanski closed in alone and fired. He saw strikes just as his ammo ran out. A call to control confirmed that no other fighters were nearby to assist.

Szymanski flew in close to observe the bomb and had an idea. Once flying Spitfires at 20,000 feet with a pal they purposely overlapped wings just to see the effect. A slight lift was felt by the pilot with the wing above the other one's. Hmm? Knowing that if a gyroscope is turned more than 90-degrees it is upset, he had an idea.

"As soon as I put the port wing under its wing it started lifting. Then I put enough of my wing under it and made a sharp bank to starboard. After I straightened out from my bank it had straightened itself out but had lost some height."

Szymanski repeated the maneuver eleven times with the same result. The thing was nearing the London area now when he decided to try something different. He pulled up as if beginning a loop striking it with his wingtip once more. This time when he recovered the V-1 was flying upside down. It went into a gradual dive and went into the Channel.

The same thing happened again on August 6, 1944 after he downed one and damaged another running out of ammo. This time the upward maneuver toppled the robot on the first try. Szymanski got nine V-1s.

There were numerable RAF pilots with many V-1 kills- Wing Commander Roland Beaumont: 8 enemy aircraft 32 V-1s, W/C Edward Crew: 15 E/A 31.5 V-1s, Squadron Leader Arthur Umbers: 6.5 E/A 28 V-1s, W/C Russell Bannock: 9 E/A 19 V-1s. S/L Francis Mellersh: 8 E/A 15 V-1s, S/L Harvey Sweetman: 7 E/A 10.5 V-1s, Flt./Lt. Desmond Ruchwaldy: 7 E/A 10 V-1s, F/L J.O. Matthews: 11 E/A 10 V-1s. Plus nine other aces had V-1 scores as well.
This might be an eye opener for you to read.

A few quotes.

There was considerable danger in attacking the V-1 even though it could not shoot back. Its explosion could be lethal in the air within 200 yards and in the early weeks several pilots were killed and aircraft badly damaged by bursting bombs. Diving on to the bomb to attain extra speed brought the danger of entering the lethal distance while shooting; turbulence of the hot gases from the jet engine also upset the aim of a fighter attacking from the rear

The best form of attack had to be discovered by trial and error and eventually most pilots found that, if possible, it was best to allow the bomb to overtake them and then fire deflection shots as it passed. Occasionally, unorthodox methods were used with success. Pilots would fly alongside a bomb and then tip it over with the wing of their machine – the wings did not actually touch since the air passing over the wing surface of the fighter was sufficient to unbalance the robot, which then overturned and went into a dive.

New Zealand pilots flying Spitfires, Mosquitos, Mustangs, Tempests, and Typhoons played a prominent part in the fighter patrols. No. 486 New Zealand Tempest Squadron was in action from the outset. After flying sweeps and convoy patrols over the Channel during the early days of the invasion, its pilots found themselves switched overnight to the defence of London. By 4 September they had flown 2443 sorties and destroyed 223 flying bombs, a record excelled by only one other squadron.

That was No.3 tempest Sqn with 258 kills.

No. 486 Squadron's top-scoring pilots were Warrant Officer Eagleson,1 with twenty-one flying bombs destroyed, Flying Officer Cammock,2 with twenty and one shared, Flight Lieutenant McCaw,3 nineteen and one shared, and Flight Lieutenant Cullen,4 who brought down sixteen. These men displayed outstanding skill both as pilots and marksmen, sending many of their targets down into the sea before they reached the coast and others into the open countryside nearby.

On one patrol Madden found his ammunition exhausted whilst attacking so he flew alongside the bomb and tried to tip it over with his wing. Twice the bomb righted itself but his persistence was rewarded when, at the third attempt, it turned over and plunged down to explode in a wood. Kleinmeyer adopted even more unusual tactics to destroy his target one evening early in August. During his approach he overshot but, turning sharply, he flew across the nose of the bomb, catching it in the slipstream from his aircraft so that it rolled over and crashed.

Full article at CHAPTER 11 Flying Bombs and Rockets | NZETC
Interesting. Thanks for the link.

A few Canadian units participated in the "Battle of the Flying Bombs" too:

"Canadian fighter pilots had a relatively small role in the battle, chiefly because most Royal Canadian Air Force fighter squadrons had been deployed to support the Normandy invasion and were not diverted from that task. Three RCAF units did participate, shooting down 97 flying bombs: 82 by 418 Squadron, 10 by 409 Sqdn. and five by 402 Sqdn. The most successful Canadian pilot was Squadron Leader Russel Bannock of 418 Sqdn.; with his British observer, Flying Officer Robert R. Bruce, he shot down 19 V-1s, four of them in a single flight. His closest V-1 rival was Flight Lieutenant Colin Evans, also of 418, who shot down eight, assisted by his RAF navigator, Pilot Officer S. Humblestone."

A couple more Canadian fellas:

"The usual stratagem was to fire on a V-1 from a discreet distance. The "Battle of the Flying Bombs" included instances of pilots flying alongside a missile and tipping it over. Airflow kept wingtips from touching, but matching speeds was difficult. Newspapers and popular histories of the campaign made much of what was actually a very rare tactic. One Canadian who did resort to it was pilot officer Benjamin R. Scaman, flying a Spitfire of 610 Sqdn. ( July 28, 1944). He dived on a buzz bomb but found he was closing too quickly. Rather than have the missile blow up in his face, he tucked his port wing under the V-1's stubby starboard wing and tipped it over; the device exploded in the sea. Among the more unusual kills were those scored by Flying Officer William H. MacKenzie (August 16, 1944) and FO Jack Robert Ritch the next day. Both men were flying Meteor I aircraft of 616 Sqdn. and were the first Canadians to see combat in jet-propelled fighters."

(sources: www.legionmagazine.com Canadian Air Force / la Force aérienne canadienne)

Bannock and Bruce:


  • Bannock  Bruce, RCAF 418 Sqn..JPG
    Bannock Bruce, RCAF 418 Sqn..JPG
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