Hitler’s V-weapons

Hitler’s V-weapons

Compiled by John Grehan
ARRSE Rating
4 Mushroom Heads
Review by Dark-Nit

This book is a reprint of a book originally written in 1950 with various typos and other errors removed. The 1950 publication was in turn a compilation of reports written at the time. It is a chronological record of the British side of the struggle against Hitler’s V1 and V2 weapons which extends from spring 1943 to March 1945.

The book is broken into seven chronological sections dealing with:

The decline of the German air force and identification of the rocket threat​
Early intelligence and organisation for defence against flying bombs​
First plans for defence and relationship to Overlord​
Attack on London Part 1​
Attack on London Part 2​
Rocket & flying bomb attacks on the UK part 1​
Rocket & flying bomb attacks on the UK part 2​

Each of these sections is split into 10 – 15 sub-sections covering e.g. he problem of identifying the Rocket, bombing policy operations, Civil defence & security precautions etc. There are also 18 total appendices The actual reading part is 200 pages plus another 100 pages of appendices. The appendices contain just about every statistic you could want on the subject. Whilst there is a comprehensive list of locations of V1 and V2 landing points and numbers of casualties, there is unfortunately no included map which would better serve to show the positions.

Factually, this book contains a lot of information, some of which will be well known and other parts less well known, for example, the use of barrage balloons as a defence against V1 flying bombs and the difficulties I picking up these weapons in time to enable the defences to get to them. Bear in mind that the flying bomb speed was more or less equal to the top speed of the fastest fighters at the time (late mark Spitfires and Typhoons).

The organisation of defences is covered in detail as are the efforts to disable launch sites and is interesting when considered against the lack of clear knowledge of the capabilities of the V1 and particularly V2 weapons. The Germans allowed very little information to slip on the actual capabilities of either weapon and there was much guessing as to what countermeasures would be offensive.

In the end, there was a multi-layered defence consisting of patrolling aircraft, a AAA “gun belt” and finally balloon belt, but this took a long time to get right. There was no defence against the V2 other than to take out production facilities, storage facilities and launch sites.

This is all good, but on the down side, I personally found the presentation of the information very heavy going being slabs of text containing extensive statistics. In many cases, I found that the range of statistics presented in each of the sub-sections detracted from me grasping the overall picture.

For statistical and historical information on the UK side of the struggle against the V1 and V2 weapons, this book is probably the best you will find in terms of depth and breadth of information. However, as a book to read, it’s pretty heavy going and not one I would choose to re-read.

On this basis, unless you have a specific interest in the detail of the defence against V1 and V2 weapons then this is something of a niche read but as it contains a lot of excellent factual information I’m going to give it an overall 4 mushrooms.

Dark Nit
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