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Republic-Ford JB-2

Republic-Ford JB-2

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The Republic-Ford JB-2 Loon was a United States copy of the German V-1 flying bomb
V-1 flying bomb
The V-1 flying bomb, also known as the Buzz Bomb or Doodlebug, was an early pulse-jet-powered predecessor of the cruise missile....

. Developed in 1944, and planned to be used in the United States invasion of Japan (Operation Downfall
Operation Downfall
Operation Downfall was the Allied plan for the invasion of Japan near the end of World War II. The operation was cancelled when Japan surrendered after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the Soviet Union's declaration of war against Japan. The operation had two parts: Operation...

), the JB-2 was never used in combat. It was the most successful of the United States Army Air Forces
United States Army Air Forces
The United States Army Air Forces was the military aviation arm of the United States of America during and immediately after World War II, and the direct predecessor of the United States Air Force....

 Jet Bomb (JB) projects (JB-1 through JB-10) during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. Postwar, the JB-2 played a significant role in the development of more advanced surface-to-surface tactical missile systems such as the MGM-1 Matador
MGM-1 Matador
The Martin MGM-1 Matador was the first operational surface-to-surface cruise missile built by the United States. It was similar in concept to the German V-1, but the Matador included a radio link that allowed in-flight course corrections. This allowed accuracy to be maintained over greatly extended...

 and later MGM-13 Mace
MGM-13 Mace
-See also:-External links:* * * * * * *...

.

Wartime development


The United States had known of the existence of a new German secret weapon since 22 August 1942 when a Danish Naval Officer discovered an early test version of the V-1 that had crashed on the island of Bornholm; in the Baltic Sea
Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from 20°E to 26°E longitude. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. It drains into the Kattegat by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt and...

 between Germany
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 and Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

. A photograph and a detailed sketch of the V-1 test unit V83 was sent to Britain. This led to months of intelligence-gathering and intelligence-sifting which traced the weapon to Peenemünde
Peenemünde
The Peenemünde Army Research Center was founded in 1937 as one of five military proving grounds under the Army Weapons Office ....

, on Germany's Baltic Coast, the top-secret German missile test and development site.

As more intelligence data was obtained though aerial photography and sources inside Germany, it was decided in 1943 for the United States to develop a jet-powered bomb as well. The United States Army Air Forces gave Northrop Aircraft
Northrop Corporation
Northrop Corporation was a leading United States aircraft manufacturer from its formation in 1939 until its merger with Grumman to form Northrop Grumman in 1994. The company is known for its development of the flying wing design, although only a few of these have entered service.-History:Jack...

 a contract in July 1944 to develop the JB-1 (Jet Bomb 1) turbojet-powered flying bomb under project MX-543. Northrop designed a flying-wing aircraft with two General Electric B1 turbojets in the center section, and two 900 kg (2000 lb) general purpose bombs in enclosed "bomb containers" in the wing roots. To test the aerodynamics of the design, one JB-1 was completed as a manned unpowered glider, which was first flown in August 1944.

However, in July 1944, three weeks after German V-1 "Buzz Bombs" first struck England on June 12 and 13, American engineers at Wright Field, fired a working copy of the German Argus As 014
Argus As 014
|-See also:*List of aircraft engines*Republic-Ford JB-2 Loon*Ford PJ31*Chelomey D-3-Bibliography:*Gunston, Bill. World Encyclopedia of Aero Engines. Cambridge, England. Patrick Stephens Limited, 1989. ISBN 1-85260-163-9...

 pulse-jet engine, "reverse-engineered" from crashed German V-1s that were brought to the United States from England for analysis. The reverse engineering provided the design of America's first mass-produced guided missile, the JB-2.

By 8 September, the first of thirteen complete JB-2s, reverse engineered from the material received at Wright Field in July was assembled at Republic Aviation. The United States JB-2 was different from the German V-1 in only the smallest of dimensions. The wing span was only 2½ inches wider and the length was extended less than 2 foot (0.6096 m). The difference gave the JB-2 60.7 square feet of wing area versus 55 for the V-1.

This was the first unmanned guided missile in America's arsenal. The first launch of a JB-2 took place at Eglin Army Air Field in Florida on 12 October 1944. In addition to the Eglin group, a detachment of the Special Weapons Branch, Wright Field, Ohio, arrived at Wendover Field, Utah
Utah
Utah is a state in the Western United States. It was the 45th state to join the Union, on January 4, 1896. Approximately 80% of Utah's 2,763,885 people live along the Wasatch Front, centering on Salt Lake City. This leaves vast expanses of the state nearly uninhabited, making the population the...

, in 1944 with the mission of evaluating captured & experimental systems, including the JB-2. Testing was from a launch structure just south of Wendover's technical site. Parts of crashed V-1s and JB-2s are occasionally found by Wendover Airport personnel.

In December 1944, the first JB-1 was ready for launch. The missile was launched by a rocket-propelled sled along a 150 m (500 ft) long track, but seconds after release the JB-1 pitched up into a stall and crashed. This was caused by an incorrectly calculated elevon setting for take-off, but the JB-1 program was subsequently stopped, mainly because the performance and reliability of the GE B1 turbojet engines were far below expectations. In addition, the cost to produce the Ford copy of the Argus pulse-jet engine of the JB-2 was much less than the GE turbojets. Subsequently work proceeded on the JB-2 for final development and production.

An initial production order was 1,000 units, with subsequent production of 1,000 per month. That figure as not anticipated to be attainable until April 1945. Republic had its production lines at capacity for producing P-47 Thunderbolt
P-47 Thunderbolt
Republic Aviation's P-47 Thunderbolt, also known as the "Jug", was the largest, heaviest, and most expensive fighter aircraft in history to be powered by a single reciprocating engine. It was heavily armed with eight .50-caliber machine guns, four per wing. When fully loaded, the P-47 weighed up to...

s, so it sub-contracted airframe manufacturing to Willys-Overland. Ford Motor Co built the engine, designated IJ-15-1, which was a copy of the V-1's 900-lb. thrust Argus-Schmidt pulse-jet. Guidance and flight controls were manufactured by Jack and Heintz Company of Cleveland, Ohio
Cleveland, Ohio
Cleveland is a city in the U.S. state of Ohio and is the county seat of Cuyahoga County, the most populous county in the state. The city is located in northeastern Ohio on the southern shore of Lake Erie, approximately west of the Pennsylvania border...

, and Monsanto
Monsanto
The Monsanto Company is a US-based multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation. It is the world's leading producer of the herbicide glyphosate, marketed in the "Roundup" brand of herbicides, and in other brands...

 took on the task of designing a better launching system, with Northrop supplying the launch sleds. Production delivery began in January 1945.

An envisioned 75,000 JB-2s were planned for production. A USAAF launching squadron was formed in anticipation for using the weapons both against Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 and Japan. However, the end of the European War in May 1945 meant a reduction of the number of JB-2s to be produced, but not the end of the program. Army commanders in Europe had dismissed it as a weapon against Nazi Germany, as the strategic bombing concept was implemented and by 1945 the number of strategic targets in Germany was becoming limited. However, the JB-2 was envisioned as a weapon to attack Japan. A 180-day massive bombardment of the Japanese Home Islands was being planned prior to the amphibious landing "by the most powerful and sustained pre-invasion bombardment of the war". Included in the assault were the usual naval bombardment and air strikes augmented by rocket-firing aircraft and JB-2s.

A navalized version, designated KGW-1, was planned to be used against Japan from LSTs (Landing Ship, Tank) as well as escort carriers (CVEs). In addition, launches from PB4Y-2 Privateers were foreseen and techniques developed. The official U.S. Air Force Fact Sheet on the JB-2 states just before the end of the war, an aircraft carrier en route to the Pacific took on a load of JB-2s for possible use in the planned invasion of the Japanese home islands, however the name of the carrier has never been identified. In addition, according to one Eglin AFB history, an unidentified USAAF unit in the Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

 was preparing to launch JB-2s against Japan. The war's end led to the cancellation of Operation Downfall and the production of JB-2s were terminated on 15 September. A total of 1,391 units were manufactured.

Postwar testing




The U.S. Army Air Force continued development of the JB-2 as Project MX-544, with two versions: one with preset internal guidance and another with radar control. Several launch platforms were developed, including permanent and portable ramps, and mobile launching from beneath the wings of Boeing B-17G or Boeing B-29 bombers, much as the Heinkel He 111
Heinkel He 111
The Heinkel He 111 was a German aircraft designed by Siegfried and Walter Günter in the early 1930s in violation of the Treaty of Versailles. Often described as a "Wolf in sheep's clothing", it masqueraded as a transport aircraft, but its purpose was to provide the Luftwaffe with a fast medium...

H-22 had actually done late in the war for the Luftwaffe. Testing continued from 1944 to 1947 at Eglin to improve launch and guidance.

The U.S. Navy's version, the KGW-1, later redesignated LTV-N-2, was developed to be carried on the aft deck of submarines in watertight containers. The first submarine to employ them was the SS-348 Cusk
USS Cusk (SS-348)
USS Cusk , a Balao-class submarine, was a ship of the United States Navy named for the cusk, a large food fish related to the cod....

 which successfully launched its first Loon on February 12, 1947, off Point Mugu, California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

.

After the United States Air Force
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

 became a fully independent arm of the National Military Establishment 18 September 1947, research continued with the development of unmanned aircraft and pilotless bombers, including the already available JB-2.

The USAF Air Materiel Command reactivated the JB-2 as Project EO-727-12 on 23 April 1948, at Holloman AFB, New Mexico, the former Alamogordo Army Air Field. The JB-2 was used for development of missile guidance control and seeker systems, testing of telemetering and optical tracking facilities, and as a target for new surface-to-air and air-to-air missiles (ironically fulfilling the former V1's covername, Flakzielgerät - anti-aircraft target device). The JB-2 project used the North American Aviation NATIV (North American Test Instrument Vehicle) Blockhouse and two launch ramps at Holloman: a 400 ft (121.9 m), two-rail ramp on a 3 degree earth-filled slope, and a 40 ft (12.2 m) trailer ramp. The 40' trailer ramp was the first step toward a system which would eventually be adapted for the forthcoming Martin MGM-1 Matador
MGM-1 Matador
The Martin MGM-1 Matador was the first operational surface-to-surface cruise missile built by the United States. It was similar in concept to the German V-1, but the Matador included a radio link that allowed in-flight course corrections. This allowed accuracy to be maintained over greatly extended...

, first operational surface-to-surface cruise missile built by the United States. The program at Holloman was terminated on 10 January 1949 after successful development of a radio guidance and control system that could control and even skid-land a JB-2 under the control of an airborne or ground transmitter.

The Air Proving Ground Command used JB-2s in a series of tests in the late 1940s and 1950s. In the spring of 1949, the 3200th Proof Test Group tested launching JB-2s from the under the wings of Convair B-36
Convair B-36
The Convair B-36 "Peacemaker" was a strategic bomber built by Convair and operated solely by the United States Air Force from 1949 to 1959. The B-36 was the largest mass-produced piston engine aircraft ever made. It had the longest wingspan of any combat aircraft ever built , although there have...

 bombers at Eglin AFB. About a year later, JB-2s were tested as aerial targets for experimental infrared gunsights.

In the summer of 1992, military crews uncovered the well-preserved wreckage of a JB-2 at a site on an Air Force-owned section of Santa Rosa Island
Santa Rosa Island, Florida
Santa Rosa Island[p] is a 40-mile barrier island located in the U.S. state of Florida, thirty miles east of the Alabama state border...

. Most crash sites on the barrier island
Barrier island
Barrier islands, a coastal landform and a type of barrier system, are relatively narrow strips of sand that parallel the mainland coast. They usually occur in chains, consisting of anything from a few islands to more than a dozen...

 were little more than flaky rust, but after the find, officials were planning further searches.

JB-2 survivors

  • National Museum of the United States Air Force
    National Museum of the United States Air Force
    The National Museum of the United States Air Force is the official museum of the United States Air Force located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base northeast of Dayton, Ohio. The NMUSAF is the world's largest and oldest military aviation museum with more than 360 aircraft and missiles on display...

    , Dayton, Ohio
  • U.S. Air Force Armament Museum
    Air Force Armament Museum
    The Air Force Armament Museum, adjacent to Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, is the only facility in the U.S. dedicated to the display of Air Force armament...

    , Eglin AFB, Florida
  • Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum, McMinnville, Oregon
  • (Engine only, operational) Planes of Fame
    Planes of Fame
    Planes of Fame Air Museum is an aviation museum located in Chino, California, and Valle, Arizona. The museum has many flying and static aircraft, along with multiple rare examples under restoration.-History:...

     air museum, Chino
    Chino, California
    Chino is a city in San Bernardino County, California, United States. It is located in the western end of the Riverside-San Bernardino Area and it is easily accessible via the Chino Valley and Pomona freeways....

    , California
    California
    California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

    http://www.planesoffame.org/airshows/2009/schedule.php
  • A JB-2 is on open-air display at the Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry in Wasilla, Alaska.
  • Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT), Auckland, New Zealand
  • Hill Aerospace Museum, Hill AFB, Utah has an original JB-2, "Wendover Willie" http://www.hill.af.mil/library/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=5675
  • Point Mugu Missile Park, on open-air display at Naval Air Station Point Mugu
    Naval Air Station Point Mugu
    Naval Base Ventura County Point Mugu or NBVC Point Mugu is a military airbase located in Point Mugu, Ventura County, California, United States. Due to realignment actions which occurred in 2000, the base is now part of Naval Base Ventura County , a consolidated organization that also includes...

    , California.
  • Cradle of Aviation Museum
    Cradle of Aviation Museum
    The Cradle of Aviation Museum is an aerospace museum located in East Garden City, New York on Long Island to commemorate Long Island's part in the history of aviation. It is located on land once part of Mitchel Air Force Base which, together with nearby Roosevelt Field and other airfields on the...

    , Garden City, New York.
  • National Air and Space Museum
    National Air and Space Museum
    The National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution holds the largest collection of historic aircraft and spacecraft in the world. It was established in 1976. Located in Washington, D.C., United States, it is a center for research into the history and science of aviation and...

     at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, Washington, D.C.

See also


  • 1st Experimental Guided Missiles Group
    1st Experimental Guided Missiles Group
    The 1st Experimental Guided Missiles Group is an inactive United States Air Force unit. It was last assigned to the Air Proving Ground Command and stationed at Eglin Field, Florida. It was inactivated on 22 July 1949....


External links