The scientific tourist #134 — the Loon missile

This week’s image is of a JB-2 / KUW-1 Loon missile at the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia:

If you follow either the history of military aircraft, or are a World War II buff, this should look pretty familiar to you — that’s because it’s a U.S.-made variant of Germany’s V-1 cruise missile. Having the same engine and essentially the same stats as the V-1 (2,200 pound warhead, 150 mile range) but with an improved guidance system, the Loon could be launched from the ground, ships (even submarines!), or dropped from an aircraft. The first Loon flew in 1944, but this was really too late for it to see combat in WWII. Still, it provided U.S. Navy and Army Air Force personnel with priceless experience in the handling and guidance of missiles before the program was cancelled in 1950.

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