La Maisonart John Wiseman
" Doodle Bug Roulette: Tempest", Giclée Édition 250 s/n (cat # 136), $330. to order
The V1 flying bomb, also known as the ‘Buzz Bomb’ or ‘Doodle Bug’, was one of Hitler’s miracle weapons that was going to help Germany conquer the Allies. These were the first cruise missiles and though rudimentary, were quite advanced for their time. V 1’s caused very real damage, but strategically they had little effect since the majority of casualties were civilians, though they did divert a lot of man power and materiel to combat them.
My painting depicts a Hawker Tempest V with code letters JF-E in hot pursuit of a ‘Doodle Bug’. This Tempest was one of several flown by the famous French pilot Pierre Clostermann who flew in the British RAF from 1942 to the end of the war in 1945.
The Hawker Tempest was one of the fastest and most formidable fighters of WW II. It evolved from the earlier Hawker Typhoon which started life with many teething problems. The Tempest ironed out the problems to become a versatile, durable and hard-hitting fighter. It excelled in ground attack and anti-shipping rolls as well as an interceptor. With its 2,400 horse power engine, it could cruise at well over 400 mph (640+ km per hr), and it’s phenomenal acceleration made it one of the few allied aircraft that could catch the V1’s that cruised around 400 mph. Tempest pilots accounted for 640 V1 kills out of 1,846 that were downed by aircraft.
Some 9,521 flying bombs were launched against South-East England and late in the war a further 2,448 were fired at Antwerp and other targets in Belgium. Carrying a warhead that weighed close to one ton, the missile could annihilate its target. But more often than not, the V1’s landed far wide of their intended targets. Such were the vagaries of hi tech circa 1940’s. Never-the-less, the somewhat random V1 attacks resulted in 22,892 casualties. They also accounted for 1,127,000 homes being destroyed or seriously damaged
Attacking a V1 was dicey business. The steel exteriors were impervious to small caliber machine guns and there were but few vulnerable components. The Tempest’s four 20mm cannons were very effective but if the warhead on the V1 exploded during an attack, it could prove lethal to the fighter and the pilot. When a pilot ran out of ammunition, there was another tactic called ‘tipping’ used to down the flying bombs. A pilot would maneuver his aircraft so that a wing would be just inches below one of the stubby V1’s wings. The airflow from the fighter’s wing in such proximity would cause the flying bomb to fall off course, hopefully causing it to explode harmlessly in open country side. In my painting I have depicted the moment the Tempest pilot is closing in to perform the wing tipping maneuver.