Robot Nudging

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A V-1 Fieseler Fi 103 in flight. (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
A photo of shadows on the ground show a Royal Air Force Supermarine Spitfire maneuvres alongside a German V-1 flying bomb 31 December 1943 in an attempt to “topple” or deflect it from its target. (Photo courtesy of The Imperial War Museums)

Changes to tactics, techniques, and procedures most often originate out of necessity. The December 1944 issue of Military Review included a short article that described such a situation. “Robot Nudging,” shown here, told the story of an innovative approach to air defense discovered by a British Royal Air Force pilot.

During World War II, the British faced the threat of thousands of German V-1 flying bombs fired from occupied territory in France and the Netherlands. British forces implemented several techniques to combat these early cruise missiles with varying degrees of success. These techniques included the use of antiaircraft guns, barrage balloons, and intercept aircraft.

Cover Image for Old Edition of Military Review

The Military Review article details a technique discovered out of desperation by an RAF pilot in an intercept aircraft who had run out of ammunition. The pilot used the wing of his aircraft to knock the bomb off course. Labeled “bomb nudging,” this technique was soon added to the list of possible air defense measures employed in defense of Great Britain.

To view the entire December 1944 edition of Military Review, Volume XXIV, Number 9, visit

For another example of World War II innovation, read the story of the Culin hedge cutter on the inside back cover of the July-August 2016 Military Review.

Robot Nudging Article

November-December 2017