The V-1 Bomb: A Complex Design Challenge

Story and photos by Steve Finkelman

The foam blocks in the make-shift lathe ready for cutting.

Our volunteers are the lifeblood of the museum. But often their creativity and ingenuity, rather than just their labour, makes the big difference.

Such is the case with the half-scale model of the V-1 flying bomb, the final part of the de Havilland Mosquito display. The exhibit is a tribute to 418 (City of Edmonton) Squadron and the role it played during the Second World War protecting London from the threat of Germany’s deadly flying bombs.

Phil Vere and Assistant Curator Ryan Lee make the first hot-wire cuts in the foam blocks.

The job of leading the V-1 project fell to Phil Vere, long-time volunteer who has been involved in designing many of our display projects including the curbing around our ‘story islands’ and the Mosquito exhibit’s diorama wall.

“We can’t hang much weight off the ceiling trusses that are up there so it had to be light weight, Vere says of the design. “So in my mind that did away with making a wood mockup, or metal. We needed to go with foam.”

Vere sanding the edges of the cut foam fuselage.

But the real challenge Vere faced was how to cut to foam in the shape of the V-1.

“We built this jig which was essentially a giant lathe. So we could turn the blocks and we had forms on either side that allowed us to cut to general shape with a hot wire. It looked like a dirigible then. So we sanded all the edges off and ended up with the final form. Now we have to do the same thing for the motor.”

The final form of the fuselage, ready for the wings and motor.

The project has been about 2 years in the making, with months more to go until the model bomb is ready to hang.

But for Vere the more complex a project is the more fun it is to work on.

“These are complex projects. There’s all sorts of stages to go through. The finished project never reflects the behind-the-scenes work that goes into it.”

Still, he is looking forward to seeing the project in its final form.

“I am anxious to see it up there, I really am. It’s going to be really neat.”

Assistant Curator Ryan Lee with a model showing how the finished V-1 will look.