For the past 30 years, the Tomahawk hung from the ceiling just a few dozen feet from the German V-1 flying bomb, or “buzz bomb,” that saw action in Europe during World War II. The V-1 and the Tomahawk, variants of which are still in service in the Navy, frame an important episode in the history of missile development in the United States. The recent deinstallation of the Tomahawk provides an opportunity to recount some of the highlights of this fascinating story of technological evolution.
Last week a United States’ “hit-to-kill vehicle” intercepted and destroyed a mock intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) for the first time during a test. Until fifteen years ago, however, anti-ballistic missiles (ABMs) like the one just tested were banned under the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty signed by the United States and Soviet Union in 1972.
This fall is the 30th anniversary of the Reykjavik Summit, a landmark meeting held in Iceland's capital between U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
The world’s first ballistic missile campaign began when the first German V-2 missile successfully launched in combat hit a suburb outside Paris. A second launch later that day hit Chiswick near London. Senior curator Michael Neufeld discusses the V-2 and this campaign.