Category Last Days of the Luftwaffe

Plans for a New Luftwaffe


n the spring of 1945 the war was as good as lost. The Allied armies were within the old Reich borders and the Soviets were heading for Berlin. Resistance on the various fronts was in a state of collapse. Yet, on the aviation production front, the design bureaux pressed on, churning out plans which had no hope of realisation. What use were these paper tigers with no bauxite, chrome, manganese, electric current, hardly any fuel and chaos in communications? Many decision-makers seem to have been ignorant of the problems. They continued to make plans as in the glory days of the Luftwaffe and the Blitzkrieg. The dreaming did not end even in April 1945.

Plans for a New Luftwaffe

Gallery entrances such as this show that materials were in too short supply for progress in the short term. With starving slave-workers and dwindling resources the targets set in underground factories could never be met.

Symptomatic of the situation were talks attended by high-ranking officers on 10 February 1945 in Berlin. For the first time they were forced to acknowledge, with no ifs and buts, that nearly all hydro-electric plant had been wrecked by bombing, and that no more fuel was forthcoming until the end of March.

Подпись: This sketch of the principle shows clearly the degree of development required for the rocket motors alone of the A-10. Fuel production in underground or bombproof factories could not be expected until the autumn, and even then the output would be small. The Wehrmacht could rely on 50,000 tonnes of oil from underground centres in January 1946. But of what use would that be to facilities such as the underground works at Ebensee (Traunsee), now under hasty construction, if no more oil was arriving for refining? Even the last oilfields near Zistersdorf north of Vienna had meanwhile been seized by the Red Army.

The stark reality was that between February and the autumn of 1945 only 16,000 tonnes of B-4 and C-3 fuel, and 43,000 tonnes of J-2, would become available. This represented a

monthly output of 2,300 tonnes for piston-aircraft (B-4 and C-3) and 6,000 tonnes for jets (J-2) and would not suffice for even the most essential operations. Aircraft production was to be pruned down to the As 234, He 162, Me 262 and Та 152 only. Even Bf 109 and Fw 190 production was to cease, the production line to be run down as fast as Me 262s and Та 152s became available to replace them. Even Ju 88 production was to come to a halt in the late autumn of 1945 so as to maintain material reserves.

From the early summer of 1945,500 He 162s and Me 262s, 370 Та 152s and 50 As 234s would roll off the lines monthly. Such numbers spelled closure for most operational Geschwader and the remaining tactical forces could expect no better output of new machines than replacements for losses. At the beginning of 1945, reconnaissance aircraft, fighters and Jabos were given priority in the queue for fuel. Bombing missions no longer entered the picture. Several fighter Geschwader were also in line for the chop, and many of the remainder, including KG 76, would have been reduced. In the summer air transport capacity was to have been cut to six Gruppen. By the end of 1945, transport and parachute operations would not be possible and pilot training would also have come to an end.

With a resumption of production and assembly in underground plant the planners hoped to reinstate the disbanded units perhaps from the beginning of 1946. In the meantime there would have been fuel enough for some reconnaissance missions and a maximum of 75 Me 262 flights daily, not much to cope with the Allied bomber fleets.

Подпись: Drawing of a part of the Mittelwerk complex intended for the mass production of jet fighters, turbines and rockets. Anybody who knew the true facts must have realised before the beginning of 1945 that because of Allied air superiority over the Reich, and the great industrial and manufacturing strength of the Allies, the time for anything other than local defence was past, yet even in the spring the effort was still being made to produce extreme high performance and therefore very costly aircraft in numbers. This included light jets, well-armoured Jabos and

multi-seater all-weather bombers with up to four jet turbines. That the production of the core He 162 and Me 262 jets was hamstrung by desperate logistical problems appears not to have struck the decision-makers.

Plans for a New Luftwaffe

Lacking camouflage but ready to roll, another Me 262 A-la leaves the assembly line.


One must therefore ask why they could not see that the war was lost. Was it from loyalty to the German leader, from a desire not to recognise the facts, or for personal reasons? There is really only one answer. From the generals down to the simple soldier, the belief existed that the end of the war would be a rough period and then things would go on as before. They recalled the motto at the 1918 Armistice: ‘The Kaiser goes, the generals remain.’ The Fiihrer and those who bore too high a burden of guilt would have to depart. Aviation, the Luftwaffe, would survive, perhaps with restrictions and prohibitions. In time new aircraft designs would be needed, for already the first cracks between the Allies were visible. Most of the Luftwaffe leadership had not been involved in war crimes and had only done their duty. Now they and everybody else stood before the abyss.

Подпись: Following Goring’s fall, Hitler appointed Generalfeldmarschall Ritter von Greim as the last C-in-C of the Luftwaffe. The dream of building the most powerful air force in the world was shattered, a fact scarcely

Plans for a New Luftwaffe

The giant halls of the Quarz underground facility were originally intended for rocket production, but as more and more refineries were destroyed the complex went over to fuel production instead.


Plans for a New Luftwaffe

The enormous aircraft assembly hall at Maulwurf a former salt warehouse at Tarthun near Stassfurt.

perceived in the spring of 1945. As long as the possibility of producing a single new aircraft still existed, work continued; and as long as a single drop of fuel could be obtained, flying continued. In desperation, pilots dived on bridges or rammed enemy bombers. The majority of the crews waited on the ground. It might make sense to try to avoid being killed at the last moment – too many had already been lost – or to try not to become involved in the vortex of the final battles, defending a trench impossible to hold. This went also for the Home Front. Many ‘adventurous’projects came into being simply to protect the planners against being drafted into the Volkssturm. This was often a decision taken by firms. War factory owners could see the time ahead when they would become free entrepreneurs, and their businesses would need a core of experienced workers and an intact management team. So it came about that project departments and design offices, such as at Heinkel-Siid, were kept going as long as possible. When the time came to shift, the staff were evacuated with their assignments and loaded into trains for shipping off to ‘safe’backwaters as yet unoccupied. The situation for forced labour and prisoners was of course quite different.

First Operations with the Ar234 C-3

Although the situation was in reality hopeless, at the end of April the new four – turbine Ar 234 versions began to arrive at unit. The first pair of Ar 234 C-3s (Works Numbers 250002 and 250004) arrived at Alt-Lonnewitz in the second half of March, and were test-flown on the 27th by Unteroffizier Eheim. During these flights, Knight s Cross holder Lukesch – according to some reports – reached an altitude of about 15,000 metres (49,000 ft). Another three Ar 234 C-3s arrived at the beginning of April at III./EKG 1. These were listed for pilot training.

Подпись: At the end of the war Ju 88 G-ls and G-6s were the principal versions used as night fighters. This machine was discovered and attacked by Allied fighter-bombers despite the camouflage.
By 16 April, Russian armies had assembled between the Neisse Estuary and the Oder for the final offensive on Berlin. III./EKG 1, the operational training Gruppe at Alt-Lonnewitz, could soon hear artillery fire, and on 19 April the unit transferred to Pilsen, bringing all serviceable operational and training machines to safety. One Ar 234 C-3 crashed on landing for unknown reasons.

Lukesch flew the penultimate machine, an Me 262 B-la, with his leading ground technician as passenger. After Hauptmann Reymann followed him in an Me 262, the installations were blown up. After the second Ar 234 C-3 was destroyed in an air raid at Pilsen, at the end of April the stock of jet bombers was reduced to one Ar 234 C-3 and a few Ar 234 B-2s.

Подпись: This Ju 88 G-6 was equipped with the modern SN-2 radar and captured towards the war’s end by American forces. On 27 April III./EKG 1 transferred to Pocking am Inn on the orders of the Airfield Servicing Company (FBK) in order to avoid being cut off. Pocking is 20 kilometres south­west of Passau. Shortly before the transfer the Germans were surprised by an air raid in which all but two of the jet bombers were either damaged or wrecked. Eventually only one C-3 and one B-2 arrived at Pocking. The last serviceable C-3 was blown up shortly before the arrival of US forces. The last III./EKG 1

machine, an Ar 234 B-2, was flown by Oberfeldwebel Oepen to Horsching (Linz) and handed over to l.(F)100. On 29 April, III./EKG 1 was disbanded by Luftflotte 6.

Besides the Ar 234 C-3 which arrived on 28 April, III./KG 76 received a further four up to 3 May. One of these was the former prototype Ar 234 V-25 (RK+EO) coming from Brandenburg-Briest. It had touched down first at Warnemiinde on 15 April, from where it flew to Kaltenkirchen on 1 May. As the B-4 fuel needed for the BMW 003 turbines was almost impossible to obtain, attempts by KG 76 to test-fly the aircraft as ordered were unsuccessful at the outset. Two or three missions were flown after arrival. In one of these, British positions south of Bremervorde were attacked on 3 May. The following day terms for unconditional surrender to the Western Allies in northern Germany were accepted, and the remaining operational machines at KG 76, insofar as they were serviceable, were flown north using the last drops of fuel to be surrendered to British forces.

Operations Begin

Following the missions against the Normandy invasion fleet in the summer of 1944, there was a pause in Mistel activities for several months which was only brought to an end when the necessity arose to demolish bridges and so protect Reich territory. On 30 January the Luftwaffe General Staff incorporated KG(Jagd) 30 into KG 200 as Mistel Gruppe II./KG 200, revoking earlier plans to convert the unit to the Me 262. Pilots were trained at Prague from February where losses occurred due to the unusual flight configuration and enemy fighters.

Operation Eisenhammer, the planned destruction of important targets in the USSR, had less sense behind it with every passing day. According to British aerial reconnaissance on 24 February, for example, Mistel operations were being planned against British fleet units from occupied Denmark. The Eastern Front had become catastrophic. A numerically and materially superior enemy faced assorted weak German units whose Panzers and heavy artillery often existed only on paper. Fuel was so scarce that it could only be released in the direst emergency. The Luftwaffe therefore looked for opportunities to strike at the enemy lines of supply, particularly by attacks on the Vistula bridges used by the Red Army.

Operations Begin

Operations Begin

On 1 March KG 200’s Kommodore, Oberstleutnant Baumbach, ordered the bridges at Deblin, Sandomierz and Warsaw destroyed. Six M 1 and eight M 3B

Mistel were to attack all three simultaneously if the weather was right. Three attack groups with three, five and six Mistel, each with three pathfinders, was assembled. The Mistel would start from Burg near Magdeburg and Jiiterbog Damm, heading for Warsaw with the fighter cover keeping below the clouds. Flight leader was Oberleutnant Pilz (II./KG 200). The guidance Bf 109s were to land afterwards at Stolp, Vietker-Strand or Kolberg (Kolobrzeg); the Fw 190 pilots had longer range and could make for the nearest airfields in Bohemia or Saxony. Because of bad weather, this promising attack was called off at the last moment and provisionally cancelled.

On 8 March four Mistel from II./KG 200 controlled tactically by Battle Unit Helbig (an ad hoc force commanded by Oberst Helbig and comprising various bomber and other units) attacked important Oder bridges at Goritz. The first Ju 88 bomb received a hit to rudder and ailerons and fell well wide of the target. The second struck the railway bridge dead centre and collapsed it. Ju 88 and Ju 188 escort aircraft kept the enemy anti-aircraft batteries quiet using ten AB 500 (SD1) and 22 AB 70 (SD1) bombs although a Ju 188 A-2 was hit by ground fire and crashed south-west of Fiirstenwalde after the crew baled out. JG 11 provide fighter cover to the Oder.

By 21 March, II./KG 200 had 14 older M 1 pairs, two M 2s and 17 M 3s. A KG 200 report dated 28 March complained that Mistel operations against pontoon or other emergency bridges were uneconomic and ineffective because the crossings were narrow and thus very difficult to hit. In the opinion of Werner Baumbach sticks of bombs or guided bombs were far more likely to be successful.

Operations against bridges often failed because the Mistel tactic was not very suitable for mobile commands. It was difficult to avoid disorganisation when transferring Mistel between airfields. Because of Allied air superiority Mistel could realistically only operate by night. Most Fw 190 pilots would not be able to return to base, despite the best navigational aids, without lengthy night flying training. Often the weather forecast for the attack zone was unreliable and a long-range reconnaissance aircraft collected information for the attack and reported the local weather.

The next Mistel attack was protected by 24 fighters from JG 52 and was led by two Ju 88 S-3 and Ju 188 pathfinders. Five Mistel set off from Burg on 31 March for the huge railway bridge at Steinau/Oder (Scinawa). Two Mistel dropped out with engine trouble early on, but the other three scored a near-miss and a hit on the central section of the bridge despite the Russian anti-aircraft fire.

On 1 April the unit had only 8 Mistel M 1,2 M 2s and 12 M 3s available. Of these, only the Mistel 2s and one Mistel 3 were operational immediately. The Steinau bridge was attacked again on 1 April using the II./KG 200 force. The six Mistel were each accompanied by two Ju 88s and Ju 188s as director aircraft, and 24 Bf 109s of JG 52 as fighter escorts. The aircraft took off between 0723 and 0735 for the 90-minute flight to the target. The first Mistel Ju. 88 suffered rudder failure and fell wide, another hit the eastern side of the bridge where it caused extensive damage. The third functioned normally and was probably a hit. The other three Mistel aborted. One pilot flew clear at separation when his hydraulics failed. The Ju 88 bomb dived into the ground but failed to explode. Another Mistel had engine problems, the pilot turning back at Torgau over the Elbe, and after his engine failed at Gorlitz he parachuted down. The Ju 88s and Ju 188s accompanying the Mistel dropped two SC 1000s containing the highly explosive Trialen mixture over the western bridgehead, obtaining near misses at the foot of the bridge and near the railway station. Towards 1038 the last Fw 190 returned to base. Overall the operation could not be classified as a success.

The last Mistel was building at Merseburg on 6 April, but then cancelled. Other Mistel stood ready. On 7 April II./KG 200 had 18 Ju 88 A-4s and S-3s, and 8 Ju 188s operational, and 8 Mistel 1, 2 Mistel 2 and 14 Mistel 3. The Kommodore of KG(Jagd) 30 reported to Luftflotte 6 on 8 April that he had 24 Mistel located at Oranienburg, Parchim, Peenemiinde and Rechlin-Larz, plus two reserves for the revived operation against the Vistula bridges at Warsaw. After an air attack wiped out the Parchim Mistel, on 9 April the Kommodore redistributed the pilots for the attack on the southernmost bridge, and after a favourable weather report was received at 1849 hrs, Luftflotte 6 decided to go ahead with the operation.

At take-off there were major delays at Oranienburg since the command was informed late, and the crews were eventually stood down because of engine problems. At Peenemiinde the first Mistel would not start. Misunderstandings with the ground crew leader led to delay and a reserve aircraft was not fuelled-up because of shortage of fuel. The first to go moved off at last, crashed while taxying and burnt out. This blocked the runway and grounded the other five Mistel.

The take-off distance between each Mistel of only three minutes was too short, at least eight minutes, better ten, would have been more reasonable. Night take­offs in darkness were only possible at Oranienburg or Rechlin-Larz, but not at Peenemiinde or the Heinkel reserve airfield Rostock-Marienehe. This meant that the operation had to be rescheduled. The next start – with a full moon and hoped-for cloudless skies – would not be possible for another four days.

The day came, and five Mistel taxied out to the runway. Only one of the Fw 190s returned. The pilots of three others parachuted down, one wounded and landing near Giistrow, another coming to earth at Stade. A pilot jumped clear from the Mistel around 0200 over Miincheberg after compass failure and the next pair had to disengage when surprised by enemy fighters. Only one Mistel arrived over the Vistula at Warsaw. The long and well planned attack was ruined. The target was well illuminated by 237 LC 50s dropped by 15 He 111 H pathfinders of II./KG4, but the Ju 88 guided bomb missed. Four Bf 109s flying
escort were lost, one wounded pilot being rescued; two others were never found. The problems could all have been quickly resolved but for the lack of experienced officers at the distant bases.

A number of the now experienced fliers were seconded to the National Socialist Command Staff for Propaganda. This hampered preparations for Operation Eisenhammer, and Oberst Baumbach argued that it should be abandoned. The fronts had shrunk and further reduced the chances of Mistel operations. The poor weather conditions also played a role. On 9 April a Ju 88 S-3 of KG(Jagd) 30 flew weather reconnaissance over Graudenz-Thorn – Bromberg (Bydgoszcz)-Warsaw-Posen, often at low level, between 1840 and 2310 hrs for Operation Weichsel. At 2145 hrs the aircraft dropped eight SD 70s over Warsaw inner city. On that day the Red Army had only one railway bridge in usable condition, two others were being hastily repaired and besides fourteen road bridges, three others were being constructed by Russian sappers.

Подпись: Ju 88 G-lOs were the first choice as the bomb part for long-range Mistel operations because of their greater fuel-carrying capacity.
On 10 April the infrastructure at Larz aerodrome was damaged in an air raid, although the Mistels, which were in the open, seem to have escaped. The next operation followed on 11 April when 15 Fw 190s of III./JG 6 flew escort for six Mistel of KG 30 heading for the bridge over the Autobahn at Queisse. A direct hit was scored, another Mistel fell 50 metres short of the bridge approach, a third struck the railway viaduct nearby. The fourth was released prematurely with an engine fire and spun down out of control. The pilots had no knowledge of the other two as they were lost to sight after release. A Mistel attack the following

day on a railway bridge at Kiistrin was a failure. It was becoming ever more difficult to organise sufficient fuel for these missions.

On 17 April, Battleunit Helbig was ordered by Luftflotte 6 to destroy immediately the single track railway line re-established on the bridge at Steinau. Shortly afterwards VIII. Fliegerkorps agreed to supply at least 25 fighters as Mistel escorts for the late afternoon of 18 April. The Russian advance had to be halted without regard to German losses and so save Berlin. The majority of the German divisions had been defeated, or were resisting in their trenches with courage born of desperation. Neither reinforcements nor supplies were to be expected.

The planned major attack by three Mistel groups on bridges over the Vistula on 24 April proceeded partially. Only those aircraft starting from Peenemiinde, seven Mistel and three Ju 188 escort groups, got up: the other two groups broke off for pre-flight problems. Only two Mistel pilots returned.

On 30 April the last four Mistel at Peenemiinde were manned by KG 200 pilots for an attack on the Oder bridge at Tantow. The first combination turned back with technical problems soon after take-off. The other three reached the bridge at 0900 hrs. The attack was not a success. The second Mistel Ju 88 was shot down by fighters. The Fw 190 pilot flew his aircraft back to Peenemiinde. The third Fw 190 and pilot were never found. Only the fourth hit the bridge.

These desperate operations ordered by the Luftwaffe leadership showed how easily the hope for a positive outcome with these ‘solutions’could be disappointed. Numerous pilots paid with their lives for a few hits. Yet at the beginning of 1945, even very experienced Luftwaffe pilots were ready, in the face of the hopeless situation, to plunge with their machines into a bridge. In the rarest cases they may have been ordered to do so.

Jet Fighters


he end of the era of the piston-engined fighter coincided with the end of the Second World War. In the second half of 1944 the Luftwaffe turned its hopes increasingly to the twin-turbine Me 262 A-la jet fighter. Even though only relatively few Geschwader enjoyed its use, that does nothing to alter the fact that in 1945 this machine was the fastest jet fighter in the world to be operational in large numbers.

Me 262 A-la

The introduction of the Me 262 jet was hindered initially by reverses. The BMW turbines failed to live up to their promise. Even the change-over to Jumo 004 T-ls and T-2s brought no quick breakthrough. General der Jagd-

Jet Fighters

Подпись: 47

The Luftwaffe believed that the Me 262 A-la would revolutionise air warfare. Production in fits and starts prevented the deployment of the jet fighter in the numbers desired by OKL.

flieger Adolf Galland declared the machine ready for operations after his trial flight in the V-4 prototype, but the euphoria was soon dispelled when the new technology with all its attendant problems delayed completion and delivery of the first pre-series run into the spring of 1944. During testing new defects came to light almost daily, causing ever more postponements. New delays followed the Blitzbomber idea which had been accepted without protest by Goring, and on 25 May 1944 the aircraft was transferred to the jurisdiction of the General der Kampfflieger for future use mainly as a fighter-bomber.

Nevertheless the development of the single-seat fighter was continued. In December 1943 a test commando had been established at Lechfeld and from May 1944 the pilots of III./ZG 26 underwent conversion training for jets. Although one of the most influential advocates of the Me 262, Hauptmann Thierfelder, was shot down in his machine, the first victories were achieved during the operational testing period. On 26 September 1944 Kommando Nowotny was founded. Major Walter Nowotny and his pilots proved from 8 August 1944 how efficient the Me 262 A-la was in aerial combat: Nowotny himself, a highly decorated commander, lost his life when shot down on 8 November 1944. Before being incorporated into JG 7, the Kommando obtained at least 17 victories.

Despite great efforts, the number of Me 262s available remained small. This was because of the advanced technology and the air raids on the assembly lines at Augsburg. The relocation of these to forests, or the construction of underground assembly facilities were both necessary, but meant fewer aircraft being produced than originally planned. Even at the end of the war the relocation of plants for Me 262 A-la assembly was incomplete. Delays in the delivery of new aircraft to individual units in the spring of 1945 prevented a smooth change­over to the Me 262, and OKL succeeded in equipping only a few fighter Gruppen, especially those ofJG 7 and KG(J) 54, with reasonable numbers.


Besides the R4M, the Me 262 A-la was suitable for carrying the RZ 65 7.3-cm calibre air-to-air Fohn solid-fuel rocket successfully tested aboard the Fw 190 A. The first Me 262 trials with the weapon were held at Tarnewitz in the early spring of 1945 under Flight-Staff Engineer Heinz Pfister. After delays for bad weather, on 25 April he flew an Me 262 from the test centre to JV 44 at Munich- Riem but finding the airfield cratered and two P-5 Is approaching he abandoned the project and headed for Neubiberg. Fohn rockets were now overtaken by events as American troops occupied Munich.


The wire-guided Ruhrstahl X-4 designed by Dr Max Kramer was a highly valuable weapon scheduled to replace most spin-stabilised rockets at the earliest opportunity. On 30 October 1944 Reich Minister Speer ordered its immediate development. Relatively expensive-looking even from the planning stage, 5,000 Type 8-344 A-l were to be mass-produced monthly at the Ruhrstahl AG works Brackwede near Bielefeld. Fritz Hahn reported that eventually 950 were produced at Bielefeld and the Stargard factory in Pomerania. BMW Berlin – Spandau aimed to turn out 1,500 liquid-propellant motors by April 1945, but few came off the lines complete. On 6 February Kammler ordered X-4 development work concluded as soon as possible to enable the manufacturer to press ahead with the Dogge automatic aiming device. In February 1945 it was still

hoped to arm all operational jet aircraft, including Ar 234 B-2s, C-3s and the Me 262 A-la with the X-4. Numerous tests were made using a converted Ju 88 G. At the beginning of 1945 Messerschmitt works pilot Gerd Lindner made at least one flight aboard an Me 262 A-la (Works No. 111994) carrying

two X-4s below the wings, but they were never fired in combat. The intention for operations was to have two or four X-4s suspended below the wings from an ETC 70/C1. After an air raid destroyed the assembly plant for the BMW 109-548 motor, and the necessary components could not be supplied in the desired quantities, the Riistungsstab accepted that series production in adequate numbers would not be possible. A large number of prototypes survived, and in March 1945 Kammler ordered 300 X-4s. Nothing came of this despite continuing tests at Karlshagen, mainly for the lack of experienced technical staff. Once it was evident that series production was out of the question, the Riistungsstab went for the RM4 instead.


The Riistungsstab conference of 5 November 1944 decided that the X-4 should be followed by the air-to-air Hs 298, two or three being carried below the wings of an Me 262 and fired from simple retaining rails. The Hs 298 had been under development at Henschel since 1943. An order was placed for 100 units of the prototype Hs 298 V-l series, to be followed by the V-2 series. The first completely successful launch occurred on 22 December 1944 from a Ju 88 G-l night fighter, and OKL then ordered Henschel to manufacture a pre-series run of 2,000. Although flight and remote-control trials proved promising in early 1945, a disadvantage of the weapons was thought to be its expense. Production


The Hs 298 was a technically very complicated heavy rocket whose development was abandoned in 1945.

of the first 135 continued into the spring of 1945, however. The rocket had some notable innovations in that it was the first to be built in modular form. It was the first guided missile to be fired from a rail, a method only used previously for spin-stabilised rockets. It had no need for batteries, power being supplied by an on-board generator.

The Hs 298 V-2 series had a 45-kg (100-lb) warhead and a range of 5,500 metres (6,000 yd). Speed calculated in 1945 was around 250 m/sec (820 ft/sec). By mid-April 1945 more than 100 of the first 135 prototypes were ready but were destroyed together with the remainder to prevent their capture by Russian forces as the latter neared the Wansdorf factory outside Berlin. Accordingly, with the exception of the R4M, all efforts of the SS to introduce accurate air-to-air rockets over the Reich came to nothing.


Подпись: Wind-tunnel model of the W 1 Wasserfall flak rocket under test at the Aerodynamic Test Institute.
Towards the end of the war the Peenemiinde EV Wasserfall design was considered to have the best chance of winning back for Germany air supremacy over the Reich. It was a remote-controlled, single stage, liquid-fuel supersonic rocket designed to engage enemy aircraft at the highest altitudes. Its wings and fins had a cruciform arrangement and it was fired vertically. Simultaneous with work on the single-stage variant W 1 – also known as С 1 – at the beginning of 1942 work was started on the two-stage C 3 version. On 15 June and 12 July 1942 OKL placed orders with Rheinmetall to handle the C 3 development. As the results promised early military use, on 12 March 1943 series production was


Firing of the Wasserfall prototype at the north tip of Usedom island.

scheduled for mid-1944. From June 1944, 250 would be turned out monthly, from September 1944 1,000, from December 2,500, and from March 1945 7,500 monthly, according to the RLM and Armaments Ministry figures. Only two experimental rockets, W 1/1 and W 1/2 would be built of the С 1 version, the C-2 version would generate all further test rockets and the first operational series-produced rockets. Apart from difficult technical problems which remained to be resolved, there was little capacity to produce the C 2, too little by way of raw materials, and above all too litde space. It was therefore impossible to predict the date when the Luftwaffe would have its effective defence against Allied bombers. To find a useful solution, in July 1943 it was decided to equip the first 1,000 rockets with control-stick steering and then 5,000 with radio control.

Testing of Wasserfall proceeded only slowly. In November 1943 it was announced that the first two experimental rockets would be fired from Peenemunde in March, five others in June and another 20 by the end of September 1944.100 were to have been produced by the beginning of 1945. In January 1944 it was expected that the shortage of graphite from the third quarter of the year 1945 would result in rocket production being severely cut back. This would be accompanied by procurement problems, serious transport and delivery hold-ups and not least bureaucracy.

On 8 January 1944 Wasserfall W 1/1 exploded on the ground during a test. In February 1944 there were further problems with the fuel regulator and combustion chamber valves. Despite all difficulties W 1/2 was fired successfully

on 29 February 1944. In order to skirt the materials bottleneck, on 17 April 1944 the number of experimental rockets required was reduced. After 80 for testing and 20 for ground and materials investigation, 400 C 2s were to be produced as soon as possible for operational testing. In June 1944 the first two Wasserfall of the second series (W 2) were fired from Test Stand IX on Usedom Island, Peenemiinde.

Operational use against Allied aircraft was still a distant prospect. Other C 2 starts, some disastrous, were made in September from Test Stands P II, P II South and P IV, but on 9 October 1944 Wasserfall C 2 was declared ‘risk – free’since the majority of 110 test starts had proceeded without problems. By 12 November there had been 14 more firings to test missile stability, flight control and the rocket motors.

Development of the flight control system was considered complete by the beginning of 1945. In February the motor was certified reliable and production was listed for the end of February, or the latest at the beginning of March, in the bombproof tunnels at Kohnstein/Nordhausen. By 18 February, 28 Wasserfall rockets had been fired, all fitted with remote control except for the basic prototype. Five of these were blown up at take-off or shortly after. Despite this, the Emergency Programme of 13 March 1945 scheduled the further development of 20 new A 10 variants monthly from April 1945, far too few to bring about any change in the air war over the Reich.