Spe­cial weapons and un­usual vari­ants

Spe­cial weapons, projects and ex­per­i­ments

Aviation Classics - - CONTENTS -

De­signed from the out­set for dura­bil­ity and ver­sa­til­ity, the Fw 190 proved to be an ideal test­bed for a wide range of imag­i­na­tive new weapons un­der devel­op­ment and con­sid­er­a­tion for front line ser vice dur­ing the Sec­ond World War. Focke-wulf also con­sid­ered al­ter­ing the air­craft’s de­sign to test other new forms of tech­nol­ogy…

Fw 190 Mis­tel

Dur­ing 1942, work was car­ried out in Ger­many to en­able a glider to carry a full mil­i­tary load by launch­ing it into the air us­ing a smaller pow­ered air­craft mounted on its back. This com­bi­na­tion was even­tu­ally to be­come known as the Mis­tel (mistle­toe) since the pow­ered air­craft could be given an ex­tended range us­ing fuel drawn from the glider be­low – like mistle­toe drawing sap from its host tree. The up­per por­tion was to be a Bf 109E fighter, the lower a DFS 230 glider. Both were pi­loted. In June 1943, it was de­cided that this tech­nol­ogy could be used for launch­ing a ‘gross­bombe’ or large bomb at a ground tar­get. The Bf 109 would still be the up­per por­tion, now a 109F, but the lower would be a ‘war weary’ un­manned Junkers Ju 88A-4 filled with 3.5 tons of high ex­plo­sives. The Bf 109 pi­lot would con­trol the whole Mis­tel up to its ar­rival over the tar­get, where­upon the Ju 88 would be aimed and an au­topi­lot unit within it ac­ti­vated. The Bf 109 would sep­a­rate from the Ju 88 by fir­ing ex­plo­sive bolts and then peel away as the fly­ing bomb flew serenely down to its tar­get.

The Ju 88’s high ex­plo­sive war­head was a huge hol­low charge with a plun­der det­o­na­tor at its tip which was fit­ted in place of the air­craft’s cock­pit. They were to be used against high value tar­gets such as cap­i­tal ships, power sta­tions or bridges. Junkers and DFS worked to­gether on the project, code-named Beethoven-gerät or Beethoven De­vice, and by April 1944 pro­duc­tion of the first batch of 15 Mis­tel was un­der way. The first unit to op­er­ate them, 2./KG 101, was ready for its first mis­sions in June. Th­ese met with very limited suc­cess but it was enough to im­press Focke-wulf. A rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the com­pany vis­ited Junkers on July 19 and then wrote a re­port de­tail­ing the Mis­tel de­sign. By the end of Novem­ber a new ver­sion of the Mis­tel com­bi­na­tion, with a Fw 190 as the up­per com­po­nent, was be­ing tested. Un­for­tu­nately, the Ju 88A-4 used 87 oc­tane fuel whereas the Fw 190A used 95 oc­tane – mak­ing them in­com­pat­i­ble. Cre­at­ing a Mis­tel us­ing a Fw 190 mounted atop a Heinkel He 177 bomber was briefly con­sid­ered but by the end of 1944 most of the ill-fated bombers were in a sorry state and would have needed sig­nif­i­cant work to make them air­wor­thy. The so­lu­tion was to pair ei­ther a Fw 190A-8 or F-8 with a Ju 88G-1 night fighter, which also used 95 oc­tane fuel. Plans to con­vert 75 G-1s for use as the ‘Mis­tel 2’ were laid on De­cem­ber 5, 1944, and 12 were ready by De­cem­ber 21. De­liv­er­ies to the unit in­tended to op­er­ate them, 6./KG 200, be­gan at the end of De­cem­ber. Pro­duc­tion was slowed, how­ever, by a short­age of ‘donor’ Ju 88G-1s so on Jan­uary 6 night fighter unit I./NJG 4 was or­dered to hand over 43 of its G1s for Mis­tel 2 con­ver­sion by Jan­uary 15. By now, with the Al­lies ad­vanc­ing rapidly through Europe and the Sovi­ets press­ing in from the east, it was dif­fi­cult for II./KG 200 to find a suit­ably large sta­tion­ary tar­get for its Mis­tels to attack. Re­ichs­marschall Her­mann Göring came up with the an­swer – why not hit the Royal Navy’s Home Fleet at Scapa Flow? De­tails of ex­actly which ves­sels might be there at any given time were sketchy due to the dif­fi­culty of get­ting Ger­man re­con­nais­sance air­craft any­where near it, but nev­er­the­less Göring’s idea for strik­ing a high pro­file Pearl Har­bor-style blow against the Bri­tish rapidly co­a­lesced into a solid plan – Un­ternehmen Drachen­höhle or Op­er­a­tion Dragon’s Lair.

Dragon’s Lair

Fif­teen Mis­tel 2s from 6./KG 200 would form the strike force, sup­ported by 12 flare­drop­ping Ju 88s and 188s from 5./KG 200 to il­lu­mi­nate the tar­get. They were to set off from Tirstrup in Den­mark on a date af­ter Jan­uary 20, 1945. Ev­ery­thing ini­tially went to plan and II./KG 200’s Mis­tels and Ju 88/188s ar­rived at Tirstrup with­out any prob­lems in mid-jan­uary 1945. One of the pi­lots due to take part, Feld­webel Rudi Riedl of 6./KG 200, re­called: “As far as the Scapa Flow attack plan was con­cerned we only re­ceived one proper brief­ing which took place in a large room of the coun­try house near the air­field, in which was a large map of the Scapa Flow area. “Each pi­lot was as­signed an in­di­vid­ual tar­get since we re­ceived regular re­con­nais­sance up­dates on Bri­tish ship­ping move­ments – I knew ex­actly where my tar­get ship was an­chored. To help us fur­ther, at our base at Tirstrup, we had a large, spe­cially built model of the har­bour on which were laid scale mod­els of all the ships known to be there. “The real prize was to be as­signed an air­craft car­rier. It was felt among the pi­lots of 6./KG 200 that if the Mis­tel had been in­tro­duced ear­lier and in greater num­bers, its ef­fect against cer­tain pin­point tar­gets – such as ships – could have been far more de­ci­sive. Any ship – no mat­ter what size – if hit by a Mis­tel would have gone un­der. “There were to be 12 air­craft – no re­serves – and the idea was to fly to the tar­get in cloud so as to min­imise the risk of be­ing spot­ted by Bri­tish pa­trols or flak. Fuel for the out­ward flight would be drawn from the Ju 88 lower com­po­nents and the amounts re­quired had been cal­cu­lated down to the last drop. “Marker buoys had been laid out to guide us in. We were to adopt a line astern for­ma­tion. We all wanted the mission to work, be­cause we knew we would be dec­o­rated when we got back – there was even talk of the Rit­terkreutz. “Once the attack had been made, the plan was for our Fw 190s to climb as fast as pos­si­ble to 7000m and make for Sta­vanger which was clos­est point for a safe land­ing. Both our forces in Nor­way and the navy had been warned to ex­pect us and the navy had been briefed to watch out for any pi­lot un­able to make it as far as Sta­vanger who might have to bail out due to lack of fuel.” Bad weather pre­vented the attack from go­ing ahead how­ever. On Fe­bru­ary 3, four Mis­tel 1s were send to Tirstrup to bol­ster the attack force but they were shot down by Amer­i­can Mus­tangs re­turn­ing from pro­tect­ing bombers dur­ing a

raid over Ber­lin. Eleven days later, a pair of de Hav­il­land Mos­quito MK.VIS from the RAF’S Fighter Ex­per­i­men­tal Flight at­tacked the air­field at Tirstrup. One of the pi­lots, F/O Roy Le­long, a New Zealan­der, wrote in his re­port af­ter­wards: “I ap­proached the aero­drome from the east, the aero­drome be­ing hard to find ow­ing to snow and ice. On ap­proach, I flew par­al­lel to the east-west run­way on the south side. “At first I could not see any air­craft, but fi­nally saw about five to six Fw 190 and Ju 88 pick-a-backs with nor­mal cam­ou­flage well dis­persed in fir trees. My sight was u/s, so I used the plate glass for sight­ing, let­ting strikes hit the ground in front of one of th­ese pick-a-backs. I pulled the nose up a lit­tle and saw many strikes on both the Fw and the Ju 88. “Nu­mer­ous per­son­nel work­ing around th­ese en­emy air­craft were scat­tered by the attack. I turned south into the next dis­per­sal bay and made a sim­i­lar type of attack on an­other pick-aback also see­ing strikes. I then turned west and at­tacked for a sec­ond time the first pick-a-back which I had pre­vi­ously dam­aged. “This time both the Ju 88 and the Fw 190 burst into flames.” Two of the Mis­tel com­bi­na­tions were de­stroyed dur­ing the attack and on the same day Op­er­a­tion Dragon’s Lair was can­celled. While the pi­lots of 6./KG 200 had been await­ing the green light how­ever, an­other Mis­tel op­er­a­tion had been planned – Op­er­a­tion Eisen­ham­mer or ‘Iron Ham­mer’. This was to be an attack on 23 hy­dro-elec­tric and steam power sta­tions around Moscow with the in­ten­tion of crip­pling Soviet man­u­fac­tur­ing ca­pa­bil­ity. It was to be car­ried out by pi­lots of 3./KG(J) 30 from Peen­emünde un­der the su­per­vi­sion of KG 200. A huge amount of train­ing was un­der­taken by the pi­lots and crew of both units, with in­ten­sive brief­ings from spe­cial­ists tak­ing sev­eral weeks. Dur­ing this time, the Soviet Army ad­vanced to within strik­ing dis­tance of Ber­lin and on March 30, 1945, Eisen­ham­mer was put on hold. Then 11 days later, 18 Mis­tel in­tended for Op­er­a­tion Iron Ham­mer were de­stroyed dur­ing a US bomb­ing raid on Rech­lin-lärz. An­other five were de­stroyed at Oranien­burg. More fol­lowed.

rhine cross­ing

On Sun­day, March 25, 1945, four 6./KG 200 Mis­tel took off from Burg to attack US forces erect­ing pon­toon bridges over the River Rhine near Op­pen­heim. Leut­nant Fred Lew, who took part in the mission, said: “We had five Ju 88/Fw 190 Mis­tel com­bi­na­tions ready for the Op­pen­heim Rhine bridge attack. Around 5pm, four Mis­tel took off, the fifth hav­ing bro­ken down on the air­field. We were ac­com­pa­nied by five Ju 88 and Ju 188 Beleuchter from our 5. Staffel. Since take-off in a Mis­tel was al­ways a danger­ous af­fair, the air raid siren was sounded at Burg to clear the field of per­son­nel for their own safety. This time, how­ever, things went ac­cord­ing to plan and the four re­main­ing Mis­tel got off the ground with­out prob­lem. “Fol­low­ing a wide left turn, our for­ma­tion headed to­wards the Rhine. Ini­tially, we were at 1500m but soon climbed to a cruis­ing altitude of 2000m. The ap­proach flight took two and a half hours. As it be­gan to turn dark, so I saw the River Rhine glit­ter­ing be­low us in the moon­light. “Mean­while, our Beleuchter air­craft had dropped their sig­nal flares, but still, I could not recog­nise the bridge. I flew a full cir­cle to ori­en­tate my­self, but as I did so, I ran into heavy Amer­i­can anti-air­craft fire. In or­der to lo­cate the tar­get I de­scended to 1500m and then – bang! I was hit. My Mis­tel lurched to port and went into a spin on its back. As I was no longer able to con­trol the ma­chine, I de­cided to sep­a­rate my Fw 190 while si­mul­ta­ne­ously div­ing away from the Mis­tel. “At 300-400m, I fi­nally man­aged to re­gain con­trol over my air­craft and got away from that ter­ri­ble flak and headed east to­wards Burg. In the dark­ness and fly­ing on in­stru­ments, my re­turn flight be­came quite hairy and I flew off course. I found my­self ap­proach­ing the River Elbe. Since the Rus­sians were by now quite close, it was danger­ous to cross the river. “For­tu­nately, I reached the Elbe at Tor­gau. The suc­cess of the op­er­a­tion was vir­tu­ally nil.”

Oder cross­ing

The last sig­nif­i­cant Mis­tel op­er­a­tions came in mid to late April 1945. On April 11, Mis­tel had been used to attack au­to­bahn bridges cross­ing the Kwisa and Bóbr rivers to stem the tide of Rus­sian troops pour­ing in from the east. On April 12, four Mis­tel from 6./KG 200 and four from KG(J) 30 had been or­dered to attack bridges at Küstrin – a town in Bran­den­brug, East Prus­sia, that strad­dled the River Oder. It had been des­ig­nated a ‘fortress’ by Hitler but Soviet forces had suc­ceeded in an­ni­hi­lat­ing its Ger­man de­fend­ers by March 11 and were us­ing its bridges to bring thou­sands of men and ma­chines over the river. All eight Mis­tel were gath­ered at Peen­emünde and they set off in two waves. The 6./KG 200 air­craft went first in the morn­ing and be­gan, one by one, to take off. The first com­bi­na­tion had a prob­lem how­ever

and although the Fw 190 sep­a­rated cleanly, the Ju 88 rolled over and crashed into the Baltic. The sec­ond suf­fered a burst left tyre and crashed. One took off but the fourth also failed. Just one Mis­tel was left to see the mission through and the pi­lot was Rudi Riedl. Af­ter meet­ing up with his fighter es­cort – a sin­gle Bf 109 – they flew to Küstrin to­gether. “Nearer the tar­get he flew close to me and, with his thumb, pointed down­wards at my tar­get. We must have crossed the front line then, be­cause all hell broke loose. I was so sur­prised. Af­ter all, this was my first op­er­a­tional sortie. The tar­get lay be­fore me ringed by a hail of fire. “As I made my attack dive, my fighter es­cort climbed away to stay be­yond the range of the en­emy flak. All I could see around me were black clouds from the flak. Oc­ca­sion­ally, as well as th­ese black clouds, I could see lit­tle flashes of light from the tracer – just like when you throw more wood on to an al­ready burning fire. “I don’t ac­tu­ally re­mem­ber press­ing the but­ton to ac­ti­vate the sep­a­ra­tion, but my div­ing speed was 600-650kph. The lower com­po­nent hit the first sec­tion of the three sec­tion bridge which ex­ploded and landed on top of the next sec­tion.” Dur­ing the attack, Riedl’s Fw 190 suf­fered a buck­led wing but he even­tu­ally man­aged to land at Straus­berg. The sec­ond wave from KG(J) 30 all took off suc­cess­fully in the af­ter­noon led by a Ju 88 of I./KG 66. They reached the tar­get with­out in­ci­dent and all four Ju 88s were re­port­edly launched at the Küstrin bridges but none of them caused any sig­nif­i­cant dam­age and cer­tainly failed to halt the Soviet ad­vance. On April 14, an­other three Mis­tel from I./KG(J) 30 took off to attack the Küstrin bridges and five Mis­tel from uniden­ti­fied units launched an attack on bridges at Gör­litz over the Lusa­tian Neisse River. The suc­cess or fail­ure of this op­er­a­tion is un­known. April 16 saw four Mis­tel from 6./KG 200 or­dered to make yet an­other at­tempt at the Küstrin bridges but this time, as they took off, they were in­ter­cepted by Al­lied fighters. Two were shot down but the oth­ers reached the bridges and one Mis­tel was suc­cess­fully used to de­stroy a bridge. The fol­low­ing day, seven more Mis­tel were pre­pared for an­other Küstrin attack but one crashed on take­off and the rest were grounded. An­other Mis­tel attack on the Küstrin bridges was launched on April 27 and an­other on bridges over the Oder be­tween Tan­tow and Greifen­hagen on April 30. Nei­ther was suc­cess­ful and there­after Mis­tel op­er­a­tions were ended. Other Mis­tel us­ing the Fw 190 were planned. Had the cheap wooden Focke-wulf Ta 154 Moskito fighter en­tered full pro­duc­tion, it was to have formed the lower part of a Mis­tel com­bi­na­tion for use against bomber for­ma­tions. It would have been ra­dio con­trolled, rather than be­ing guided by an au­topi­lot sys­tem. The Mis­tel 3 com­bi­na­tion also used the Fw 190 but paired with a Ju 88G-1. The Mis­tel 3A was a train­ing ver­sion, match­ing a Fw 190A-8 or F-8 to a stan­dard Ju 88A-4 , while the Mis­tel 3B in­volved match­ing an A-8 with a long range Ju 88H-4 heavy fighter. The Fw 190A-8 was to be fit­ted with Dop­pel­re­iter stream­lined fuel tanks above its wings for in­creased range. The Mis­tel 3C paired a Fw 190F-8 with a Ju 88G-10. There is also ev­i­dence to sug­gest a smaller Mis­tel was planned which in­volved a Fw 190 sit­ting atop a Fieseler Fi 103 ‘V-1’ fly­ing bomb although few de­tails of this have been dis­cov­ered.

Edi­tor’s col­lec­tion

A cam­ou­flaged Mis­tel 2, prob­a­bly be­long­ing to II./KG(J) 30 and based at Oranien­burg in March 1945.The Ju 88G-1’s war­head has an un­usual short SHL 3500 fuse and both com­po­nent air­craft carry a drop tank – prob­a­bly in readi­ness for par­tic­i­pa­tion in Op­er­a­tion Iron Ham­mer.

Edi­tor’s col­lec­tion Edi­tor’s col­lec­tion

Th­ese images show first a Ju 88 with its en­tire cock­pit sec­tion re­moved in readi­ness for con­ver­sion to the lower com­po­nent of a Mis­tel com­bi­na­tion.the re­moval work could be done rel­a­tively quickly. Next the huge hol­low charge ‘Ele­fan­ten­rüs­sel’ or Ele­phant’s Trunk war­head is shown be­ing moved into po­si­tion, and fi­nally a Ju 88 with its war­head in place and ready for pair­ing with a sin­gle en­gine fighter. The first op­er­a­tional Mis­tel com­bi­na­tion utilised a Bf 109F, in this case WNR. 10130, paired with a Ju 88A-4, WNR. 10096.

Edi­tor’s col­lec­tion Edi­tor’s col­lec­tion Edi­tor’s col­lec­tion

Eleven Mis­tel 1s of 6./KG 200 on the run­way at Burg in readi­ness for an op­er­a­tion in late 1944 or early 1945. This Mis­tel S3C trainer, made up of Fw 190A-8 WNR. 961243 and Ju 88G-10 WNR. 460066 was cap­tured at the Junkers fa­cil­ity at Bern­burg by 113th Cav­alry Group of the US Ninth Army in April 1945.The whole site was turned over to the Sovi­ets on July 21, 1945. An­other view of the Mis­tel S3C com­bi­na­tion on the run­way at Junkers’ Bern­berg fac­tory. The air­craft in the fore­ground clearly shows the stretched fuse­lage of the Ju 88G-10.

Edi­tor’s col­lec­tion GDC Edi­tor’s col­lec­tion

Above: The at­tach­ment points of the Mis­tel com­bi­na­tion are clearly vis­i­ble in this al­ter­na­tive view of one of the Mis­tel cap­tured at Junkers’ Merse­burg fa­cil­ity. Left: One of a pair of Mis­tel S2s cap­tured by the Amer­i­cans at Junkers’ Merse­burg fa­cil­ity in May 1945.The up­per por­tion is a Fw 190A-8 and the Ju 88 is a G-1, WNR. 590153. Be­low: The Focke-wulf de­sign for a Mis­tel in­volv­ing the wooden Ta 154 Moskito air­craft as the lower com­po­nent.the fail­ure of the Ta 154 rel­e­gated this to a mere drawing board project.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.