Ruhrstahl/kramer X-4 mis­sile

Aviation Classics - - AVIATION -

Devel­op­ment work on the X-4 wire-guided air-to-air mis­sile be­gan in July 1943 and it was in­tended for use by both the Fw 190 and the Me 262. It was pow­ered by a BMW 109-548 liq­uid-fu­elled rocket en­gine and had wooden fins which had fair­ings at their tips con­tain­ing 8.5km of fine wire on bob­bins for the guid­ance sys­tem. The 20kg frag­men­ta­tion war­head was ef­fec­tive to about 8m or 26ft. The first tests, us­ing con­verted F-8 Fw 190 V69,WNR. 582072, took place on Au­gust 11, 1944, at E-stelle Tarnewitz on the Baltic coast. An X-4 was fit­ted be­neath each wing on an ETC 71 rack. Four more Fw 190s were also used in tests – V70 and a trio of F-8s. When the mis­sile was launched, the pi­lot had to man­u­ally guide it to its tar­get us­ing a spe­cial joy­stick mounted on the in­stru­ment panel.this proved to be ex­tremely dif­fi­cult how­ever, and devel­op­ment moved on to air­craft with two or more crew such as the Ju 88. In the end, although 1000-1300 X-4s were built, their en­gines were de­stroyed when BMW’S fac­tory at Star­gard was bombed.

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The wire-guided X-4 air-to-air mis­sile was in­tended for use by high-per­for­mance fighters such as the Fw 190 and Me 262 but although more than 1000 were made, all of the rocket en­gines in­tended for the type were de­stroyed in a bomb­ing raid be­fore they could be de­liv­ered. A close up of the X-4 mis­sile at­tached to the wing of a Fw 190. One of its guid­ance wires can be seen trail­ing from the stream­lined pod on its wingtip. Once it was launched, the X-4 had to be man­u­ally guided on to its tar­get us­ing a joy­stick – al­most an im­pos­si­ble task for a pi­lot si­mul­ta­ne­ously try­ing to keep his own air­craft aloft. Left: The RZ 65 rocket launcher tubes fit­ted into the wing struc­ture of Fw 190 V69 ap­pear as three holes in the lead­ing edge of each wing. The SG 113 weapons sys­tem was car­ried ver­ti­cally within each wing of the Fw 190. It was fired down­wards au­to­mat­i­cally when pass­ing over a tank.the at­tack­ing pi­lot had to be fly­ing low for it to work but so low that the blast re­sult­ing from the tank be­ing blown up stood a good chance of destroying the air­craft too.

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