Bachem Ba 349

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The Bachem Ba 349 Natter (colubrid snake) was a World War II era German experimental point-defense rocket-powered interceptor aircraft which was to be used in a very similar way as manned surface-to-air missiles. After vertical takeoff which eliminated the need for airfields, the majority of the flight to the bombers was radio controlled from the ground. The primary mission of the (inexperienced) pilot was to aim the aircraft at its target bomber and fire its armament of rockets. The pilot and the main rocket engine should then land under separate parachutes, while the wooden fuselage was disposable. The only manned test flight, on 1 March 1945, ended with test pilot Lothar Sieber being killed.

Contents

Development

With Luftwaffe air superiority being challenged by the Allies even over the Reich in 1943, radical innovations were required to overcome the crisis. Surface-to-air missiles appeared to be a very promising approach to counter the Allied bombing offensive and various projects were started, but invariably problems with the guidance systems and fusing prevented these from seeing widespread use. Providing the missile with a pilot who could control the weapon during the critical terminal approach phase offered a solution and was requested by the Luftwaffe in early 1944, under the Emergency Fighter Program.

A number of simple designs were proposed, most using a prone pilot to reduce frontal area. The front runner for the design was initially the Heinkel P.1077 "Julia" that took off from a rail and landed on a skid like the Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet.

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