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Luftwaffe "Mistel" Program


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#1 Wolfy

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Posted 05 January 2009 - 02:24 AM

Probably the one the most desperate tactics in WW2- Using a Focke-Wulf fighter to glide an empty bomber full of explosives into an enemy target...

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Mistel - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Anyone know some more details about this thing?

#2 JCFalkenbergIII

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Posted 05 January 2009 - 03:08 AM

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Mistel Prototype - Ju 88A-4 and Bf 109F-4
Mistel 1 - Ju 88A-4 and Bf 109F-4
Mistel S1 - Trainer version of Mistel 1
Mistel 2 - Ju 88G-l and Fw 190A-8 or F-8
Mistel S2 - Trainer version of Mistel 2
Mistel 3A - Ju 88A-4 and Fw 190A-8
Mistel S3A - Trainer version of Mistel 3A
Mistel 3B - Ju 88H-4 and Fw 190A-8
Mistel 3C - Ju 88G-10 and Fw 190F-8
Mistel Führungsmaschine - Ju 88 A-4/H-4 and Fw 190 A-8
Mistel 4 - Ju 287 and Me 262
Mistel 5 - Arado E.377A and He 162


Description:
The Mistel series of composite aircraft are without a doubt one of the strangest concepts to achieve operational status with the Luftwaffe. The original concept was proposed to the RLM in 1941 by Siegfried Holzbauer, A Junkers test pilot. His idea was to make use of "tired" Ju 88 airframes by packing them with explosives, fly them near a target and crash them into the target after the fighter had released itself. The fighter pilot would control the "missle" after release by remote control.
The first conversion flew in July 1943 and proved successful enough for the RLM to approved a further 15 conversions, with the code name Beethoven. Tests with Ju 88 fuselage sized hollow charge warheads against the French battleship Oran proved to be successful and an eventual thickness of 60 feet of reinforced concrete was breached in further tests. Over 250 Mistels of various combinations were built, but like all the Third Reichs super weapons, they proved too little too late.
Warhead: - Source: Wikipedia
The definitive Mistel warhead was a shaped charge around a core of copper or aluminium. When detonated, the explosion would create a penetrator made of the core of the above-mentioned copper or aluminium. The metal would then "behave" like a liquid (and not, as often falsely reported, liquefy), capable of penetrating up to 7 metres (24 feet) of steel armour. It was anticipated that this would be able to "drill" straight through an enemy warship.
Some 250 Mistels of various combinations were built during the war, but met with limited success. They were first flown in combat against the Allied invasion fleet during Battle of Normandy, targeting the British-held harbour at Courseulles-sur-Mer.
While Mistel pilots claimed hits, none of these can be correlated in Allied records, and they may have been made against the hulk of the old French battleship Courbet, which had been included as a component of the Mulberry harbour at Arromanches and specially dressed up as a decoy by the Allies. Serious blast and shrapnel damage from a near miss was also suffered by HMS Nith, a floating headquarters, on 21 June. There were 9 killed and 26 wounded and the Nith was towed to back to England for repairs.
A second opportunity to use the Mistels, in Scapa Flow in 1944 was abandoned after the loss of the Tirpitz assured local air superiority for the Royal Navy's aircraft carriers. As part of Operation Iron Hammer in late 1943 and early 1944, Mistels were selected to carry out key raids against Soviet weapons manufacturing facilities -- specifically, electricity-generating plants around Moscow and Gorky. These plants were known to be poorly-defended by the Soviets and irreplaceable. However, before the plan could be implemented, the Red Army was already pushing into Germany itself and it was decided to use the Mistels against their bridgehead at Kuestrin instead. On April 12, 1945, Mistels attacked the bridges being built there, but the damage caused was negligible and delayed the Soviet forces for only a day or two. Subsequent Mistel attacks on other bridges being thrown across the Oder were similarly ineffective.

www.warbirdsresourcegroup.org - Luftwaffe Resource Center - Mistel Composite Aircraft
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#3 JCFalkenbergIII

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Posted 05 January 2009 - 03:10 AM

Bomber-size missiles

In World War 2, Germany led in the development of guided bombs and missiles. In addition to operating normal guided weapons, such as the Hs-293 missile and Fritz X bomb, KG 200 operated the heaviest and most unique type of weapon operated by the Luftwaffe, the Mistel bomber-size missile.

Mistel was a bomber, usually a Junkers 88, that was transformed to a huge missile by replacing its cockpit with a four tons warhead, placing a mount on its back for carrying a mounted fighter aircraft (picture above), and connecting the unmanned bomber's flight controls to the fighter, so that the fighter's pilot could fly the dual aircraft all the way to the target, usually a large fixed strategic target such as a dam, a power station, or a large bridge, aim the bomber to its final dive to the target, and then disconnect the fighter from it and fly home. The Mistel bomber-missile had a long range and could smash the largest targets. In their first attack, in June 1944, four Mistels sank ships in the English Channel. One of the major planned Luftwaffe attacks was supposed to destroy Russia's largest hydro-electric power stations with Mistels, and by doing so reduce Russia's electricity production by 75%, but most of them were destroyed on the ground by a US air attack before the operation. The Mistel's last attack, in march 1945, was personally led by Werner Baumbach, commander of KG 200. A large group of Mistels took off for the mission, most of them were shot down, but five Mistels destroyed large bridges over rivers in East Germany, in order to delay Russian advance into Germany.

Luftwaffe Bomber Wing KG 200
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#4 JCFalkenbergIII

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Posted 05 January 2009 - 03:12 AM

I: Mistletoe for Scapa Flow


1942: since the beginning of the conflict, the German high command was confronted with a crucial problem. The Home Fleet, the all powerful British war fleet anchored in Scapa Flow harbor was blocking access to the Baltic Sea and the North Sea, causing the surface vessels of the Kriegsmarine to adopt a prudent inactivity. The containment of Scapa Flow became a priority since the beginning of the conflict. There had been an intrepid incursion by Günther Prien's U-Boot in the night of October 13-14 1939 which gave a boost to German moral, but this spectacular action did not resolve the problem. As for attacking Scapa Flow by air, the Luftwaffe did not possess any heavy bombers capable of such mission.

It is under those circumstances that Flugkapitän Siegfried Holzbauer, Junkers aircraft's chief test pilot thought about reviving the original, but already forgotten idea of Robert Mayo and to propose it to the Luftwaffe. In 1942, the Luftwaffe was indeed desperate to end the blockade of Scapa Flow, but how could it make an attack with a heavy destructive payload to a target that was so far remote? By providing a "one way" trip to worn out, pilotless
Junkers Ju-88, loaded with a heavy charge of explosive. A fighter (Messerschmitt Bf-109 at first) mounted atop the Ju-88 in a fashion similar to the Mercury on the Maïa was assigned the mission to fly the ensemble to the target. It was then up to the pilot to guide the explosive loaded transporter into a crash trajectory on the target, and separate himself from the old Ju-88 about to end its final flight on the objective.

The RLM (Reichluftfahrtsministerium) was interested and Junkers experimented in the spring of 1943 with an elaborate
Ju-88A - Messerschmitt Bf-109F arrangement, having first conducted some test with a DFS 230 glider.

This system had required special techniques, particularly the electric flight controls that permitted the pilot to fly the transporter from his guiding fighter. The guiding fighter was mounted on steel struts and separation was obtained by mean of explosive bolts.

Takeoff was made on three engines, with the fighter pumping its fuel from the
JU-88 ensuring the return trip requirements (this system did not work when the Focke-Wulf FW-190A was used because its engine required a different fuel octane). The flight was initially made at low altitude to avoid radar detection, and at a distance of four kilometers from the objective, the "Father and Son" climbed to 800 meters.

For the attack, the pilot established a 30 degrees dive at a speed of 650 kilometers per hour. Once the target was well acquired in the aiming sight, the
Ju-88 auto-pilot was engaged by mean of the electric control, and one of the jettisoning bolt was exploded to place the fighter in a slight nose up attitude in reference to the transporter. Then, the pilot exploded the remaining bolts to free himself and return to base.

This unconventional weapon impressed the German High Command sufficiently to consider its use on prime targets: Leningrad harbor, Gibraltar, and Scapa Flow of course.



II: the Mistel in battle


In May 1944, a unit of five Mistel was dispatched to Denmark with Scapa Flow for objective. After D-day, the composites retreated to Saint-Dizier (France) for a less ambitious mission: the allied vessels anchored in the bay of the Seine River. The attack occurred in the night of June 24th - 25th 1944. One of the Mistel pilots spotted by a British Mosquito released his payload. Having a cruise speed of barely 380 kilometers per hour, a Mistel once sighted became an easy prey. The other four Mistel successfully completed their mission and the fighters returned to base without damage. The damages on the target did not reached the level of destruction hoped for, but at last the procedure had proven to be feasible.

Once again, the Luftwaffe turned its sight towards Scapa Flow. Bad weather and clear nights not being ideal for attack by those slow aircraft; the mission date was rescheduled from day to day until November 11. The Tirpitz that was a permanent menace for the Home Fleet was sunk in a Norwegian Fjord. The British Fleet relieved by its disappearance was now able to disperse her forces. The strategic interest of an attack on Scapa Flow also disappeared at the same time that the vessels of the Royal Navy were beginning to leave the harbor.

In this time frame, the Anglo-American air superiority to the west was such, that it was no longer deemed viable to risk the
Mistel on this theater of operations. Project "Eisenhammer" dating back from 1941 was once again considered. This project had been put on hold until the Luftwaffe had at its disposition a strategic adaptable airplane to transport the parasite.

It was a bold project: no less than one hundred
Mistel, accompanied by an impressive armada (including Dornier 217K transporting flying bombs Fritz X), were to attack and destroy the three gigantic electric power-plants providing electricity to the Soviet Industry in Leningrad (North of Moscow) and in the Urals. One problem about this project that immediately became apparent to the pilots, was the fact that the fighters would never have the range capability to ensure the return flight. As a remedy, the pilots were provided with emergency rations for survival, some notions of the local language, and it was suggested that they land in territorial pockets still held by soldiers of the Reich.

The assembly of such large number of
Mistel would take a while. Meteorological conditions alone also delayed the operation for so long that the planned launching bases were either destroyed by the Anglo-American bombings, or they fell into Soviet hands.

In the spring of 1945, it was no longer the time for ambitious operations, but the time to revert to more modest plans which would provide immediate results: slowing down the Soviet advance. On March 1st 1945, orders were given to the
Kommodore of KG 200 to destroy the one hundred twenty bridges on the Oder, the Neisse, and the Vistule. It was a feasible operation for the aircraft, but too important a task considering the multitude of the objectives!

Much success was achieved, but the corps of engineer of the red army would within a few hours built emergency pontoons bridges, rendering the attack an exercise in futility.

The last Mistel attack occurred on April 26th 1945 on the Oder. Of the seven engaged aircraft, only two FW 190 came back. The next day, II/KG 200 was dissolved and its personnel were incorporated in the ground troops. It was the "Twilight of the Gods".



III: a feared weapon


The first test of the "Father and Son" concept occurred at the secret Luftwaffe base in Peenemüde on the Baltic Sea, a site under close surveillance by allied observation airplanes. In April 1944, a reconnaissance airplane had brought back photos, depicting a very unconventional aircraft combination identified as a Ju 88 carrying a Bf 109. This observation corroborated with the story of a German prisoner of war claiming to have witnessed such machine in flight.

This became a worrisome affair for the British, which were already subjected to the pounding of the V1. They feared that those composite aircraft would be used against their cities. Another question pondered by the Allied strategists was how many of those aircraft had been built. Well aware of the vulnerability of those machines, the German did not leave them stationed at the same base for very long, and consequently, the Allied reconnaissance airplanes were reporting them here and there and everywhere. Fear was reinforced, when due to either the inexperience of the pilot, or mechanical malfunction, a Mistel crashed in Great Britain. It caused commotion, but it also gave the technician a chance to satisfy their curiosity by studying the machine at their leisure.

Because of the multiple problems encountered by the
Mistel units, the fear of this weapon was never proved justified. In May of 1945, the Americans discovered about fifty of those machines scattered around the Mersenburg Junkers factories, but they were never the object of an in depth study after the war. The Mistel had been a weapon of "circumstance" but it would never received the interest of the many other projects promptly recuperated by the Allied.


©
Aérostories, 2001.

Bibliography:
-Mistel, German composite aircraft and operations (Robert Forsyth)
-Mistel et boules de gomme (Rolf Steiner)
Aéro-Journal N°8
-Les Alliés et le Mistel (JL Roba & E. Mombeek)
Air Fan N° 165



Composite & parasite aircraft: Mistel

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For the first time I have seen "History" at close quarters,and I know that its actual process is very different from what is presented to Posterity. - WWI General Max Hoffman.

#5 JCFalkenbergIII

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Posted 05 January 2009 - 03:13 AM

Posted ImageTesting of the Mistel: first release of the inferior component by a Bf-109.


(Archives Blitz) ClickPosted ImageFebruary 1945: near Boizenburg Northern Germany, Mistel 1 pursued and shot-down by Mustangs of the 8th Air Force.


(Photo USAF) ClickPosted ImageMersenburg: a US military posing in front of a Mistel 2 for a souvenir photo.


(Photo Signal Corps) ClickPosted ImageA document of very poor quality, because this photo was taken on the run at Saint Dizier on July 17th 1944 by a member of the French resistance. Between the trees a Bf 109 mounted atop a Ju 88 can be seen. For the Allied information's services, it was the first photo of a Mistle taken on the ground.

(Photo USAF/SHAA) ClickPosted ImageThe Mistel considered offensive aircraft were now "desperate weapons" at the end of the war, along with many other projects of the third Reich, that could have under no circumstances changed the course of the war. The Mistel composites came in many shapes and forms, such as this Mistel 5 (model Dragon built by Anthony Manzoli). It was composed of a Heinkel He 162 A-2 "Volksjäger" piloting a jet flying bomb Arado E 377a mounted on a takeoff dolly Rheinmetall-Borsig. The Mistel that were more or less a failure during the war are now popular among the modelers.
(Photo & assembly Anthony Manzoli) Click


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For the first time I have seen "History" at close quarters,and I know that its actual process is very different from what is presented to Posterity. - WWI General Max Hoffman.

#6 Za Rodinu

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Posted 05 January 2009 - 02:19 PM

Ahhh, the wonders of Google...!

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#7 justdags

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Posted 05 January 2009 - 03:23 PM

It was a very interesting concept it is like a remote control Kamikizzi in a way isn't it
The bayonet is a weapon that is out of date yet instills fear in all it is used against... fix bayonets at the onset of every battle

#8 brndirt1

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Posted 05 January 2009 - 03:39 PM

It was a very interesting concept it is like a remote control Kamikizzi in a way isn't it


Yeah, that is sort of what it was. Our (American) version was at best a poor plan as well. Aphrodite (sp?) cost Joe Kennedy Jr. his life, as well as his co-pilot's. The idea was to fill up an old clapped out Liberator or other bomber with Torpex, and have the pilots get it on "track", set the radio control system so the "trailing control plane" could take over flying the bomber, and the two men bail out while still over the British landmass.

They got it in the air, set the controls, turned over the ship to the trailing plane, and the whole thing went BLOOEY before the men got out. Shame.
Happy Trails,
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#9 PzJgr

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Posted 05 January 2009 - 03:39 PM

The Mistel has always been an interesting weapon. Are there any surviving Mistels in a Museum?
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#10 Skipper

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Posted 05 January 2009 - 04:16 PM

Let us be realistic. I'm sorry to break the myth but it was a desperate and useless invention that was neither effective nor interesting. The Mistel was a waste of money and time. Wasting two aircrafts to make a monster that was almost impossible to manoeuvre was a joke.

Vorsicht+Feind.JPG


#11 PzJgr

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Posted 05 January 2009 - 04:39 PM

It is this kind of thinking that gave the Germans the V weapons as well as many other 'out of the box' weapons.
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#12 Za Rodinu

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Posted 05 January 2009 - 07:19 PM

Interesting as a primitive stand-off weapon, though it did not work out quite as well as intended.

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#13 JCFalkenbergIII

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Posted 05 January 2009 - 07:29 PM

"most of them were shot down"
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For the first time I have seen "History" at close quarters,and I know that its actual process is very different from what is presented to Posterity. - WWI General Max Hoffman.

#14 Chris Mendosa

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Posted 04 November 2011 - 04:04 AM

The Mistel program was still developing at the end of the war, with jet powered versions and TV guidence. The Vistula and Oder bridge attacks were not effective, partially because bridges were not appropriate targets for the armor piercing warheads. The Russians also used pontoon spans which were easily replaced. My guess is that both the Scapa Flow and Eisenhammer operations would have scored better results but with high losses for the pilots.

#15 leccy1

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Posted 09 November 2011 - 09:47 PM

I believe several Mistel's attacks were made at the Normandy beaches (with some possibly spectacularly wide misses Sarisbury near Fareham and Binley near Andover in the UK). The French Battleship Courbet being used as a blockship for the British Mulberry was targetted and hit as it was made to look like a in service ship still.

#16 Fred Wilson

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Posted 10 December 2013 - 06:40 AM

WWII 1945 Mistels In Gunsight Attack. Starts at the One Minute mark.

 


Stepson of Arthur Ellison Sovereign:
RCAF Navigator: Lancasters and Wellingtons,
Bomber Command, WW2

Named after Fred Sutherland of the Dambusters.

#17 Sheldrake

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Posted 10 December 2013 - 06:42 PM

I believe several Mistel's attacks were made at the Normandy beaches (with some possibly spectacularly wide misses Sarisbury near Fareham and Binley near Andover in the UK). The French Battleship Courbet being used as a blockship for the British Mulberry was targetted and hit as it was made to look like a in service ship still.

 

 

Alfred Price in The Last Year of the Luftwaffe quotes the account of Hauptman Rudat  who led four Mistel combinations to the ships off the Normandy beaches.  This account is corroborated by that of an RAF might fighter pilot.  The only ship damaged was HMS Nith an HQ ship damaged bya  near miss.  Arguably a better idea than the kamikazi and might have been made to work with better control mechanisms.



#18 Poppy

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Posted 11 December 2013 - 02:07 AM

Which came first? Chicken or the egg: Operation Aphrodite http://en.wikipedia....ation_Aphrodite



#19 belasar

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Posted 11 December 2013 - 09:13 AM

Not surprisingly, the same or similar idea can flourish in two different places independently of each other.


Wars are rarely fought in black and white, but in infinite shades of grey

(Poppy is occasionaly correct, or so I hear)




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