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  • Luftwaffe Mistel (Mistletoe) Composite Bomber Aircraft

    Luftwaffe Mistel programs were trialled as early as 1942 and evolved considerably throughout the rest of World War 2.

     Updated: 3/30/2017; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.MilitaryFactory.com

    The German Luftwaffe of World War 2 (1939-1945) embarked on many aircraft programs throughout the conflict - some of which never made it beyond the paper or wind tunnel testing stages and others that become full-fledged realizations intended to keep Germany from total defeat. In 1942, the Deutsche Forschungsanstalt fur Segelflug (DFS) - "German Research Institute for Sailplane / Glider Flight" - developed the concept of a "composite" aircraft in which a large, unmanned airframe was stocked with explosives to serve as a guided bomb of sorts while carried to its target by way of a compact, manned fighter. The initial concept involved the Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighter mounted over a Junkers Ju 88 medium bomber though, theoretically, any "mothership" aircraft could be used as the primary carrier (including newer jet types emerging in the latter war years). A composite aircraft recorded its first flight during July 1943 and proved the concept sound.

    It was not until 1944 that Luftwaffe authorities found the idea practical and launched an official program under the name of "Mistel" ("Mistletoe") to develop a realistic battlefield solution. In the conversion of some 100 Ju 88 bomber airframes, the crew components and defensive armament positions were all stripped from the airframe. A simple strut network was affixed to the dorsal spine of the bomber and, to this, was added the fighter portion. The initial prototype was a Bf 109E-4 fighter over a Junkers Ju 88A model series bomber.

    The general idea behind the Mistletoe pairing was providing an impressive war load to a basic frontline fighter. The strut network was fitted with explosive bolts which were detonated when the payload was near the target area. Guidance was from the mothership/carrier aircraft and release was at the discretion of the pilot. Once the bomb load was dropped, the fighter regained nearly all of its fighter-like performance and handling qualities to help defend itself. A bomb load could feature as much as 4,000 pounds of explosive material - enough to cripple a warship, destroy a bridge, or penetrate fortified structures.

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    Luftwaffe Mistel 2 (Ju 88G-I with Fw 190A-8) Technical Specifications

    Service Year: 1943
    Type: Composite Bomber Aircraft
    National Origin: Nazi Germany
    Manufacturer(s): Various - Germany
    Production Total: 250

    Structural (Crew Space, Dimensions and Weights)

    Operating Crew: 1
    Length: 47.11 feet (14.36 meters)
    Width: 65.88 feet (20.08 meters)
    Height: 45.83 feet (13.97 meters)

    Weight (Empty): 27,075 lb (12,281 kg)
    Weight (MTOW): 74,472 lb (33,780 kg)

    Installed Power and Standard Day Performance

    Engine(s): 1 x BMW 801 D-2 OR BMW 801Q/801TU radial piston engine of 1,953 horsepower; 2 x BMW 801G-2 double-row radial piston engines delivering 1,677 horsepower each.

    Maximum Speed: 375 mph (603 kph; 326 knots)
    Maximum Range: 1,025 miles (1,650 km)
    Service Ceiling: 34,957 feet (10,655 meters; 6.62 miles)

    Armament / Mission Payload

    1 x Bomber component with 3,960 lb warhead charge.

    Fighter component would have retained its general armament, usually cannon with several machine guns.

    Global Operators / Customers

    Nazi Germany

    Model Variants (Including Prototypes)

    Mistel V1 - Prototype Model consisting of Ju 88A-4 and Bf 109F-4.

    Mistel 1 - Junkers Ju 88A-4 bomber mated to Messerschmitt Bf 109F-4 fighter.

    Mistel S1 - Mistel 1 training platform.

    Mistel 2 - Junkers Ju 88G-I bomber mated to Focke-Wulf Fw 190A-8 or Fw 190F-8 fighter.

    Mistel S2 - Mistel 2 training platform

    Mistel 3A - Junkers Ju 88A-4 bomber mated to Focke-Wulf Fw 190A-8.

    Mistel S3A - Mistel 3A training platform

    Mistel 3B - Junkers Ju 88H-4 bomber mated to Focke-Wulf Fw 190A-8 fighter.

    Mistel 3C - Junkers Ju 88G-10 bomber mated to Focke-Wulf Fw 190F-8 fighter.

    Mistel Fuhrungsmachine - Junkers Ju 88A-4/H-4 mated to Focke-Wulf Fw 190A-8 fighter.

    Mistel 4 - Junkers Ju 287 bomber mated to Messerschmitt Me 262 jet fighter.

    Mistel 5 - Arado E.377A mated to Heinkel He 162 Volksjager jet-powered fighter.