Sombold So 344 (Schubjager)
Rocket-Powered Single-Seat Bomber Destroyer Aircraft Proposal
The Sombold So 344 was conceived during the Emergency Fighter Program of Germany during the last year of World War 2.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited:
With Allied bombing raids wreaking havoc on German interests during the latter half of World War 2 (1939-1945), Luftwaffe authorities enacted the "Emergency Fighter Program" to press local industry into developing solutions capable of countering the massed threat from above. Many rather far-out concepts were penciled during the period, beginning in July 1944 and ending with the conclusion of the war In Europe come May 1945, with very little to show for the initiative. One of the proposals entertained for a brief moment in the war was the largely forgotten Sombold So 344 "Schubjager" ("Shoot Fighter"). This single-seat, single-engine aircraft began as a "parasite fighter" to be used in harassing said formations through speed and armament. However, before the end, the aircraft was reworked into a rather unique "bomber destroyer" with a nose section full of explosives that could be launched into the enemy groups. A scale model was built for wind tunnel testing but nothing more was had of the project.
The aircraft was designed with the intention of fitting the Walter HWK 109-509 rocket motor in its fuselage. As the system was self-contained, no aspiration (by way of intake) would be needed. To achieve the desired altitude before igniting its motor, the aircraft would be carried, and subsequently launched, from a "mother ship", saving gallons of precious rocket fuel in the process. From there the pilot had just minutes to enact as much damage as possible before his fuel supply would run out. Landing was by way of a simple belly skid.
The fuselage carried the pilot whose position was set well-aft of midships at the base of the vertical tail fin. The mainplanes were stub-like and mounted midway along the sides of the fuselage. The nose was fared over for aerodynamic efficiency. Proposed armament of the parasite fighter form was 2 x 7.92mm MK 81 machine guns paired with a single 30mm MK 108 automatic cannon.
Before long, the idea of the So 344 as a parasite fighter was dropped and the design was reworked to become more of a dedicated bomber destroyer. Internally, the nose section now fitted a 400 kilogram payload which was launched, on command by the pilot, into the approaching bomber formation. One notable change was the deletion of the aforementioned 30mm autocannon. Once launched, the nose section containing the war load was set off by proximity fuze, detonating as the bomber formation passed through the resulting explosion.
The end of the war in 1945 ended all prospects for the So 344.