Fieseler Fi 103R (Reichenberg) - Nazi Germany, 1944
Detailing the development and operational history of the Fieseler Fi 103R (Reichenberg) Pilot-Guided Suicide Fighter.
Entry last updated on 8/25/2015; Authored by Staff Writer; Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
The German Fieseler Fi 103R was the piloted version of the devastating and effective V-1 terror rockets launched against England during World War 2.
The Fiseler Fi 103R was, in essence, the piloted form of the successful V-1 rocket that terrorized London citizens throughout the Second World War. The piloted system was to be a type of suicide missile that the pilot could aim at his target with and bail out at the last possible moment. In theory, it was a sound plan for a nation on the brink of losing the global conflict yet in practice, the idea of the pilot bailing out in this fashion would yeild a pretty substantial loss rate.
The Fi 103 was born out of the idea that the system could be equally useful in precision strikes against Allied shipping in the Channel. An already proven weapon in th unmanned V-1 rocket version, the Fi 103R could just as easily be mass-produced in quantity and put into action with very little testing or training. The idea itself stemmed from a proposal that looked into delivering these suicide missiles from the underbelly of an advancing bomber.
Though comparable to the Kamikaze in the Pacific, the pilots of the Fi 103 would not be sealed into their cockpits. Once a target had been acquired through visual means, the pilot could aim the nose of the missile at a target area and, jettisoning the canopy, he would simply bail out and deploy a chute. One major problem with this action lay in the position of the canopy - resting just in front of the pulsejet engine. In practice, the jettisoning canopy would have interfered with the pulsejet and thus render a successful pilot extraction from the machine very unlikely.
The power of the Fi 103R came from the 772lb thrust pulsejet engine mounted in the upper rear of the fuselage. The pilots seating position was to be just before the opening of the pulsejet and basic wings were added for stability. Flight capabilities were rudimentary and only required the most basic of handling. Landing was only accomplished during testing and it was itself quite a challenge as the system was never intended to return safely to base. A powerful 850 kilogram warhead was packed into the nose assembly making for one inexpensive and easy-to-produce terror weapon.
With over 70 pilots tabbed for training in the Fi 103R, the project was never fully developed. This action stemmed from the low interest that German leaders had in such a system and the loss of two such aircraft during testing. Though nearly 200 aircraft of this type were produced, the system was never to see full operational action in the Second World War.