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German Balkenkreuz

Germany's Bachem Ba 349 Natter (Adder, Viper) fighter, BP 20

Design

Erich Bachem proposed his rocket powered interceptor in 1939 but there was no official support.1,4

The German Air Ministry asked for a small point interceptor for which four companies submitted designs and Bachem's was selected.1 This was primarily due to the influence of Heinrich Himmler who was looking for more influence.1

Because of the economic situation the Natter was to be made from wood and be simply made.1,2,4

It was launched from a vertical rail with an autopilot and rocket boosters.1,3 The Schmidding boosters would provide 10 seconds of boost on takeoff.2,4

As the Natter got to the level of bombers the pilot would take control.1,3 He would make a pass using the rockets.1,3,4 The Natter then went down to 4,600' / 1,400 m and the nose would separate from the fuselage and the pilot would descend by parachute with the fuselage.1,3,4

The pilot was protected by armor on four sides.1 There was plans for an ejection seat, but there was no room.1

Prototype

An He 111 carried an unpowered prototype Natter up to 18,000' / 5,500 m and released it.1 Test launches were done with dummy pilots.1

Oberleutnant Lothar Siebert died during the first manned test.1,4

The BP 20 M3 was tested on December 14, 1944 by being towed by an aircraft.2

The BP 20 M17 was test launched without a pilot on December3 / December 22, 1944.2

The BP 20 M23 was launched with a pilot on February 28, 19453 / March 1, 1945.2

Production

Thirty six were built and only 10 became operational.1,4 However, these were destroyed when the American forces approached their base.1

50 were ordered for the Luftwaffe and 150 for the SS.2 Only one was completed.2

  • Bachem Ba 349: ~204
  • Bachem Ba 349B: 32
  • Manufacturer: Bachem-Werke GmbH3

Variants

  • Bachem Ba 349 / Bachem BP 20:
  • Bachem Ba 349A Musterflugzeug (pre-series) / Bachem BP 20A:
  • Bachem BP 20 M3 Musterflugzeugen: Third in the series that was test flown.2
  • Bachem BP 20 M17:
  • Bachem BP 20 M23:
  • Bachem Ba 349B / Bachem BP 20B: Larger model.2 Called the Umbau (rebuilt).2 Had two 30 mm cannons and 24 Föhn rockets.2
  • Bachem Ba 349C / Bachem BP 20C: It was to have a new wing and more fuel capacity.2

Specifications

  Bachem Ba 349 Natter
Type Fighter2, Intercepter4
Crew 12,4
Engine (Type) 1: Walter HWK 509A-2 bi-fuel rocket motor2,4
2 or 4: Schmidding solid fuel booster rockets2,4
Thrust - Walter 3,748 lb2,4
1,700 kg4
Thrust - Schmidding 2,645 lb2, 2,646 lb4
1,200 kg4
Dimensions  
Span 11' 9.75"4
3.6 m4
Length 20'4
6.1 m4
Wing area 29.6 sq ft4
2.75 sq m4
Weight  
Loaded 4,850 lb4
2,200 kg4
Performance  
Speed - Sea Level 497 mph4
800 kph4
Climb 36,550' per minute4
11,140 m per minute4
Service Ceiling 45,930'4
14,000 m4
Range 24.8 miles4
40 km4
Armament  
Rockets - Nose 24: 7.3 cm Föhn4
  Bachem Ba 349A Natter
Musterflugzeug
Type Fighter1
Crew 11
Engine (Type) 1: Walter HWK 509C-1 bi-fuel rocket motor1
plus
4: Schmidding solid fuel rockets1
Thrust Walter: 3,748 lb1
Schmidding: 2,640 lb1
Dimensions  
Span 11' 10"1
3.6 m1
Length 20'1
6.1 m1
Wing area 30 ft2 1
2.75 m2 1
Weight  
Loaded 4,850 lb1
2,200 kg1
Performance  
Speed @ 16,400' /
5,000 m
619 mph1
998 kph1
Climb 36,415'/minute1
11,400 m/minute1
Combat radius @ 12,000' / 39,400' 25 miles1
40 km1
Armament  
Nose 24: 73 mm Hs 217 Föhn rockets1,2
OR 33: 55 mm R4M rockets2
  Bachem Ba 349B
Dimensions  
Span 13' 1.5"2
4 m2
Length 19' 9"2
6.02 m2
Height 7' 4.5"2
2.25 m2
Wing area 50.59 ft2 2
4.7 m2 2
Weight  
Empty 2,414 lb2
1,095 kg2
Loaded 5,004 lb2
2,270 kg2
Performance  
Speed @ 16,405' /
5,000 m
621 mph2
1,000 kph2
Climb 42,520'/minute2
216 m/second2
Range @ 9,840' /
3,000 m
36 miles2
58 km2
Range @ 32,810 ' /
10,000 m
24 miles2
39 km2
  Bachem Ba 349 B-1
Type Interceptor3
Crew 13
Engine (Type) Walter HWK 509 C-13
Thrust 4,400 lb3
Dimensions  
Span 13' 1"3
Length 19' 9"3
Height 7' 4"3
Weight  
Loaded 4,920 lb3
Performance  
Speed @ 16,400' / 5,000 m 620 mph3
Service ceiling 32,810'3
Range 36 miles3
Armament  
Nose 24: 73 mm rockets3

Sources:

  1. Aircraft of WWII, General Editor: Jim Winchester, 2004
  2. The Great Book of Fighters, William Green, Gordon Swanborough, 1994
  3. World War II Airplanes Volume 1, Enzo Angelucci, Paolo Matricardi, 1976
  4. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, Chris Bishop, 1998
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site