21 cm Rockets used by the Luftwaffe

Ad: This forum contains affiliate links to products on Amazon and eBay. More information in Terms and rules


Pacific Historian
Jun 4, 2005
Orange County, CA
I received this in an e-mail today. I take no responsibility for its accuracy. Thats for the Luftwaffe experts in here to decide. And for those of you have a hard time understanding what that means, if you have an issue with this and want to blame me, go talk to Mr. Hand.

JG 1 and JG 11 especially II./JG 11 with the Bf 109Gused the single Br 21 under each wing during the spring of 1943. both Fw190's and the Bf 109 were equipped. During the fall of 1943 the Bf 110G-2's of ZG 26 and ZG 76 were also equipped this time with two mortars under each wing and of course the heavy 20 mm cannon and sometimes a single 3.7cm was fitted. Later in October 1943 II./ZG 26 transferred out the Bf 110G-2 to the Me 410A and it was equipped with the 4 mortars as well. Attacks were made in 3-4's and in staffel strength upwards of 10 to 12 a/c.

The idea was to pump these into the sides and
especially the rear of the B-24 and B-17 bomber formations causing major disruption where the
single and twin engine fighters could close in using
their heavy cannons. The idea was to fire the rockets outside the range of the bomber crews .50 cal mg's.

Heavy US bombers were lightly skinned aluminum creatures. the mortar rounds, one each from each mortar were high explosive in nature. they could not be properly aimed and were et off at random with the hope they
would blow up upon meeting the bombers skin, engines,etc. many times the rocket simply blew through one side of the fuselage and out the other and exploded harmlessly yards away. I am not really sure of the overall
range of the weapon, but it was obvious that contact with a bomber would incapacitate or destroy it in a huge explosion. Yes they used these type of fuses (proximity) on their flak rounds and yes the rockets had a predetermined range before they exploded. Just not sure of the ranges of the rocket nor the .50 but it was over a 1000 yards.


The Wgr 210 (Wurfgranate 210) had a velocity of
320m/sec. and a range of 1,200m. Its use in 1943-44 did not live up toexpectations because it could not be aimed, etc., but it quickly evolved into the very successful R4M under-wing rocket. These 55mm rockets weighed a scant 4 kg (8.8 lbs.), were proximity-fused, had velocity of 250m/sec. and were typically fired at a range of 1,500 to 1,800 meters. A Bf 109, Fw 190 or a Me262 could carry 24 to 48 of them on rails under the wings. They were
first used against day bomber formations in spring
1945, so they came along too late to have much effect on the air war. The first time they were used, 6 Me 262s used them to shoot down 15 B-17s in less than two minutes at a range 1,700 meters without loss. (Rudolf Lusar, German Secret Weapons of the Second
World War, New York,
1959, pp.118-20.)

"The weapon wasn't actually a mortar, it was a rocket
launcher: the 21cm Nebelwerfer 42. The Luftwaffe designation was Wgr.21. The spin-stabilised rocket weighed 248lb at launch of which 90lb was the warhead. A
time fuse detonated the warhead at a preset distance
of 600 - 1200 yards from launch, resulting in a lethal zone about 30 yards wide.

It wasn't particularly successful. It's max. velocity
of 1,020 fps was too slow for accurate aiming, and it was extemely difficult for the pilot to judge the distance to the target accurately enough: most of these rockets exploded too far in front of, or behind thetarget. However,
when they did work they were spectacular: during an
early attack sortie in July 1943, a rocket exploded directly beneath one B-17, causing it to swing into first one and then another aircraft in the formation, resulting in the destruction of all three aircraft with just one shot!
the first 3 paragraphs are mine the rest is trash........he is incorrect by the way about the R4M encounter with B-17's on 18 March 45/Rudi Lusars 1959 article is bogus for one
the idea was to fire the rockets outside the range of the .50's

that is the last line, as I said nearly word for word on armyairforces.com

the thread is multipaged at least 10 pages done almost 2 years ago if I remember. I had at least 4-5 US bomber crew vets respond with inquiry and questions and first hand accts. of facing especially Bf 110G-2's and Me 410's lobbing rockets at them...........scared the crap out of the crews.

what the heck I hope Mr. Hand gets a good deal of response in the positive.

See I have mellowed already, am in correspondance by mail right now with an ex-Lancaster bomber pilot and found the German nf pilot that shot them down in summer of 44.........get my mind onto other things :)
Erich, let me know what corrections or comments you want and I will be more than happy to post them for you.

We dont want incorrect information out there do we.

Reminds me of those phoney experts that go to colleges and muck up the minds of the young students.
let me think on this a bit sys as I might just rewrite it.... 8)

it is interesting that the US bomber groups on the fateful 18 March 45 date thought that half of their losses were due to flak ............. nope they were shattered by Me 262A-1a's with the R4M's in III./JG 7. flak scored a big fat 0 this date. It was nothing short of a fast mauling the US crews could not even give true account
Ive seen pictures of these mortars mounted on Me-110, and they look pretty wicked. Imagine if they had acoustic detonation for them, it would have torn up those formations of heavy bombers. they were (the germans) working on acoustic detonation for the X-4 i believe, and the same technology i assume could have been applied. with a 30m blast range (if that is indeed the real effective range) it could do some serious damage. those germans and their innovation.
yes I have several pics of B-17's that actually made it back with huge 6-7 foot holes in them. Since the guidance and fuses were off dramatically, many times the rocket blew through B-17/B-24 fuselages to explode outside harmlessly. then at other times all it took was one explosion in the right area between the bombers and it could take out 3 in one mass of fire-ball. Friend and ace Horst Petzschler told me as he flew high escort in his all blue Bf 109G-6/AS in May of 44, Bf 110G-2's of ZG 76 (3 of them) attacked a B-17 formation from the rear and slighly off to the side. It was horrific he told me, a salvo of rockets and 6 B-17's went down in seconds, he could not believe his eyes; wings, engines flying off crazily parachutes open/half open, he told me he almost got sick of the carnage inflicted.
I also knew Helmut Zittier of 9./ZG 26 flying Bf 110G-2's and Me 410's before he passed away, great guy. wounded in the major air battle for Münster on 10 October 43 as well as taking part in Schweinfurth and on the March 44 raids on Berlin. Later became an a/c test pilot during the war due to his missions he racked up on twin engine a/c.

many stories, one in particular, a Bf 110G-4 nf came into land at their base fully loaded with radar forward cannon and twin 21cm Br's under each wing, as the pilot turned to place himself in front of one of the hangers, on one engine running he fired mistakenly the rockets and they blew at least 5 110G-2's to pieces within the hanger. Helmut never did tell me whatever happend to that NF crew if he was bagged or not. In any case it was more thatn ground crew cleaning up the pieces........
I simply don't understand the thrust of yet another anonymous emailer. It is simply a stream of consciousness of data and events that seem to make no statement or pose any question.

You'd have been better off with an email about increasing penis size or cheap diet pills!!??
These 55mm rockets (R4M) weighed a scant 4 kg (8.8 lbs.), were proximity-fused
First time I hear of prox fuses on the R4M. Any additional info?

The 210/410 could jettison the tubes, could the 109/190 also do so?

I would be interesting in knowing how the Wgr 210 evolved into the 55mm R4M.
there are some as nearly all the ZG units with Bf 110G-2's and Me 410's were wiped out by Allied escorts ....

one of my favourites: II./ZG 1 Zerstörers hunting for US 15 AF heavy bombers in the winter of 43/44. the a/c were sluggish even in the attack from the sides and rear on B-17/B-24's and cannon fodder for the US 15th AF fighters


  • Me110-G2-62.jpg
    22.6 KB · Views: 320

Users who are viewing this thread