R4M FF Rocket. The ideal weapon for killing heavy bombers?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by davebender, Sep 17, 2012.

  1. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    The R4M rocket
    1940.
    Diglycol propellant introduced for 15cm Nebelwerfer artillery rockets.

    Summer 1942. Paustpatrone developed (i.e. first model of Panzerfaust).
    The projectile employed folding fin stabilization.

    1943 Germany had the two key technologies (diglycol propellent, FF stabilization) necessary for production of R4M rockets.

    IMO getting the R4M FF rocket into mass production by the end of 1943 would do Germany more good then all their jet aircraft programs combined and at a much lower cost. If Me-262s can launch FF rockets from a distance of 400 meters then so can ordinary Me-109s and Fw-190s.

    As a bonus, R4M rockets with HEAT warhead were also effective against WWII era tanks. It's an ideal weapon for Fw-190F CAS aircraft.
     
  2. bobbysocks

    bobbysocks Well-Known Member

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    i agree.... A2A missles would have been a measure they should have explored further. the might have even been able to encorporate the fritz x wire guided technology....perhaps from a smaller 2 place ac. the only advantage the 262 has over the 190 that i can see is it can get to altitude much faster. so rearming and returning to battle may have been a quicker turn around.
     
  3. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

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    And anti-aircraft missiles would have been a better place to spend resources than the V-2.
     
  4. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    That I agree with.

    I just question weather they would have been accurate enough at that point in time to make much of an impact.
     
  5. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

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    I guess that depends on the development of effective guidance systems and proximity fuses.

    Some of the anti-aircraft rockets were unguided, but some had remote guidance from an operator. Also I believe there was some work done on heat seaking guidance systems.
     
  6. Balljoint

    Balljoint Member

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    Heat seeking may have been a problem. IR-transparent lenses are not common. Table salt works but of course would have strength and water solubility issues. I did some support work at Kodak on the Redeye lens in the 60’s. Even then the tech was a challenge.
     
  7. Milosh

    Milosh Well-Known Member

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    Ok, it is from Wiki.

    The Luftwaffe found the R4M missiles to have similar trajectory to the 30 mm MK 108 cannon in flight, therefore the standard Revi 16B gunsight was utilized effectively. (curvature of trajectory, of over 41 meters at 1,000 meters range.)
     
  8. bobbysocks

    bobbysocks Well-Known Member

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    what would something with the explosive power if a v2 do if detonated near a bomber box??
     
  9. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    Several times bombers blew up with their entire bomb load in the middle of the formation, sometimes it damaged, and even downed other aircraft. But that's several times more than the explosive power of one V2 warhead.
     
  10. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    Without getting giddy over this, recall that FW 190A-8s were devastating from 400 yds in with Sturm attacks. The issue wasn't firepower, it was getting through escort fighters to make the attack.

    The 1952-1953 era F-86D basically used the same (US version) in the 24 rocket tray - good for One bomber. I personally like the 20mm/30mm choice better.
     
  11. Erich

    Erich the old Sage
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    slight deviation Bill actually the 3cm was only really effective from 100 yds and closer, re: why the 3 Sturmgruppen pilots got in as close to within 50 feet of Allied bombers to ensure as much damage as possible with both 2cm and 3cm weapons and the use primarily of Minengeschoß rounds, both HE and HE/I, same could be said of later war LW night fighters, again using both weapons systems.

    back to the R4M the AT rocket had the 8.8cm Panzerschreck head fitted and actually some of the F-8's of the Schlachtgeschwader had 3 panzerschreck tubes under each wing........overburndened and quite non-exact in firing and scoring so it was a mass rocket fire to hit a Soviet tank, per wing.
     
  12. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    By the late stages of the war Germany was too deep in the do-do, too low on fuel and skilled pilots to be able to exchange one Russian tank per sortie.

    Even though one R4M was powerful enough to destroy a tank, they were not dependable accurate, you had to ripple fire the whole load to ensure a hit.

    Even our own later 2.75in.FFAR, a almost direct copy of the R4M, and 20 years of developement, had a 20-25% wild flight rate. The solid fuel in the motor had to be perfectly cast, no fissures, cracks, or voids in the propellant, or you'd have uneven thrust, resulting in a erratic flight.
     
  13. Erich

    Erich the old Sage
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    how do you know this for certain ? we don't have any late war unit histories on individual Schlachtgruppen to assume anything claims/kills or percentages of destroyed or damaged Soviet armor, but must say if you read anything on the 6 Battles of Kurland this should give you some idea of the air pressure on the Soviet armor forces trying to break into the Kessel and the roads westward. what I have read which is scant on JG 7 Me 262's was the R4M was fired of by wing and not a whole broadcasted stage against Soviet armor of all sizes, and from reading further the rocket was deadly in this capacity and this was just one unit which also contended with US bomber formations to the west.
     
  14. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    So do I provided your pilots are well trained. That doesn't apply to most WWII era mass produced pilots.

    Buckshot works well for inexperienced deer hunters. R4M FF rockets are "B-17 shot" for rookie fighter pilots.
     
  15. Erich

    Erich the old Sage
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    for rookies you say think you better read up on the history of III./JG 7 then Dave, as their were plenty of experienced fighter pilots initially flying on prop-jobs before transferring to the 262. as to the ground attack pilots you had at least 6 different rocket set-ups not just R4M's in their line-up, it is covered in much details on the LEMB web-site with German official documentation
     
  16. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    You cannot dent the massive Allied bombing campaign with a single well trained fighter Gruppe. Every German Jagdgeschwader stationed in western Europe should be equipped to use R4M rockets.
     
  17. Jabberwocky

    Jabberwocky Active Member

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    400 m is very short range when attacking a bomber box, whether using guns or rockets. 1000 m was a much more typical range to start an attack. On average, 50% of all rounds in a German fighter attack on a US heavy bomber were fired beyond 580 m. Just 24% were fired under 400 m.

    In 1943-44, the average German fighter pilot opened fire on a bomber box at about 950 m. Average firing distance for a Bf-109 was out at about 1120 m, for a FW 190 about 855 m (sitting behind a large radial engine has its advantages).

    At about 1000m, there was less than a 0.1% chance of any single round hitting. With a firing run of 400-500 m and 165-180 rounds fired, a FW 190 would score an average of 5-6 hits, a Bf-109 an average of 1-2.

    When a pilot opened fire at 400 m and ran in to 200 m or less, the odds of a hit improved dramatically. At 400m, single shot hit probability is about 8%, at 200 m its about 12%, at 100 m its about 18%. Firing from 400 m to 200 m, a FW pilot would typically score 20 hits, enough to almost guarantee destruction of a US heavy bomber. A 109 pilot would typically score about 12 hits.

    What Germany needed was better combat training and firing drills, rather than the R4M which, if fired at typical ranges, would have as little chance of hitting as a 30 mm attack launched from the same range.
     
  18. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    I agree but that's not going to happen without more aviation fuel. So they need a weapon that will kill bombers even when employed by green pilots.
     
  19. Jabberwocky

    Jabberwocky Active Member

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    I partially agree with you, but the example you provided shows an attack from 400 m, conducted by experienced pilots in Me-262s. A far cry from the average pilot in a piston powered aircraft.

    400 m is an unlikely distance for an untrained pilot to attack from. Furthermore, the link you provided states the R4M had an effective range of 500-600 m, well outside the range that a typical German pilot fired at in 1943-44, mostly because of fear of defensive fire.

    Unfortunately, there is no statistical evidence to back up the notion that the R4M was any more (or less) effective than the 30 mm MK 103 or MK 108. That the rocket had greater destructive potential than a cannon round is undeniable, a 400 gram HE charge will guarantee that. However, given the scarcity of the weapon and its use, its hard to tell if it was actually a better weapon than cannon against bombers.

    Does anyone have any statistics on accuracy, dispersion, flight time ect?

    You could argue that something like the Ruhrstahl X-4 would be a better weapon.
     
  20. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Except that in the limited trials carried out the Luftwaffe established that the system couldn't be operated from a single seater as the pilot couldn't control the missile and his aircraft at the same time. That means putting at least two seat,twin engined aircraft within a few kilometres of the bombers. That maybe out of range of the bombers' defensive armament but it is well within the range of the escort fighters which would inevitably go after the missile launching aircraft. The results would have been even faster attrition of the Luftwaffe's twin engined fighter force.

    No single weapon system will nullify the effect of Allied numbers and eventually total air superiority.

    As an ex-chemist I would be very uncomfortable with the fuels used in that system too.They require special handling and handling materials,containers etc. I believe that there were plans for a more sensible solid fuel version but time ran out.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
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