Ruhrstahl X-4

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

  1. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Ruhrstahl X-4 Air-to-Air missile Luft '46 entry
    Development began summer 1943.
    Mass production early 1945.
    1,000 to 1,300 airframes completed. BMW rocket motor factory destroyed by bombing which prevented these weapons from entering service.

    Wire guidance similiar to Hs.293. 5.5 km of guidance wire.
    33 sec max duration of powered flight @ 716 mph.
    60 kg Weapon weight.
    20 kg Warhead weight.

    I think Germany missed the boat with this weapon. If development had begun same time as Hs.293 it should have been operational during 1943. They should have developed it as an air to ground weapon rather then for shooting down bombers.

    Fw-189 army liason aircraft could carry one under each wing. He-111 could carry four under each wing. Observer would operate the joystick guidance system.

    20kg warhead is big enough to destroy all sorts of battlefield targets such as vehicles, bunkers, light flak emplacements, artillery pieces etc. Just as the Hellfire missile (9kg warhead) does today.
     
  2. Jabberwocky

    Jabberwocky Active Member

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    Given that Germany didn't really begin research on wire guided A to A missiles until late 1942 and work on what would become the X-4 began in early 1943, its hard to see how Germany "missed the boat". Maybe, and its a big maybe, three or four months could be realistically shaved off the timeline.

    With the limitations of manual command line of sight missiles guided with the Mk I eyeball, I don't think that the X-4 had anywhere near the neccessary stand-off range to be effective against ground targets. X-4 standoff range was a maximum of about 5000 m, but realistically much short.
     
  3. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Germany began development of wire guided air to ground weapons during 1914. The program ended when WWI ended.

    There's no reason development of the wire guided Ruhrstahl X4 as a ground attack weapon couldn't begin in 1935 when Germany started rearming.
     
  4. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    Pretty obvious really.

    There are loads of reasons why this could not have happened. There wasn't a seamless transition of technology and knowledge between the wars for starters - it's quite easy when sitting at a computer playing video games and inventing what if scenarios to assume something can be done with all the knowledge we have some eighty years after the fact, but Germany in 1935 was a very different country to in 1943. Firstly, where was the technological expertise and design capability in 1935? Germany didn't have the industry to do that; it took some years before the knowledge to design and build complex equipment like guided missiles was in place to do so. Germany's industry had to evolve under trying conditions; remember, there was an embargo on the country to produce weapons of war, even though they had already started to do so in the early 1930s, even then, reconstruction of Germany's armed forces was done covertly and abroad. It's primary aim initially was to build up numbers - even then, when the army occupied the Rhineland, if the French, British and other European powers had decided to agressively oppose the Germans it would have been good night nurse to any expansion plans the Nazis might have had.
     
  5. Jenisch

    Jenisch Active Member

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    Bat (guided bomb) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    This topic is about a German weapon, but anyway, there was more technology avaliable in the 1940s than most people realize.
     
  6. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    "Ruhrstahl X-4"

    Yet another German wonder weapon just WEEKS away from deployed in large numbers in May of 1945 that took Allied companies (French, British, American) 5-10 years to turn into a WORKABLE weapon in the late 40s and 50s during the cold war with the menace of thousands if not tens of thousands of Soviet tanks overrunning Western Europe.

    See French SS 10, SS 11, Entac, US Dart and British Vigilant and Australian Malkara.

    See: 1960 | 0813 | Flight Archive

    Coming up with a missile that functions in tests is one thing. Getting one to function in combat is another and these early guided missiles required quite a bit of operator expertise in order to be "guided" properly.
     
  7. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    Germans were further along in many respects than most give them credit...
    One such example, though being a bit off topic (but not far) is the He178 that flew under jet power in 1937. Looks like there was just a little "technological expertise and design capability" going on there, perhaps? No one was expecting that and naturally, the RLM was a major hurdle to realizing it's potential...but that's a whole different discussion...

    Anyway, operationally, you had:
    Fritz X = radio guided bomb - 1943
    Hs293 = radio guided bomb - 1942
    Hs294 = radio guided missile/torpedo - 1943

    But these were radio guided weapons, not wire guided, so perhaps this doesn't count :thumbleft:
     
  8. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

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    Surely that was in 1939?
     
  9. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    Yep, 27 August 1939, a typo on my behalf...thanks for catching it! :)
     
  10. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Except there was no reason to develop a weapon system to counter a threat which was not envisaged in any pre-war scenario.
    Any nation has limited means at its disposal and will concentrate on the development of weapons,both offensive and defensive,to fit the scenarios its planners envisage for future conflicts. They,unlike us,did not have the benefit of hindsight.
    In 1939 the Germans had a perfectly good weapon for attacking the ground targets you describe. It used proven technology and was relatively cheap. It was called the Ju 87.
    Noone in the late 1930s envisaged a situation where hundredsof bombers would be flying night and day into Reich air space,so noone started developing sophisticated guided munitions to counter them.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  11. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    That's not exactly true.

    Germany developed wire guided versions of these weapons but opted to use radio guidance until the enemy employed an effective jamming system. If the Ruhrstahl X4 entered service during 1943 as an air to surface weapon it also would probably use radio guidance until enemy jamming forced a switch to wire guidance.
     
  12. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    I think you might be missing the point of my comments there, Graugeist. Yes, we all know the Germans were technologically advanced (how could we not? we are forever being reminded that if the war had gone on for another year they would have won because of it!), but I sincerely doubt the knowledge and industry was there to design and build an air to air missile with the technology of the X-4 in 1935 Germany, although there were many clever individuals working on advanced concepts at that time. As Steve astutely points out, there probably wasn't a need for such a weapon in the German armed forces at that time at any rate.

    As for the He 178 and to a degree all the first generation jets, the technology to build these was already in place in the late 1930s; apart from their powerplant their design and construction features differ little from piston engined aircraft of the era.
     
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