Use of Fritz-X against ground targets

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by wiking85, Apr 24, 2014.

  1. wiking85

    wiking85 Well-Known Member

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    What the Fritz-X bomb ever employed against ground targets? If so what was the success rate? I'm reading some of Corum/Muller's book on Luftwaffe doctrine "The Luftwaffe's Way of War" that translates original documents from 1913-1945 and pretty much presents them without commentary; one section actually reproduces the planning documents of Operational Eisenhammer, which is fascinating to read, but mentions the approval of the Fritz-X bomb for use in attacking the Rybansk dam's turbines due to them being a smaller target and only a handful of Do-217s being available for the mission. They planned on using 30 Do-217s with Fritz-Xs and AB1000/2 incendiaries to knock out the two operational turbines at that Rybansk dam. IMHO over optimistically they planned on a 50% hit rate with these bombs, despite mentioning their plan to attack on a full moon night or cloudy day. Was an attack against a ground facility ever attempted in combat conditions?
     
  2. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    Hi Wiking, the first use of Fritz X and Hs 293s as well on land targets was carried out during the breakout from Normandy by the Allies. According to a book I have on German guided missiles, a Fritz X dropped by a Do 217 destroyed a bridge at Pontaubault, France on 7 August 1944 that had been unsuccessfully attacked from the air previously.
     
  3. wiking85

    wiking85 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the response. What book was that from?
     
  4. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    #4 nuuumannn, Apr 25, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2014
    German guided missiles by Heinz Nowarra, Schiffer publications, just a small monograph, but interesting nonetheless, Viking. These sorties were the final use of the Fritz X and its use was abandoned subsequently since it was found that the bomber had to fly a predictable course and speed to launch the missile, which made it an easy target. By this time it had been retired as an anti ship weapon.

    Take a look here for a bit of info on the German response to the Allied breakout. It doesn't mention the missiles, but gives a bit of background to the bridge and the surrounds:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Luttich
     
  5. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    Did they really drop a bridge? I have only read on failed attempts and that is also the info in Bollinger's book on German radio controlled bombs (2010). Failures with losses on Do 217s. on 6/7 Aug 10 departed, 6 against the Pontaubault and 4 against Pontorson, 2 were lost.

    Juha
     
  6. Koopernic

    Koopernic Active Member

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    The Fritz-X was a very accurate weapon. Simulators were used to train operators and it was understood bomb aimers needed to be trained via practice release of multiple practice rounds. Getting hits to within a 50ft square was no problem and a CEP of 100ft was claimed. Success rate was 20% of rounds launched against allied shipping in combat hit their target. This is fairly good considering the ships were maneuvering and shooting back, an allied fighters in the air, with several destroyer/light cruiser sized targets hit. It was the only level bomber dropped weapon to sink ships at sea on its own during the war.

    The bomb was based around the SD1400 Armour piercing round so it may not have been suitable for all land targets.

    The technique for aiming was to release the bomb at high speed from 20,000 to 24,000ft aimed by a standard gyro stabilized Lotfe 7 computing bomb sight (approx same as the Norden). The pilot then throttled back while extending flaps to ensure a slow down of the bomber and a rapid climb of about 3000ft. This ensured the bomb lined up for the final phases of the attack, about 20 seconds latter when the bombardier guided the bomb to target using flares (during the day) or electric torches (by moonlight). The maneuver also threw of AAA predictors and AAA rounds in flight. There would have been no problem with using a buddy system.

    The use of allied jamming seems to be exaggerated, The Germans used different frequencies in the Mediterranean and the Bay of Biscay and latter introduced a single in flight frequency change. Latter more sophisticated Allied spoof jamming of all frequencies simultaneously developed after capture of some missiles in Foggia Italy may have been successful against some Hs 293 but the Germans still managed hits in its presence.

    The German contingency plan, in the event of Allied Jamming, was to fit new antenna, transmitters and receivers (these had been stocked) on a radically different frequency (so radical it was expected to be out of band for the allied jammer and sniffer). However the Germans never were certain of successful allied jamming, perhaps because they lost a sniffer aircraft. There was also a wire guided version though kits only for the Hs 293A were prepared. There was also an FM version, again on different frequencies and if necessary the Kogge system which used directional microwaves.

    The key problem the Germans had was that the Dornier Do 217 was too vulnerable in an air filled with allied fighters from both land bases and aircraft carriers so jamming never became an issue.

    The missile might have made a reappearance on the Arado Ar 234C jet bomber of which 4 were introduced into service. This version carried the second crew member as bomb aimer to aim the bomb and its 4 x BMW 003 engines had sufficient thrust to get the aircraft and bomb of the ground.

    The Fritz-X could also be equipped with the anti radiation homing "Raddischien" warhead directed against long wave transmitters as well, in my view, the Blaupunkt MAX-P system designed to home on to allied microwave radars on night fighters and bombers (H2S) for various missiles.

    The guidance systems are documented in Fritz Trenkle's "Die Deutsche Funklenkferfaheren"
     
  7. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    According to Bollinger's book, the success rate of the original Fritz X unit, III./KG 1000, was, incl. confirmed, probable and possible hits and near misses a bit under 6% counted from weapons carried, a bit under 10% from weapons launched and 14% from weapons guided. IMHO the most revelant is that of weapons launched i.e. a bit under 10%, it was 25% in Sept. 43 when the attacks with Fritz-X were initiated. And have anyone any confirmation that the Allies noted that a bridge was destroyed at Pontaubault by a LW air attack.

    Juha
     
  8. Koopernic

    Koopernic Active Member

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    If there is a deterioration in accuracy from 25% to 10% it indicates either a series of manufacturing problems evolved, more powerful allied air defenses in latter scenarios or some success in allied jamming. I would argue that being attacked by fighter aircraft and the then newly deployed proximity fuse might have done that.
     
  9. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    According to Bollinger's book it went well below 10% in the end, the bit under 10% was the average over the time frame but I agree with you that much of the decline was because of the improvement of Allies' traditional defences (AA and fighter cover).

    Juha
     
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