|Me-163 German winged rocketplane. The rocket-powered Messerschmitt Me-163 was the world's first and only operational pure rocket fighter and represented the culmination of Alexander Lippisch's years of research in rocketplanes, tail-less aircraft, and delta wings. As a weapon, the Me-163 had tremendous speed but very limited range. However the concepts developed by Lippisch contributed to the Space Shuttle and Buran orbiters of a quarter century later.|
|Saenger Antipodal Bomber German sled-launched intercontinental boost-glide missile. Saenger-Bredt antipodal bomber - sled launched, boosted to suborbital velocity, 'skips' off upper atmosphere to deliver bomb load on target, recovery back at launch site. Fascinated Stalin, led to US Dynasoar project. Post-war, Saenger designed two-stage HTOHL space shuttles in Germany.|
|He-112 The Heinkel He-112 was an unsuccessful pre-war German monoplane fighter, competing for orders with the Bf 109. However it entered rocketry history when tests were conducted in 1935 with rocket engines.|
|Junkers 'Junior' German manned rocketplane. Flown 1936. Early German rocketplane.|
|He-122 German manned rocketplane. Flown 1938. Early German rocketplane.|
|He-176 German manned rocketplane. Flown 1938. Early German rocketplane.|
|Von Braun Rocketplane German manned rocketplane. Study 1939. On 6 July 1939 Wernher von Braun proposed to the German Reich Air Ministry a "fighter with rocket drive".|
|Lofer Mystery Craft German manned spaceplane. Hardware construction stage, 1945. There exist in US Army postwar files a murky photo of what some think is a large-scale mock-up of the Saenger antipodal bomber, taken in Lofer, Austria after the end of the World War II.|
|Saenger I German winged orbital launch vehicle. Studied by MBB 1962-1969. Final version of the Saenger spaceplane, as conceived by Eugen Saenger during his lifetime. A rocket propelled sled would be used for horizontal launch of delta-winged, rocket-propelled first and second stages. An alternate version used a vertical-launch, horizontal landing, two-stage winged launch vehicle.|
|LART German winged orbital launch vehicle. MBB/ERNO air breathing horizontal takeoff / horizontal landing single stage to orbit proposal from the mid-1980s. Largely similar to the BAe HOTOL.|
|Saenger II Proposed two stage to orbit vehicle. Air-breathing hypersonic first stage and delta wing second stage. The German Hypersonics Programme and its Saenger II reference vehicle received most of the domestic funding for spaceplane development in the late 1980s and early 1990s.|
|Horus German manned spaceplane. Hypersonic Orbital Upper Stage was part of the Saenger-II spaceplane studied in Germany from 1985-1993. It would have separated from the lower stage at Mach 6.6 and flown to orbit.|
|Hytex German manned rocketplane. Study 1995. Following the cancellation of Saenger II, Germany briefly considered a manned X-15/NASP type flight test vehicle (HYTEX) capable of Mach 6 flight. This too was cancelled for cost reasons.|
A rocket-boosted glider is flown by Friedrich Stamer from the Rhoen Mountains in Western Germany. The development was funded by Opel, the canard-layout glider designed by Hans Lippisch, and the powder rockets developed by Sander. As in the Opel ground vehicles, a boost rocket (360 kgf for 3 seconds) was to accelerate the glider down the launch ramp. A sustainer rocket (20 kgf for 30 seconds) would keep the aircraft in flight. It was hoped to develop a method of launching gliders that would allow the pilot to get airborne without assistance - that did not require a tow aircraft or the eight-man crew needed to pull back the rubber band on existing rail launchers. Tests with smaller motors in models showed the high-thrust motors were too powerful, so the full-scale tests used a standard rubber-band rail launcher with only the low thrust motors installed. After two attempted flights, Stamer finally made a successful flight, firing two 20 kgf motors one after the other. The glider flew about 1.5 km in 70 seconds. On the second flight the first motor exploded, setting the aircraft on fire. Stamer landed successfully but further attempts were abandoned.
Opel sponsored resumption of tests of rocket-boosted gliders near Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany. These involved a design by Lippisch, boosted by 16 powder rockets of 23 kgf each. With Opel at the controls, the glider successfully launched itself from a 20-m long rail launcher, and he flew the aircraft for ten minutes. However the landing went badly - the design had a landing speed of 160 kph, and with a total weight of 270 kg, a high wing loading. Opel survived but the glider had to be written off. This was Opel's last involvement with rocketry. General Motors, the majority owner of the Opel company, prohibited further rocketry work after the stock market crash. Fritz von Opel left the country and moved to Switzerland.
There was no interest within the German Aviation Ministry at that time in rocket engines as primary propulsion for a combat aircraft. Due to the rocket engine's high fuel consumption, it was seen as only useful in providing Jet Assisted Takeoff for conventional propeller aircraft.
A 300 kgf engine was installed in a Junkers 'Junior' aircraft fuselage at Kummersdorf. This was the first rocket engine installation in an aircraft. But the problem to be solved was how to ensure continuous operation of the engine during aircraft manoeuvres. The rocket team finally built a big carousel, capable of testing the engine installation at up to 5 G's.
Three flight tests were made between February and April in a He-112 equipped with a 300 kgf liquid fuel rocket engine by Flight-Captain Erich Warsitz from Neuhardenberg near Berlin. On the final flight Warstiz smelled something burning, and made an emergency belly landing. He survived but the aircraft had to be written off. Engine exhaust had flowed back into the space between the engine and fuselage and burnt cables. Work on this engine continued at Area 4 at Peenemuende. The planned application was a 1000 kgf JATO pod, with a burn time of 30 seconds, to boost bombers into the air.
From 1939-1940 a series of rocket engine tests to support development of a JATO pod were conducted from Peenemuende-West with a He-111. It was found that liquid oxygen was not an appropriate oxidiser for civil use, so the engineers at Walther - Kiel introduced hydrogen peroxide as an alternate. The Walther engine was simpler than the rocket team's prototype, could produce 1000 kgf for 300 seconds, and was capable of taking a rocket fighter to 12 km altitude within two minutes from engine start.
The vertical take-off interceptor would reach 8 km altitude in 53 seconds and then manoeuvre toward the aircraft to be intercepted. The design was developed further by Fieseler as the Fi-166, which retained the rocket takeoff but used a turbojet for a longer cruising flight. The Ministry finally rejected the vertical-takeoff rocket interceptor concept at the end of 1941. The concept was revived at the end of the war as the Bachem Natter.
Messerschmitt Me-163A powered by "cold" H. Walther rocket successfully flown at Augsburg, Germany, development of which had begun in 1937, but "cold" engine proved unreliable. Flights were also made in October which reached speeds of 1,003 km/hr, or Mach 0.85.
Eugen Saenger and Irene Bredt issue their final 400-page report on the Saenger antipodal bomber - a rocket boosted skip-glide spaceplane with global range. Only 100 numbered copies are printed, and distributed to German political and scientific leaders. The futuristic scheme would have taken many years to develop and was of only academic interest to the German government. But copies of the report fell into the hands of the Americans and Russians after the war, spawning major development projects in the fifties.