Towards the end of 1943 consideration was given in Germany to possible use of piloted missiles for precision attacks on targets such as warships & other high profile targets like Buckingham Palace & the Houses of Parliament.
Design work was carried out by Deutsches Forschungsinstitut fur Segelfug (German Gliding Research Institute) & the modification of standard V1’s for testing purposes was carried out by the aircraft manufacturer Henschel, under the code name of Reichenberg. Initial test flights were carried out at Larz where the first two aircraft crashed killing the pilots. Test flying was thereafter carried out by Hanna Reitsch & Heinz Kensche.
Two factories were set up to manufacture piloted V1’s, one at Dannenberg & the other at Pulverhof both using slave labour. They produced approximately 175 piloted Fieseler Fi 103R-4’s before production ceased. 70 pilots were under training when the project ceased in October 1944 owing to a shortage of fuel for training & political differences within the German High Command. The operational Fi 103R-4’s were to have been operated by 5/KG200 & was to be known as the Leonidas staffel
The Fi 103R-4 Reichenberg on display at Farnborough in 1945
The Fi 103R-4 was captured at the Danneburg V1 factory in the American zone & returned to the UK in 1945. It was displayed at the German Aircraft Exhibition at the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough from the 29th October to the 9th November 1945.
The Fi 103R-4 then passed through a number of army Bomb Disposal units until discovered by the museum in 1970 stored outside in a very poor condition. The bottom of the cockpit had rusted through & the back of the V1 was broken and it was due to be scrapped. It was acquired by the museum & moved to Headcorn. The museum carried out temporary repairs & did a cosmetic paint job to buy time until the funds & expertise were available to carry out a proper restoration.
The Fi 103R-4 Reichenberg as found by the museum 1970
The Fi 103R-4 moved to Geisenhausen near Munich in November 2007, where the restoration was carried out by Axel Kuncze & his team at Auktionshaus fur historic Technik, the only restoration shop specialising in restoring the V1 and its derivatives anywhere in the world. Work carried out included replacing the nose cone as that was not the original. Some of the skinning on the rear fuselage was replaced & a new wing main spar was fitted as the one we had was of an incorrect size. The wings were recovered in the correct grade of plywood. The cockpit has been fully fitted out & all instruments, electrical fittings etc are original period pieces restored to full working order. The Fi103R-4 has been finished as it was when displayed at Farnborough in 1945.
There are six surviving Fi103R-4’s, the others being located at:-
Flying Heritage Museum, Seattle, USA
Leger en Wapen Museum, Delft, Netherlands
Canadian War Museum, Ottawa, Canada
La Coupole, St Omer, France
Schweizerisches Militärmuseum, Full, Switzerland
This restoration would not have been possible without the following sponsors:-
Dr Peter Haydn-Smith, Guy Thomas, Chris Samson, Ann & Bob McNae, Robin & Alan Glover, Peter Shepherd, Norman Franks, Trevor & Caroline Matthews, Dennis & Jean Wickenden, Michael Hukins, Ann & David Wild, Susan Harris
Headcorn Aerodrome, Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin, Norfolk Line Ferries, Thurston Helicopters, LAWM Trading Ltd, Ramada Hotels Ltd, Skybus Balloons, Luftwaffe Airfield Re-enactment Group, Collection in Memory of Andrew Cresswell
Focke Achgelis Fa 330A-1 Gyro Kite W/nr 100549
Early in 1942 Focke Achgelis at Laupheim were asked to design a simple single seat auto gyro kite which surfaced U boats could tow aloft to extend the observer's range of view. At this time the U boats were being forced away from the dense shipping areas around the coasts of Britain and the United States to hunt further out in the Atlantic, where there was greater safety, but where their low position in the water made searching for, and shadowing the spread out convoys a very difficult task.
The principal U boat class to use the Fa 330 was the ocean going Type IX which had a surface displacement of 740 tons, a surface speed of 18 knots and a submerged speed of 7.5 knots. Little is known of actual operational use of the Fa 330. Two or three members of the U boats crew were trained to fly the Fa 330.
Having a 150 metre cable available it was possible to maintain an altitude of 120 metres thereby extending the possible range of vision to 40 km compared to 8 km from the U boat deck. In an emergency the pilot who had telephone contact with the U boat, pulled a lever over his head which jettisoned the rotor and released the towing cable. As the rotor flew away and up, it pulled out a parachute mounted behind the pylon. At this stage the pilot attached to the parachute unfastened his safety belt to allow the remainder of the Fa 330 to fall into the sea while he made a normal parachute descent.
In a normal descent the Fa 330 was winched into the deck of the U boat and upon landing, the rotor brake applied.
There is no doubt that the Fa 330 was unpopular in use, because in an emergency, the U boat had to either delay its dive in order to pick up the pilot or dive and hope to pick him up later.
Pickett Hamilton Airfield Defence Fort
The world's only fully restored and working example of his World War 2 airfield defence fort.