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This reminds me of an idea by the German's of catapulted ME-109s filled with explosives at bridges and enemy troops from the backs of JU-88s (from memory).
Early in the glide-testing program for the Nazis' Me-163 Komet rocket fighter, Reitsch launched behind a towplane at Regensburg, and the takeoff gear failed to drop away from her aircraft. The little fighter was supposed to land on a tough skid in its belly, but now the heavy axle with outsized wheels hung canted to one side beneath the fuselage.
The plane vibrated alarmingly and was very heavy on the controls. Flares from the airfield alerted Reitsch that she indeed had an emergency. Radios of the time were heavy, unreliable devices, and Reitsch couldn't get hers to work. She had no way of contacting either the ground or the towplane.
With no communications, the despairing towplane pilot grimly pulled her up to 3,000 meters altitude, and Reitsch cut loose. Built with swept wings for a rocket-blast climb to altitude and a near-sonic glide attack on Allied bomber formations, the Komet was fast. With its heavy landing gear still attached, it was even faster. It dropped like an anvil with wings. "Bale out?"
The Me163 was too new, too advanced for such a waste. So at great risk and without the foggiest guess about how the landing gear had configured itself in the airstream, Reitsch attempted a landing.
The plane flipped. In the sliding, smashing, grinding mass of twisting, tearing metal and breaking glass, Reitsch's face catapulted into the instrument panel.
Finally, everything stopped. Thank God there was no fuel aboard, for the little Komet surely would have burned and exploded. Astounded to be alive and upright in the wreckage, Reitsch tried to get out. The canopy was jammed, so all she could do now would be wait for the rescue crew to arrive. She killed time until the ambulance and fire truck could get to her by sketching and labeling the details of her accident.
Shifting the clipboard to avoid more blood splashes from her face, she noticed a rubbery object in her lap and picked it up.
It was her nose.
At the hospital, doctors discovered that Reitsch had fractured her skull in six places. She'd smashed the bones of her detached nose irretrievably and displaced her upper jawbone. She'd broken several vertebrae and bruised her brain severely.
She nearly died.
It took Regensburg Surgeon Doctor Bodewig five months of plastic surgery and neurosurgery to repair the Fuhrer's most valuable aviator.
It took Reitsch's own iron will five more months to rip her free of physical weakness and mental despair.
As he awarded Reitsch the Iron Cross of the Knight's Cross, First Class, Adolf Hitler himself forbade her ever again to attempt such a foolhardy feat.
The first powered flight only went a kilometer, and the early prototypes showed a distressing tendency to crash. To resolve these problems, a piloted flying bomb was developed, with the warhead replaced by a cockpit in which a test pilot could fly the machine while lying prone. Test flights were performed with the tiny and daring female test pilot Hanna Reitsch at the controls, and helped resolve the problems.
One of the unusual side stories of the flying-bomb campaign was development of a piloted "suicide" V-1. The details of this weapon are obscure and the documentation contradictory. In late 1943, the Germans had experimented with "manned missiles", in which pilots would point their aircraft at a ground target and bail out. Experiments along this line were performed with Focke-Wulf FW-190 and pulsejet-powered Messerschmitt Me-328 fighters, but proved unsuccessful.
In May 1944, SS Hauptsturmfuehrer Otto Skorzeny, German's brilliant and ruthless commando leader, proposed using the V-1 for this job. Within two weeks, prototypes of variants of the manned weapon, known as "Reichenberg", were built, with designations "R-I" through "R-IV".
The R-I and R-II were glider trainers and lacked engines. The R-I was a single-seat trainer, while the R-II was a two-seat trainer with dual cockpits. The R-III was a two-seat powered trainer, while the R-IV was the operational weapon. About 175 R-IVs were built, and a group of volunteers was organized to fly them. The piloted flying bombs were to be launched by bombers of "KG-200", the Luftwaffe special operations unit.
In principle, the pilot was to aim the Reichenberg at a target and then bail out. In practice, the weapon lacked an ejection seat, and though provisions were made for escape, getting out of such an aircraft safely as it dived at high speed towards a target was problematic. The volunteer pilots who were to fly the bombs were known as "Selbstopfermaenner", or "Suicide Men".
Unsurprisingly, many German officers did not like the scheme. In October 1944, a new commander named Werner Baumbach was appointed to KG-200, and he preferred Mistel to Reichenberg. The Germans had little enthusiasm for kamikaze missions. In fact, some sources say that the piloted V-1s were originally designed strictly as flight test machines, but it is difficult to fit that into the other parts of the story as they are recorded.
Within the Third Reich there were many heroes (male and female) with outstanding courage and fantastic idealism; Heroes that the victors would like to leave buried under the ashes.
The fanatical woman aviator Hanna Reitsch was one such comrade. Reitsch had been dreaming of a suicide force attack on the Allied invasion fleet, "Piloted by healthy young men who believe that through their deaths, thousands of soldiers and civilians can be saved." She was thinking in terms of one thousand volunteers. Hanna Reitsch was able to fulfill this dream (at least in part) due to the ranking status of her lover, a certain General Von Greim, commander of Luftflte 6. Von Greim was the first man to ever take the Führer up in a plane, and the oldest living fighter pilot. The Führer secretly wanted to make Von Greim head of the Reich's air force. This would have replaced Göering (air force) and quite possible saved Germany from defeat. The Fuhrer, fatefully, felt too close to Göering from the early years of the struggle, so Von Greim was promoted to "Deputy Commander in Chief" on September 21, 1944 and warned by the Führer of Göering's manifold "sins." When the Third Reich finally collapsed, General Von Greim was the first to swallow poison, on May 24, within the high command. Von Greim obviously preferred an early death, rather than submit to the victors torture tactics for information, and possible death at their hands.
On February 28, 1944, Reitsch took the project to Herr Hitler at the Berghof. "It is not in keeping with German character," he told her, but authorized her to develop the plan.
Himmler wanted to use condemned criminals for the project, although this was never done. An aviator doctor at Rechlin was asked to investigate how close to a suicide a man could go and still function properly.
At the top Luftwaffe level, Hanna Reitsch found little support, but General Günther Korten did instruct Colonel Heigl of K2600 (Special Weapons Squadron) to take the project up. Reichsmarschall Göering, however, showed no enthusiasm. Criticizing the spirit with which the Reichsmarschall had imbued the Luftwaffe, Reitsch later said, "We need strong leadership. Leadership, tempered with an idealism to match our own."
Come June 9, 1944, and the Allied invasion of Normandy, Göering recalled Hanna Reitsch and her suicide squadron. Colonel Heigl of K6200 proposed using souped up FW 190 fighter bombers: each could carry as much as a 1,800 or 1,400 - kilo armor-piercing bomb (since no fuel for return was needed) to crash into the hulls of aircraft carriers.
Heigl's squadron had (at that time) thirty-nine volunteers to carry out what was referred to as "total operation." Himmler and Göering, however, intervened to ask the Führer to forbid the mission. Shortly after Lieutenant Colonel Werner Baumbach replaced Heigl at K6200, and the FW 190 plan was quietly shelved.
Adolf Galland eventually told his men, "If you're going close enough to ram[a bomber] anyway, you can shoot them down and have a fifty-fifty chance of coming down alive."
By late 1944, a spirit of self-sacrifice was being imbued in the German pilots. On November 8, Colonel Galland was heard issuing order 2159 to his squadron commanders, creating an elite shock of troops within the fighter force: "The Reichsmarschall has ordered the setting up for a Storm Staffel (Storm Unit). It is to scatter the enemy bombers using heavily armored fighters in level, close formation attack, pressed home to point blank range."
Galland continued, quoting Göering's order, "Once initiated, the attack by storm units will be carried right to the heart of the enemy without regard to losses." Galland asked for volunteers - "Pilots who are absolutely determined to take their opponent down with them rather than land without a victory."
By April 1945, the Luftwaffe was under pressure from every side. Göering then made the decision to authorize suicide missions. Volunteer pilots would ram the remaining ME 109's into Allied bombers. Göering's orders read out secretly to all pilots who had completed fighter training. "The fateful struggle for the Reich, our people, and our native soil is at its climax. Virtually the whole world is fighting against us and is resolving to destroy us and, in blind hatred, to exterminate us. With our last and utmost strength we are standing up to this menacing onslaught. Now as ever before as in the history of the German fatherland we are threatened with final annihilation from which there can be no revival. The danger can be arrested only by the utmost preparedness of the Supreme German warrior spirit. Therefore I turn to you at this decisive moment. By consciously staking your own lives, save the nation from extinction! I summon you for an operation from which you will have only the slenderest chance of returning. Those of you who respond will be sent back at once for pilot training. Comrades, you will take the place of honor beside your most glorious Luftwaffe warriors. In the hour of supreme danger, you will give the while German people hope of victory, and set an example for all time, Göering."
The first mission was code named "Werewolf" and the Führer gave the go ahead. Several hundred volunteers were given ten days of ideological training at Stendal, and on April 4, 1945, General Pelz, whose IV Air Corps would control the mission, reported all ready for "Werewolf." For psychological reasons, Pelz told the Luftwaffe high command, "We should not delay too long with the actual operation." Three days later, "Werewolf" was executed. One hundred and eighty suicide crews took part. Astonished Allied radio monitors heard patriotic marches flooding the fighter-control wavelengths and a female choir singing the German national anthem, while anonymous voices exhorted these 180 pilots to die NOW for the Führer and for Germany; Seventy of them did.
At 5:00 A.M., on April 16, 1945, the final Soviet push across the Oder began. Sixty more suicide pilots crash-bombed their planes into the Oder bridges in a desperate attempt to save Berlin. There is no way of telling if Colonel Heigl's "total operation" would have stopped the Allied invasion, had it not been shelved, Germany may have had the time to have completed their "jet" and "laser" projects. Projects that, if completed, would have won the war for Germany.
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