German Luftwaffe Warplanes, 1939-1945: Fieseler to Focke Achgelis

Deutsche Kampfflugzeuge der Luftwaffe 1939-1945

German Warplanes flown by the Luftwaffe 1939-1945

Fieseler to Focke Achgelis

During and after the end of the Second War a number of German Warplanes were captured and evaluated by the Allied forces.  Most of these aircraft were later scrapped and therefore only a handful have survived.  This is a partial list of aircraft that were known to have been flown by the Luftwaffe.

Während und nach dem Ende des Zweiten Weltkriegs wurden eine Reihe deutscher Kampfflugzeuge von den Alliierten erbeutet und ausgewertet.  Die meisten dieser Flugzeuge wurden später verschrottet und daher haben nur eine Handvoll überlebt. Dies ist eine unvollständige Liste von Flugzeugen, von denen bekannt war, dass sie von der Luftwaffe geflogen wurden.

FGP 227, ¼ scale flying model of the Blöhm & Voss BV 238, flying-boat built to provide data for the development of the BV 238.  Captured at Travemunde, this aircraft was designated RAF AM78.  It was scrapped at Felixstowe, England.  (Luftwaffe Photo)

Fieseler Fi 5, 1933 acrobatic sportsplane/trainer.  (Luftwaffe Photo)

Fieseler Fi 98, 1936 biplane ground attack (prototype).  (Im Auftrag des Fieseler Flugzeugbau Kassel - Archiv der Gerhard-Fieseler-Stiftung)

Fieseler Fi 103, V-1, FZG 76

Fieseler Fi 103, V-1, FZG 76 flying bomb, being wheeled into position by its German launch crew.  (Bundesarchiv Photo Bild 146-1975-117-26)

The Fieseler Fi 103, V-1, FZG 76, was a small, fixed-wing pilotless aircraft powered by a pulsejet engine mounted above the rear fuselage. In effect, it was the world’s first operational cruise missile, and incorporated a simple flight control system to guide it to its target, an air log device to make it dive to the ground after travelling a preset distance and a warhead packed with high explosive. The first of these weapons landed in the London area in the early hours of 13 June 1944.[1]

The V-1 (Vergeltungswaffe Eins, or Vengeance Weapon One), name was given to it by Josef Goebbels’ Propaganda Ministry, but the original Air Ministry designation was Fieseler Fi 103, after its airframe designer, the Fieseler company. The missile also had the cover names of Kirschkern (Cherry Stone) and Flakzielgerät (Flak Target Device) 76 (FZG 76).  Powered by a simple but noisy pulsejet, thousands were launched on British and continental European targets from June 1944 to March 1945. [2]

There are at least 54 Fi 103 Flying bombs on display in museums around the world, including a V-1 on display in the Deutsches Technik Museum in Berlin.[3]

(AWM Photo)

Australia.  Fieseler Fi 103, V-1, FZG 76 flying bomb,  Laverton, RAAF base, Victoria, Australia ca 1945 and currently on display in The Australian War Memorial in Canberra, Australia.

(Ad Meskens Photos)

Belgium.  Fieseler Fi 103, V-1, FZG 76 flying bomb, Musée Royal de l’Armée et d’Histoire Militaire, Brussels.

(Author Photos)

Canada.  Fieseler Fi 103, V-1, FZG 76 flying bomb, on display in the Atlantic Canada Aviation Museum in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

(Martin Richards Photo)

England.  Fieseler Fi 103, V-1, FZG 76 flying bomb, mounted on a partial ramp section, at the Imperial War Museum Duxford.  The museum also has a partially recreated launch ramp with a mock–up V-1 displayed outside.

France.  Fieseler Fi 103 V-1, FZG 76 flying bomb, wreckage being examined by a Canadian soldier and a member of the French Resistance (F.F.I.), Foucarmont, France, 5 September 1944.  (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3239436)

France.  Fieseler Fi 103 V-1, FZG 76 flying bomb, on display at Place de la mairie exposition de V-1, 22 Sep 1945.  (Musée de la Reddition, G. Garitan Photo)

(Alan Darles Photo)

France.  Fieseler Fi 103 V-1, FZG 76 flying bomb, on display beside the Blockhaus d'Éperlecques, near Saint-Omer.  Although this was intended as a V2 launch site the museum on the site has a display devoted to the V1, including a V1 cruise missile and an entire launch ramp.

(Josh Hallett Photo)

United States.  Fieseler Fi 103 V-1, FZG 76 flying bomb, (Wk. Nr. 121536), is on display at the Pima Air and Space Museum, in Tucson, Arizona.

Fieseler Fi 103R Reichenberg Re III

(USAAF Photos)

The Reichenberg Fi 103A-1/RE-III was the trainer version of the RIV.  The front position was for the flight instructor. Two fuselages were found by the allied forces at the end of the War, at Tramm, near Dannenbergbut, Germany. Length: 8 m (26.24 ft) Wingspan: 5.72 m (18.76 ft) Loaded weight: 2,250 kg (4,960 lb) Power plant: 1 × Argus As 014 pulse jet, 350 kgf (770 lbf). Performance: Max speed: 800 km/h (500 mph (in diving flight) Cruise speed: 650 km/h (400 mph). Range: 330 km (205 miles).

The idea of putting a pilot in the Fi 103 V1 for special operations was proposed by Hanna Skorzeny, Otto Skorzeny and Heinrich Lange. Lange sought to form a special group of pilots who if need be would sacrifice themselves. At the same time the DFS were looking into such a idea since 1943, because tests using the Me P.1079 (Me 328) had found it was unsuitable. In 1944 the DFS was given the go ahead to develop such a weapon, given the code name "Reichenberg". With in fourteen days the DFS had designed, built, and tested the five different models needed to convert the volunteer pilots.  By October 1944 about 175 R-IVs were ready for action.

Fieseler Fi 103R Reichenberg Re I: Two man unpowered trainer

Fieseler Fi 103R Reichenberg Re II: Two man powered trainer

Fieseler Fi 103R Reichenberg Re III: One man powered trainer

Fieseler Fi 103R Reichenberg Re IV: Operational model

Fieseler Fi 103R Reichenberg Re V: Powered trainer for the He 162 with a shorter nose

The Re I was towed in to the air by a Henschel Hs 126, all the rest were air launched from the Heinkel He 111 H-22.  Volunteers were trained in ordinary gliders in order to give them the feel of unpowered flight.  The pilots then progressed to special gliders with shortened wings which could dive at speeds of up to 300 kilometres per hour (190 mph).  After this, they progressed to the dual-control Re II.

Training began on the Re I and Re II and although landing the aircraft on a skid was difficult, it handled well, and it was anticipated that the Leonidas Squadron would soon be using the machines.  Albert Speer wrote to Hitler on 28 July 1944 to say that he opposed wasting the men and machines on the Allies in France and suggested it would be better to deploy them against Russian power stations.

The first real flight was performed in September 1944 at the Erprobungsstelle Rechlin, the Reichenberg being dropped from a He 111. However, it subsequently crashed after the pilot lost control when he accidentally jettisoned the canopy.  A second flight the next day also ended in a crash, and subsequent test flights were carried out by test pilots Heinz Kensche and Hanna Reitsch.  Reitsch herself experienced several crashes from which she survived unscathed.  On 5 November 1944 during the second test flight of the Re III, a wing fell off due to vibrations, but Heinz Kensche managed to parachute to safety, albeit with some difficulty due to the cramped cockpit.

By October 1944 about 175 Fi 103 Reichenberg Re IV's were ready for combat with some 60 Luftwaffe personnel and 30 personnel from Skorzeny's commando unit, who joined Leonidas Staffel 5.II/KG 200(Heinrich Lange's special unit led by himself) to fly the aircraft in to combat.  Werner Baumbach assumed command of KG 200 in October 1944, however, the whole operation was shelved in favour of the "Mistel" program.  Baumbach and Speer eventually met with Hitler on 15 March 1945 and managed to convince him that suicide missions were not part of the German warrior tradition, and later that day Baumbach ordered the Reichenberg unit to be disbanded.

Fieseler Fi 103R Reichenberg Re IV

(RAF Photo)

Fieseler Fi 103R Reichenberg Re IV with British troops in 1945.

The Fieseler Fi 103R Reichenberg IV was basically a manned version of the Fieseler Fi 103, V-1 flying bomb.  The Fi 103R-IV had simple flight instruments in the cockpit and the canopy had guidelines for calculating the correct dive angle for attacks. The Reichenberg was powered by one 772-lb thrust Argus 109 014 pulse-jet engine. It had a maximum speed of 404-mph. Its wing span was 18’9”, and its length was 26’3”.[4]   It was armed with an 850 kg warhead

In theory, this wasn’t a Kamikaze-style suicide weapon, since the pilot was intended to bail out after aiming the aircraft/missile at its target.   In practice, this would have presented certain difficulties, since the cockpit was placed directly underneath the jet intake.   Attacks were to be carried out by the “Leonidas Squadron”, Group V of the Luftwaffe’s Kampfgeschwader 200.

The engine was the same one used on the V-1, one 2.94 kN As 109-014 pulse-jet.  Versions planned were the Fi 103R-I and R-II training gliders, R-III powered trainer, and R-IV operational version. About 175 were built, and a few test flights were made by the R-III, but none flew operationally.[5]

The Leonidas Squadron, part of KG 200, had been set up as a suicide squadron. Volunteers were required to sign a declaration which said, “I hereby voluntarily apply to be enrolled in the suicide group as part of a human glider-bomb. I fully understand that employment in this capacity will entail my own death.” Initially, both the Messerschmitt Me 328 and the Fieseler Fi 103 (better known as the V-1 flying bomb) were considered as suitable aircraft, but the Fi 103 was passed over in favour of the Me 328 equipped with a 900 kilograms (2,000 lb) bomb.

However, problems were experienced in converting the Me 328 and Heinrich Himmler wanted to cancel the project. Otto Skorzeny, who had been investigating the possibility of using manned torpedoes against Allied shipping, was briefed by Hitler to revive the project, and he contacted famous test pilot Hanna Reitsch. The Fi 103 was reappraised and since it seemed to offer the pilot a slim chance of surviving, it was adopted for the project.

The project was given the codename “Reichenberg” after the capital of the former Czechoslovakian territory “Reichsgau Sudetenland” (present-day Liberec), while the aircraft themselves were referred to as “Reichenberg-Geräte” (Reichenberg apparatus).

In the summer of 1944 the DFS (German Research Institute for Sailplane Flight) at Ainring took on the task of developing a manned version of the Fi 103, and an example was made ready for testing within days and a production line was established at Dannenberg.

The V-1 was transformed into the Reichenberg by adding a small, cramped cockpit at the point of the fuselage that was immediately ahead of the pulsejet’s intake, where the standard V-1’s compressed-air cylinders were fitted. The cockpit had basic flight instruments and a plywood bucket seat. The single-piece canopy incorporated an armoured front panel and opened to the side to allow entry. The two displaced compressed-air cylinders were replaced by a single one, fitted in the rear in the space which normally accommodated the V-1’s autopilot. The wings were fitted with hardened edges to cut the cables of barrage balloons.

It was proposed that a He 111 bomber would carry either one or two Reichenbergs beneath its wings, releasing them close to the target. The pilots would then steer their aircraft towards the target, jettisoning the cockpit canopy shortly before impact and bailing out. It was estimated that the chances of a pilot surviving such a bailout were less than 1% due to the proximity of the pulsejet’s intake to the cockpit.[6]

(RAF Photo)

Fieseler Fi 103R Reichenberg Re IV (Wk. Nr. 6/2080), BACP91, on display at Farnborough, England, Nov 1945.

England.  Fieseler Fi 103R Reichenberg Re IV (Wk. Nr. 6/2080), BACP91, is currently display at the Lashenden Air Warfare Museum, Headcorn, Kent, UK,  This 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 29 Oct to 9 Nov 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.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3584520)

Fieseler Fi 103R Reichenberg Re IV piloted flying bomb at RCAF Station Trenton, Ontario, 9 June 1951.  This piloted version of the "Buzz Bomb" was brought to Canada in 1945 by Captain Farley Mowat's Intelligence Collection Team, shown here on display on Air Force Day, 16 June 1947.  This aircraft has recently been put on display in the Canadian War Museum, Ottawa, Ontario.

(USAAF Photo)

Fieseler Fi 103R Reichenberg Re IV piloted version of the V1 flying bomb, being handled by American  troops.

(USAAF Photo)

Fieseler Fi 103R Reichenberg Re IV piloted version of the V1 flying bomb, being examined by American troops.

[1] David Donald, Warplanes of the Luftwaffe, Aerospace Publishing London, 1994, p. 54.

[2] Internet:

[3] Internet:

[4] David Donald, Warplanes of the Luftwaffe, Aerospace Publishing London, 1994, p. 54.

[5] Phil H. Butler, War Prizes, and Carl-Fredrik Guest, Under the Red Star – Luftwaffe aircraft in the Soviet Air Force (Airlife Ltd., 1993), pp. 106-109.

[6] Internet:

[7] Internet:

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.

(Deutsches Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-567-1503C-04 Photo)

Fieseler Fi 156 Storch.  This is the aircraft used by Otto Skorzeny in the raid on Grand Sasso, Italy to fly Mussolini out of captivity.  The RAF collected a total of 145 Storch post war, including 62 found in Germany, 31 in Denmark, and 52 in Norway.  Of these, 60 were destroyed, 3 went to England and 82 went to BAFO or to Other Allies, including 64 to France, 17 to Norway and one to Holland (the Netherlands).

(SA-kuva Photo)

Fieseler Fi 156 Storch, coded V7+1N.

(Alan Wilson Photo)

Fieseler Fi 156C Storch (Wk. Nr. 475099), VD+TD, built by Mraz in Czechoslovakia and assigned to an unknown unit.  This aircraft is believed to have been surrendered in Flensburg at the end of the war.  Recorded as being in service with the RAE at Farnborough in September 1945 as Air Min 99, 475099 was shipped from Birkenhead, England to Capetown, South Africa on the SS Perthshire on 20 Oct 1946, arriving on 6 Nov.  South African Air Force Museum. Swartkop Airfield, Pretoria.

(Rept0n1x Photos)

Fieseler Fi 156C Storch, (Wk. Nr. 475081), captured at Flensburg.  Designated RAF AM101, later VP546, this aircraft is on display in the RAF Museum, Cosford.

(Valder137 Photos)

Fieseler Fi 156 Storch, (Wk. Nr. unknown), EA+WD, Reg No. G-EAWD, Deutsches Museum Flugwerft Schleissheim, Germany.

(John5199 Photo)

(Tony Hisgett Photo

Fieseler Fi 156 Storch, GM+AI, restored and currently flying in civilian hands in England.)

(Valder137 Photo)

Fieseler Fi 156 Storch, (Wk. Nr. unknown).  This aircraft is located in the Fantasy of Flight Museum, Polk City, Florida.

(Luftwaffe Photo)

Fieseler Fi 256 Storch, Luftwaffe 5-seat version.

(Luftwaffe Photos)

Fieseler Fi 167, ship-borne torpedo bomber biplane.

(Luftwaffe Photo)

Flettner Fl 184 reconnaissance helicopter (prototype).

(Luftwaffe Photos)

Flettner Fl 265 reconnaissance helicopter (prototype).

(Luftwaffe Photos)

Flettner Fl 282 Kolibri, reconnaissance helicopter.

(Luftwaffe Photo)

Flettner Fl 282 Kolibri, reconnaissance helicopter prototype with three vertical stabilizers.

(USAAF Photos)

Flettner Fl 282V-23 Kolibri, reconnaissance helicopter, USA FE-4613, later T2-4613, tested in the USA.  This helicopter was damaged in an accident in April 1948.

 (USAAF Photos)

Flettner Fl 282V-12 Kolibri, reconnaissance helicopter, USA FE-4614, later T2-4614, tested in the USA.  This helicopter was used for spare parts to service FE-4613.

One Flettner Fl 282 was captured at Rangsdorf, Germany by Soviet forces.  Two, which had been assigned to Transportstaffel 40 (TS/40), the Luftwaffe's only operational helicopter squadron at Mühldorf, Bavaria, were captured by U.S. forces.  One of these two, Fl 282 V-10, (Wk. Nr. 28368) has parts including a partial airframe with rotor head and wheels preserved in the Midland Air Museum, Coventry, England.  Flettner Fl 282 V-23, (Wk. Nr. 280023), CI+TW, USA FE-4613, later T2-4613, may be with the National Museum of the USAF, Dayton, Ohio.  Flettner Fl 282V-12, (Wk. Nr. 280008), CJ+SF, USAF FE-4614, later T2-4614 was also tested in the USA.  It was used as a source of spare parts for FE-4613, also reported as sold in 1955.

 (USAAF Photo)

Flettner Fl 282 helicopter and Messerschmitt Me 163 FE-500 at Freeman Field, Indianna.

(RAF Photos)

Focke-Achgelis Fa 223E (V14) Drache (Dragon) transport helicopter, (Wk. Nr. 22300014), captured at Ainring, Germany. Designated RAF AM233, later VM479.  This helicopter was the first to fly across the English Channel.  VM479 crashed at Beaulieu, England on 4 Oct 1945.

 (USAAF Photo)

Focke Achgelis Fa 223 Drache, transport helicopter in Luftwffe markings, captured.

(USAAF Photos)

Focke Achgelis Fa 223 Drache, transport helicopter in USAAF markings.

In January 1945, the German Air Ministry assigned three Drachen to Transportstaffel 40 (TS/40) at Mühldorf, Bavaria, the Luftwaffe's only operational helicopter squadron, equipped with at least five Flettner Fl 282s as well as the Drachen.  TS/40 relocated to various sites before ending up at Ainring in Austria, where one of the Drachen was destroyed by its pilot to prevent it being captured and the other two were seized by US forces.  The US intended to ferry captured aircraft back to the USA aboard HMS Reaper, but only had room for one of the captured Drachen. The RAF objected to plans to destroy the other, the V14, so Gerstenhauer, with two observers, flew it across the English Channel from Cherbourg to RAF Beaulieu on 6 September 1945, the first crossing of the Channel by a helicopter.  The V14 later made two test flights at RAF Beaulieu before being destroyed on 3 October 1945, when a driveshaft failed.

Focke Achgelis Fa 266 Hornisse, helicopter (project)

(Luftwaffe Artwork)

Focke-Achgelis Fa 269, tilt rotor helicopter (project).

 (Yachtman Photo)

Focke Achgelis Fa 330 Bachstelze, autogyro kite, with Fieseler Fi 156 Storch behind it, in the RAF Museum Cosford, England.

(Stahlkocher Photo)

Focke Achgelis Fa 330 A-1 Bachstelze autogyro kite, (Wk. Nr. 100436), USA FE-4617, later T2-4617, National Museum of the USAF.

(USAAF Photo)

Focke Achgelis Fa 330A-1, (Wk. Nr. 100404), USA FE-4618, later T2-4618, was lost in the waters off McDill AFB during trials in Sep 1948.

(Bill McChesney Photo)

Focke Achgelis Fa 330 Bachstelze, autogyro kite, Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Centre, Chantilly, Virginia.

(MilborneOne Photo)

Focke Achgelis Fa 330, RAF Museum, Cosford.

Focke Achgelis Fa 330 survivors may also be found in the Imperial War Museum, Duxford, and in the RAF Millom Museum,  England, the Deutsches Tecknikmuseum, Munich, Germany, and in Le musée de l'Air et de l'Espace, Paris, France.

(Luftwaffe drawing)

Focke Achgelis Fa 336, 1944 scout helicopter (project).  

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