The scientific tourist #88 — Rheintochter R1 Surface to Air Missile (SAM)

Another slice of military history from the Deutsches Museum in Munich, Germany:

War always spurs technological innovation (if only at a horrible cost), and so WWII saw the birth of (among other things) anti-aircraft missiles. The Rheintochter was one of two optically-guided rockets developed for this purpose in Germany during the war. The original R1 variant (shown here) of the Rheintochter had two solid rocket stages. When it was found that the R1 could at best reach an altitude of 8 km (10 – 11 km was needed), a larger variant called the R3 entered development — it had solid propellant boosters with a liquid propelled core, but was not ready for use by the end of the war.

This original R1 version of the missile was 5.7 meters long, with a 2.6 meter wingspan. At launch, one weighed 1.7 metric tonnes — and eventually 82 were launched in tests with only 4 failures. While the R1 never went into service, it would have been guided manually from the ground, with flares on wingtips used to help the operator track the missile as it ascended.

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