Bachem Ba 349 "Natter", 1945 - (scan - 1996)

The Natter is one of the more interesting of the "Wunderwaffen" the Germans built toward the end of the war. It was built almost entirely from wood. It was launched from a tower, powered entirely by rocket engines. The main engine was the same liquid-fuelled unit used by the Me 163. For launch, four additional solid-fuelled booster motors were attached to the sides of the rear fuselage. The rear fuse with rocket motor was to be jettisoned after use and recovered and reused via parachute.

After using his weapon load of 24 rockets which were carried in the nose, the pilot pulled a lever which deployed drag parachutes carried in the rear fuselage. This lever also released bolts holding the forward fuselage together. This action separated the fuselage at the cockpit bulkhead just aft of the pilot's seat, leaving the pilot free to parachute to safety (one hoped.) The rear fuselage descended via parachute and could be recovered and refurbished. The nose cone was expendable.

The project didn't progress very far. Several unmanned test flights were made, including at least one under full power. The first manned flight ended in the pilot being killed when the extreme G-forces broke his neck shortly after launch. No further manned flights were made.

The museum's Natter is one of only two survivors. The other is in the Deutches Museum, and appears to be a mock-up or wind tunnel model, as the canopy isn't clear. There is a picture of it on my pages for the Deutches Museum.

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