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Rheintochter (Surface-to-air missile)


FGM Lieutenant General
Oct 11, 2010
Castelar, Buenos Aires Province, Argentina.
German surface-to-air missile, tested during World War II, but never completed development. The name translates as 'Rhine Maiden'. In 25 September 1942 G. Goering authorised development of four types of surface to air missiles: unguided rockets (Taifun), target-seeking guided rockets (Enzian); operator optically-guided rockets (Rheintochter and Schmetterling); and radar-guided rockets (Wasserfall).

This original version of the Rheintochter used a canard aerodynamic layou and had a length of 5.74 m, a diameter of 535 mm, and a 2.65 m wingspan. Mass at launch was 1748 kg, with the second stage totalling 1000 kg. The first stage boost consisted of a solid rocket charge exhausting through eight nozzles. In only 0.6 seconds this accelerated the missile to 300 m/s. After the initial boost four stabilisers in the exhaust controlled the missile, the steel vanes being connected through two moving linkages. The second stage was a steel-cased solid propellant motor, 510 mm in diameter, which provided 4100 kgf for 10 seconds. An acoustic proximity fuse triggered the 150 kg warhead. Six flares on the second stage were used by the operator to visually orient and guide the path of the missile.


Several variants of the R-1 version of the missile were built between August 1943 and January 1944. 3 were launched, achieving 6 km altitude, 10 to 12 km range, and 485 m/s velocity. These tests did not please the Ministry of Aviation, who needed a rocket that could reach an altitude of 10 to 12 km. Therefore trials were extended, finally totalling 82 launches, with only 4 failures. The missile was then taken to Peenemuende for state trials under the supervision of Dornberger.


The R-3 version of the missile was designed to achieve the 10-12 km altitude requirement. Work had begun in May 1944, and six launches of the prototype were made in January 1945. There were two variants: the R-3F version with a Konrad engine (Nitric acid/Tonka-250 or Nitric acid/Visol) in the cruise stage; and the R-3R with a solid propellant cruise engine. In both versions parallel booster motors were used in place of the in-line first stage of the R-1. The R-3 had a length of 4.75 m, and an 1170 kg launch mass. The boost motors provided 1400 kgf for 0.9 seconds. Altitude was to be 12 km at a range of 20 to 25 km. However the missile never reached the stage of state trials testing. Peenemuende was abandoned on 20 February 1945, by which time only 15 R-3's had been completed. The solid rocket motor for the R-3R had reached the stage of stand tests on 6 February 1945, but further work was cancelled.

No fewer than five different guidance systems were developed for the Rheintochter:

Burgund: optical tracking with radio command guidance
Franken: optical tracking and radio guidance on the 10 m band
Alsace: radio tracking and radio guidance on the UHF band
Brabant: radio tracking and radio control on the 10 m band
Ganza: panoramic observation and radio beam guidance on the 10 cm band
None of these guidance systems was ever tested in flight.
Maximum range: 25 km (15 mi). Boost Propulsion: Storable liquid rocket or solid rocket.

Status: Cancelled 1945.
Gross mass: 1,170 kg (2,570 lb).
Height: 4.75 m (15.58 ft).
Thrust: 13.70 kN (3,080 lbf).
Apogee: 12 km (7 mi).


Bert Blitzkrieg

Would a rocket like that be too fast for intercepting a B17 or B24?