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Rising Sun*
10-09-2009, 07:29 AM
Saw a documentary on Goering tonight which referred to German pilots being used to ram Allied bombers in the last days of the war.

Not quite kamikazes as they weren't required to kill themselves in the effort, but close to it given the nature of mid-air collisions and it produced a high casualty rate.

One survivor described taking off the stabiliser on an Allied bomber, which destroyed his own aircraft.

I haven't heard of this tactic or programme before.

Anyone have more information on it?

flamethrowerguy
10-09-2009, 09:21 AM
The German "Rammjäger" (ram fighters) were officially not ordered to sacrifice themselves in the attempt to annihilate an enemy bomber, only their aircrafts. Suicidal attacks were not supposed to be in accordance with the German mentality. The pilots were instructed to damage aerodynamically relevant parts of the enemy plane and a 10% chance od survival was granted (...).
Units like IV./Jagd-Geschwader 3, II./JG300 or the Sonderkommando Elbe did some ram attacks on US bomber fleets - with little success. The Sonderkommando (special command) Elbe was dissolved in April 1945 and its members were used as infantry in the Battle of Berlin.

Rising Sun*
10-09-2009, 09:32 AM
Thanks, FTG.

Were their aircraft modified in any way to enable them to improve the effect of the impact or to survive it?

flamethrowerguy
10-09-2009, 09:45 AM
Thanks, FTG.

Were their aircraft modified in any way to enable them to improve the effect of the impact or to survive it?

Partly. They used regular Bf-109's as well as modified FW 190 A-8/R2 (with armour-cased noses). An interesting design (which was never realised) was the Zeppelin "Rammer". The idea for the plane was to fire 14 5-cm rockets and then ram an enemy bomber with its armoured wings.

http://www.luft46.com/misc/3bzram.jpg http://www.luft46.com/misc/ramcutc.jpg

Sketches by luft46.com

Rising Sun*
10-09-2009, 10:09 AM
Partly. They used regular Bf-109's as well as modified FW 190 A-8/R2 (with armour-cased noses). An interesting design (which was never realised) was the Zeppelin "Rammer". The idea for the plane was to fire 14 5-cm rockets and then ram an enemy bomber with its armoured wings.

http://www.luft46.com/misc/3bzram.jpg http://www.luft46.com/misc/ramcutc.jpg

Sketches by luft46.com

Thanks again, FTG.

I can't see the value of an armoured nose on anything but a kamikaze craft as a nose impact on any sizeable target like a bomber will probably shear off or fatally damage one or or both wings on the attacker.

I was thinking that a hugely strengthened wing with a cutting edge might work in the example of cutting the stabiliser I mentioned earlier, or cutting a decent section off a bomber's wing. This seems to have been in the mind of the ram fighters' designer you illustrated. I would have thought that this was more likely to be effective against the enemy and give the attacking pilot a decent chance of continuing to fight than anything that involved attacking with the attacker's nose.

Then again, if 14 5cm rockets haven't done enough damage, it's questionable whether the same pilot could aim his plane at the enemy with sufficient accuracy to destroy it and allow him to survive.

Maybe pdf27 can comment on this from his aero design knowledge, but I'd be inclined to think that a suitably rear angled wing on the illustrated Rammer with its right angle wings would increase the cutting effect on the target and reduce the shear effect on the attacker and thus give the attacker a better chance of survival.

Deaf Smith
10-10-2009, 07:34 PM
I remember Gen. Adolf Galland was asked by Hitler if they could induce Germans to imitate the Japanese with the Kamikazes.

Galland told him no, that the German psych was not like the Orientals and suicide was not a natural thought.

But, BTW the Russians were also known to ram German planes and try to cut their tails off with their props. In fact, Stalin expected them to do it!

Deaf

Nickdfresh
10-10-2009, 11:01 PM
...
Then again, if 14 5cm rockets haven't done enough damage, it's questionable whether the same pilot could aim his plane at the enemy with sufficient accuracy to destroy it and allow him to survive.

....


IIRC The rockets were more of an indirect fire weapon to force bombers to break formation and make them more vulnerable as individuals and to allow Luftwaffe interceptor to close in without worry of mutual support of .50 caliber machine-gun fire. Rockets had been used against bomber formations on a regular basis although few ever actually hit a bomber...

flyerhell
10-11-2009, 12:21 PM
This is very interesting and it shows how desperate the Germans became toward the end of the war.

Why was this considered as compared to just shooting the bombers down with the cannons on the fighter? I am guessing that by this point in the war, the bombers were so escorted by such heavy fighter cover that if they were able to get close to the bombers at all, they would only have a few seconds to just ram the bombers rather than shooting them down like they did earlier in the war?

flamethrowerguy
10-11-2009, 03:12 PM
This is interesting, although a bit trivial (PC game looks), but the veteran interviews are something. The only major action of Sonderkommando Elbe on April 7, 1945 over Northern Germany:

Part 1:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JmDYdfb02tc

Part 2:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOHRdvxEL3Q&feature=related

Part 3:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bmSq682nh9Q&feature=related

Part 4:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DyH3XM96SYk&feature=related

Part 5:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D0bnUD3_-XY&feature=related

pdf27
10-11-2009, 03:49 PM
Maybe pdf27 can comment on this from his aero design knowledge, but I'd be inclined to think that a suitably rear angled wing on the illustrated Rammer with its right angle wings would increase the cutting effect on the target and reduce the shear effect on the attacker and thus give the attacker a better chance of survival.
There would be a slight increase in the chance of survival, but it would be a pretty minimal one - aerostructures have to be extremely light for an aircraft to fly, and the shock loadings of hitting anything are immense in comparison to the normal aerodynamic loads. A sloped wing will act in much the same way as sloped armour on a tank - increases the strength, but only by maybe a factor of 2 at best. With the inherent structural and aerodynamic problems of swept wings, that makes them of minimal benefit.

Panzerknacker
10-11-2009, 04:27 PM
God damn, I was going to put teh same docu that FlameT put, nice 3d designs in there :mrgreen:

Sometimes the Rammkommando Elbe is mix up with the Fw-190 Sturmstaffel, but they arent the same.

To add more in the confusion the former sturmstaffel kommander w. Dahl had a book called "Rammjäger" but he didnt ram anibody.

Rising Sun*
10-12-2009, 07:27 AM
There would be a slight increase in the chance of survival, but it would be a pretty minimal one - aerostructures have to be extremely light for an aircraft to fly, and the shock loadings of hitting anything are immense in comparison to the normal aerodynamic loads. A sloped wing will act in much the same way as sloped armour on a tank - increases the strength, but only by maybe a factor of 2 at best. With the inherent structural and aerodynamic problems of swept wings, that makes them of minimal benefit.

Thanks for that.

What is the most vulnerable part of a WWII plane, in the sense of the bit that causes the plane to be virtually unflyable if it goes?

I'm guessing the stabiliser and or rudder, although I suspect that a skilled pilot of a multi-engine plane might be able to compensate for the absence of a rudder.

Assuming that the stabiliser/rudder assembly is the most vulnerable part, why wasn't that the primary target of attackers, whether with gunfire or ramming? Was it just that it was easy to hit but hard to destroy with gunfire?

It was a huge target on a B17.

pdf27
10-12-2009, 09:09 AM
There's a difference between "aircraft will crash if this is removed" and "aircraft will crash if this is suddenly very well ventilated".

About the only critical targets vulnerable to knocking holes in them on an aircraft of this generation are the pilot and the engine cooling system (if liquid cooled).
If you're talking about removing the whole thing, then more than about a quarter of a wing or half a horizontal/vertical stabiliser will be enough, as will the engine on a single engined aircraft.

Just about any part will cause the aircraft to crash if you put enough holes in it, but the damage required is actually pretty severe, unless there is a major design fault which enables the aircraft to catch fire easily.

Rising Sun*
10-12-2009, 09:44 AM
There's a difference between "aircraft will crash if this is removed" and "aircraft will crash if this is suddenly very well ventilated".

About the only critical targets vulnerable to knocking holes in them on an aircraft of this generation are the pilot and the engine cooling system (if liquid cooled).
If you're talking about removing the whole thing, then more than about a quarter of a wing or half a horizontal/vertical stabiliser will be enough, as will the engine on a single engined aircraft.

Just about any part will cause the aircraft to crash if you put enough holes in it, but the damage required is actually pretty severe, unless there is a major design fault which enables the aircraft to catch fire easily.

So that's why gun camera footage of German attacks on Allied bombers tends to show fire directed at the engines and wing root, as they were the best 'value for round' target?

pdf27
10-12-2009, 11:03 AM
Partially - in most of the rest of the aircraft, the chances are a bullet will simply pass straight through without hitting anything important.

However, you're missing something here. The majority of pilots aren't actually very good shots, and will in fact be trying to hit anywhere on the target. That naturally causes your point of aim to be the centre of mass of the target - approximately the wing root area.

Rising Sun*
10-12-2009, 11:32 AM
However, you're missing something here. The majority of pilots aren't actually very good shots, and will in fact be trying to hit anywhere on the target. That naturally causes your point of aim to be the centre of mass of the target - approximately the wing root area.

Was this also a trained aiming point, like the infantry centre of body mass aiming point?

Or just the result of the wings and fuselage joining around the wing root to form a cross aiming point?

pdf27
10-12-2009, 01:36 PM
Probably a bit of both. It's a well known fact that if a pilot fixes his eyes on something, the chances are that unless he's paying attention he'll fly into it - there have been quite a lot of landing accidents caused by this, where people fixate on their reference point on the runway and forget to look up and flare out before smacking into the runway.