Rheintochter Surface to Air Missile

Rheintochter was a German surface-to-air missile developed by Rheinmetall-Borsig during World War II. Its name comes from the mythical Rheintöchter (Rhinemaidens) of Richard Wagner’s opera series Der Ring des Nibelungen.

The missile was a multi-stage solid fuelled rocket with four small control surfaces, resembling paddles, in the nose, six fins at the after end of the top stage, and four at the end of the main stage. With a length of  6.3 m it had a diameter of 54 cm and carried a 136 kg (300 lb) warhead. 

In a departure from the normal practice, the sustainer motor was   located ahead of the warhead. rather than behind.

Rheintochter was ordered in November 1942 by the German army. The first experimental launching tests began in August 1943, and 82 had been fired and tested by 5 January 1945. Only four out of the 82 missiles failed.

The propulsion mechanism included a motor driven by solid fuel, and a solid booster unit for initial take-off. The Rheintochter was guided through radio command and tracked visually by means of flare attached to the wings and fins. The warhead composed of 136kg of high explosive and was armed by a “Kranich” acoustic proximity fuze.

The initial R1 variant was powered by a two-stage solid-fuel rocket and was to be followed by R2 but as no improvement were offered over the R1, it was dropped in December 1944. 

Specifications

Length:                        6.3 m 

Diameter:                     54 cm 

Wing span:                   2.65 m 

Launch weight:            1,748 kg

Speed:                          1,080 km/h 

Warhead:                     136 kg 

Range:                         Unknown

Altitude:                      R1 8 km

Fuzes:                          Unknown

Guidance system:         Radio Command

The design altitude of the original Rheintochter was 8,000m, but it was found to be inadequate. Accordingly, the power system was changed  to with a liquid fuel engine and strap-on  solid-fuel were placed outside the missile. It was also designed to be launched from an immovable launch site in a pit. This new version came to known as the Rheintochter 3, and production began in May 1944. The operational version was intended to be fired from a ramp or converted gun mount.

Six had been built and fired by January 1945, but imperfection still plagued the control system.

An air-launched version was also designed but never deployed as the project was cancelled on February 6, 1945.