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"Fritz X: The First Precision-Guided Weapon of WWII" Topic


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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP09 Dec 2019 12:45 p.m. PST

"The Fritz X armor-piercing bomb, also known as the Ruhrstahl X-1, is striking testimony to German technical ingenuity in World War II. It was the first precision-guided weapon to be deployed in combat and the first to sink a ship in combat.

The development of controllable bombs began in the late 1930s under Max Kramer at Deutsche Versuchsanstalt für Luftfahrt, Germany's experimental aviation laboratory, in Berlin-Adlershof. Of several prototypes tested, only the X-1 made it through trials to reach production in 1943. The weapon was revolutionary. The 1,400-kilogram armor-­piercing bomb was fitted with stabilizing wings on the front casing and an enclosed tail section with four fins and attached spoilers—all of which could be controlled by radio from a Dornier 217 bomber. Bombardiers would typically let the bomb free-fall from about 20,000 feet (giving it a range of about 11/2 miles) and steer it to its target with a joystick linked to a radio transmitter. Flares on the tail helped bombardiers track the bomb through the bombsight…"
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Thresher01 Supporting Member of TMP11 Dec 2019 11:32 p.m. PST

Apparently, a very effective weapon for its time.

We were very lucky they didn't field more of them, and that they never developed a ground launched version.

Those would have wrecked a lot of our invasion fleet vessels, if they had.

Mark 1 Supporting Member of TMP12 Dec 2019 3:00 p.m. PST

We were very lucky they … never developed a ground launched version.

Those would have wrecked a lot of our invasion fleet vessels, if they had.

Not sure if you mean a ground-launched version of the Fritz-X (the topic of the OP), or just some other ground-launched precision-guided anti-shipping something or other.

If the former, I really don't understand what a "ground-launched Fritz-X" would mean. The major characteristics of the Fritz-X:

- It was a glide-bomb. As in, un-powered. If you launch it from the ground, it will only fall over. So presumably, you mean a rocket- or other-powered something that isn't a Fritz-X?

- It was dropped from altitudes above 4Km, preferably 5Km, to give it enough terminal velocity to do what it liked to do (penetrate armored targets). You'd need a VERY powerful rocket to get a Fritz-X-like something up to that kind of altitude.

- It was a radio MCLOS guidance system. You need to keep the target AND the Fritz-X in sight at all times to have a reasonable chance of a hit. That's not easy to do if you aren't staying within 1Km or so of the Fritz, which was why the dropping bomber had to fly straight, level, and slowly towards the target after dropping the Fritz-X. Don't know how you're going to manage that from a stationary ground position. But that part might be achieved through good optics? They'll need to have substantial variable zoom, I would think, as you need a wide low-zoom view to gather in the something upon launch, and a high-zoom view to keep it in sight when it is several kilometers away.

The Fritz-X could penetrate something like 5 inches of armor. Very good for cutting through several levels if you hit the deck at a vertical angle. Not so good if you hit the main belt armor at a flat angle. So getting it up high for a plunging strike is kind of important. And not hitting the superstructure (lighter armor, but thinner total) or hull of a smaller ship is also important, as there were already demonstrated cases of the Fritz-X passing entirely through lesser ships before exploding, and that would only be more likely if you hit the thin tops or thin ships in general.

I think dropping it from high was about the only useful case for a Fritz-X. Something something else, with precision guidance, might also have been possible. But it wouldn't have been a ground-launched Fritz-X.

Or so I believe. Could be wrong. Been known to happen.

-Mark
(aka: Mk 1)

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