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Henschel Hs 293

Henschel Hs 293

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The Henschel Hs 293 was a World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 German
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 anti-ship guided missile
Guided Missile
Guided Missile is a London based independent record label set up by Paul Kearney in 1994.Guided Missile has always focused on 'the underground', preferring to put out a steady flow of releases and developing the numerous GM events around London and beyond....

: a radio-controlled glide bomb
Glide bomb
A glide bomb is an aerial bomb modified with aerodynamic surfaces to modify its flight path from a purely ballistic one to a flatter, gliding, one. This extends the range between the launch aircraft and the target. Glide bombs are often fitted with control systems, allowing the controlling aircraft...

 with a rocket engine slung underneath it. It was designed by Herbert A. Wagner
Herbert A. Wagner
Herbert Alois Wagner was an Austrian scientist who developed numerous innovations in the fields of aerodynamics, aircraft structures and guided weapons...

.

History


The Hs 293 project was started in 1940, based on the "Gustav Schwartz Propellerwerke" pure glide bomb
Glide bomb
A glide bomb is an aerial bomb modified with aerodynamic surfaces to modify its flight path from a purely ballistic one to a flatter, gliding, one. This extends the range between the launch aircraft and the target. Glide bombs are often fitted with control systems, allowing the controlling aircraft...

 that was designed in 1939. The Schwartz design did not have a terminal guidance system - it used an autopilot
Autopilot
An autopilot is a mechanical, electrical, or hydraulic system used to guide a vehicle without assistance from a human being. An autopilot can refer specifically to aircraft, self-steering gear for boats, or auto guidance of space craft and missiles...

 to maintain a straight course. The intention was that it could be launched from a bomber at sufficient distance to be out of range of anti-aircraft fire. Henschel developed it the following year by adding an HWK 109-507
Hellmuth Walter Kommanditgesellschaft
Hellmuth Walter Kommanditgesellschaft , commonly known as the Walter-Werke, was a German company founded by Professor Hellmuth Walter to pursue his interest in engines using hydrogen peroxide as a fuel....

 rocket motor underneath it, possessing a 600 kg (1,320 lb.) thrust of ten second duration, to allow it to be used from lower altitude and to increase the range.

The first flight attempts took place between May and September of 1940, with unpowered drops from Heinkel He 111
Heinkel He 111
The Heinkel He 111 was a German aircraft designed by Siegfried and Walter Günter in the early 1930s in violation of the Treaty of Versailles. Often described as a "Wolf in sheep's clothing", it masqueraded as a transport aircraft, but its purpose was to provide the Luftwaffe with a fast medium...

 medium bombers used as carrier aircraft, with the first Walter rocket motor-powered tests occurring by the end of 1940.

The weapon consisted of a modified standard 500 kg bomb
Bomb
A bomb is any of a range of explosive weapons that only rely on the exothermic reaction of an explosive material to provide an extremely sudden and violent release of energy...

 called SZ, with a thin metal shell and a high explosive charge inside, equipped with a rocket engine under the bomb, a pair of wings, and an 18-channel Strassburg radio
Radio
Radio is the transmission of signals through free space by modulation of electromagnetic waves with frequencies below those of visible light. Electromagnetic radiation travels by means of oscillating electromagnetic fields that pass through the air and the vacuum of space...

 receiver, getting its signals from a Kehl transmitting set in the carrier aircraft. Only the elevator
Elevator (aircraft)
Elevators are flight control surfaces, usually at the rear of an aircraft, which control the aircraft's orientation by changing the pitch of the aircraft, and so also the angle of attack of the wing. In simplified terms, they make the aircraft nose-up or nose-down...

, operated with an electrically powered jackscrew
Jackscrew
A jackscrew is a type of jack which is operated by turning a leadscrew. In the form of a screw jack it is commonly used to lift heavy weights such as the foundations of houses, or large vehicles.-Advantages:...

 as the only proportional control, with the aileron
Aileron
Ailerons are hinged flight control surfaces attached to the trailing edge of the wing of a fixed-wing aircraft. The ailerons are used to control the aircraft in roll, which results in a change in heading due to the tilting of the lift vector...

s operated with solenoid
Solenoid
A solenoid is a coil wound into a tightly packed helix. In physics, the term solenoid refers to a long, thin loop of wire, often wrapped around a metallic core, which produces a magnetic field when an electric current is passed through it. Solenoids are important because they can create...

s provided flight control through the Kehl-Strassburg radio link, with the Hs 293's control setup having no movable rudder on the ventral tailfin. The rocket provided for only a short burst of speed making range dependent on the height of launch. From a height of 1400 meters the Hs 293 had a range of about 12 km.

The Hs 293 was intended to destroy unarmoured ships, unlike the Fritz X
Fritz X
Fritz X was the most common name for a German guided anti-ship glide bomb used during World War II. Fritz X was a nickname used both by Allied and Luftwaffe personnel. Alternate names include Ruhrstahl SD 1400 X, Kramer X-1, PC 1400X or FX 1400...

 that was intended for use against armoured ships. The operator controlled the radio
Radio
Radio is the transmission of signals through free space by modulation of electromagnetic waves with frequencies below those of visible light. Electromagnetic radiation travels by means of oscillating electromagnetic fields that pass through the air and the vacuum of space...

-guided missile with the Kehl transmitter's joystick
Joystick
A joystick is an input device consisting of a stick that pivots on a base and reports its angle or direction to the device it is controlling. Joysticks, also known as 'control columns', are the principal control in the cockpit of many civilian and military aircraft, either as a center stick or...

. Five colored flares were attached to the rear of the weapon to make it visible at a distance to the operator. During nighttime operations flashing lights instead of flares were used.

One drawback of the Hs 293 was that after the missile was launched the bomber had to fly in a straight and level path at a set altitude and speed parallel to the target so as to be able to maintain a slant line of sight and could thus not manoeuvre to evade attacking fighters without aborting the attack.

The Allies also went to considerable effort to develop devices which jammed the low-VHF band (48.2 MHz to 49.9 MHz) radio link between the Kehl transmitter aboard the launching aircraft and the Strassburg receiver embedded in the missile. Early jamming efforts by the United States Naval Research Laboratory
United States Naval Research Laboratory
The United States Naval Research Laboratory is the corporate research laboratory for the United States Navy and the United States Marine Corps and conducts a program of scientific research and development. NRL opened in 1923 at the instigation of Thomas Edison...

 (NRL) produced the XCJ jamming transmitter installed aboard the destroyer
Destroyer
In naval terminology, a destroyer is a fast and maneuverable yet long-endurance warship intended to escort larger vessels in a fleet, convoy or battle group and defend them against smaller, powerful, short-range attackers. Destroyers, originally called torpedo-boat destroyers in 1892, evolved from...

 escorts USS
United States Ship
United States Ship is a ship prefix used to identify a commissioned ship of the United States Navy and only applies to a ship while she is in commission. Before commissioning, she is referred to as "Pre Commissioning Unit" .After decommissioning, she is referred to by name, with no prefix.From the...

  Herbert C. Jones
USS Herbert C. Jones (DE-137)
USS Herbert C. Jones was an Edsall-class destroyer escort built for the U.S. Navy during World War II. She served in the Atlantic Ocean and provided destroyer escort protection against submarine and air attack for Navy vessels and convoys....

 and Frederick C. Davis
USS Frederick C. Davis (DE-136)
The USS Frederick C. Davis was an Edsall-class destroyer escort built for the United States Navy during World War II. Named for Ensign Frederick Curtice Davis , she was the first U.S. Naval vessel to bear the name.Frederick C...

 in late September 1943. The XCJ was ineffective because the frequencies selected for jamming were incorrect. This was updated in time for Operation Shingle
Operation Shingle
Operation Shingle , during the Italian Campaign of World War II, was an Allied amphibious landing against Axis forces in the area of Anzio and Nettuno, Italy. The operation was commanded by Major General John P. Lucas and was intended to outflank German forces of the Winter Line and enable an...

 at Anzio (Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

) with the XCJ-1 system, installed aboard the two destroyer escorts mentioned above as well as the destroyers USS Woolsey
USS Woolsey (DD-437)
USS Woolsey , a Gleaves-class destroyer, was the 2nd ship to be named Woolsey in the United States Navy. It is the first to be named for both Commodore Melancthon Brooks Woolsey and his father Commodore Melancthon Taylor Woolsey....

, Madison
USS Madison (DD-425)
USS Madison was a Benson-class destroyer in the United States Navy during World War II. She the third Navy ship of that name, and the first named for Commander James J. Madison , who was awarded the Medal of Honor during World War I.Madison was laid down on 19 September 1938 by the Boston Navy...

, Hilary P. Jones
USS Hilary P. Jones (DD-427)
USS Hilary P. Jones was a Benson-class destroyer in the United States Navy during World War II. She was named for Admiral Hilary P. Jones....

 and Lansdale
USS Lansdale (DD-426)
The second USS Lansdale was a in the United States Navy during World War II. She was named for Philip Lansdale.Lansdale was laid down on 19 December 1938 by Boston Navy Yard; launched on 30 October 1939; sponsored by Mrs. Ethel S. Lansdale, widow of the ships namesake; and commissioned on 17...

. These six ships rotated service at Anzio, with three deployed at any time. This system met with some success, though because of its manual interface, it was cumbersome to use and easily overwhelmed if large numbers of missiles were engaged. On balance, the probability that a Hs 293 launched (and seen as responding to operator guidance) would actually strike a target (or achieve a damage-inflicting near miss) was about the same at Anzio as it was during Operation Avalanche at Salerno
Salerno
Salerno is a city and comune in Campania and is the capital of the province of the same name. It is located on the Gulf of Salerno on the Tyrrhenian Sea....

, Italy.

Meanwhile, as attacks were taking place at Anzio, the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

  began to deploy its Type 650 transmitter which employed a different approach. This system jammed the Strassburg receiver's intermediate frequency
Intermediate frequency
In communications and electronic engineering, an intermediate frequency is a frequency to which a carrier frequency is shifted as an intermediate step in transmission or reception. The intermediate frequency is created by mixing the carrier signal with a local oscillator signal in a process called...

 of 3 MHz, and appears to have been quite successful, especially as the operator did not have to attempt to find which of the 18 Kehl/Strassburg command frequencies were in use and then manually tune the jamming transmitter to one of those frequences. This system automatically defeated the receiver regardless of which radio frequency had been selected for an individual Luftwaffe missile.

Following several intelligence
Intelligence (information gathering)
Intelligence assessment is the development of forecasts of behaviour or recommended courses of action to the leadership of an organization, based on a wide range of available information sources both overt and covert. Assessments are developed in response to requirements declared by the leadership...

 coups, including a capture of an intact Hs 293 at Anzio and recovery of important components from a crashed Heinkel He 177
Heinkel He 177
The Heinkel He 177 Greif was the only operational long-range bomber to be operated by the Luftwaffe. Starting its existence as Germany's first purpose-built heavy bomber just before the war, and built in large numbers during World War II, it was also mistakenly tasked, right from its beginnings,...

 on Corsica
Corsica
Corsica is an island in the Mediterranean Sea. It is located west of Italy, southeast of the French mainland, and north of the island of Sardinia....

, the Allies were able to develop far more effective countermeasures, all in time for the Invasion of Normandy (starting with Operation Neptune, D-Day
Operation Neptune
The Normandy landings, codenamed Operation Neptune, were the landing operations of the Allied invasion of Normandy, in Operation Overlord, during World War II. The landings commenced on Tuesday, 6 June 1944 , beginning at 6:30 AM British Double Summer Time...

) and Operation Dragoon
Operation Dragoon
Operation Dragoon was the Allied invasion of southern France on August 15, 1944, during World War II. The invasion was initiated via a parachute drop by the 1st Airborne Task Force, followed by an amphibious assault by elements of the U.S. Seventh Army, followed a day later by a force made up...

 in Southern France
Southern France
Southern France , colloquially known as le Midi is defined geographical area consisting of the regions of France that border the Atlantic Ocean south of the Gironde, Spain, the Mediterranean, and Italy...

. This included an updated XCJ-2 system from the Naval Research Laboratory (produced as the TX), the modified airborne AN/ARQ-8 Dinamate system from Harvard's Radio Research Laboratory, NRL's improved XCJ-3 model (produced as the CXGE), the British Type 651 and the Canadian Naval Jammer. Perhaps most impressive of all was AIL's Type MAS jammer which employed sophisticated signals to defeat the Kehl transmission and to take over command of the Hs 293, steering it into the sea via a sequence of right-turn commands. Even more sophisticated jammers from NRL, designated XCK (to be produced as TY and designated TEA when combined with the upgraded XCJ-4) and XCL, were under development but were never deployed as the threat had evaporated before they could be put into service. In contrast to the experience at Anzio, the jammers seemed to have had a major impact on operations after April 1944, with significant degradation observed in the probability that a Hs 293 launched at a target (and responding to operator guidance) would achieve a hit or damage-causing near miss.

To improve the control of the weapon and reduce vulnerability of the launching aircraft a television-guided variant (Hs 293D) was planned but was not made operational before the war ended.

Over 1,000 were built, from 1942 onwards.

The closest Allied weapon system in function and purpose to the Hs 293 series was the US Navy's Bat
Bat (guided bomb)
-External links:*...

 unpowered, radar-guided unit.

Combat performance


On August 25, 1943, an Hs 293 was used in the first successful attack by a guided missile, striking the sloop HMS Bideford, though as the explosive charge did not fully detonate, the damage was minimal. On August 27, the sinking of the British sloop HMS Egret
HMS Egret (L75)
HMS Egret was a sloop of the British Royal Navy, the lead ship of her class. She was built by J. Samuel White at Cowes, Isle of Wight and was launched on 31 May 1938....

 by a squadron of 18 Dornier Do 217
Dornier Do 217
The Dornier Do 217 was a bomber used by German Luftwaffe during World War II as a more powerful version of the Dornier Do 17, known as the Fliegender Bleistift . Designed in 1937 and 1938 as a heavy bomber, its design was refined during 1939 and production began in late 1940...

 carrying Hs 293s led to anti-U-boat
U-boat
U-boat is the anglicized version of the German word U-Boot , itself an abbreviation of Unterseeboot , and refers to military submarines operated by Germany, particularly in World War I and World War II...

 patrols in the Bay of Biscay
Bay of Biscay
The Bay of Biscay is a gulf of the northeast Atlantic Ocean located south of the Celtic Sea. It lies along the western coast of France from Brest south to the Spanish border, and the northern coast of Spain west to Cape Ortegal, and is named in English after the province of Biscay, in the Spanish...

 being suspended. On November 26, an Hs 293 caused the sinking of the troop transport HMT Rohna
HMT Rohna
His Majesty's Troopship Rohna was a troop ship carrying U.S. troops that was sunk by an air attack of the Luftwaffe during World War II, on 26 November 1943...

 killing over 1,000 personnel.

Other ships sunk or damaged by the Hs 293 include:
  • Banff class sloop
    Banff class sloop
    The Banff-class sloops were a group of ten ships of the Royal Navy. Built as United States Coast Guard Lake-class cutters, in 1941 these ships were loaned to the Royal Navy as anti-submarine warfare escorts. The transfers took place at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, where HMS Malaya was under repair after...

      (slightly damaged with Bideford in Bay of Biscay
    Bay of Biscay
    The Bay of Biscay is a gulf of the northeast Atlantic Ocean located south of the Celtic Sea. It lies along the western coast of France from Brest south to the Spanish border, and the northern coast of Spain west to Cape Ortegal, and is named in English after the province of Biscay, in the Spanish...

     25 August 1943) (heavily damaged by confirmed hit with Egret in Bay of Biscay
    Bay of Biscay
    The Bay of Biscay is a gulf of the northeast Atlantic Ocean located south of the Celtic Sea. It lies along the western coast of France from Brest south to the Spanish border, and the northern coast of Spain west to Cape Ortegal, and is named in English after the province of Biscay, in the Spanish...

     27 August 1943)
  • HMHS Newfoundland
    HMHS Newfoundland
    HMHS Newfoundland was a British hospital ship. She served during the Second World War and was sunk in an air attack in the Mediterranean.-Career:...

     (heavily damaged and later sunk by Allied gunfire) (sunk 14 September 1943 during Operation Avalanche (World War II)) (damaged 15 September 1943 during Operation Avalanche (World War II) and used for Mulberry harbour
    Mulberry harbour
    A Mulberry harbour was a British type of temporary harbour developed in World War II to offload cargo on the beaches during the Allied invasion of Normandy....

     -- possibly due to a "Fritz X") (sunk) (damaged) (damaged) (damaged) (possibly slightly damaged 6 November 1943 while escorting Mediterranean convoy KMF-25A) though more likely a torpedo was the cause) (damaged slightly, later written off) (heavily damaged and scuttled) (sunk) (damaged) (damaged off Anzio during Operation Shingle
    Operation Shingle
    Operation Shingle , during the Italian Campaign of World War II, was an Allied amphibious landing against Axis forces in the area of Anzio and Nettuno, Italy. The operation was commanded by Major General John P. Lucas and was intended to outflank German forces of the Winter Line and enable an...

     23 January 1944) (sunk -- possibly from Hs 293, or a torpedo) (damaged -- possibly from Hs 293) (damaged -- possibly from Hs 293 or a mine) (damaged) (sunk off Anzio during Operation Shingle
    Operation Shingle
    Operation Shingle , during the Italian Campaign of World War II, was an Allied amphibious landing against Axis forces in the area of Anzio and Nettuno, Italy. The operation was commanded by Major General John P. Lucas and was intended to outflank German forces of the Winter Line and enable an...

     29 January 1944) (sunk off Anzio during Operation Shingle
    Operation Shingle
    Operation Shingle , during the Italian Campaign of World War II, was an Allied amphibious landing against Axis forces in the area of Anzio and Nettuno, Italy. The operation was commanded by Major General John P. Lucas and was intended to outflank German forces of the Winter Line and enable an...

     29 January 1944) (damaged off Anzio during Operation Shingle
    Operation Shingle
    Operation Shingle , during the Italian Campaign of World War II, was an Allied amphibious landing against Axis forces in the area of Anzio and Nettuno, Italy. The operation was commanded by Major General John P. Lucas and was intended to outflank German forces of the Winter Line and enable an...

     15 February 1944) (sunk off Anzio during Operation Shingle
    Operation Shingle
    Operation Shingle , during the Italian Campaign of World War II, was an Allied amphibious landing against Axis forces in the area of Anzio and Nettuno, Italy. The operation was commanded by Major General John P. Lucas and was intended to outflank German forces of the Winter Line and enable an...

     16 February 1944 -- LCT 35 alongside is also destroyed) (sunk -- probably from Hs 293, official report states "aerial torpedo") (sunk -- possibly from Hs 293 or other causes) (damaged) (sunk)


Although designed for use against ships, it was also used in Normandy
Normandy
Normandy is a geographical region corresponding to the former Duchy of Normandy. It is in France.The continental territory covers 30,627 km² and forms the preponderant part of Normandy and roughly 5% of the territory of France. It is divided for administrative purposes into two régions:...

 in early August 1944 to attack bridge
Bridge
A bridge is a structure built to span physical obstacles such as a body of water, valley, or road, for the purpose of providing passage over the obstacle...

s over the River See and River Selume. One bridge was slightly damaged for the loss of six of the attacking aircraft.

The Hs 293 was carried on Heinkel He 111
Heinkel He 111
The Heinkel He 111 was a German aircraft designed by Siegfried and Walter Günter in the early 1930s in violation of the Treaty of Versailles. Often described as a "Wolf in sheep's clothing", it masqueraded as a transport aircraft, but its purpose was to provide the Luftwaffe with a fast medium...

, Heinkel He 177
Heinkel He 177
The Heinkel He 177 Greif was the only operational long-range bomber to be operated by the Luftwaffe. Starting its existence as Germany's first purpose-built heavy bomber just before the war, and built in large numbers during World War II, it was also mistakenly tasked, right from its beginnings,...

, Focke-Wulf Fw 200
Focke-Wulf Fw 200
The Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor, also known as Kurier to the Allies was a German all-metal four-engine monoplane originally developed by Focke-Wulf as a long-range airliner...

, and Dornier Do 217
Dornier Do 217
The Dornier Do 217 was a bomber used by German Luftwaffe during World War II as a more powerful version of the Dornier Do 17, known as the Fliegender Bleistift . Designed in 1937 and 1938 as a heavy bomber, its design was refined during 1939 and production began in late 1940...

 planes. However, only the He 177 (of I./KG 40 and II./KG 40), certain variants of the FW 200 (of III./KG 40) and the Do 217 (of II./KG 100 and III./KG 100) used the Hs 293 operationally in combat.

Variants

  • Hs 293A (later Hs 293A-1), the original version.
  • Hs 293B was wire-guided to prevent jamming; it was never put into production, because jamming was never serious enough to prevent the radio-guided version from being effective.
  • Hs 293C (production version designated Hs 293A-2) had a detachable warhead.
  • Hs 293D was television
    Television
    Television is a telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images that can be monochrome or colored, with accompanying sound...

    -guided. Twenty were built and tested, but it was never used operationally as the television equipment was unreliable.
  • Hs 293E, an experimental model to test spoiler
    Spoiler (aeronautics)
    In aeronautics, a spoiler is a device intended to reduce lift in an aircraft. Spoilers are plates on the top surface of a wing which can be extended upward into the airflow and spoil it. By doing so, the spoiler creates a carefully controlled stall over the portion of the wing behind it, greatly...

     controls as a replacement to aileron
    Aileron
    Ailerons are hinged flight control surfaces attached to the trailing edge of the wing of a fixed-wing aircraft. The ailerons are used to control the aircraft in roll, which results in a change in heading due to the tilting of the lift vector...

    s; never put into series production. This modification was put into the final version of the Hs 293A-2 but by then the Luftwaffe
    Luftwaffe
    Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....

     had no aircraft available for anti-shipping operations and it was never deployed.
  • Hs 293F, a tailless variant; never got further than the design phase.
  • Hs 293H, an experimental variant designed to be launched from one aircraft and controlled from another. Abandoned because allied air superiority had reached the point where it was felt that the second aircraft would be unable to remain in the vicinity of the ship for long enough.
  • Hs 293 V6, the sixth prototype
    Prototype
    A prototype is an early sample or model built to test a concept or process or to act as a thing to be replicated or learned from.The word prototype derives from the Greek πρωτότυπον , "primitive form", neutral of πρωτότυπος , "original, primitive", from πρῶτος , "first" and τύπος ,...

     airframe of the entire Hs 293 series, designed for launching from the Arado Ar 234
    Arado Ar 234
    The Arado Ar 234 was the world's first operational jet-powered bomber, built by the German Arado company in the closing stages of World War II. Produced in very limited numbers, it was used almost entirely in the reconnaissance role, but in its few uses as a bomber it proved to be nearly impossible...

    jet bomber at 720 km/h. The main change was reducing the wing span of the missile to allow it to be carried within the aircraft. The missile did not proceed past the design stage.

External links