Meet 'The Natter,' Nazi Germany's Wooden Rocket Plane

2019/06/1561112768.jpg
Read: 603     15:36     21 June 2019    

By Kyle Mizokami

In the waning days of World War II, a last-ditch effort to shoot down American bombers ravaging Germany took to the skies—and promptly crashed. The Natter (“Grass Snake”) was designed to be an inexpensive, easy-to-build interceptor using newly developed rocket technology to achieve flight. The single use aircraft was developed too late to have an impact on the war, with only a handful of planes developed before V-E Day.

 


By 1944 Germany was suffering heavily from continuous Allied bombing. U.S. and U.K. bombers pounded cities, factories, energy production facilities, and military forces, crippling Berlin’s ability to fight on. As the aerial onslaught dragged on, efforts to defend the skies were further hampered by a lack of aircraft, trained pilots, and fuel.

Enter the Natter. The Natter was designed to do one thing very well: take off and loose a salvo of nose-mounted rockets at enemy bomber formations. Disposable, it was also designed to do it just once, with the pilot parachuting to Earth and parts of the aircraft recovered for reuse later.

The Natter was designed to be launched vertically, using Germany’s rocket tech to avoid the use of long airfields that were easy for the Allies to bomb. Launched from forests, from mounts tied to tree trunks the Natter could be dispersed and hidden in locations where the Allies wouldn’t possibly think interceptors might rise to meet them.

The Natter avoided using many of the things in short supply in 1945 Germany: aviation fuel, ball bearings, and even metal. The novel use of wood and rocket motors bypassed these shortages, and though no one would have used the Natter if there was an alternative, the Natter was an alternative to nothing at all.

As the video shows, the Natter was simply too late to affect the war’s outcome. Only a handful of aircraft were produced, even fewer survived the war, and only one is currently on display for public viewing.

 

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Meet 'The Natter,' Nazi Germany's Wooden Rocket Plane

2019/06/1561112768.jpg
Read: 604     15:36     21 June 2019    

By Kyle Mizokami

In the waning days of World War II, a last-ditch effort to shoot down American bombers ravaging Germany took to the skies—and promptly crashed. The Natter (“Grass Snake”) was designed to be an inexpensive, easy-to-build interceptor using newly developed rocket technology to achieve flight. The single use aircraft was developed too late to have an impact on the war, with only a handful of planes developed before V-E Day.

 


By 1944 Germany was suffering heavily from continuous Allied bombing. U.S. and U.K. bombers pounded cities, factories, energy production facilities, and military forces, crippling Berlin’s ability to fight on. As the aerial onslaught dragged on, efforts to defend the skies were further hampered by a lack of aircraft, trained pilots, and fuel.

Enter the Natter. The Natter was designed to do one thing very well: take off and loose a salvo of nose-mounted rockets at enemy bomber formations. Disposable, it was also designed to do it just once, with the pilot parachuting to Earth and parts of the aircraft recovered for reuse later.

The Natter was designed to be launched vertically, using Germany’s rocket tech to avoid the use of long airfields that were easy for the Allies to bomb. Launched from forests, from mounts tied to tree trunks the Natter could be dispersed and hidden in locations where the Allies wouldn’t possibly think interceptors might rise to meet them.

The Natter avoided using many of the things in short supply in 1945 Germany: aviation fuel, ball bearings, and even metal. The novel use of wood and rocket motors bypassed these shortages, and though no one would have used the Natter if there was an alternative, the Natter was an alternative to nothing at all.

As the video shows, the Natter was simply too late to affect the war’s outcome. Only a handful of aircraft were produced, even fewer survived the war, and only one is currently on display for public viewing.

 

popularmechanics



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