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Ju 88 Mistel. Combat Use.

Ju 88 Mistel

On June 17, 1942, the possibility of creating an integrated strike system consisting of an unmanned Ju 88 filled with explosives and a single-engine fighter, the pilot of which was supposed to control the entire system from the moment of takeoff to the detection of a target and transfer it to a dive on a target, was discussed in the technical department of the German Ministry of Aviation . Further, the fighter was to separate from the Ju 88 and return to its airfield, and the bomber, kept on course and glide path by the autopilot, would explode upon impact with the earth's surface. However, it took time to implement this system into metal. Only in February 1944 was the technical design of the system finally approved.

At the end of 1943, the Junkers firm received instructions to convert 15 Ju 88A to the Mistelle variant, and the entire system received the code designation Beethoven.

In June 1944, the special detachment KG 101 under the command of Oberleutnant Horst Rudata arrived in Desier, where he continued combat training. At this stage, the detachment had five Mistels 1. Such a system consisted of a Ju 88A-4 or Ju 88C-6 aircraft (lower element) and a Bf 109F-4 fighter (upper element). The training version had the designation "Mistel" S1. During the first sortie on June 24, 1944, two systems were lifted into the air. That night, everything did not go according to plan: due to the appearance of the Mosquito night fighter, the pilot of one of the composite systems chose to uncouple, after which the uncontrollable Junkers crashed to the ground. The second "Mistel" 1 continued to fly, but in conditions of continuous cloud cover, the pilot lost his bearings and could not find the target. Shortly thereafter, all three remaining Mistels were thrown into a night attack against the Allied ships at the mouth of the Seine under the cover of Bf 109G fighters. The attack was carried out by the light of flares, its results could not be observed, as the crews reported, "due to the smoke of burning ships." However, subsequently the Allies did not recognize the death of a single ship from the strikes of the Mistels.

On October 10, 1944, on the basis of the special detachment KG 101, group III / KG 66 was formed, intended exclusively for the use of Mistels. By this time, it was decided to use all available Mistels against the British fleet in Scapa Flow Bay. The operation was scheduled for December 1944. 60 Mistels were assembled at the airfields in Denmark, but the established bad weather delayed the start of the operation, and when it improved, the full moon came. Under these conditions, it was unreasonable to use Mistels, capable of flying at a speed of only 375 km / h and not having the ability to carry out a defensive maneuver.

In November 1944, III/KG66 was reorganized into II/KG200. Illuminators Detachment 5/KG200 was armed with Ju 88S bombers, Combat Detachment 6/KG200 was equipped with Mistel 1 systems, and Training Detachment 7/KG200 was armed with Mistel S1 systems. The command of group II/KG200 was entrusted to Captain X. Rudat. In January 1945, the second training detachment 8/KG200 was formed on the basis of 7/KG200. The group was part of the Reich air fleet and was based at the Burg and Kolberg airfields.


As of January 10, 1945, Detachment 6/KG200 had 19 Mistels 1 with high-explosive warheads, and 7/KG200 had 17 training Mistels S1. "Mistels" 2 began to enter service with the detachments only in March 1945, and "Mistels" 3 and their training variants - in April of the same year. At the same time, SHL 3500D warheads were ordered in February 1945, and at the end of this month 60 such cumulative devices were delivered to the Kolberg airfield.

In January 1945, all the airfields in Western Europe, from where it would be possible to start to attack the British fleet in Scapa Flow, were lost. At that time, several more proposals were made for the use of "Mistels", for example, against the most important enterprises in the depths of the USSR. The operation was planned to be carried out no earlier than March 1945, which was dictated by the lack of Mistels and trained pilots. In total, at least 100 Mistels were planned to be used in Operation Iron Hammer. However, by the beginning of March, the Red Army had advanced so far westward that the Germans had no airfields from which to "get" the Ural industrial region.

The eyes of supporters of the use of "Mistelei" again turned to short-range targets. On March 8, 1945, the Misteley four, accompanied by five Ju 88S illuminators and two Ju 188 reconnaissance aircraft, attacked crossings near the town of Geritz. Again, the low reliability of composite aircraft was revealed: the first Mistel was lost 30 minutes after takeoff due to a failure in the control system of the lower element. The second "Mistelle" was damaged by an anti-aircraft shell, which disabled the autopilot. The two remaining systems, according to the reports of the crews, successfully attacked "the northern bridge at Geritz, achieving two hits", but the Soviet Air Force newsletter of April 1945 puts everything in its place: the nearest gap was 50 m from the floating crossing; it was torn apart by a raised wave, but after half an hour it was restored. The second "Mistelle" exploded on the shore 100 meters from the crossing and did not cause any damage to it. Anti-aircraft artillery fire shot down one Ju 188, and its crew was taken prisoner.

Exactly one month later, five "Misteli" 3 were used to attack the bridges across the Vistula in the Warsaw region. Due to the strong anti-aircraft artillery opposition, the elements were separated at the maximum range, so none of the Junkers hit the target, but all five FW 190A-8 returned to their airfield. The last attempt to use the Mistels dates back to April 30, 1945. On this day, the bridges over the Oder in the Prenzlau region became the objects of attack for four composite aircraft. And again, one vehicle was lost as a result of the accident, and the other three missed the target.

After the surrender of Germany, hundreds of Ju 88s of various modifications and dozens of Mistels fell into the hands of the Allies. However, unlike the German jet fighters and bombers, they did not arouse much interest among the winners and were soon scrapped.

Bibliography

  • Luftwaffe Aviation / V.N. Shunkov /
  • War in the Air # 2 Junkers 88
  • Bomber Junkers Ju 88 / D.A. Taras /