[The Enzian-1 Preserved at Cosford]

The picture left shows a preserved Enzian-1 at the RAF Museum in Cosford, England.

It clearly shows the design of the winged missile, and the four booster rockets attached around the circumference.

Designed by Dr. Wurster of Messerschmitt AG, "Enzian" designs were being worked on in June 1943, the designation at this time being the Flak Rakete FR-1. Although outside the scope of this website, Enzian went through a number of refinements in design.

It is essentially a streamlined, cylindrical fuselage with conical warhead. On the fuselage are two streamlined and swept wings, with a span of 12 feet and 3 inches, and vertical tail fins above and below the fuselage. Largely built of wood, Dr Wurster was conscious of the fact that the success of the project would be improved if it was built of non-strategic materials. The aim was also to produce a missile which could be built with a low number of man-hours per unit, launched easily and quickly, and be powered by fuels which were not required for other forces.

[Enzian-1 on its launching ramp]

The plan was for a flak missile which could be launched from a mobile launching ramp; this is shown in the illustration.

Target acquisition was initially by means of a ground operator using the "Burgund" radio system to steer the missile visually onto the target with a joystick control. This was to be employed until the "Elsass" radar system was fully developed for on-board operational use.

A proximity fuse was the design method of detonation, although it's not clear if one particular model had been chosen - contenders were "Marabu" or "Fox" although the "Paplitz" infra-red detector in development at the end of the war was also under consideration as an option; Schmetterling was a second project also needing an effective fuse and detonator, and other options under consideration are described on that page.

[Enzian-1 in Flight]

Flight Testing.

To launch the missile off the ramp, Enzian was fitted with solid fuel booster rockets, four Rheinmetall-Borsig RI-503 thrust augmenters. Flight was to be with a Walter bi-fuel liquid rocket motor, designated the HWK 109-739.

However, when the first Enzian designs were being completed for flight testing, the Walter motor was not ready, and the Enzian E.1 based on the FR-5, was altered to take a modified Walter RI-203 assisted take-off motor.

Of the sixty Enzian which were built, thirty-eight were flight tested, with tests beginning in early May 1944. From the beginning, the Walter RI-203 was plainly underpowered, giving a maximum speed of 780 feet per second and maximum ceiling of only 23,000 feet. The design called for an estimated ceiling of 52,000 feet. Walter's 109-739 was still experiencing testing difficulties and was not near completion, so in the Summer of 1944, an order was placed with Dr Konrad of the Berlin Technical School for an alternative rocket motor. Konrad was working on testing a motor for Rheintochter R3 and was asked to adapt this for use in Enzian.

Konrad found that required modifications to his motor would be minimal - not only that, but he could produce his motor for 35 man-hours while Walter's was projected at 125 man-hours. By January 1945 Konrad had twenty five VFK 613-A01 motors available for testing, and performance was so good, that by Enzian E.4, designs no longer mentioned the Walter power plant.

However, although the Konrad unit was in a more advanced state of development, flight-ready Enzian airframes still required power, and all flight testing during this period was carried out with the Walter RI-203.

[Enzian-1 at Point Cook in Australia]

The photograph here on the right shows an Enzian missile restored and preserved at RAF Point Cook in Australia.
Illustration courtesy © Alan Scheckenbach.

The first flights which began in May 1944 (1-12), were made to investigate the performance of the power plant, launching units, launch conditions and longitudinal stability. Tests of the missile went well, the only serious problem being promoting the simultaneous ignition and throw-off of the booster rockets.

Flights 13-20 were used to look at roll stabilisation, and the Siemens gyro which had been used, was replaced by a Horn gyro which was found to be more satisfactory.

Flights 21-29 discovered that the pitch stability of the Enzian was quite satisfactory without the planned free and rate gyros, which tended to make the response of the missile sluggish under radio control. These were therefore dispensed with, leaving the missile stabilised only by a roll gyro.

Tests 30-38 were check flights for stability, controlability and overall performance of the missile, which were all considered up to design performance.



Dr Wurster and Willi Messerschmitt were both certain that Enzian was a viable unit, but the project was cancelled early in 1945, officially coming to a halt on 17th January when a general order stopping work on all projects was issued. This was a crisis measure to concentrate all available effort on the one or two selected projects which were deemed to have the greater chances of success and greatest potential for affecting a significant change in the progress of the war  (Schmetterling was one of the projects which was continued). At this time, neither the Konrad nor Walter 109-739 motors were fully developed for flight.

Despite this, additional work was continued privately by Messerschmitt who lobbied for the rescinding of the order. But this was not to be, and by mid-March the project was finally wound up. Enzian was well developed in design terms, but no further forward in terms of operational units.

Enzian was not favoured by the Flak Ministerium, and other projects, most notably Schmetterling were given higher priority; (Schmetterling gained favour because of its smaller size and therefore ease of handling). Prejudice, personal favouritisms and politics within the RLM were also partly to blame for the loss of Enzian, although some carelessness in test flights had apparantly led to faulty test data and a subsequent loss of confidence amongst Army and Air Force officers.

Messerschmitt AG were ordered to concentrate resources on the Me.262, and flak teams and scientists returned to other projects. Interrogated after the war, Dr Schumacher of Siemens Helske who had attended tests of many of the flak rocket projects, rated the Enzian as having a high probability of success due to its design stability and large warhead. But he also said that at the point where the project was discontinued, it had still needed further development for successful operational use.

Web Master Shamus Reddin   [SR Logo]
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