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A replica Fliegerfaust B
|Type||Surface-to-air unguided missile system|
|Place of origin||Nazi Germany|
|Wars||World War II|
|No. built||Only a few produced, 10,000 launchers and 4 million rockets were ordered.|
|Variants||Fliegerfaust A, Fliegerfaust B|
|Weight||6.5 kg (loaded)|
|Length||~ 1.5 m|
|Cartridge||standard 20 mm shells fitted with rocket engines|
|Muzzle velocity||350 m/s|
|Feed system||9-round loaders|
|Sights||simple iron sight|
The Fliegerfaust (lit. "pilot fist" or "plane fist"), also known as the "Luftfaust" (lit. "air fist"), was a German prototype of an unguided, man-portable, and multi-barreled ground-to-air rocket launcher, designed to destroy enemy ground attack planes.
The first version, the Fliegerfaust A, had four 20 mm caliber barrels. These fired 20 mm projectiles weighing 90 g and containing 19 g of explosive, propelled by means of a small rocket.
The second version, the Fliegerfaust B ("Luftfaust") increased the length of the barrels, and added another 5 barrels, for a total of 9 barrels. The weapon had a total length of 150 cm and weighed 6.5 kg. The firing sequence was that the first 4 rounds from every second barrel were fired immediately and the remaining five 0.1 second later to avoid damaging the projectiles themselves by the rockets' exhaust fumes and from interfering with their courses. Although some sources state the barrels were fired individually with a delay of 2 seconds between each ignition.
Stabilisation of the rocket in flight was not by means of fins, but by four small angled holes drilled around the exhaust. A small proportion of the rocket's thrust was thus converted into rotational thrust, spinning the missile along its axis. This imparted stability through spin, just like rifling in a gun barrel.
A six barrel 30 mm prototype was also constructed.
The Fliegerfaust was not a successful weapon because of its small effective range caused by too large dispersion of projectiles and the designed range of 500 meters was never attained. Although large orders for the weapon were placed in 1945, and with 10,000 launchers and 4 million rockets ordered, only 80 of these weapons were ever used in combat trials, in this case by a unit based at Saarbrücken. However, a 1945 photograph of the Hotel Adlon in Berlin clearly shows at least 3 expended Fliegerfaust B's lying in the rubble. The Adlon sat directly opposite the Brandenburg gate in central Berlin, meaning that issue may have been more widespread than assumed.