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Wunderwaffe (German pronunciation: [ˈvʊndɐˌvafə]) is German for "Wonder Weapon" and was a term assigned during World War II by the Nazi Germany propaganda ministry to a few revolutionary "superweapons". Most of these weapons however remained prototypes, which either never reached the combat theater, or if they did, then too late or in too insignificant numbers to have a military effect.[1]

The V-weapons, which were developed earlier and saw considerable deployment, especially against London and Antwerp, trace back to the same pool of highly inventive armament concepts. Therefore, they are also included here.

As the war situation worsened for Germany from 1942, claims about the development of revolutionary new weapons which could turn the tide became an increasingly prominent part of the propaganda directed at Germans by their government.[2] In reality, the advanced weapons under development generally required lengthy periods of design work and testing, and there was no realistic prospect of the German military being able to field them before the end of the war. When some advanced designs, such as the Panther tank and Type XXI submarine, were rushed into production their performance proved disappointing to the German military and leadership due to inadequate pre-production testing or poorly planned construction processes.[3]

In the German language the term Wunderwaffe generally refers to a universal solution which solves all problems related to a particular issue, mostly used ironically for its illusionary nature.

Naval vessels[edit]

Aircraft carriers[edit]

  • Graf Zeppelin – a 33,550 ton aircraft carrier laid down in 1936; never completed.
  • Flugzeugträger B – planned sister ship to the Graf Zeppelin; scrapped before launching.
  • I (1942) – a planned 56,500 ton aircraft carrier, converted from a transport; cancelled before work started.



Oceangoing U-boats[edit]

Littoral U-boats[edit]


  • Type XI – a U-boat designed to carry the Arado Ar 231 collapsible floatplane and have 128mm turrets; four were laid down but canceled at the outbreak of World War II

Armored vehicles[edit]

Anti-aircraft weapons[edit]

Anti-tank weapons[edit]

Super-heavy tanks[edit]

  • Landkreuzer P. 1000 "Ratte" (Rat) – a planned super-heavy tank, weighing 1000 metric tons and armed with two 280mm cannons, one 128mm anti-tank gun, 8 20mm flak guns and 2 15mm heavy machine guns
  • Landkreuzer P. 1500 "Monster" – a proposed super-heavy self-propelled gun, weighing 1500 metric tons and armed with the 800mm Schwerer Gustav/Dora gun
  • Panzer VII "Löwe" (Lion) – a planned super-heavy tank, weighing 90 metric tons and armed with a 105mm cannon
  • Panzer VIII "Maus" (Mouse) – a super-heavy tank, weighing 180 metric tons and armed with two cannons of 128mm and 75mm calibre, two operable prototypes completed
  • Panzerkampfwagen E-100 – a planned super-heavy tank, weighing 140 metric tons and armed with either 128, 149 or 170mm cannon

Reconnaissance tanks[edit]

  • Kugelpanzer (ball tank), a prototype spherical reconnaissance/cable-laying tank with a mysterious history. Sent to Japan and captured by the Soviets in 1945. Currently on display at the Kubinka Tank Museum.


Piston engine aircraft[edit]

  • Dornier Do 335 - a heavy fighter with a push-pull layout
  • Focke-Achgelis Fa 269 – a planned tilt-rotor VTOL fighter
  • Focke-Wulf Ta 152 – a high-altitude interceptor
  • Focke-Wulf Ta 400 – a planned Amerika Bomber candidate with six radial engines and two jet engines with a range of 13,000 km in bomber configuration
  • Heinkel He 111Z – a five engined Zwilling (twin fuselage) aircraft created by combining two He 111s and designed to tow large gliders
  • Heinkel He 274 – a high altitude heavy bomber with four in-line engines with a range of 3,440 km, two completed by France after the war
  • Heinkel He 277 – a planned, advanced long-range bomber design, designated by RLM by February 1943, inheriting many He 219 prototype design features during its evolution but never built as a complete aircraft, evolved to be an Amerika Bomber candidate, to be powered with four BMW 801 radial engines and up to 11,000 km range
  • Junkers Ju 390 – an Amerika Bomber candidate with six radial engines with a range of 9,700 km, two airworthy prototypes built and flown
  • Junkers Ju 488 – a heavy bomber with four radial engines with a range of 3,395 km
  • Messerschmitt Me 264 – an Amerika Bomber candidate with four inline or radial engines and a range of 15,000 km, three airworthy prototypes built and flown
  • Messerschmitt Me 323 "Gigant" (Giant) – a heavy transport with six engines

Jets and rocket-propelled aircraft[edit]


Bombs and explosives[edit]




  • Sun gun – a parabolic mirror in orbit designed to focus sunlight onto specific locations on the Earth's surface


Directed-energy weapons[edit]


Among the directed-energy weapons (DEW) the Nazis investigated were x-ray beam weapons developed under Heinz Schmellenmeier, Richard Gans and Fritz Houtermans. They built an electron accelerator called Rheotron (invented by Max Steenbeck at Siemens-Schuckert in the 1930s, these were later called betatrons by the Americans) to generate hard x-ray synchrotron beams for the Reichsluftfahrtministerium (Ministry of Aviation). The intent was to pre-ionize ignition in aircraft engines and hence serve as an anti-aircraft DEW and bring planes down into the reach of flak.[clarification needed] The rheotron was captured by the Americans in Burggrub on April 14, 1945.


Another approach was Ernst Schiebolds Röntgenkanone (x-ray cannon), developed from 1943 in Großostheim near Aschaffenburg. The Company Richert Seifert & Co from Hamburg delivered parts.

Mission equipment[edit]


See also[edit]



  1. ^ Willy Ley, "V-2: Rocket Cargo Ship" Astounding Science Fiction, May 1945, repr. Famous Science-Fiction Stories: Adventures in Time and Space, (ed. J. Francis McComas, Raymond J. Healy, [1946], 1957), p. 359.
  2. ^ Tooze 2007, p. 611.
  3. ^ Tooze 2007, pp. 612-618.

Works consulted[edit]

  • Reiner Merkel: Hans Kammler – Manager des Todes, 2010 August von Goethe Literaturverlag, Frankfurt am Main, ISBN 978-3-8372-0817-7.
  • Tooze, Adam (2007). The Wages of Destruction : The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy. London: Penguin. ISBN 9780141003481.