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WW2 abandoned projects

This is a discussion on WW2 abandoned projects within the Intros & Off Topic forum, part of the Global Defense & Military category; Looking a bit more detailed into WW2 projects which were abandoned during WW2 - personally looking more into WW2 German ...


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Old February 3rd, 2013   #1
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WW2 abandoned projects

Looking a bit more detailed into WW2 projects which were abandoned during WW2 - personally looking more into WW2 German projects - there seems to be some pretty interesting stuff in there in terms of experimental defence technology or just defence concepts in general.

Personally, one of my favourite concepts of the time being the idea to tow a water-tight launch canister behind a U-boat containing a V-2, i've attached some images of the sort of layout they would have had. The idea was that it would allow Germany to launch attacks on the United States, each U-boat would tow the containers along horizontally then when they were going to be launched then they would be rotated vertically using certain methods to alter the buoyancy of the top, the hatch opened and away they go.

The first image being the general idea of what the whole setup would look like and then a more detailed look at the actual launch canister. One of the more interesting points - bar the fact that the launching technician apparently is containd in the canister itself too - was that it's designed to release the exhaust gases up and outwards of the container, like what we see on modern hot-launch VLS.

The closest the Germans actually got to launching rockets from submarines were firing Wurfgerat 41's submerged up to a depth of 15 meters, this was actually acheived with test firings from U-511 in mid-1942.

Then there's things like the V-3 cannon which would involve firing a projectile and as it was travelling down the barrel, alternate sub-chambers along the barrel would detonate charges to accelerate the projectile faster and faster, you need a mahoosive barrel to do this. Come to think of it, it's similar in concept to the railgun where each individual element is electrified in turn & creates the field as the metal projectile down the barrel riding the EM forces.

EDIT: The following multi-charge diagrams i've added aren't the actual V-3 cannon (they're actually earlier examples of the theory), but they adequately demonstrate the concept of the gun.
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Old February 4th, 2013   #2
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Given:
  • They would need to inspect and prep the missile after shifting the launcher to the vertical position.
  • Then the ‘fun’ of loading liquid oxygen and hydrogen peroxide (to power the fuel pumps) in an enclosed space.
  • The high percentage of V-2s that failed on takeoff.
  • The recoil during launch from the missile and exhaust gases forces the launcher down.
  • Then the sudden loss of weight as the missile leaves the launcher cause the launcher to rapidly rise out of the water.
  • The wide open hatch that will cause it to swiftly sink if water comes in.
  • And you are sitting in a command center under the missile. Can’t get out quickly if it starts to sink. Probably can’t get out at all after launching until it has cooled.
Figure at least an hour to set it up for launch (probably more), on the surface, in calm weather, in an area heavily patrolled by aircraft. Then announce your presence by launching the missile, which leaves a clearly visible trail. Sounds like a suicide mission for the launch crew.
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Old February 4th, 2013   #3
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One of my conceptually favorites, though technically pre-WWII, the airborne aircraft carrier.

The ZRS 4 and 5 USS Akron and USS Macon. Technically they were long-range recon platforms, each carrying 5 airplanes that could be launched and recovered in flight. The aircraft were meant to provide longer range recon. Both eventually crashed and the whole thing never went anywhere.

Airships USS Akron and USS Macon | Flying Aircraft Carriers of the US Navy

The next shot at flying aircraft carriers were the Soviet composite bomber projects, and they were ground-attack platforms almost entirely unrelated. Too bad. The idea of a giant blimp carrying aircraft for recon purposes seems really cool.
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Old February 5th, 2013   #4
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My2Cents, limitations aside, the subject matter is interesting enough not to be discounted - nobody's proposing it as a solution to a problem. It isn't about the practicality of the system but rather the interesting nature of the development and vision of those involved, given the technical limitations at hand. One could list off practical limitations of scores of military systems throughout history, but it doesn't mean they aren't interesting in their own right.

Although that might not have been clear from the thread - it's a carry over from a discussion elsewhere that Rob thought might be interesting for the forums.
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Old February 6th, 2013   #5
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Originally Posted by RobWilliams View Post
Looking a bit more detailed into WW2 projects which were abandoned during WW2 - personally looking more into WW2 German projects - there seems to be some pretty interesting stuff in there in terms of experimental defence technology or just defence concepts in general.

Personally, one of my favourite concepts of the time being the idea to tow a water-tight launch canister behind a U-boat containing a V-2, i've attached some images of the sort of layout they would have had. The idea was that it would allow Germany to launch attacks on the United States, each U-boat would tow the containers along horizontally then when they were going to be launched then they would be rotated vertically using certain methods to alter the buoyancy of the top, the hatch opened and away they go.

The first image being the general idea of what the whole setup would look like and then a more detailed look at the actual launch canister. One of the more interesting points - bar the fact that the launching technician apparently is containd in the canister itself too - was that it's designed to release the exhaust gases up and outwards of the container, like what we see on modern hot-launch VLS.

The closest the Germans actually got to launching rockets from submarines were firing Wurfgerat 41's submerged up to a depth of 15 meters, this was actually acheived with test firings from U-511 in mid-1942.

Then there's things like the V-3 cannon which would involve firing a projectile and as it was travelling down the barrel, alternate sub-chambers along the barrel would detonate charges to accelerate the projectile faster and faster, you need a mahoosive barrel to do this. Come to think of it, it's similar in concept to the railgun where each individual element is electrified in turn & creates the field as the metal projectile down the barrel riding the EM forces.

EDIT: The following multi-charge diagrams i've added aren't the actual V-3 cannon (they're actually earlier examples of the theory), but they adequately demonstrate the concept of the gun.
I heard that our British government were planning on building carriers made of ice during the war, and I think there was a proposal for it not long ago called "The Habbakuk Project"...It would have been large enough to fly heavy bombers from. anyone heard of it?
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Old June 28th, 2013   #6
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Not really an abandoned program as some 200 were built, but an interesting project nonetheless

Just watched aprogram about the Me232, it's a massive glider built in WW2 which had a payload of 12 tonnes or 130 troops in a single flight*. It came about from a requirement to deploy heavy equipment in Britain for Operation Sea Lion and more generally where Germany suffered an inferiority in naval capacity and airlift became neccesary to supply operations.

It was so heavy that 3 typical bombers like He111s were needed to get the aircraft airbourne, then Hitler decided to proceed with the development of a 'super He111' which basically was 2 He111s stuck together, the plane ended up with 5 - 6 engines and had 2 seperate fuselages.

This was binned and they just slapped 6 engines onto the glider, it was used for supply runs to the Eastern front. There was even a proposed variant which would be fitted with weaponry to act as a gunship.

*Just looked it up on Wiki, it claims the following loads are capable (Mind out though)
  • One 15 cm FH18 field artillery piece accompanied by its Sd.Kfz.7 halftrack transport vehicle
  • two 3.6 tonne trucks
  • 8,700 loaves of bread
  • an 88 mm Flak gun and accessories
  • 52 drums of fuel
  • 60 stretchers

About the V-3 cannon I mentioned at the start of the thread, it appears Hitler wanted to have 5 guns per site and 10 sites per battery. The final velocity of the shell when it left the barrel was 1500m/s and gave it a range of 95 miles.
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Old June 28th, 2013   #7
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You mean the Me 321 Glider and Me 323 powered transport developed from it, i presume? They were mostly used to resupply the Afrikakorps; 65 were lost over the Mediterranean. The original requirements included carrying a Pz IV (!) btw - which was never achieved. They did transport light tanks and tankettes though, such as [this captured Renault UE] in Tunisia or [this Marder II].

The gunship version had one prototype and one conversion built btw. It was intended as an escort for transport Me323 beyond fighter range - the flights to North Africa had to be escorted by Bf110 with drop tanks.
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Old June 28th, 2013   #8
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My mistake! The show only called it the Me 323.

Still, it's a fascinating project, I never even knew Germany used gliders especially the gunship concept.
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Old June 28th, 2013   #9
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I heard that our British government were planning on building carriers made of ice during the war, and I think there was a proposal for it not long ago called "The Habbakuk Project"...It would have been large enough to fly heavy bombers from. anyone heard of it?
Yes, it was a mixture of ice and I think wood chips. IIRC it was called pyecrete and they were looking at operating Lancasters and B29s off them. I saw program on Youtube a while back about WW2 Allied secret weapons that didn't become operational. was a very interesting concept. Mountbatten illustrated the hardness of the substance by taking a piece to a joint Allied staff meeting in Washington, pulled out his revolver without warning and shot it. Bullet richocheted & Adm Erni King USN was impressed.

I liked the Germans ability to visualise ahead and some of their concepts were decades ahead. My favourite is the Horten Brothers Ho 229 jet. It is a shame that the only surviving example is still locked away by the USG and so are any drawings. I think it would be very interesting to build a replica and see just how good it would've been. Those two brothers were very talented and I was interested to learn one rose to be I think a General in the West German Luftwaffe. I read that in Eric Browns book "Wings on my sleeve" which is an excellent read. He makes Biggles look like a wimp.


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Old June 28th, 2013   #10
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I liked the Germans ability to visualise ahead and some of their concepts were decades ahead. My favourite is the Horten Brothers Ho 229 jet. It is a shame that the only surviving example is still locked away by the USG and so are any drawings. I think it would be very interesting to build a replica and see just how good it would've been.
PBS did just that, with a bunch of Northrop-Grumman engineers. It's dumbed down a lot, as per usual for a military doco, but if you're curious you can see it here:

Greatest Mysteries of WWII: Hitler's Stealth Fighter 720P - YouTube
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Old June 28th, 2013   #11
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PBS did just that, with a bunch of Northrop-Grumman engineers. It's dumbed down a lot, as per usual for a military doco, but if you're curious you can see it here:

Greatest Mysteries of WWII: Hitler's Stealth Fighter 720P - YouTube
Thanks for that I think I've already seen that one, but I'll check it out. It's interesting that the aircraft was an early attempt at stealth or to reduce it's radar signature anyway. The Horton brothers had experience with the flying wing because of their gliders so this was in a way a natural progression, especially as the jet engine fitted so neatly within the design.
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Old June 28th, 2013   #12
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Thanks for that I think I've already seen that one, but I'll check it out. It's interesting that the aircraft was an early attempt at stealth or to reduce it's radar signature anyway. The Horton brothers had experience with the flying wing because of their gliders so this was in a way a natural progression, especially as the jet engine fitted so neatly within the design.
Well, I don't know if it was an intentional attempt to reduce radar signature, but it was certainly an interesting design. Quite ahead of its time too, if I'm recalling the properties and limitations of flying wing type aircraft correctly.
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Old June 29th, 2013   #13
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I was interested to learn one rose to be I think a General in the West German Luftwaffe.
Walter Horten joined Amt Blank (the technically-illegal forerunner of the ministry of defense) in 1951 after his working for Northrop since 1947 didn't get anywhere. He was a Major a.D., i.e. out of service, at the time*, and still had that rank when after the transitioning of Amt Blank to the Federal Ministry of Defense he was officially called an "employee" there. He never reached any General rank to my knowledge. Not sure if he ever joined the new Luftwaffe.

* There are two mentions of Major a.D. W. Horten in Spiegel for his time in Amt Blank: He outright rejected a proposal / development funding request for heli-pack infantry in 1952 ([this one]) and apparently still worked on flying wings, mounting a Porsche engine to a (flying wing) glider in 1955.
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