Aerial Fist - and the First
|A soldier carrying a Fliegerfaust.|
The Fliegerfaust was developed by HASAG (Hugo Schneider AG) of Leipzig. This weapon was similar in appearance to an American Bazooka or German Panzerschreck, but unlike those weapons, it was intended to be fired at aircraft (though, presumably, in an emergency or moment of opportunity, it could be used against ground targets). This is one of the little-known late-war Wehrmacht weapons that doesn't get a lot of individual attention. However, collectively they have created a mystique about what "might have been" had the war lasted a little longer. Although the Fliegerfaust apparently was used in combat, it best can be placed alongside the Maus tank and the Messerschmitt P.1101 single-seat, single-jet fighter as a "1946" weapon. However, the Fliegerfaust was more than just a mere prototype or fantasy weapon, because it worked, apparently was used in combat, and could definitely (and probably did) kill the enemy.
The Fliegerfaust A was a prototype model, while Fliegerfaust B was the production model. A third model, simply called Fliegerfaust, was the projected next step in the weapon's evolution. Each Fliegerfaust was composed of long tubes from which could be fired 20 mm rounds. The weapons differed in their number of tubes and some minor firing differences.
Precise details on the Fliegerfaust are sketchy because none survived the war (or at least are not known to have survived, though there are claims that one did). The Fliegerfaust A had a total of four barrels, while the Fliegerfaust B had nine barrels. The Fliegerfaust A had poor accuracy, so the barrel was lengthened in the Fliegerfaust B to minimize shot dispersal. Each barrel contained one 20 mm shell. While all of the Fliegerfaust A rockets fired simultaneously, the Fliegerfaust B fired four rockets, then, after a two-second delay the final five (some sources say they fired in pairs roughly .1-.2 seconds apart). With the Fliegerfaust B, the soldier could quickly replace the clip of rockets for a second firing. The weapon was intended to be mobile, weighing 6.5 kg (loaded, the barrels alone were quite light) and measuring 1.5 meters (51.25 inches) long. The shells weighed about 90 grams apiece. The final version, which was only in prototype form, was composed of six barrels of 30 mm caliber.
|It is unclear if this is a Fliegerfaust or a post-war Soviet knock-off. However, it shows how a soldier would have held the Fliegerfaust.|
|Berlin, April 1945. Note the prominent Fliegerfaust at the bottom of the photo. There are also two others if you look very closely.|
The Fliegerfaust did not turn into a war-winning weapon for the Third Reich. However, it is the first shoulder-fired surface-to-air missile and the ancestor of very effective short-range man-portable systems like the Soviet/Russian 9K34 Strela-3 and the NATO FIM-92 Stinger. Collectively, these weapons now are known as Man-Portable Air-Defense System (MANPADS) and they are used around the world today. If you are a gamer, you are likely to see the Fliegerfaust in World War II-themed games such as Call of Duty, so hopefully, the information on this page will be useful to you. Unfortunately, very little is known about the Fliegerfaust, but it definitely existed and apparently was used in combat.
|Individual shell for the Fliegerfaust.|