Predecessor to the Bachem 349

By Rob Arndt


Although the German rocket fighter concept was initially rejected by the RLM (German Air Ministry) by 1941, it caught the attention of Erich Bachem, who was at the time the technical manager of the Fieseler aircraft plant.


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Erich Bachem proposed two design studies for a rocket aircraft which was to be launched vertically via one of the large rockets being developed at Peenemünde.

Design I


The first aircraft was designated the Fi-166 high-altitude fighter Design I which consisted of a rocket similar to the A-5 designed by von Braun which would be attached underneath the fighter.


Bachem had wanted to use a specially-modified Me Bf 109 without an engine that would have had an aerodynamically clean bullet nose instead. Due to unavailability, the Me Bf 109 idea was scrapped and a Bachem-designed Fieseler aircraft with two Jumo 004 jets was substituted. It was to be carried to a height of 12,000 meters before the rocket burned out and was released to fall back to earth by parachute for recovery and re-use as the fighter performed flight tests for the anticipated pure-rocket powered Design II version. However, this plan was rejected as impractical.


Undeterred, Bachem proposed the second draft for the Fi-166 high altitude fighter II which was a large two-seat aircraft to be fitted with an independent EMW rocket engine, but very similar to Design I in configuration (minus the jets). This would be launched vertically, with no need of the A-5 rocket.


Again, the RLM rejected the idea as impractical.

By the spring of 1944, however, the RLM required combat aircraft for home defense as manned interceptors, so various aircraft manufacturers began to revive the rocket fighter concept.

As a direct result, Bachem began to develop the Bachem Ba-349 Natter, the first vertically launched interceptor in the world.


Provisional Technical data


Fieseler Fi-166 high-altitude fighter I

EMW rocket motor (with 2x Jumo 004 jets fitted to the aircraft)
Maximum speed 830 km/h
Takeoff weight 10,000 kg
Gross weight 5,620 kg
Landing load 4,220 kg
Flying time 45 minutes

Fieseler Fi-166 high-altitude fighter II

EMW rocket motor
Maximum speed 830 km/h
Takeoff weight 13,500 kg
Gross weight 5,930 kg
Landing load 5,930 kg
Flying time 45 minutes



Subscale test model of A4 (V-2). Replaced the A3 in this role after its unsuccessful test series. The A5 used the same powerplant as the A3, but had the aerodynamic form of the A4 and a new control system. 25 all-up versions were flown, some several times.

The recovery system consisted of a drogue and main parachute. Many others with no propulsion system or using a monopropellant system were built for air-drop tests. The A5 was flown from 1938 to 1942, and was essential in refining the aerodynamics and other technology for the A4. Propellants Lox/75% alcohol.

Manufacturer: von Braun.
Launches: 1. First Launch Date: 1939-10-01. Last Launch Date: 1939-10-01. to a 8.8 km trajectory.
Liftoff Thrust: 15.000 kN (3,372 lbf).
Total Mass: 900 kg (1,980 lb).
Core Diameter: 0.78 m (2.55 ft).
Total Length: 5.82 m (19.09 ft).





He-111 with A-5 underneath