RUDOLF SCHRIEVER FLUGKREISEL
by Rob Arndt
This disc aircraft without a doubt is the most controversial of all the non-occult discs supposedly constructed by Germany in the Second World War. So many different people, organizations, and facilities have been named in connection to this craft that properly identifying what was the Flugkreisel (Flight Gyro), as conceived by Rudolf Schriever himself, becomes almost impossible.
However, chronologically the pieces fall together to solve this puzzle.
The story originates with Viktor Schauberger, who under SS direction, started working on a revolutionary vortex motor in 1940 called the Repulsin(e), roughly translated as “Repulsor”. The first model, the Repulsin A was a colloidal disc motor that utilized air and water contained in a copper casing to produce a mini-tornado, or vortex, inside the machine that caused levitation at some point.
The early results of Schauberger’s work with the Repulsin A was reported to Heinkel for the purpose of exploring the possibility of adapting the discoid motor to aircraft. At that time the SS was leaning towards marine applications of the motor as an exotic propulsion system for an odd bio-submarine which would have been named the Forelle (Trout) due to its fish-shaped body and gaping water inlet mouth.
Heinkel clearly did not act on the early information it got from the Repulsin research, continuing instead on the development of its own jet aircraft projects and turbojets in competition with its bitter rival Messerschmitt. However, one year later in 1941, with Schauberger working on aircraft engine liquid cooling systems for Messerschmitt, one of Heinkel’s own personnel, Flugkapitän Rudolf Schriever came up with the idea of a “Flugkreisel” (Flight Gyro) that did not rely on Schauberger’s discoid motor but on developing turbojet technology. Schriever later claimed that the inspiration for his design originated with the discus sporting event observed by him at the 1936 Nazi Olympics. But this is doubtful given that his employer Heinkel was researching the Schauberger motor the same year as Schriever’s idea came to him. Naturally, the SS responded to Schriever’s proposal by taking control of it while Schauberger continued work on perfecting the Repulsin A model at Mauthausen along with 20-30 prisoner engineers.
Schriever produced the first drawings of the Flugkreisel in 1941. Now some accounts state that the first Flugkreisel flew under jet power in June 1942 but that is highly unlikely given the fact that the only available jets for the project would be Heinkel’s HeS 8A centrifugal jets or early Junkers Jumo 004A turbojets which were not reliable enough to power such an exotic design as the Flugkreisel. The early BMW 003A jets were also discounted for this reason.
Artist impression of Schriever Flugkreisel taking off
Bottom view drawing of Schriever Flugkreisel
Schriever Flugkreisel in flight drawing
The Flugkreisel itself was a large disc-fan of 20 meters diameter with 21 rotor blades that surrounded a hemispherical cockpit. Attached to the underside of the of the disc rotor were three jet engines that spun the rotor like a helicopter for VTOL. Once in the air, two other lower body jets were attached to each side allowing the disc to achieve level flight.
In Schriever’s postwar drawings one can clearly see that the jets depicted are not German conventional ones for the time period. While some illustrators depict BMW 003 and Jumo 004 jet engines in place, the engines were in fact kerosene burning jet turbines of immense power which places its true first flight well into 1943 or beyond.
By that time BMW had started testing its own "Flügelrad" (Winged Wheel) jet autogyros that superficially resembled the basic Flugkreisel design but on a much reduced scale and powered strictly by BMW 003 jet engines.
This is where the confusion begins on what constituted the Flugkreisel project. Postwar interpretations of the two different craft mix the programs together which has led to discrediting the Flugkreisel altogether as a real machine that flew during the war.
The SS, however, continued with “Projekt Flugkreisel” despite the early machine’s disappointing flight performance and instability at low altitude. Therefore, the SS brought in three other prominent specialists to aid in the Flugkreisel Projekt: Klaus Habermohl, Dr. Richard Miethe, and an Italian Giuseppe Belluzzo from the Riva Del Garda facility. Six other unnamed engineers also participated in the secret project.
Along with the Schriever early designs, the three primary specialists produced concepts of their own within months. Habermohl proposed a large rotor disc with hemispherical cockpit on top and powered by a Walter Rohr (Walter Rocket Pipe) deflector below. This design was rejected as impractical.
Dr. Giuseppe Belluzzo’s designs aren’t well known but his involvement in another Italian jet disc project, his Turbo Proietti (Turbine Projectile) that would serve as circular flying artillery, later removed him from the Flugkreisel Projekt entirely. So it was left up to Dr. Miethe to design the replacement disc.
Dr. Miethe came up with various initial jet designs of a large diameter disc with a tear drop cabin on top and bulbous body below powered by multiple jets running along the lower body sides in a staggered formation. Other designs placed turbojets directly on the solid disc underneath while others even had the jets protruding from the rear upper disc body.
A solution needed to be found as all the jet designs were problematic at best.
Dr. Miethe found the solution when word came of Schauberger’s completion of the Repulsin B model discoid motor in 1943 and its radical vortex propulsion system that could be reasonably enlarged into a manned disc of incredible power. Work proceeded right away and by April 1944 the Miethe craft constructed in
So what happened to Schriever’s original Flugkreisel?
Destined for the scrap heap, the disc-fan was saved by transferring it to Prag-Kbley where BMW was testing out the Flügelrad models. Georg Klein claimed to have seen the strange craft at the aerodrome in 1945 and his description of a large disc-fan powered by 5 jet engines that produced a tremendous roar proves it was there. None of the BMW Flügelrads were powered by 5 jet engines and none were located anywhere on the Flügelrads except inside the disc body, not attached to the disc rotor and lower body sides as with the Flugkreisel. It is further stated that in February 1945 the Flugkreisel attained a top speed of 1,300 mph and a climb to 45,000 ft in two minutes! The Flügelrads by comparison could barely get off the ground, were highly unstable, and made frequent “hard” landings. Only one BMW Flügelrad II V-2 (or V-3) finally achieved powered level flight in April 1945 just before all the Flügelrads and Schriever’s Flugkreisel were destroyed in the Russian advance.
Miethe’s disc was at Breslau and its fate is unknown but was probably destroyed by the SS on orders from Berlin.
Postwar Schriever continued to make claims about his Flugkreisel being taken out of his hands and offered his non-patented designs to the Americans he worked for (as a delivery driver for the US Army). No one took him seriously and he died shortly thereafter. In his apartment was discovered many designs for disc aircraft including his original Flugkreisel
As for the other “Projekt Flugkreisel” specialists, their fates are known. Habermohl was captured by the Russians and forced to produce a secret disc design for the USSR which still remains unknown. Dr. Belluzzo remained in Italy, his round bomb Turbo Proietti forgotten. Dr. Miethe was offered a position as team leader of AVRO Canada’s disc development programs which he accepted.
AVRO Canada Miethe Disc prototype in flight over Ontario.
Notice the double stabilizer tail and the pilot canopy in center for excellent C/G stability. Also note the inside cut at the outside edge. The rounded front leading edge is thicker and the trailing edge in rear is smaller depicting a early electrogravetic type wing structure. This creates a positive charge in the front and a bleeding off of the negative charge in the rear. Notice the aileron controls are barely visible, but a line can be seen.
AVRO Canada had tried to persuade Viktor Schauberger to join Miethe in producing a disc aircraft but he declined and stayed in Leonstein, Austria. The Russians and Americans had taken away all his Repulsins and documents, the US finally forcing him to sign over everything to them in 1958. He also died shortly thereafter.
It would seem that Miethe by himself could not replicate the Schauberger propulsion system so instead he resorted to designing Canadian discs powered by jets based on Henri Coanda’s lenticular disc design. Dr. Miethe left AVRO Canada for the US and produced the first US non-VTOL disc aircraft which were at one time in storage at MacDill AB
Like Viktor Schauberger, Rudolf Schriever never had any real control over his disc design. They both died while others took credit for their ideas and work.
Avro Omega/Spade disc project led by Dr. Richard Miethe