The Bachem Ba 349 Natter marks yet another milestone in the Jagdwaffe's swift slide into madness in the wake of the U.S. 8th Air Force campaign of April of 1944. Another member of The Fat One's menagerie of potential Volksjager throw-away fighters approved by the R.L.M., the Natter was to be a rocket powered, missile armed point defense fighter.
Pretty standard stuff for post April of ‘44 R.L.M., really.
Save for the fact that it was meant to be launched vertically from a platform similar to that used by the V.1, was built entirely out of plywood, had a nose-cone stuffed with 24 air-to-air rockets, and wasn’t meant to land.
The game plan for the benighted sots stuck piloting the Ba 349 was that as a bomber squadron approached the factory defended by the Natter nest, they would be launched at break-neck speed into the air and aim their diminutive craft at their targets, discharge their rockets in a single salvo, then bail out.
As brilliant as this scheme doubtless seemed on paper (save to the pilots), a few difficulties arose.
The g-forces involved in the launch of the Natter were so intense that the test pilot passed out, leading to his death in a fiery crash. This was “remedied” by installing a rudimentary auto pilot that would take control of the entire launch.
In the end, however, the advancing Allied troops stopped the Ba 349 from ever entering combat. Much to the relief of those assigned to pilot the craft, I’m sure.