von Braun VTO Interceptor

          During his work on the A-4 (v-2) rocket program, Werner von Braun was interested in applying rocket propulsion to aircraft. Beginning in 1936, he helped convert some conventional aircraft (mainly a donated He 112 from Heinkel) to operate on rocket power. After several spectacular failures, in the Spring of 1937 the He 112V5 was flown to an altitude of  800 m (2625') by test pilot Erich Warsitz using the He 112's conventional piston engine. The rocket motor was then ignited, and the He 112V5 (see drawings and photo below) became the first aircraft to fly solely by a liquid-fueled (alcohol and liquid-oxygen) rocket. More flights were undertaken, proving the feasibility of rocket power for aircraft. On July 6, 1939 von Braun made a proposal to the RLM for a rocket powered VTO (Vertical Take Off) interceptor.
          The von Braun Interceptor was of a fairly conventional outline, with a cigar-shaped fuselage and straight, tapered wings. All the rocket fuel (alcohol and liquid-oxygen) was stored in tanks behind the cockpit, and the rocket engine was located in the rear (see cutaway view below). A single fin and rudder was fitted, along with straight tailplanes. The pilot was seated in a pressurized cockpit, with an inner armored section. Take off was a unique and interesting operation. It was envisioned that the aircraft would be stored vertically in a hanger/launch facility along two rails. These could then be wheeled by remote control to the outside, where they would then be launched (see diagram below). The target would be located by ground radar, and the interceptor would then be guided for the first minute by graphite vanes in the rocket exhaust. The pilot then took manual control and changed the rocket to cruise using an auxiliary combustion chamber. After the attack, the von Braun interceptor was to glide back to a landing on the built-in landing skid. The RLM considered this concept too impractical, due to the at-the-time exotic fuels which were difficult to produce, store and handle. Plus, there were the specialized launch facilities that had to be constructed and maintained.
         A second version of this VTO interceptor was designed. It was similar to the first design, except the tail unit was smaller in area, and the wings now had rounded ends and also exhibited dihedral. Also, the rocket fuels had been changed to Visol and SV-Stoff, which were easier to store. The cockpit area was slightly different (see three views to the left). The launch procedure had been the biggest change however. The huge launch facility was dispensed with, now the interceptor was launched from the same truck that was used to transport it (see diagram below). Both versions were to be armed with four unnamed guns, located two to a side in the wing roots.
          Although this project was not adopted, it did influence Eric Bachem, who later designed and produced his Bachem BP-20 Natter, which was actually flown at least once.

   View Josha Hildwine's von Braun Interceptor images

von Braun VTO Interceptor Data (First Version)
Span Length Height Loaded Weight Range Ceiling Climbing Speed Cruising Speed
8.5 m
27' 10"
9.3 m
30' 6"
3.02 m
9' 11"
5000 kg
11023 lbs
15 min 8000 m
151 m/sec
496 ft/sec
700 km/h
435 mph

von Braun VTO Interceptor Data (Second Version)
Span Length Height Loaded Weight Range Ceiling Climbing Speed Cruising Speed
8.6 m
28' 3"
9.3 m
30' 6"
3.2 m
10' 6"
5080 kg
12000 lbs
15 min 8000 m
143 m/sec
469 ft/sec
690 km/h
429 mph
von Braun VTO Interceptor Models
There are no scale models currently of this aircraft

The Heinkel He 112V5


The von Braun VTO Interceptor (first design) launch facility


A cutaway view showing the internal components of the von Braun VTO Interceptor (first design)


Diagram of the launch procedure for the von Braun VTO Interceptor Data (Second Version)


Heinkel 112V3
     April 1939
von Braun Interceptor
       first version
von Braun Interceptor
        second version


Color illustrations and drawings above from
Reichdreams Dossier #9 - VTO Interceptor