Focke-Achgelis Fa 330 Bachstelze (Wagtail)
Photographed in the IWM at Duxford on 22 March 2011.
Single seat gyro-kite used by German submarines for observations during the second world war.
This simple, single seat gyro kite was designed in 1942 as an observation platform towed behind a U-boat.
It was flown as a kite towed by the submarine on a 150 metre cable, and could be quickly assembled or dismantled and stowed through a U-boat hatch. It could be deployed on the deck by two people. The rotor blades were set in motion by a pull cord, or by hand if there was enough wind. The kite would then be deployed behind the U-boat with its observor pilot aboard, raising him 120 metres above the surface where he could see much further. To bring it back in the towing cable was pulled by a winch. When the aircraft landed the rotor was stopped with a brake. Two or three members of the crew were trained to use the Fa 330.
Around 200 Fa 330s were built. Despite its advantages, the use of the Fa 330 resulted in only one sinking, when U-177 used it to spot, intercept and sink the Greek steamer Eithalia Mari in 1943.
See also picture #10475
and picture #10845
Picture added on 21 April 2011 at 09:18