The Bachem Ba 349 “Natter”
At one point we will compile a selection of strips that were rejected or got us in trouble otherwise. This one here would make the list, because it was rejected for being a bit too macabre. I can remember at least one other one that was rejected for the same reason. And one time, we made a joke about the Hindenburg that obviously was considered “too soon” by a reader who wrote a scalding angry letter to the editor.
It’s difficult. The history of aviation is riddled with war, death and catastrophes, so I guess we will keep trying to walk the fine line of good taste, because otherwise we would have to forgo half of the potential material.
But back to today’s strip. There is actually a slight imprecision in the wording. There were a few successful manned test flight of the Ba 349, but only without propulsion. And there also were a few successful unmanned vertical launches using the rockets. It’s just that the first (and only) manned vertical launch was a disaster, as the pilot apparently became unconscious and crashed in a giant ball of fire. But try fitting all that info into a text box.
Is it Bachem (strip) or Sachem (headline)?
… and the pilot was killed.
Yeah, I thought that was implied by big ball of fire.
They didn’t try to launch the ME163 vertically, so maybe this is why it was « succesfull ». It took however very « brave » people to fly this thing.(even taking in account the fun factor of reaching FL300 in a couple of minutes). Not sure that there was more deaths by ennemies bullets than in accidents with this one
So the Bachem (not Sachem) Natter must have been designed by the tean who designed Space Shuttle. Look at the similarities! Incidentally the tail of the Ba 349 had an “if found, please return to….” notice painted on it.
Thanks for pointing out that typo, Mo!
“Incidentally the tail of the Ba 349 had an “if found, please return to….” notice painted on it.”
…and the rocket fuel was nearly pure hydrogen peroxide, where a fuel leak would literally dissolve the pilot, ground crew, etc. That is, if the leak didn’t result in an explosion triggered by the very touchy fuel.
That hydrogen peroxide worked by decomposing, violently, into steam, making the Walther rocket engine also a STEAM engine.
If you think hydrogen peroxide is a nasty fuel (which it positively is), I recommend “Ignition! An informal history of liquid rocket propellants” by John D. Clark, now available again. It talks about all the most corrosive, toxic, carcinogenic, unstable, explosive and otherwise nasty compounds and mixtures people have tried to make into fuels in the 40s, 50s and 60s. H2O2 is one of the tame examples, and actually usable in certain circumstances.
(To be nitpicking, it decomposes into a mixture of steam and oxygen, according to: 2 H2O2 -> 2 H2O + O2 + heat.)
Yup, when the rockets had all been fired in one fell swoop at a bomber, the cockpit, nose, and tail separated. The two rear components had parachutes, the remains of the nosecone did not. The pilot could look after his bit, but after a major combat, Natter tails would have been scattered all over the place. I have a photo of a tail with the old-fashioned Gothic script and the message painted upon it. I have paraphrased, ‘cos I cannot remember the exact wording any more.
I guess my “macabre” scale is different…to me that fits more in the manner of a mildly worded safety placard. YMMV and I may have put projectiles down range that were new in 1944 and possibly weeping a bit of nitro from the TNT main charge. (shrugs)