R4M Orkan – German Air to Air Rocket


The R4M Orkan – hurricane – was a German developed Air to Air rocket during the Second World War. It distinctive smoke trail gave its name. It was developed by DWM Heber AG in 1944 and the Orkan was used from April 1945. Kurt Heber requested it should be easy to build and in the little time left during the war 12000 were made. It was an unguided rocket, roughly 81cm long and 5.5cm in diameter and had folding fins which deployed after firing. 6 or 12 of the R4M could be mounted under a wing attached to a wooden rack, 24 maximum on a single fighter plane. The R4M rockets were fired at an interval of 0.07 seconds at a distance of around 600 to a 1.000 meters and had a range of 1500 to 1800 meters. It had a nose impact fuse and a solid fuel rocket motor.

R4M Orkan – German Air to Air Rocket

Only a few aircraft were outfitted with the Orkan R4M missiles, the Messerschmitt Me 163, the Bachem Natter BA 349, the Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe and the Focke-Wulf FW 190 ground attack version.
In March 1945 the Me 262 had good results with the R4M Orkan. Six Me 262 jets took off from Oberrammergau in Germany and intercepted an Allied bomber formation, shooting down 14 B17’s. In April 1945 the Me 262 with Orkan R4M Rockets shot down thirty Allied bombers, losing only three Messerschmitt Me 262.

Messerschmitt Me 262 A-1a – Schwalbe with the wooden Orkan R4M Rocket rack – Photo 2011
Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe with R4M Orkan Rockets – Courtesy Nevingtonwarmusuem
Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe with R4M Orkan Rockets – Courtesy Nevingtonwarmusuem
Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe with R4M Orkan Rockets – courtesy Armed Conflichts
R4M Orkan – German Air to Air Rocket

There was another version of the R4M rocket, this was a shaped charged warhead used in an anti-tank role. This was an Air to Ground rocket called R4Hl – Panzer blitz.

Orkan R4M with Panzerblitz – Courtesy Nevingtonwarmusuem
R4M Orkan – German Air to Air Rocket
R4M Orkan Workshop drawing – courtesy Armed Conflichts


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