[The Hs.293 Preserved at Cosford]

The picture left shows a preserved Hs.293A-1 at the RAF Museum in Cosford, England.

It clearly shows the winged design with attached rocket and tail unit carrying the control surfaces.

Henschel Flugzeug Werke had been working on a guided bomb project before the outbreak of the war. The Askania and Siemens companies had been developing autopilots and the DVL had commissioned airframes to test these from the Schwartz Propeller Werke in 1937. The initial launchings of these airframes were unsuccessful and the remainder were transferred to the guided weapons study group at Henschel.

Henschel had proposed an unmanned bomber project which had been commissioned shortly after the outbreak of the war. Dr Herbert Wagner joined the development team in early 1940 and a radio-controlled glider bomb was the result, which, fitted with the Walter HWK 109-507 rocket motor became designated the Hs.293.

[Hs.293 Being Launched from a Heinkel He.111]

The first flight test of an Hs.293 missile was on 16th December 1940 and was a failure, as the left and right control circuits were inadvertently reversed in the assembly. The second flight on 18th December was a complete success, with further tests showing promise, as some inadequacies in the Siemens control system were able to be corrected. In service trials, bomb aimers reported difficulties visually tracking the missiles against the ground and the sea, so a unit containing a flare was fitted in the tail unit which could be seen from the parent aircraft, but would not be obvious to anti-aircraft gunners on the ground.

[Hs.293 Carried on a Dornier Do.217]

Henschel Hs.293 guided bombs were (together with "Fritz X" guided bombs) worked into the inventory of KG 100 which used Dornier Do.217 bombers to carry them. The bomb aimer used a small joystick to guide the bomb onto the target, and with some practice, crews could deliver the ordnance with some degree of accuracy.


Operational Use.

KG 100 used the Hs.293 in operations in Southern England, the Bay of Biscay and the Mediterranean between March 1943 and April 1944.

The first successful use of the Hs.293 was by II/KG 100 on 27th August 1943 with the destruction of the British corvette H.M.S. Egret in the Bay of Biscay.

In September 1943 II/KG 100 was moved from Istres in France to Foggia to support III/KG 100 trying to repulse the allied landings at Salerno. III/KG 100 with the Fritz X had had some successes amongst the tightly packed warships with direct hits on cruisers H.M.S. Uganda and U.S.S. Savanna, and H.M.S. Warspite. However, with the arrival of allied fighters onto the mainland, III/KG 100 operations were curtailed and II/KG 100's anti-shipping sorties with their Hs.293 were flown at night. These operational conditions were not suited to visual tracking of low-level missiles and success was elusive, with aircraft evacuating Foggia on 17th September.

The success of the guided bomb programme led the Luftwaffe to add operations to KG 40, the Atlantic anti-shipping force, I/KG 40 with Heinkel He.177 A-5s and II/KG 40 and III/KG 40 with Dornier Do.217s, all armed with Henschel Hs.293 missiles, augmenting the KG 100 force in France.

Further actions in the Mediterranean followed, until a convoy attack in the Gulf of Bougie led to the loss of seven aircraft and four complete crews. Consolidation and resting of crews then took the force to January 1944 when following an attack on a convoy off Oran, it was moved to Northern Italy to support the defence of Anzio. H.M.S. Spartan, a British cruiser was sunk, but the Allies had by this time begun to develop serious counter measures. The Royal Aircraft Establishment ("RAE") had received HS.293 pieces for analysis in September 1943, and substantial parts in October 1943, revealing many of the operational aspects of the Hs.293 system. Manouvering techniques for ships under attack, anti-aircraft gunners targetting both the missile and the attacking aircraft, the use of smoke screens and electronic jamming all but made the use of anti-shipping guided bombs impossible. Operations ceased after March 1944.

[Hs.293 Carried on a Heinkel He.177]

It seems that the Germans were unaware of the Allies' electronic jamming, and despite the equipment to counter this being available in 1944, made no attempt to alter the 50 MHz carrier signal for the missiles, blaming increasing losses on the increasing incidence of inexperienced bomb aimers as experienced crews were lost.



A translation of a Luftwaffe report on the operational use of guided missiles by KG 100 listed a total of 65 operations with 487 aircraft (both Fritz X and Hs.293). A total of 500 rounds were carried, but a number were lost with their aircraft, or returned to base. At the target, 319 bombs were dropped, of which 215 correctly functioned, with a 49.3% hit rate. Taken against the concurrent Allied night bombing success rate, this was phenomenally high.

In all, 79 enemy naval units, including 40 warships and 39 merchant ships of a gross registered tonnage of 291,000 tons were either partially or totally put out of action, for the loss of 48 aircraft.

The greatest proportion of lost operations was due to unfavourable conditions at the target, with technical failures much lower (only 7.5% due to trouble with the remote control system).

[Hs.293 Controls in a Bomber]

Luftwaffe operations with the Hs.293 at the beginning of the campaign were successful due to two main factors. Firstly the crews were well trained and experienced. Secondly, the weapon was novel and the allies were not prepared with counter measures. With attrition of the longer term bomber crews the success rate fell. However, the effect of allied fighter superiority had a large effect on weapon accuracy. The presence of fighters made it difficult for the bombers to keep a steady course, so bomb aimers could not keep their missiles in view all the way to the target. Eventually, daylight fighter superiority forced the bombers to fly at night, making the effective identification of targets and accurate tracking of the weapons very difficult.

The Luftwaffe was also very lax in not testing the frequency band of the control signals of the missiles for jamming signals. Once launched, missiles subjected to jamming would appear to the operator to fly towards the target, but the reason for an unsuccessful impact would not then be apparant. It seems from the report, that the Luftwaffe had no idea that the control signals were not being received by the errant missile.

Web Master Shamus Reddin   [SR Logo]
-: Home :- -: Me.163 :- -: Design :- -: A. T. O. :- -: Missiles :- -: Preserved Motors :-