What if Germany went through with VTOL aircraft?

helmutkohl

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Germany was experimenting with various VTOL aircraft during the cold war

in the end they didn't go for any of them.

in this alternate scenario.. what if Germany did order some into production?

1. Which design would be the most likely to lead to operation? they had the VAK 191, DO 31 (this one being a transport), VJ101, etc which may have led to a fully developed variant
2. How would it be used?
3. How would it affect other German programs and acquisitions? For example would they still join Tornado? Would it push them to develop aircraft carriers? etc

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helmutkohl

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^ i am actually wondering why they didn't in the end
because they were putting so much effort into researching VTOL.
 

zen

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It's likely that efforts hit issues of nuclear delivery and weapons integration. The US favour or disfavour of allowing/helping BRD (FRG) integration of US dual key nukes.
So with US blessing Germany put effort in, but change of doctrine/US admin results in change of view on such.
Plus they probably thought other NATO states might buy them.

And US IP/funding on Kestrel for tripartite trials tied Kestrel sale or licence to US favour.
Plus it wasn't that sparkling a performer.
P1127 'Harrier' was subtle and not so subtle effort to extract US IP out of the airframe. Too late and too controversial to succeed in Germany. Besides earlier was P1154 'Harrier' and later Jaguar.
HS did offer a very interesting scaled 1154 type wrapped around a rather attractive engine. But without UK order or able to piggyback on BS.100 propulsion system funding. It was going to need lots of Deutschmarks to get to service.
 

uk 75

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The Germans ended up replacing the Fiat G91 light attack squadrons with the cheap and cheerful Alpha Jet.
The VAK191 or Harrier would have been a lot more expensive. But in the close air support role the little Alpha was nimble and carried a good weapon fit.
Instead of a VSTOL transport (the Do231 was chosen for both Luftwaffe and Lufthansa use but died in the early 70s as fuel costs skyrocketed and noise issues were more controversial).
The VJ101 morphed into the US/German swing wing vstol AVS later A400 aircraft. This was replaced by the simpler more realistic MRCA Tornado.
The VSTOL types were primarily nuclear delivery tools intended to survive a Soviet attack and deliver massive retaliation.
After the close shave of the Cuban Missile Crisis the US moved to flexible response which required a period of conventional war.
Airbases seemed vulnerable in the 60s, especially after Israel struck Arab fields in 1967. But it proved easier to develop aircraft like Tornado, Jaguar and F16 which could use many roads and taxiways available on airfields and be protected by hardened aircraft shelters.
Supporting a VSTOL fighter away from an airbase required a lot of equipment and people. The Alpha Jet managed to get it down to fewer and closer to their bases.
 

iverson

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The Germans ended up replacing the Fiat G91 light attack squadrons with the cheap and cheerful Alpha Jet.
The VAK191 or Harrier would have been a lot more expensive. But in the close air support role the little Alpha was nimble and carried a good weapon fit.
<snip>
The VSTOL types were primarily nuclear delivery tools intended to survive a Soviet attack and deliver massive retaliation.
After the close shave of the Cuban Missile Crisis the US moved to flexible response which required a period of conventional war.
Airbases seemed vulnerable in the 60s, especially after Israel struck Arab fields in 1967. But it proved easier to develop aircraft like Tornado, Jaguar and F16 which could use many roads and taxiways available on airfields and be protected by hardened aircraft shelters.
Supporting a VSTOL fighter away from an airbase required a lot of equipment and people. The Alpha Jet managed to get it down to fewer and closer to their bases.
Exactly. For austere, dispersed operation, the Fiat was, after all, pretty close to ideal. It was designed as a modern equivalent of a WW2 fighter: simple to operate, easy to maintain, and able to operate from grass strips carrying guns and modest bomb loads.

The German VTOL effort was not about austere basing, but, as you say, assured retaliation. The VAK 191B added lift-only engines, smaller wings (in its original version), and a small bomb bay to the Harrier formula to create a VTOL-optimized, low-level tactical nuclear bomber. If I remember correctly, it was planned to launch them from dispersed, camouflaged, reinforced-concrete bunkers around airfields, where they could use airfield services and still survive a surprise nuclear strike. Germany put a lot of interest into the rocket-boosted, Zero-Length Launch (ZELL) F-104G for the same reason. The plan was to launch the higher-performance F-104s from dispersed concrete stands with maximum fuel and a nuclear weapon. At the end of a mission, they would either recover to a surviving friendly runway or eject.

The CL704, combined VTOL with the F-104G by adding pontoons full of lift jets to the wing tips.

The drawings were originally done as semi-transparent GIFs for use against a blue background. So they will look best if you view them in a new tab or window, without using the JScript viewer.
 

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alertken

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I: it was planned to launch them from dispersed, camouflaged, reinforced-concrete bunkers around airfields, where they could use airfield services and still survive a surprise nuclear strike.

Tks, that, and ZELL on the same Main Bases, would have resolved the issue of USAF Munitions custodials present to convey Presidential Authority to release. Harriers could scatter into hides because their WE177A had no such constraint. But...factors causing UK not to deploy AW on VTOL included payload-range constraint, where Harrier was to disperse from Gutersloh right up close to the DDR border, sites known and targets for Spetsnaz. Literally scores of vehicles, hundreds of bodies, to serve and protect just a few a/c.

There is a leap required to grasp the logic of abandoning VTOL, so chop AVS/VAK-191B, for STOL off autobahns, rough strips, part-repaired stretches of runway. If Tornado, Jaguar are to carry a worthwhile warload+recovery fuel...they will not be Short Take Off. So runway will be available. So no IRBM hit. So WarPac will be coming for us with iron. So we need lots of Alphajet-cheap-and-cheerful, do I mean expendable, not expensive Systems-complex types. Instead NATO had F-111E/F, F-4s, Mirage 2000, Tornado bound to very long runways, to deliver AW on their ditto. Que?
 
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Hood

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The RAF looked at armed Hawks, but when AST.403 came along, that solution was ruled out. Hawk had no all-weather attack capability, was vulnerable to any decent ground-based aerial defences and with a full 5,000lb warload needed too much runway. Saying that, the RAF and Army had differing views on the Armed Attack Helicopter (WG.45/WG.47 et al), the former viewed it as simply a flying tank, the latter as overlapping with Harrier.
I doubt that the German Alpha Jets would have been much more capable against a full Warsaw Pact onslaught in terms of avionics and weapons capability, although they may have had the edge on field performance, but they were cheaper and more numerous and with West Germany likely to be destroyed in any war it made sense to get max use out of the their jet trainers in wartime.

I think had VAK-191 gone ahead, it would have been difficult for Germany to have funded that and MRCA at the same time to completion. MRCA was probably always more important to the Luftwaffe than a relatively limited-range tactical strike aircraft.
 

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I suspect the German situation was driven very much by a combination of the 1944/45 experience with the Soviets along with a realisation that if nukes were going to be thrown around it would be Germany very much in the target crosshairs by everyone. Therefore if WW3 breaks out get in quick and lob your own tactical nukes from dispersed sites into east Germany and especially Poland etc and take out the tank fleets etc very quickly before it all gets too ugly. Things such as range and the like would probably be secondary concern.
 

Michel Van

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Let Face it, main problem of VTOL can only carry the half of conventional Combat jet or cargo.

EWR VJ 101 was difficult to fly Aircraft
VAK-191 was Light attack aircraft, reconnaissance plane and tactical nuclear Bomber (a VTOL version of F-104G)
but next half payload you face higher maintenance cost on all those engines (the Achilles' heel of the Luftwaffen)

Do-31 would have great if had they produce this plane
As civilian Transporter or rescue aircraft it would be a fantastic aircraft
Sadly the German government shut down the Do-31 as entire VTOL program was abandon do change in NATO doctrine

F-104G ZELL
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75qnxMd1YSY

WHAT THE HELL WERE THEY SMOKING ?! putting F-104G on a rocket booster !

Oh by the Way
Do issue with F-104G "Widow maker" the Luftwaffe abandon single engine Combat jet and went for twin engines.
like F-4 Phantom II, Alpha Jet, Tornado, Eurofighter and "what ever they build now with french"
also reason why VAK-191 program was Terminated it had only single pegasus engine or why Luftwaffe never buy Harrier Jets...
 

kocovgoce

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The Germans were quite frightened by the Russian ТЕМP-S( TЕМП-С) rockets that they would destroy all German airports and the entire German aviation in a few minutes.
 

iverson

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<snip>

WHAT THE HELL WERE THEY SMOKING ?! putting F-104G on a rocket booster !

<snip>
By all accounts, it worked very well indeed and made a certain sense, given the assumptions prevalent at the time. The only real downside in peacetime was the extremely high cost of the booster rockets. The aircraft behaved well and takeoff was, well, easy.
 

uk 75

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The late, great Gerry Anderson liked the idea so much he used it..
 

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uk 75

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A Luftwaffe with VSTOL kit would have looked pretty cool.
 

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kocovgoce

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zero take-off point was good as a concept but it was still needed special
pedestal with huge dimensions then a crane to set up the plane on the launch pad and normally the F-104 would have to have foldable wings for easier transport by truck or train
 

iverson

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zero take-off point was good as a concept but it was still needed special
pedestal with huge dimensions then a crane to set up the plane on the launch pad and normally the F-104 would have to have foldable wings for easier transport by truck or train

There was nothing huge about the launch pedestal and the blast trench, especially when compared to ordinary airfield construction--runways, hardened shelters, etc. This was, I believe, one of the major attractions of the scheme. Nor was there any need for folding wings or train transportation. The aircraft were meant to operate from sites close to existing airfields, not random railroad sidings. They would fly to bases and then taxi be towed to to the launch sites.

Cranes were indeed necessary. But were part of the ordinary airfield equipment. Aside from the rocket boosters and their fittings, the only obvious special items required were the scarey looking, super-tall, modified boarding ladders shown in my illustration.
 

iverson

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The following is a piece on ZELL that I wrote for Chandelle back in 2003:

Doomsday machines: Zero-Length Launch (ZELL)

The overly cerebral, largely academic defense planning of the Cold-War years produced many fascinating and unlikely solutions for narrowly-defined or non-existent problems: launching multiengined heavy bombers from carrier decks, nuclear aircraft engines, and miniature parasite fighters riding in bomb bays all had their supporters. Of all of these schemes, Zero-Length Launch (ZELL) was among the best thought out, the most successful technically, and the least relevant to practical, real-world air force operations.

Western defense policy during the half-century following the Second World War was founded on belief that, at any moment, vast Soviet hoardes might sweep through the Fulda Gap and across the German plain to the Channel. According to the articles of this now curious faith, Soviet manpower reserves were so limitless, her heavy industrial capacity so great, and the militarization of her society so complete that the West could never hope to stop the Soviet juggernaut by opposing it man-for-man and tank-for-tank. After WW2, America was supposedly too tired of war to spend the money and lives required, and Europe was too enfeebled. To stave off defeat, the West would have to use nuclear weapons early and in quantity. When the idea was first broached, it seemed to solve all of the West's defense problems. America and Britain had a monopoly on the bomb and and overwhelming superiority in the air. Western air forces could stop the Red tank hoardes long before the latter could overrun Western air bases, and the primitive Soviet air forces could do little about it. By the late 1950s, however, this strategy had much less to recommend it: the Soviets had developed their own nuclear weapons, together with the tactical aircraft and missiles to deliver them. NATO's nuclear-armed tactical aircraft operated from the concrete runways, taxiways, and hardstands of a few, big bases, located just minutes, by ballistic missile, from the eastern frontier.

If Western air superiority was to remain the key to the defense of Europe, then, something would have to be done to eliminate the vulnerability of NATO's airplanes and bases. The USAF had always preferred to protect its aircraft from being destroyed on the ground by shooting down the attackers before they could attack. Unfortunately, no one could shoot down a ballistic missile. Traditional methods, such as dispersal and revetments, were also difficult in a nuclear environment, since the weapons might be powerful enough to destroy everything on an air field, including the vital runways.

One solution was to abandon the big, well-known air fields in wartime and disperse the aircraft across the country. In 1954, Supreme Allied Commander, Europe (SACEUR) drafted a NATO Basic Military Requirement for an lightweight tactical fighter capable of lifting a tactical nuclear bomb from unimproved roadways and grass strips. This concept, which eventually gave rise to the Fiat G.91R, was highly attractive to the US Army and to budget-conscious European governments, but it was anathema to the USAF. The lightweight fighters sacrificed too many capabilities, in its judgement, and would prove unable to carry out the mission in the face of more sophisticated enemy interceptors. Operating from fields and roads would be far too difficult and costly to be a matter of routine. The airplanes would still require fuel, ordinance, ground crews, and maintenance equipment, all of which would be expensive to provide off base. And where would you put the barracks, the batchelor officer's quarters, the clubs, and the BX? Yet, if you normally operated from the existing bases and dispersed only in wartime, what did you gain? Nuclear-armed missiles could still destroy the base before you could disperse.

Another solution was to accept that airplanes and air forces had become irrelevant, given the posited threat, a position that Britain adopted in the famous 1957 Defense White Paper. This held that, in a nuclear war, the ballistic missile had made the aircraft obsolete. Ballistic missiles could be launched from hardened nuclear-bomb resistant shelters or dispersed on trucks. They were, for the specialized nuclear missions being considered, cheaper to develop and deploy. They could not be intercepted, and they could, in principle, be launched at much shorter notice than aircraft. Needless to say, from a USAF point of view, this was worse than the lightweight fighter idea. If adopted, it would end the air force as it had been known to date and convert it into a sort of artillery arm, limited to the delivery of nuclear shells.

One could also develop specialized aircraft optimized for vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) from dispersed sites. SACEUR and the Federal German Government pursued this option as a follow-on to the lightweight fighter program. But most of the USAF objections to the lightweight fighter applied doubly to VTOL aircraft. The compromises that runwayless operation demanded would alway result in an airplane that was less capable and less flexible in other respects when compared with conventional fighters. The problems of fueling, maintenance, and accommodations were exactly the same.

While the Air Force could cavalierly dismiss the solutions proposed, it could not so easily disregard the threat posed to its bases by Soviet nuclear missiles, particularly given the concerns expressed by SACEUR. The G.91 program showed that, at the very lest, SACEUR was capable of going around the USAF to get its concerns addressed. The practice of maintaining nuclear-armed aircraft on "hot-stand" alerts, with engines idling and crews in the cockpit substantially reduced the time needed to launch a strike, but it did not eliminate the need for advance warning. So a requirement emerged for a system that would let the Air Force have change everything while changing nothing. The USAF needed a system that would let any aircraft in the USAF inventory operate from shelters and dispersed sites without compromising any of the aircrafts' other qualities, without imposing special burdens on aircraft designers, and without threatening the Air Forces established infrastructure, processes, and overalll way of doing things. This system was ZELL.

Superficially, the ZELL concept was simple extension of the familiar JATO rocket-assisted takeoff idea. JATO bottles were routinely used to launch heavily loaded aircraft. They came in standard sizes, and all service aircraft likely to use them came with built-in provision for mounting them. While more expensive and troublesome than a conventional takeoff, a JATO launch was less expensive than building-in a heavy-load takeoff capability that would be used only occasionally in service. JATO was thus an excellent compromise. To extend the concept for the dispersed operations mission, one would only have to provide bigger rockets, so that the takeoff run would be less than the length of the aircraft's fuselage: zero-length launch. Any aircraft in the USAF inventory could then be fired off the back of a truck or out of a concrete bunker in the woods, just like a ballistic missile. Or so it seemed.

In practice, there was rather more to it. JATO differed from the proposed ZELL concept in that it merely accelerated the aircraft to wingborne flying speed more quickly and thus shortened the takeoff roll. ZELL proposed to do away with then takeoff roll altogether. The aircraft would be launched ballistically and would be well on their way before their engines and wing-generated lift had anything to do with it. This took a lot of thrust, depending on the launch weight of the aircraft. Standard JATO-style rockets would not now work, since the thrust would have to be separately calculated for each aircraft type and load option. To achieve a smooth transition to stable, controlled flight, engineers had to calculate the thrust line of the rocket in relation to the centers of gravity and lift for each aircraft type as well. This meant that the mountings could not be standard either. Handling the rocket motors in addition to aviation fuel, ground equipment, the aircraft itself, and the ordinance complicated the problem of operating from dispersed sites.

Nonetheless, the launch concept worked well. Early experiments with a Republic F-84G showed that the airplane could be launched smoothly and at a reasonable rate of acceleration. Pilots had no difficulty making the transition to controlled flight, although the uncontrolled ballistic takeoff was not universally popular. Trials were later extended to include the standard USAF tactical fighter of the period, the F-100 Super Sabre. These were again considered successful. Using a Rocketdyne booster offering 130,000 pounds (59,000 kg) of thrust, An F-100D with external fuel and a Mk.7 tactical nuclear bomb could reach 275 mph (450 KPH) and 400 ft (120 m) in 4 seconds, for a maximum acceleration of 4G. The aircraft could be launched in as little as 5 minutes, and it allowed the aircraft to operate at night and in almost any weather.

Landing concepts were another matter. At first, ZELL proponents planned to use the Matt Landing (MAL) approach to recover ZELLed aircraft. This required that the aircraft land wheels up on a special, inflatable rubberized landing mat, 80 ft wide, 800 ft long, and 3 feet thick (25x245x1 m) and stop short by means of an arrester hook and cable. The flexible mat was supposed to cushion the shock of landing enough to obviate the need for a heavy, aircraft carrier-type landing gear and structure. When MAL was first tried, using the F-84G, it was a disaster. The aircraft bounced wildly, the arrester hook tore the mat, and the aircraft was destroyed. The test pilot suffered severe spinal injuries. The next two tests went somewhat more smoothly, but it was obvious that pilots risked serious whiplash injuries every time the technique was used. The MAL approach was, moreover, unacceptably clumsy, complex, and labor intensive. The huge mat was awkward to transport and slow to deploy. The approach was abandoned.

For the USAF, the failure of MAL was not a serious drawback. The service viewed the ZEL technique as a way of addressing the airfield-vulnerability issues raised by SACEUR without in any way compromising on the qualities it wanted in its fighter aircraft. It did not seriously contemplate using ZELL for routine flight operations. ZELL would be used, if at all, in the aftermath of a massive, nuclear surprise attack. In this Doomsday scenario, the Air Force reasoned, a short-field recovery method was not really needed: the pilot could simply return to friendly territory and eject. ZELL was therefore accepted for limited operational use, and the remaining F-100D airframes on the North American production line—100 or so—were delivered with full, operational ZELL equipment, standard.

The USAF did not subsequently deploy or practice ZELL with the F-100 or any other aircraft, however. By the time it was ready, having nuclear-armed combat aircraft trundling around the countryside on the backs of trucks did not seem like such a good idea. Providing adequate security for the weapons would have been almost impossible, and European citizens were beginning to be less tolerant of the damage and annoyance caused by major, peacetime NATO deployments. European governments were also have second thoughts about the wisdom of using nuclear explosions on or near their own territory to blunt a Soviet attack.

Interest in ZELL did not end with the USAF, however. Of all the NATO air forces, the Federal German Luftwaffe was the only one to take SACEUR and NATO's Massive Retaliation strategy really seriously. It had, for instance, been the only NATO country to deploy the G.91R lightweight fighter in quantity. This attitude is understandable. As a quick look at a map shows, the Federal Republic was simply too shallow for a defense based on conventional weapons to succeed. A defense that finally stopped the Soviets in Belgium would do Germans little good. Flexibility and conventional weapons-carrying was, moreover, of little interest to the Germans. They did not have the extensive overseas committments of the United States, Great Britain, and France, and they did not produce aircraft for export to secondary powers, as these countries did. Specialization and almost complete reliance on nuclear arms were thus not the problem for Germany that they were for these other powers.

Germany's massive investment in the Lockheed F-104G Starfighter also made the ZELL technique attractive. The F-104G was a variant of the F-104A high-altitude, clear-weather interceptor strenghtened and optimized for nuclear bombing at high-speed and very low altitudes, where contemporary air-defense radars were ineffective. It was well suited for this role primarily because it had a tiny, short-span, razor-thin wing originally designed for high turn rates at supersonic speeds and high altitudes. In the thick, bumpy air at low altitude, a large, flexible, and/or long wing vibrates so badly at high speeds that airframe parts break and pilots cannot function. Gusts and downdrafts can force such aircraft to flyer high enough or slow enough to make them vulnerable to enemy defenses. The F-104's stiff, short-span wing was much less affected. However, it also offered much less lift, even after the basic F-104 design was modified to include larger, more effective flaps. Takeoff runs were comparatively long, so it was hard to launch the aircraft really quickly, as nuclear strike scenarios demanded. ZELL was, for this reason alone, very attractive. While dispersing the aircraft around the country on trucks was now out of the question, it might still be possible to disperse the aircraft well-enough within the confines of military bases, especially if they could be launched from a hardened rock or concrete shelter. Tests with the F-100D had showed that the shelter-launch idea was perfectly feasible. In many ways, it made the logistics of ZELL and the process of carrying out a really quick launch easier, particularly in bad weather.

With partial German funding, ZELL development was thus resumed in 1963. Initially, the work was carried out at Edwards Air Force Base in the USA, using a German-owned F-104G from JBG 31, DA+102 (683-2002), the third Lockheed-built airframe. The aircraft was launched carrying a simulated, 1-megaton B-43 tactical nuclear weapon and a full load of external fuel, four 348-gal (1287-ltr) tanks, two on the wing tips and two under wing. Once again, no serious difficulties were encountered.

In 1966, the test program moved to Lechfeld, Germany for final, operational tests. Two F-104G aircraft from Lechfeld-based JBG 32 (DB+127 and DB+128) were used for the next series of evaluations. This time, the aircraft were to be launched from simplified, unfortified hardstands located near the periphery of the base. Each launch position incorporated a pair of concrete pylons with fittings for the F-104G landing gear, a concrete ramp, and a shallow, concrete-lined trench to channel the rocket exhaust away from the launch pad. Special ground equipment, including high-rise boarding ladders, were provided.

To recover its aircraft at the end of their missions, the Germans planned to use the airfield arrestor gear originally developed for the US Marine Corps SATS (Short Airfield for Tactical Support) system. SATS essentially recreated an aircraft carrier flightdeck ashore, using interlocking aluminum deck panels, a portable catapult, and hydraulic cable-arrest system. In wartime, these would be deployed to remote or disused airfields or along the autobahnen.

Like its USAF predecessor, however, the German ZELL program gradually faded away, after a lengthy series of completely successful tests. The high cost of the rockets was probably a factor, as were the increasing unpopularity of nuclear arms in Germany during the '60s and the increasing accuracy of ballistic missiles. No one was still prepared to disperse live nuclear weapons across Germany's fields and parking lots. Yet the presumed accuracy and high capacity of Soviet IRBMs made it unlikely that any practical level of hardening could save an aircraft in a concrete shelter. In all probability, the decision to use SATS for recovery further undermined the program. Once the additional complexity of the airfield arrestor system was accepted, the need for the ZELL rocket became questionable: the full SATS system included a catapult that was already in use by the US Marines. The Luftwaffe in fact experimented with catapult launching the F-104 at one point in the program. Changing political and diplomatic realities had, however, rendered simplistic nuclear doomsday scenarios obsolete by this point. Even Germany had lost interest in short-takeoff, quick reaction nuclear attacks. The program quietly died.

In the final analysis, ZELL exemplifies the weaknesses of a Western defense establishment that too often focused on technological possibility rather than operational necessity. ZELL addressed a largely theoretical threat and failed to allow for the day-to-day, real-world realities of owning and operating military aircraft. It ignored costs, operational issues, and the organizational problems it caused for the user services. ZELL's creators set themselves the task of producing a radical new capability without any thought for how their invention would complement the existing inventory or change existing procurement plans. They gave the Air Force's conventional aircraft a bolt-on STOL capability, obviating the any discussion of whether STOL was needed and, if so, whether conventional aircraft were the best way to provide it. Worse still, the superficial flexibility of the system was illusory. It merely allowed the USAF to convert any multipurpose aircraft into a rigid, single-purpose nuclear delivery system. ZELL could not be easily adapted to more conventional military roles, if only for center-of-gravity reasons: a different bolt-on booster package would have to be designed, qualified, and stocked for every type of tactical aircraft, weapons loadout, and operating weight that might be encountered operationally. Pilots would have to be trained for both ZELL and conventional operations, and new bases and support equipment would have to be provided in parallel with those needed for normal runway operations. ZELL thus nullified the main advantages of tactical aircraft: flexibility, adaptability, and relative economy of operation. ZELLed aircraft could not be rapidly switched from one role to another. Takeoff and much of the flight to the target were under automatic control, so the expensively trained pilot was just a passenger. During recovery, if the scenario went as expected, his skills would not even be needed to land the aircraft, because all of the NATO air bases would be gone and he would be ejecting. ZELL's creators had, in effect, turned a jet fighter into an overweight, under-performing, over-priced cruise missile.

From Chandelle 8:1. Text and illustrations © 2003 by Robert Craig Johnson. All rights reserved.
 

T. A. Gardner

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Germany was experimenting with various VTOL aircraft during the cold war

in the end they didn't go for any of them.

in this alternate scenario.. what if Germany did order some into production?

1. Which design would be the most likely to lead to operation? they had the VAK 191, DO 31 (this one being a transport), VJ101, etc which may have led to a fully developed variant
2. How would it be used?
3. How would it affect other German programs and acquisitions? For example would they still join Tornado? Would it push them to develop aircraft carriers? etc

EB3GzISW4AIdt8X.jpg
This one looks a lot like the Yak 36, and that plane wasn't all that good...

1626660918727.png
 

kocovgoce

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zero take-off point was good as a concept but it was still needed special
pedestal with huge dimensions then a crane to set up the plane on the launch pad and normally the F-104 would have to have foldable wings for easier transport by truck or train

There was nothing huge about the launch pedestal and the blast trench, especially when compared to ordinary airfield construction--runways, hardened shelters, etc. This was, I believe, one of the major attractions of the scheme. Nor was there any need for folding wings or train transportation. The aircraft were meant to operate from sites close to existing airfields, not random railroad sidings. They would fly to bases and then taxi be towed to to the launch sites.

Cranes were indeed necessary. But were part of the ordinary airfield equipment. Aside from the rocket boosters and their fittings, the only obvious special items required were the scarey looking, super-tall, modified boarding ladders shown in my illustration.
I was thinking more about having more mobility when you could carry an F-104 by truck where necessary and set up here on a ramp and launch. The Vietnamese did something similar when they transported the MiG-17 by Mi-6 helicopter to improvised airports and with the help of a JATO rockets lifted them of shorter distances. Because that's the point of a VSTOL aircraft to able to take off from every place.
 

kocovgoce

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Germany was experimenting with various VTOL aircraft during the cold war

in the end they didn't go for any of them.

in this alternate scenario.. what if Germany did order some into production?

1. Which design would be the most likely to lead to operation? they had the VAK 191, DO 31 (this one being a transport), VJ101, etc which may have led to a fully developed variant
2. How would it be used?
3. How would it affect other German programs and acquisitions? For example would they still join Tornado? Would it push them to develop aircraft carriers? etc

EB3GzISW4AIdt8X.jpg
Аnd to accept a VTOL plane however those aircraft at that time were subsonic

and will have to accept the development of tornadoes or the purchase of US supersonic aircraft such as the F-16 or F-18
 

riggerrob

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Let Face it, main problem of VTOL can only carry the half of conventional Combat jet or cargo.

EWR VJ 101 was difficult to fly Aircraft
VAK-191 was Light attack aircraft, reconnaissance plane and tactical nuclear Bomber (a VTOL version of F-104G)
but next half payload you face higher maintenance cost on all those engines (the Achilles' heel of the Luftwaffen)

Do-31 would have great if had they produce this plane
As civilian Transporter or rescue aircraft it would be a fantastic aircraft
Sadly the German government shut down the Do-31 as entire VTOL program was abandon do change in NATO doctrine

F-104G ZELL
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75qnxMd1YSY

WHAT THE HELL WERE THEY SMOKING ?! putting F-104G on a rocket booster !

Oh by the Way
Do issue with F-104G "Widow maker" the Luftwaffe abandon single engine Combat jet and went for twin engines.
like F-4 Phantom II, Alpha Jet, Tornado, Eurofighter and "what ever they build now with french"
also reason why VAK-191 program was Terminated it had only single pegasus engine or why Luftwaffe never buy Harrier Jets...
USAF also experimented with an F-100 Super Sabre with similar Zero length launch system.
 

riggerrob

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Germany was experimenting with various VTOL aircraft during the cold war

in the end they didn't go for any of them.

in this alternate scenario.. what if Germany did order some into production?

1. Which design would be the most likely to lead to operation? they had the VAK 191, DO 31 (this one being a transport), VJ101, etc which may have led to a fully developed variant
2. How would it be used?
3. How would it affect other German programs and acquisitions? For example would they still join Tornado? Would it push them to develop aircraft carriers? etc

EB3GzISW4AIdt8X.jpg
This one looks a lot like the Yak 36, and that plane wasn't all that good...

View attachment 660986
Everyones' first prototype is crude.
The Soviets merely needed another $ billon of DARPA's money to perfect their VTOL fighters.
Hah!
Hah!
 

Archibald

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Germany was experimenting with various VTOL aircraft during the cold war

in the end they didn't go for any of them.

in this alternate scenario.. what if Germany did order some into production?

1. Which design would be the most likely to lead to operation? they had the VAK 191, DO 31 (this one being a transport), VJ101, etc which may have led to a fully developed variant
2. How would it be used?
3. How would it affect other German programs and acquisitions? For example would they still join Tornado? Would it push them to develop aircraft carriers? etc

EB3GzISW4AIdt8X.jpg
This one looks a lot like the Yak 36, and that plane wasn't all that good...

View attachment 660986

Very much, yes. It is kind of improbable mix of Harrier and Forger: they wanted a smaller engine than Pegasus to go faster without the large compressor; alas, not enough thrust, so they added lift-jets. One in front, and the other in the rear.
Bizarre aircraft, really !
 

kocovgoce

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Did anyone have the project of BELL Company for VTOL Which was a combination of rotor who assembled into the fuselage?
 

iverson

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I was thinking more about having more mobility when you could carry an F-104 by truck where necessary and set up here on a ramp and launch. The Vietnamese did something similar when they transported the MiG-17 by Mi-6 helicopter to improvised airports and with the help of a JATO rockets lifted them of shorter distances. Because that's the point of a VSTOL aircraft to able to take off from every place.

Dispersed basing using trucks was certainly one approach that NATO planners considered. But I suspect that mobility and the ability to use alternate airfields were not really the point.

Remember that NATO's strategy in those days centered on all-or-nothing, massive retaliation. The threat posed by NATO's nuclear-armed tactical aircraft was believed to be the only practical deterrent to an otherwise inevitable Soviet invasion that would inevitably overwhelm NATO's smaller and weaker conventional forces. West Germany had essentially zero strategic depth. If the moment ever came, Soviet tanks were expected to arrive at airfield boundaries in a matter of days if not hours. NATO fighter bombers would launch from German bases all at once and only once. Thereafter, any survivors that recovered to bases in other NATO countries would probably be out of range of Warsaw Pact targets and might be unable to use nuclear weapons against Soviet forces in heavily populated friendly territory.

The advent of nuclear armed, Soviet tactical and intermediate range ballistic missiles appeared to fatally undermine the massive retaliation strategy. NATO airfields were very large, well-known, fixed targets. By striking first, with missiles, the Soviets could instantly eliminate the retaliatory capacity that was thought to be the only restraint on Russian Communist aggression. NATO's air power suddenly seemed to switch from deterring to inviting surprise attack.

This threat to NATO's retaliatory capability was what drove NATO's interest in alternative basing. Airfields had to be large because contemporary combat aircraft needed very long runways. Eliminate the need for these runways, and you eliminate the problem. NATO planners considered operating conventional aircraft like the G.91 from short, improvised, grass or PSP strips, and sections of highway using JATO. They considered operating VTOL fighters supplied and supported by VTOL transports from forest clearings. And they considered operating conventional fighters from the backs of trucks using ZELL.

But, as others have noted, only the UK actually made an effort to operate from such austere sites with its Harriers. Ultimately, NATO air forces recognized the crippling limitations of austere basing of contemporary aircraft, even in a short-term emergency. Base it where you will, a V/STOL of ZELL aircraft was still a 1960s jet. It required a lot of supporting infrastructure: fuel, ordinance, oxygen supplies, access ladders, spare parts, test equipment, security, crew accommodation, intelligence and mission planning facilities, etc. Handling nuclear ordinance compounded the problems. Nor did VTOL transports reduce them--by the time you were operating transports large enough to support combat operations, you were establishing a noticeably large airfield.

I think that these support considerations explain why the Germans conceived of their VTOL operations in the ways that they did. A trip-wire retaliatory force had to be reliably, instantly available--and seen to be so. The logistical and servicing difficulties inherent in austere operations undercut the deterrent effect of German fighter bombers. But the vulnerability of runways was undeniable.

So the German approach made a virtue of the sheer size of NATO airfields while addressing its dangers. Air bases had a lot of space available, enough for reasonably effective dispersal while maintaining reasonable access to support facilities. Aircraft just had to be able to do without a takeoff run in a crisis. So, unlike the V/STOL Harrier, the original VAK-191B was optimized purely for VTOL. Much of its vertical thrust came from lift jets, so that it could operate vertically from concrete bunkers away from runways and central facilities. The ZELL F-104s were intended for launch from similar bunkers or, as I noted, from hard stands.

Given the assumptions in force at the time, this approach offered the best combination of available alternatives. It offered enough dispersal over a large enough area to let at least some of the force survive a surprise missile strike. But only the quick-reaction-alert crews and aircraft had to undergo the inconveniences of dispersed operation and only for short periods. Normal airbase facilities would be available for routine accommodation, maintenance, etc. The German approach would have maintained a force ready for retaliation without enduring the day-to-day misery, availability, and logistical problems of routinely operating high-performance 1960s airplanes out of forest clearings and boggy fields, etc.

Why wasn't more done along these lines? The world changed. Thankfully. Both sides became less certain of the other's malign intentions, aggressive stance, and assumed military superiority. As both grew braver, treaties replaced tripwires and dooms day machines..
 
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iverson

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USAF also experimented with an F-100 Super Sabre with similar Zero length launch system.
Yes, as a follow-on to earlier F-84 experiments. The F-100 was tested with a simulated nuclear store on one wing, but most pictures have been censored.
 

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zen

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The other side of this is the increased number and performance of NATO tactical missiles.
Army dispersal was inherent in it's nature and such tactical weapons were easier to hide, move and support.
This culminating in 'Pershing and Cruise'.
 

riggerrob

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What if the Luftwaffe was never allowed to reform during the Cold War?
Instead, only the West German Navy is allowed to fly military aircraft under Royal Navy supervision ... er ... exchange officers like Captain Eric "Winkle" Brown. With RN FAA advisors, the West German Navy buys lots of British naval aircraft (Gannets, Sea Hawks, Buccaneers, etc.) and eventually Harriers.
In this alternate universe, Germans prefer to fund a Pegasus engine variant with only a single rear exhaust.
The WGN is primarily tasked with defending the Northern Coast (Baltic and North Sea) but detachments are stationed at Bodensee, Rhine River and various other inland bodies of water.
 

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Zell concept is interesting but the Soviets solved it with the S-75 and S-125 missiles and later with kub-m Because ZELL f-104 is like firing a rocket to the enemy but with the difference that the whole aircraft is piloted It is possible that the development of the American mim 23 hawk anti aicraft system allowed to abandon this idea of defending airports with the help of zell f-104
 

T. A. Gardner

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Zell concept is interesting but the Soviets solved it with the S-75 and S-125 missiles and later with kub-m Because ZELL f-104 is like firing a rocket to the enemy but with the difference that the whole aircraft is piloted It is possible that the development of the American mim 23 hawk anti aicraft system allowed to abandon this idea of defending airports with the help of zell f-104
The closest Western system to a Zell concept in terms of something that deployed operationally would probably be the short-lived USAF BOMARC missile system. BOMARC was essentially a pilotless aircraft that could engage targets up to about 200 miles from the launch site. It interacted with the Air Force's SAGE ground control system for mid-course guidance and had active terminal homing. The missile was also designated the F-99 implying it was a fighter plane of sorts.
 

kocovgoce

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Zell concept is interesting but the Soviets solved it with the S-75 and S-125 missiles and later with kub-m Because ZELL f-104 is like firing a rocket to the enemy but with the difference that the whole aircraft is piloted It is possible that the development of the American mim 23 hawk anti aicraft system allowed to abandon this idea of defending airports with the help of zell f-104
The closest Western system to a Zell concept in terms of something that deployed operationally would probably be the short-lived USAF BOMARC missile system. BOMARC was essentially a pilotless aircraft that could engage targets up to about 200 miles from the launch site. It interacted with the Air Force's SAGE ground control system for mid-course guidance and had active terminal homing. The missile was also designated the F-99 implying it was a fighter plane of sorts.
wait a minute BOMARC was guided by the pilot who piloted the rocket itself a and then when the rocket is aimed the pilot is capitulated ?
 

T. A. Gardner

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Zell concept is interesting but the Soviets solved it with the S-75 and S-125 missiles and later with kub-m Because ZELL f-104 is like firing a rocket to the enemy but with the difference that the whole aircraft is piloted It is possible that the development of the American mim 23 hawk anti aicraft system allowed to abandon this idea of defending airports with the help of zell f-104
The closest Western system to a Zell concept in terms of something that deployed operationally would probably be the short-lived USAF BOMARC missile system. BOMARC was essentially a pilotless aircraft that could engage targets up to about 200 miles from the launch site. It interacted with the Air Force's SAGE ground control system for mid-course guidance and had active terminal homing. The missile was also designated the F-99 implying it was a fighter plane of sorts.
wait a minute BOMARC was guided by the pilot who piloted the rocket itself a and then when the rocket is aimed the pilot is capitulated ?
BOMARC was a pilotless drone that was boosted to speed by a rocket motor then flew as an conventional aircraft on ramjet engines to intercept the target. It was guided in route by the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment system (SAGE) the USAF used at the time. Once it was terminal to the target, it would seek it using active radar and then either destroy it using a conventional or nuclear warhead.
With SAGE an operator monitored an automatic system that would steer the missile (or plane) to position it for an intercept.

It became obsolete with the discovery that the Soviet Union had no large intercontinental bomber fleet to attack the US with. Because of it's using ramjets for propulsion the system couldn't be used for some sort of makeshift ABM alternative. The missile had a ceiling of about 60,000 - 70,000 feet.
 

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Zell concept is interesting but the Soviets solved it with the S-75 and S-125 missiles and later with kub-m Because ZELL f-104 is like firing a rocket to the enemy but with the difference that the whole aircraft is piloted It is possible that the development of the American mim 23 hawk anti aicraft system allowed to abandon this idea of defending airports with the help of zell f-104
I think you have misunderstood. The ZELL F-104G was not an interceptor project for defending air bases or a manned equivalent of surface-to-air missiles like BOMARC or S-75. The F-104G was optimized for low-level strike with nuclear weapons, rather like the Su-7. ZELL operation simply made it possible to carrry out a retaliatory strike mission even if a surprise attack destroyed the runways of NATO airbases.
 

Justo Miranda

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Let Face it, main problem of VTOL can only carry the half of conventional Combat jet or cargo.

EWR VJ 101 was difficult to fly Aircraft
VAK-191 was Light attack aircraft, reconnaissance plane and tactical nuclear Bomber (a VTOL version of F-104G)
but next half payload you face higher maintenance cost on all those engines (the Achilles' heel of the Luftwaffen)

Do-31 would have great if had they produce this plane
As civilian Transporter or rescue aircraft it would be a fantastic aircraft
Sadly the German government shut down the Do-31 as entire VTOL program was abandon do change in NATO doctrine

F-104G ZELL
View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75qnxMd1YSY

WHAT THE HELL WERE THEY SMOKING ?! putting F-104G on a rocket booster !

Oh by the Way
Do issue with F-104G "Widow maker" the Luftwaffe abandon single engine Combat jet and went for twin engines.
like F-4 Phantom II, Alpha Jet, Tornado, Eurofighter and "what ever they build now with french"
also reason why VAK-191 program was Terminated it had only single pegasus engine or why Luftwaffe never buy Harrier Jets...
In my opinion on the first day of the Soviet attack by surprise all the air bases in Western Europe would have been rendered useless by NBC attacks, the Zell aircraft would have managed to take off from isolated launch sites but they would not have had a place to land as happened to the Egyptian fighters during the Six Day War.

The Germans had already found the solution to this problem during the last months of the Second World War and surely in the Archives of the Luftwaffe they still had information on all possible sites for the VTOL fighters Heinkel Wespe, Heinkel Lerche and Focke-Wulf Triebflügel.

A considerable number of VAK-191s would have been very useful in attacking the fuel and ammunition reserves of the Soviet tanks, the Germans knew how to do it and perhaps would have managed to stop them until the United Nations had reached a territorial agreement advantageous to the aggressor.

The maintenance of the engines would not have been a big problem, the war would not have lasted long.
 
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