Zippermayrs Vortex Projectiles

Dazzle

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Hi there,

does anybody have some more details on this kind of weapon:

It is said to be a weapon designed by Zippermayr to be used agains airplanes duplicated in miniature the effects of tornados. In his experiments, Z. shot a projectile filled with powdered coal dust and a charge of finely grained tough-surfaced double base propellant from a mortar. When the projectile apprached the vicinity of a plane the propellant was exploded by means of an initiator. the combination of the forward component of velocity of the coal particles (created by the movement of the projectile) and a lateral component of velocity (created by the explosion of the propellant) was upposed to create a sort of tornado.

Report pages or images appreciated.
 

williamjpellas

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Dazzle, yes, there is detail about the Zippermayr bomb / warhead in a number of primary sources, including both British and American intelligence documents which date from WWII itself.

Operation Hexenkessel, a late war project under the direction of the Austrian-Italian Nazi scientist, Dr. Mario Zippermayr, was an attempt to scale up Zippermayr’s earlier work for the Luftwaffe on an anti-aircraft explosive into an extremely potent weapon that would have approached the first atomic bombs in firepower. According to a 1945 US intelligence report,

"Dr Zippermayer was sent to Vienna and told to set up his own laboratory where he would receive supplementary equipment to further his experiments for the Luftwaffe. The laboratory was located at Weimarer Strasse 87. He had a staff of 35. His main project was a coal dust explosive for the Enzian and Schmetterling flak rocket. The concussion of the explosion could break the wings of a bomber. It was ready by August 1943 but work was then halted." ( The archival citation is as follows: US Forces Austria, Counter-Intelligence Corps, Salzburg, 4 Aug.1945 Case No S/Z/55 Dr Mario Zippermayer: NARA/RG 319 Entry 82a "Reports and Messages, ALSOS”.)

There is also this:

“Extremely good results had been obtained from a mixture of 60% liquid air and 40% coal dust. The technical man responsible for the work was a Dr Zippermayer. The first trials were made at Doeberitz near Berlin using a charge of about 8 kgs powder. The liquid air and coal dust were mixed together. Kreutzfeld did this himself. In an area of 500-600 metres radius trees were all completely destroyed. Then the explosion started to rise and affected only tree tops.

Further trials were made by adding a paper impregnated with some strange waxy substance to the mixture. Bombs of 25 kg and 50 kg containing this powder were dropped at Starberger See and some photos taken. Standartenfuehrer Klumm showed the album to Brandt (Himmler's scientific adviser). This more intensive explosion covered an area of 4 to 4.5 kilometres radius. All trees on a hillside 6 kilometres away were destroyed..."
(Archival citation: BIOS (British Intelligence Objectives Sub-Committee) Final report 142(g): Information Obtained from Targets of Opportunity in the Sonthofen area, HMSO.)

Obviously the scale and power of the blast yield described in the British intelligence report would have been at least equal to and probably greater than that of the Allied atomic bombs, assuming the information is accurate. There are several possibilities where Hexenkessel is concerned. My personal theory is that it might have been more properly a wide-area medium explosion which was augmented by electrical discharges which were either 1) artificial lightning similar to St. Elmo's Fire which was provoked by alteration of the local atmospheric conditions by the nature of the weapon itself (meaning that coal dust was scattered over a wide area and then ignited), or 2) caused by the "paper impregnated with some strange waxy substance", which could have been a capacitor, or 3) both. Again that's only a guess.

The German historian Rainer Karlsch offers a more detailed look at Hexenkessel in an excerpt quoted in Dr. Todd Rider's extraordinary book, Forgotten Creators, beginning on Page 525 in Section 3.4, "Explosives":

"Using von Haken’s patent, Mario Zippermayr (Austrian, 1899–1979) and other scientists developed and tested fuel-air explosives during World War II, as shown in Figs. 3.77–3.79 [CIOS ER 201, NavTecMisEu 548-45]. Historian Rainer Karlsch explained the development program [Karlsch 2007b]: During the war a group of scientists under the direction of the Austrian physicist Mario Zippermayr made use of the patent belonging to Kurd von Haken. They improved the concept of the coal dust bomb. [...] Zippermayr’s activities for the Air Force and the establishment of his research institute probably did not begin until 1942. The swift progress of the group is therefore even more astounding. Zippermayr was not, however, the scientific “brain” of the group, but rather its loyal Nazi manager. According to reports by the US Forces Austria Counter-Intelligence Corps, his group had 35 individuals employed in locations in Vienna and in Lofer, Tyrol. The most important research project was the development of a highly explosive warhead with which the anti-aircraft missiles ‘Enzian’ (Gentian) and ‘Schmetterling’ (Butterfly) were to be fitted. The project work was accelerated in the second half of 1944, after the landing of the Allies at Normandy and the assassination attempt on Hitler. At that point the SS took over the most modern weapons development projects, and tried to bring these weapons to a usable stage of development. Among the many exotic ideas there were also some technically very demanding projects such as the development of nerve gases, missiles and nuclear explosives. Himmler’s organization also had an influence on the project of SS officer Mario Zippermayr, and in this case the cooperation between researchers and the SS was probably especially close. The researchers were on a promising path, as Zippermayr reported in October 1944 in a report for the Reichsforschungsrat (Research Advisory Council) labeled “Geheime Kommandosache” (Secret Commando Matter). He referred to experiments that took place in the spring of 1943 with 60 kilograms of a mixture of coal dust and liquid oxygen in the vicinity of the air base Zwolfaxing near Vienna. The explosions broke windows up to 1.5 kilometers away. As far as 3.5 kilometers away, windows and doors that had been pulled to were pushed open by the explosions. The project was given the code name “Witches Cauldron” [Hexenkessel]. Contributors to the project were scientists from Dynamit Nobel Corporation, Rheinmetall-Borsig, the Ballistic Institute in Gatow, as well as specialists from the brown coal industry and from the Zippermayr group. Probably there was at least one more SS research group that conducted similar experiments in Silesia and in other locations. According to information that reached British intelligence early in 1945, a test north of Berlin achieved a destructive radius of approximately 600 meters. The heat and pressure wave ignited trees in the target area and knocked them over. The air force could have made good use of such a weapon. The plan was to target these at aircraft formations via anti-aircraft missiles. As far as we know, these missiles were never used, however."

More to follow....
 
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klem

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Zippermayer's work in "Hitler's Terror Weapons. From V-I To Vimana. Geoffrey Brooks. 2002.
 

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williamjpellas

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More from Karlsch as quoted in Forgotten Creators concerning Zippermayr, Hexenkessel, and German FAE's (Fuel Air Explosives) in general:

"Even as late as the capitulation, the victors possessed only vague secret service information about the super bomb. Nevertheless, there was an interest in the immediate study and development of this technology, of course under conditions of utmost secrecy. For this reason, Zippermayr was repeatedly questioned by the Chemical Warfare Service, beginning on 3 August 1945. During a later interrogation in 1949, he told the Americans that with his bomb—whether with pulverized coal dust or with gas or other liquids—he could achieve the area destruction of a small atomic bomb. Furthermore, the production of such a bomb would be much cheaper. In contrast to other prominent German weapons industry researchers, there was reluctance to transport the SS man Zippermayr to the United States. However, several of his colleagues were offered the opportunity to continue their research in America in the context of “Operation Paperclip.” Apparently the Soviets also benefited from the knowledge produced by the Zippermayr group. According to an American report, Heinrich Mache, a professor at the Technical University in Vienna, was forced to conduct experiments with coal dust explosives in October 1945 under Soviet supervision.

The terrible fruits of the Zippermayr group did not just remain in the arsenals. They were used as “enhanced blast weapons” in the Vietnam War and in 1969 in Soviet-Chinese border conflicts at the Ussuri River. This name comes from the fact that the temperatures achieved by these bombs were not extreme. This changed in the late 1980s when the reaction temperature was raised substantially through added metallic particles, primarily aluminum, but also through other metals, as well as through oxygen. The principle of the thermobaric bomb, however, remained the same and is one example for the fact that it was not just in the case of missiles and jet planes that the victors in the Second World War made use of the knowledge of the defeated powers. That the technology behind the “father of all bombs” is old hat should not obscure the fact that this is a weapon of mass destruction that should be forbidden." (According to published sources, the present day Russian "FOAB" has a yield equivalent to 44 tons of TNT, which is low end battlefield nuke territory. - WP)

Dr. Rider:

"Note that the use of powdered aluminum in explosives to enhance the temperature and blast (as described above) was also developed in wartime Germany; see pp. 4186–4189 [BIOS 27; BIOS 100; BIOS 1261]. Thus the “thermobaric” and “enhanced blast weapons” built by the United States and other countries after the war were entirely derived from technologies that had previously been designed and demonstrated in Germany and Austria, based on information and materials obtained from German-speaking scientists, as well as the direct assistance of many of those scientists themselves (as shown below). An August 1949 JIOA document, Immigration of Austrian Scientists to Soviet Zone, listed several key members of Zippermayr’s team [NARA RG 319, Entry A1-134A, Box 31, Folder 02/006 430]:

FRITSCHE, Doz. Dr. Ing. Volker, Technische Hochschule, Vienna. Formerly with the Zippermayr Laboratory engaged in research in use of coal dust as antiaircraft explosive. Member of the Electro-technical Institute, Technische Hochschule. Reportedly making survey for Russians on high frequency prospecting for oil.

HOENIG, Dr Alfred, Scheffsnoth 8, Zell am See, Austria. Formerly worked at Zippermayr Institute engaged in research on coal dust explosives. Chemical Corps and Air Corps interestd. Chemical expert interviewed subject and ZIPPERMAYER, and agreed that their theories were basically sound and could not be permitted to reach potential U.S. enemies. It will be recommended that these two with KILLIAN be employed in U. S. HOENIG fears that he might be kidnapp[blacked out]

KILLIAN, Karl, Hattlegasse 40, Hitzing, Vienna XIII, Austria. Mathematician and aerodynamics expert who formerly worked with ZIPPERMAYER and HOENIG on Pfeil aircraft, torpedoes designed to be released from great heights and torpedoes with luminous underwater trails. Being considered along with HOENIG and ZIPPERMAYER for employment in U. S. by Chemical Corps.

MACHE, Prof. Dr. Heinrich, Pokenvgasse 25, Vienna XIX/117. Professor at Technische Hochschule, Vienna and regular member of Austrian Academy of Science. In October 1945, conducted experiments with coal dust explosives under Soviet orders. Specialist on discharge of electric energy in gases.

ZIPPERMAYR, Prof. Dr. Mario, Lofer Au 3, Zell am See, Austria. Stateless. Chemist. NSDAP member and SD from 1937 to 1945. Headed Zippermayr [blacked out] in coal dust explosives. [blacked out]. See HOENIG and KILLIAN.

BE[ETZ?], Dr.—Halle, Germany. Formerly with Zippermayr Institute engaged in research on methods of transmitting course of enemy bombers to night fighters and on dust explosions.

MELDAU, Dr. Ing—Last reported at Spremberg, Germany. Formerly with Zippermayr Institute engaged in research on coal dust explosives.

Zippermayr and some of the other scientists were extensively interrogated after the war, and some were taken to work for the United States, Russia, or other countries. As shown in Fig. 3.77, Zippermayr’s Austrian group was part of a much larger wartime program to develop, test, and mass-produce fuel-air explosives. By the end of the war, at least 7000 workers had mass-produced 5-ton fuel-air explosive bombs and stockpiled them (Figs. 3.78–3.79). Those stockpiled bombs were presumably taken by Allied countries. There were several reports of successful tests of fuel-air explosives during the war. Some archival documents even mentioned unconfirmed reports of a few cases in which fuel-air explosives were apparently actually used on the Eastern front during the war. Much more historical research on this topic could be quite enlightening."
 

williamjpellas

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Here are screenshots from Rider showing some of the archival documents that describe WWII German work with FAE's. I had to reduce the size in order to copy and paste the entire page and so I don't know if anyone reading this will be able to download and then enlarge them, or not. Even if not, the entire book is available on the internet free of charge until further notice.

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Dazzle

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Hi there,

thank you very much for your extensive answers to my question. That is really a lot of new info on that subject.
 

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