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Pavel
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Posted: 24 January 2008 at 17:45 | IP Logged  

The Fa 330 Bachstelze (Water Wagtail) is a rudimentary aircraft developed by Focke Achgelis. Unpowered, the single-seat gyrokite was developed in 1942 at the behest of BdU: they required a basic vehicle that could be towed from behind the U-boat to increase the altitude of a member of the watch crew. This would increase the distance he could observe and improve the U-boat's situational awareness while running on the surface.

Focke Achgelis took the "simple" part of the requirement to heart. The Fa 330 is simple in the extreme. Its construction consists of two steel tubes. The shorter is set at a right angle to the longer. The shorter tube carries the rotor assembly, the longer carries some of the control surfaces (rudder), the controls, and the pilot's seat.

Control is via tilting of the rotor head, which gives longitudinal and lateral control. Turning the rudder enables the gyrokite to change direction. The rotors are pitch-adjustable, but adjustments could not be made in-flight. With the "Water Wagtail," coarse pitch gave the best control but made it more difficult to launch the aircraft. Without the pilot, the aircraft weighs a mere 82kg (~180lb). It could be assembled and disassembled in a matter of minutes - even on the cramped space of a U-boat's deck.

To launch the Fa 330, the rotor was set turning by one of two means, dependant on weather. If there was a wind, the rotors were turned by hand and the gyrokite was pushed backwards until it went aloft. If there was no wind, a rope was wrapped around the drum in the rotor-head, whereupn the aircraft was pushed backwards until it went aloft. In order to stay in the air, the minimum speed requirement was 27km/h (17mph).
Recovery was via a winch. In emergency circumstances the pilot could release the rotor, which deployed a parachute (stowed behind the pilot's seat) as it left the gyrokite. The winch carried 150m (~492ft) of cable.

The length of cable carried allowed the gyrokite to fly at approximately a hundred and twenty meters (120m), roughly 395ft. At this altitude, the horizon was 40km away, rather than the eight kilometers visible from the watch tower.

Bachstelze was intended for use on Type IX U-boats. Around two hundred were produced by Weser-Flugzeugbau, and these were apparently deployed on operational patrols. However, little is known about their operational history and use - further research on this subject could yield interesting results.

Generally speaking, two to four crewmen from each U-boat assigned a Bachstelze were trained in its operation at the Chalais-Meudon wind tunnel, near Paris. In my reference book, it is said: that they were very easy to operate and would fly quite happily hands-off for short periods, but were unpopular with their pilots for reasons of self-preservation.

Figure One

Figure Two

Figure Three

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Bibliography:
- Germany's Secret Weapons in World War Two (Roger Ford, 2000, Amber Books Ltd, published by Brown Books [imprint of Amber Books Ltd], edited by Chris Marshall)
- http://robroy.dyndns.info/targetkites/Fa-330
- www.vrtulnik.cz/gyro
- www.telecable.es/personales/submarinos/achgelis
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dbauer
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Posted: 31 January 2008 at 02:20 | IP Logged  

Hello All!
Nice work Pavel! I have some interest in this craft. I
think that these were mainly used in the Indian and
Pacific Oceans by the larger type IX D and IX C boats.
Are there any records of them used in the North
Atlantic? Or by Type VII C or D Booten?

Regards,

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Pavel
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Posted: 31 January 2008 at 16:05 | IP Logged  

I have only limited resources, but it does not appear that the Bachstelzen saw much use in the Atlantic. This would make sense tactically; the threat of air attack was much greater in those areas compared to the size of the Pacific and Indian oceans during the "Heydey" period in the PO and IO.
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dbauer
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Posted: 31 January 2008 at 16:14 | IP Logged  

Hi Again!

The problem of use in the Atlantic was it took a long time to reel in the craft and retrive the pilot. With Allied air patrols becoming more and more a threat from late 41 onwards it's use was limited .

Regards,

Dan



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Pavel
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Posted: 01 February 2008 at 20:01 | IP Logged  

Indeed. Given that it wasn't used until 1942 it never really had much of a chance. As the article states, there was a facility to simply "crash-land" the device via parachute, recover the crewman, and crash-dive, but that adds extra time onto the already lengthy dive of the Type IX.
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