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Haunebu Kit

Anigrand Craftswork 1/144 Dornier-Stratospharen Haunebu II Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review April 2008 Manufacturer Anigrand Craftswork
Subject Dornier-Stratospharen Haunebu II Scale 1/144
Kit Number 4011 Primary Media Resin
Pros Rather unique subjects Cons Fragile landing gear
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $116.00

First Look

Haunebu Kit
Haunebu Kit
Haunebu Kit
Haunebu Kit
Haunebu Kit

In the mid-1930s, a group of designers started working on the concept of a flying disc aircraft that might have potential military applications. One of the first prototypes is the Sack As 6 whose picture shows up in various circles (look here). The basic airframe is smaller than Vought's V-173 that was flown several years earlier and ran into a number of teething problems that kept it from flight. The V-173 did demonstrate the stability of the disc-like planform and led to the development of the XF5U Flying Flapjack.

Meanwhile, work continued on another variation of the disc concept which used a vertical thrust fan that exhausted downward into a skirted shroud that is the disc to create surface effect lift. Similar lift skirt designs have been used on surface effect ships like LCAC and even the AV-8C Harrier and AV-8B Super Harrier. Like the Harrier, once the vehicle is off the ground, forward thrust is applied to transition the vehicle from thrust-based lift to aerodynamic lift, turning the disc from a lift-shroud to a wing. While the Harrier doesn't use the shroud for aerodynamic lift (portions of the shroud are retracted against the fuselage in normal flight), this German concept was going to use the disc shroud for aerodynamic lift as well as surface effect. Not surprisingly, the Germans ran into some controllability problems. So ended World War II.

The story doesn't end there. Like many other captured aerodynamic technologies from Nazi Germany, the United States looked into this flying disc concept, but wisely outsourced the work up to Avro Canada. The Avro Car was reportedly a smaller scale flight test vehicle to explore the flight dynamics of the lift disc. Like the German prototypes that reportedly flew, Avro ran into a number of technical issues that needed to be sorted out. The project was cancelled in the early 1960s as the technology just wasn't there yet. Don't count this technology out yet. Remember that the Germans had experimented with the merits of forward swept wings but could never work out the bugs. The US continued the research but the problem of wing twist wasn't worked out until the advent of composite materials and a successful flight test vehicle was developed - the X-29. Don't be surprised if someone doesn't solve the remaining aerodynamic challenges of disc-borne flight.

Anigrand Craftswork has released an interesting subject - the Haunebu II flying disc. Note that I'm not talking flying saucer here, this was another one of World War II Germany's 'outside the box' approaches to developing leap-frog technologies that can be used as weapons. And before you scoff at the idea, please remember that the Germans were first an operational jet fighter (Me 262) using axial-flow engines (as opposed to the dead-end approach of centrifugal flow developed in the UK and flown by the US and USSR in the early days of jet-powered flight). The Germans were also first with the guided air-to-air (wire-guided) missile and with the guided air-to-ground missile. The Germans developed the first cruise missile with the V-1 and the first ballistic missile with the V-2.

So, what is in this box? The kit includes five disc aircraft:

  1. Dornier-Stratospharentospharen RFZ-6 Haunebu II
  2. Dornier-Stratospharentospharen RFZ-5 Haunebu I
  3. BMW Flugelrad II
  4. BMW Flugelrad I
  5. Sack As 6

As with all of Anigrand's releases, this set is cast in tan resin and is nicely done with little or no pour stubs remaining on the parts. The few clear parts are rendered in clear resin.

The tiniest disc in these images is the planform for the As 6. To the best of my knowledge, aside from some taxi testing and one quick and eventful hop, this aircraft never flew. As mentioned above, the aerodynamic principal was sound as proven by the Vought test articles, but the Germans never advanced far enough to work out their bugs.

The two BMW discs are more conventional in their design (if you can say that with a disc aircraft) as they've simply mounted a jet engine underneath the disc and use a conventional rolling take-off to get airborne. I don't know if they succeeded in flying either design as I don't see a few essential elements. If you believe some of the theories of the BMW design, the disk was like a shrouded helicopter lift rotor. Neither airframe has enough volume for the machinery needed to spin that rotor and still have enough fuel capacity to feed the machinery AND the thirsty BMW turbojet engine slung underneath.

The two largest discs are the Haunebu designs which show some of the similarities in design principal with the Avro Car. The largest of the group, the Haunebu II, reveals its shroud fan near the outer perimeter of the underside of the disc. Given the relative size of this beast, it would probably dwarf a B-17, but the engineer in me wonders what the Germans would have used to counter the rotational torque of the lift engine. I think the crew stations wound have had convenient air-sick bags nearby...

As you can see the these images, I've dry-fitted the two Haunebu discs together and with a little clean-up of the mating surfaces, these should go together with a minimum of filler.

The only problem I have with any of these kits is with the landing gear of the Haunebu II. Given its resin mass, the resin landing gear struts aren't going to take that weight for long. I would strongly consider replacing the struts with metal to keep this model off of its belly.

Some folks might wonder about this kit and unique subjects therein, but this release appeals to me on several fronts. The Germans did advance weapons technology beyond anything the allies had in their pipelines and given Hitler's obsession with 'unique' technologies, these concepts were possibly in various stages of experimentation and development. Whether you want to believe or not, it would be fun to plunk one of these down at an IPMS contest in the Luft '46 category. Could you just imagine one of these buzzing a flight of Spitfires or Mustangs?

By the way, isn't that the Haunebu II sitting in President's Park in Washington DC during the 1951 film "The Day the Earth Stood Still"? "Gort, Klaatu barada nikto..."

Definitely recommended!

My sincere thanks to the US importer, Nostalgic Plastic for this review sample!