The Fliegerfaust Roars Back To Life After 77 Years

As their prospects for victory in the Second World War became increasingly grim, the Germans developed a wide array of outlandish “Wonder Weapons” that they hoped would help turn the tide of the war. While these Wunderwaffe obviously weren’t enough to secure victory against the Allies, many of them represented the absolute state-of-the-art in weapons development, and in several cases ended up being important technological milestones. Others faded away into obscurity, sometimes with little more then anecdotal evidence to prove they ever even existed.

One of these forgotten inventions is the Fliegerfaust, a portable multi-barrel rocket rocket launcher designed for use against low-flying attack planes. Although thousands were ordered to defend Berlin in 1945, fewer than 100 were ever produced, and there’s some debate about how many actually survived the war. But that didn’t stop [Jonathan Wild] of Wild Arms Research & Development from building a functional replica of the weapon based on contemporary documentation and blueprints.

Building the launcher was relatively straightforward, as it’s little more than nine tubes bundled together with a handle and a simplistic electric igniter. The trick is in the 20 mm (0.78 inch) rockets themselves, which are spin stabilized by the exhaust gasses exiting the four angled holes on the rear. With no fins or active guidance the path of each rocket is somewhat unpredictable, but this was known to be true of the original as well.

Note angled exhaust ports on each rocket.

Historical records disagree on how the rockets were actually fired, some state each barrel was ignited in sequential order while others claim the rockets were launched in volleys. [Jonathan] decided to design his igniter circuit so that all the rockets would be triggered simultaneously, but due to variations in the propellant, they leave the launcher at the staggered pace seen in the demonstration video below.

From a purely historical standpoint, this project is an absolute triumph. Considering the weapon was last known to have been used during the Battle of Berlin, there’s an excellent chance that no living person had seen or heard one fired up until this point. Of course we’ll never know how it compares to the real thing, but at least we have more context than a few B&W pictures could provide. [Jonathan] says he’s currently working on a book that details how the researched and built his replica, which we’re eager to get a look at.

For those wondering about the legality of such an endeavour, [Jonathan] has been in close contact with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) and made sure all Local, State and Federal laws were followed during the development and testing of his replica. Even though there’s no explosive warheads in the rockets, the launcher has been registered as what’s known as a “Destructive Device” under the National Firearms Act. Federally these can be legally owned by civilians, but specific laws can vary by State, so dabbling in homebrew Wonder Weapons isn’t recommended unless you’ve got a good lawyer on speed dial.

36 thoughts on “The Fliegerfaust Roars Back To Life After 77 Years

  1. “One of these forgotten inventions is the Fliegerfaust, a portable multi-barrel rocket rocket launcher designed for use against low-flying attack planes.”

    Quick – ship it FedEx over-night to Ukraine!

    1. add a cheap heat tracker and warhead first. still i think they have access to better missile systems. this might have been good in wwii but it would be obsolete on a modern battlefield as is.

      really this thing is just a bunch of smoothbore tubes welded together and a very basic igniter circuit. all the engineering probibly went into the rockets themselves.

  2. Thank you for covering my project! It’s very much appreciated!

    Please note the fliegerfaust is a registered destructive device, the panzerfaust we built is the one we believe may not meet the definition of destructive device however no final determination was given. That too was registered as a destructive device out of precaution.

  3. So much more professional than the Nintendo Scope I sacrificed to make a rocket launcher as a kid.

    Never shoulder fired as the flare from Estes model rockets would burn your face. Shame really as the whacking moles in the game that came with the Nintendo Scope was quite fun.

    1. WWI – stalemate of the world against Germany until the US entered. WWII – the world losing against Germany until the US entered and continued losing even for a while after that.

      Not bad for a country about half the size of Texas…

      1. Eeeeeh, most analysis I’ve read says that the tides has likely firmly tipped against Germany before the US entered the war. Saying that the world continued losing for a while after the US entered the war is even more of a stretch.

          1. Russia was their ally until that day. They had conquered four nations together. American commies like Woody Guthry were propagandizing to keep us out.

            The Nazis were afraid the Ruskies were getting ready. Stalin was still executing officers for entertainment.

            Thank dog Hitler was spun, paranoid and in the incompetent hands of Dr Feelgood.

            Eventually Germany and Russia would have gotten to it.

    2. I think arguably the key factor in WWII was the advantage the Allies gained by being able to read Enigma encrypted messages. So yes, that might be considered a German engineering fail, but I would rather celebrate the work of the Polish mathematicians who first broke Enigma: Marian Rejewski, Jerzy Różycki and Henryk Zygalski.

  4. > From a purely historical standpoint, this project is an absolute triumph.
    > Of course we’ll never know how it compares to the real thing, but at least we have more context …
    It’s an “absolute triumph”(!) that we at least have more context with an unknown degree of difference to the historical original.

    Uh what? Do you know the phrase “Does not compute!” (you know, anchovies)? :-)

    Srsly thou – nice project. That combination ^^ is just a little wired imho.

  5. Can we stop it with the glorification of weapons? I can’t help but notice that posts that feature weaponry and destruction have no problem being run (things that are emblematic of negatives in the world), but and hacks that have a whiff of sex or sex-positivity (something that brings joy are positives in the world) are never run.

    1. I’m born and raised in the U.S., so I love shooting my guns (non living targets only), but I agree we need more sex/ sex-toy related hacks. Bring on the DIY sex swings, pillows, toys, pumps, etc.! One phallic object and everyone freaks out.

      1. How about both?

        The Estes sexual aid?
        F engine powered, special for all the peaceniks. Use lots of lube.

        Seriously though.
        No. Just no. Nobody is forcing you to look.

        There’s the back button.

    2. but weapons make me happy. the sweet smell of smokeless powder, the beauty of the laws of physics, the meat spray that comes off your venison when you get a good hit, the hard work of developing good marksmanship, the knowledge that i can defend myself if threatened by criminals, invaders, or a government gone wrong. also gun owners are some of the nicest, most well mannered people you will ever meet.

    3. Well if you can find such hacks, and send them in then you can complain if they aren’t ever run… Meanwhile whatever happens to turn up in the tipline, or the writers own browsing are what we will get, and the engineering and history of weaponry is often very interesting, and can be useful in other fields too!

      I suspect too many folks won’t document such hacks (assuming they can actually find such a hack to do) because its too personal and/or embarrassing and almost nobody will really want to write about that project even if they did document it for similar reasoning.

  6. Definitely NOT a muzzle-loader . “However, federal law specifically excludes certain muzzle loaders from being considered antique firearms. This includes weapons which can be converted into a muzzle loading weapon, or a muzzle loading weapon which can be readily converted to fire fixed ammunition.” Also not a C&R (Curios & Relics) since it’s not a replica of a pre-1899 weapon. Definitely a DD.

    If you’re coming to HaD for your sex you’re doing it wrong.

    1. It’s definitely a DD, the author of the article likely confused this with another project of ours that we believe based on speaking with the ATF doesn’t use fixed ammunition. This particular launcher certainly meets this definition of a DD

  7. 0.5/10

    Why is this here? There are a lot of results here but no methods or materials – what have we learned beyond the usual slo-mo weapons porn and a promo for a forthcoming book. Weapons and explody things are great but this article and the video doesn’t really tell us anything.

    Tornado Technologies, seemingly the center of this effort, is offline but its FB page has a lot of lovely promo for silencers and weapons conversions/exports. Bonus pictures of the US’ Founding Fathers in full body armor with automatic weapons for last year’s Fourth of July.

    1. the rocket science is real with this one. that puts it a lot higher than 0.5 out of 10. at least its not another clock or devboard of the week, or one of those longwinded posts that essentially boils down to “watch this video”.

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