Fieseler Fi 103R
As World War II entered its closing years German military officials developed the Leonidas Squadron. Though the name would imply a group of well built and inexplicably oily men engaging Allied soldiers on the field of battle the Leonidas Squadron was trained with the intention of every member meeting a horrible demise as part of their mission. Ideally the squadron would prove to be as damaging as the Japanese kamikaze soldiers, though if that were true they probably wouldn’t have been included on this list.
To arm the new suicide squadron a special aircraft was developed by converting the V-1 Flying Bomb into a manned craft. Given that, you know, it was a bomb, the conversion process was pretty cheap and left out many of the bells and whistles aviation enthusiasts have come to know and love: a cramped cockpit was added to the craft complete with plywood bucket seat. That’s about it. Wings were added but the craft itself didn’t fly. Instead it was dropped from ships piloted by more fortunate pilots and glided somewhat, allowing the damned soul inside to control where they’d like to leave their crater. Soldiers were trained with gliders until 1944 when test flights began.
fieseler fi 103r01
Like this, but constantly exploding.
The problem with 103R was obvious: if it was successful, it would explode and kill the pilot. If it somehow failed in carrying out this most basic of functions then it was virtually useless. During test flights the ship’s own vibrations caused the wings to fall off, effectively robbing the pilot of what little control they had. Realizing an uncontrollable bomb wasn’t quite as effective as they would have hoped, the Leonidas Squadron was disbanded, but not before being deployed at the Battle of Berlin in 1945. According to historians the squadron managed to destroy a single bridge. Success?