Saturday, 26 November 2011

Arthur Sack Kreisflügler Sack AS 6 Flugplatz Brandis - flying disc design tested by JG 400 Me 163 Komet pilot

Over in 72 Land Kevin Callahan has finished his Special Hobby Sack AS 6. I happened to see this at the same time as Tom GF was reviewing Stephen Ransom's brief history of Brandis airfield "Zwischen Leipzig und der Mulde" at his German Aviation 1919-1945 blog  Like all of Tom's recommendations this little booklet is well worth tracking down - especially as re-sellers have copies on offer for under 10 euros. The connection is Ransom's treatment of the Sack AS 6 on page 61 of his Brandis history. He provides some fascinating information..

Circular wing aircraft planforms were all the rage in America in the 1930s and for a time post war. In fact the American "flying flapjack" flew well enough, but these designs were ultimately no more than aeronautical cul-de-sacs. The Luftwaffe 'sponsored' a similar concept - although their machine was dreamt up in his barn by a farmer, Arthur Sack from Mackern in Saxony (north-east of Leipzig). Sack was an aero-modeller who had entered his flying model in a contest in Leipzig in 1939 and where he had apparently met Ernst Udet who had encouraged him to continue his 'design' work. By early 1944 Sack had built his first piloted Kreisflügler circular wing design 'aircraft', since designated the Sack AS 6 (or the Sack AS 6 V1 according to Special Hobby). Sack then apparently persuaded the Kommandant of his local airfield to allow some developmental work to go on at his airfield - only in this case the local airfield was Flugplatz Brandis, where later that year highly secret and state-of-the-art designs such as the rocket-powered Messerschmitt Me 163 point interceptor and the amazing forward-swept wing Junkers Ju 287 jet bomber were being test flown and operated!

Despite the presence of such a 'design' at a 'secret' test base like Brandis, the Sack AS 6 was as far removed aeronautically from these futuristic machines as it was possible to be - a plywood circular wing powered by an old Messerschmitt Bf 108 Argus engine utilising cockpit parts from a crashed Bf 109. Ground taxiing tests were performed during February 1944, with the first test proving that the rudder was not strong enough and the landing gear not fit for purpose - some structural damage ensued. Five takeoff runs were made during the second test on the 1200 metre Brandis runway during April 1944 with ATG Leipzig test pilot Baltabol at the controls. Testing continued that summer -presumably on a very ad-hoc basis - with a pilot who had some experience of tail-less aircraft trying his hand - Oblt. Franz Rösle, Staffelkapitän of 3./JG 400. These were apparently flight tests although it is doubtful whether the Sack AS 6 ever got airborne - other than a short hop - since it was clear that the 'aircraft' was under-powered. In addition the control surfaces of the flying 'beer mat ' were hopelessly inadequate since they were masked by the circular wing. Based on eye witness reports Ransom concludes that the Sack AS 6 never flew and the 'aircraft' was later broken up on the airfield for fire wood. Of course it is entirely possible that the main legacy of the Sack AS 6 was the host of rumours and myths post-war regarding German 'disc' aircraft and flying saucers...