Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Kurt Tank's abortive 'Moskito', the Ta 154, I./NJG 3, Stade

Above top and below (click on the images for a larger view)  the Ta 154 V15, one of the first Ta 154 prototypes fitted with Hirschgeweih (antler) antennae array for the SN-2 radar. Fitted with radar aerials, exhaust flame dampers and heavy cannon, top speed was some 75 km/h less than hoped and in this configuration the type singularly failed to meet expectations. Aside from the well-known difficulties the Germans encountered merely constructing an all-wooden aircraft, testing of the type was fraught as the following rare account makes clear,

"....During the late summer and autumn of 1944 I was seconded to 3./NJG 3 at Stade and then detached to 1./NJG 3 at Grove in Denmark where I was entrusted with the calibration and harmonisation work on our airborne radar and electronics systems. At that time in Stade we had a Ta 154 'Moskito' undergoing trials. The machine was equipped with short voltage-driven antennae mounted in the wing roots (see image below of the Ta 154 A-2/U4). The original aerial array - long strut current-driven antennae mounted on the forward fuselage- resulted in loss of speed, hampered visibility and functioned only with difficulty. With the aircraft in this configuration, I was charged with incorporating a radio direction finding capability. Even on the ground, with the engines off, this proved impossible. In the air, the propellers interfered with the beaming pattern. Additionally, in my opinion, the voltage-phase antennae pulse calibration was never entirely successfully achieved. While carrying out our checks and inspections my assistants and I were often interrupted by the orderly officer’s cry “the Kommandeur wants to take her up!”. The aircraft itself must have been a lot of fun to fly. According to my information around twenty five Ta 154s were either built or under construction. They were produced in Bremen, Detmold, Hanover and in the East. Some machines were damaged on the ground in the summer of 1944 by Jabo attacks on Detmold and Hanover.  In April 1945 four Ta 154s were apparently stationed in Stade. Two of them were burnt out on the field and two were flown to Münster and Paderborn, where they were likewise destroyed. In early 1945 I was posted to 1./NJG 1, which is where radar and electronic calibration work was carried out on our best night fighter – the He 219..."  (Cordes via Boiten)

William Green in Air International, April 1989;

 " the Ta 154 may have achieved operational status with the Luftwaffe albeit in very small numbers. Production tempo had not even achieved a modest rate before the factories in the Posen area - Messegelaende and Kreising - intended as the primary production source were destroyed by fire during April and May 1944 after the completion of only a few series aircraft. First sortie with NJG 3 was flown on 19 November 1944 by Fw. Gottfried Schneider. One NJG 3 Ta 154 (D5+AD) that had made a crash-landing on 30 April 1945 was examined and photographed by Allied Intelligence. No Ta 154s were evalauted post-war. If the Ta 154 did not fully meet expectations, it was as Hans Sander later recalled; " easy to fly, handled well and was extremely agile for a twin-engined aircraft.."

Two views below of the Ta 154 V7 coded TE+FK

Crash photos of the Ta 154 A-2 of the Stab. NJG 3 coded D5+HD WNr. 320009 found belly-landed by the British in Stade during May 1945. This machine was one of only a handful fitted with Jumo 213 A engines with re-designed nacelles, integral flame dampers and wide bladed props. Note the antenna array repositioned from the nose to the mid-fuselage section, comprising four vertical aerials on top of and underneath the wing centre section. According to the British report the machine featured canted wingtips. Armament comprised two MG 151/20 cannon in the lower fuselage. See Flugzeug magazine issues 1 and 2/ 1988 " Einsatzerfahrungen mit der Ta 154 " - ' in combat with the the Ta 154' , article by Herbert Kruse..