Wednesday 16 March 2016

Messerschmitt P.1101 V1 in Oberammergau underground jet aircraft research and development facility

Photo taken at "Oberbayerische Forschungsanstalt OFA" Oberammergau, code name for the Messerschmitt jet aircraft research and development department there. Barracks of the Conrad-von-Hötzendorf-Kaserne" in Bavarian style in the background. Below; USO personnel pose for a snapshot in front of the Me P.1101 V1 with Me 262 wings. The Messerschmitt design lost out to the Fw Ta 183 in the Emergency Fighter programme (1-TL-Jäger)

Due to the ever-growing threat of Allied bombers, in October 1943 Messerschmitt AG moved the administration and research department of its Regensburg factory - some 2,200 employees and forced labourers - to the Conrad-von-Hötzendorf barracks in Oberammergau. Messerschmitt himself was based in Oberammergau from November 1944, working on the development of the Messerschmitt P.1101 jet fighter seen above. A tunnel system was dug out by forced labourers south  of the barracks to house jet aircraft research and development. In late 1944 SS-Obergruppenführer Dr-Engineer Hans Kammler - responsible for all missile technology and who was based in Oberammergau from February 1945 - ordered Messerschmitt Regensburg to stop research into aircraft and missiles and to increase Me 262 jet fighter production. The Oberammergau tunnels were transformed into an underground jet aircraft factory, similar to the "B8 Bergkristall" tunnel complex near the Austrian town of St. Georgen an der Gusen. The factories that were built for Me 262 production in these newly created tunnels, received 'geological' cover names - the facility at Oberammergau was designated "Cerusit".   In spite of the order to focus solely on the production of the Me 262, sporadic work on the P.1101 and successor P.1110 continued in great secrecy at Oberammergau.

   On 29 April 1945, when the P.1101 model was nearing completion, the US Army occupied the town of Oberammergau . The Messerschmitt complex was taken over by US forces and the barracks and associated facilities were subsequently used as a collection point for information and technicians in relation to German weapons systems.  From 1953 the barracks served as a NATO training school. The story of the NATO school at Oberammergau is related at the following link

According to this site the prototype P.1101 and a ME-109 were found in Building 615 – now housing the Manfred Wörner Lecture Hall while other experimental airframes where found in the gymnasium, Building 607.  Subsequently virtually the entire Messerschmitt underground production plant along with the P.1101 prototype were shipped to the Bell Aircraft works in Ohio. Although the prototype airframe was badly damaged in transit, this technology resulted in the swept-wing jet engined Bell X-5. Other countries utilised the technology that had been researched at Oberammergau; SAAB in Sweden produced the sucessful crescent-winged Saab 29 “Tunnan” jet fighter. Microfilmed plans of the P.1101 and P.1110 were purportedly hidden in the Ettal Monastery and seized by French personnel. The post war- French designed and built Fouga CM.170 Magister exploited the V-tail technologies developed by Messerschmitt and mimicked the early P.1101 designs. Post war-British transonic aircraft designs such as the Hunter fighter and Valiant and Victor bombers also utilized the crescent-wing technology developed in Oberammergau.

More on late-war German jet production facilities on this blog;

Me 262 construction at the REIMAHG underground facility 

Me 262 'forest-factory' production

He 162 production at Hinterbrühl