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Fritz X

Fritz X
Fritz X

Side view of a Fritz X in the RAF Museum London (2010)


Anti-ship missile / Guided bomb

Nazi Germany

Service history

1943 - 1944


Nazi Germany (Luftwaffe)


World War II

Production history

Max Kramer





1,362 kg (3,000 lb)


3.32 m (11 ft)


1.40 m (5 ft)


85.3 cm (2 ft 8 in)


amatol explosive, armour-piercing


320 kg (705 lb)


5km (3.1mi)


343 m/s (1,235 km/h or 770 mph)


Kehl-Straburg FuG 203/230; MCLOS

Fritz X

Fritz X was the most common name for a

German guided anti-ship glide bomb used
during World War II. Fritz X was a
nickname used both by Allied and
Luftwaffe personnel. Alternate names
include Ruhrstahl SD 1400 X, Kramer
X-1, PC 1400X or FX 1400 (the latter is
also the origin for the name "Fritz X").
Along with the USAAF's similar Azon
weapon of the same period in World War
II, it is one of the precursors of today's
anti-ship missiles and precision-guided
Rear view of a Fritz X.

The Fritz X was a further development of the high-explosive bomb SD 1400 (Splitterbombe, dickwandig, 1400
kg[2]). It was a penetration weapon intended to be used against heavily protected targets such as heavy cruisers and
battleships. It was given a more aerodynamic nose, four stub wings, and a box shaped tail unit. The Luftwaffe
recognized the difficulty of hitting moving ships during the Spanish Civil War.[3] Dipl. engineer Max Kramer, who
worked at the DVL, had been experimenting since 1938 with remote-controlled free-falling 250kg bombs, and in
1939 fitted radio-controlled spoilers.[4] In 1940, Ruhrstahl was invited to join the development, since they already
had experience in the development and production of unguided bombs.
The dual-axis, single-joystick-equipped Funkgert (FuG 203) Kehl[5] series of radio-control transmitter sets on board
the deploying aircraft, were used to send the control signals to the Fritz-X, with the ordnance itself picking up the
signals through a Funkgert (FuG 230) Straburg receiver, named for the city, within it to send the signals on to the
movable spoilers in the Fritz-X's thick vertical and horizontal tail fin surfaces, within the annular tailfin structure.
The Straburg receiver's antennas were aerodynamically integrated into the trailing edge of the annular surfaces of
the tailfin, within a quartet of "bulged" sections in the trailing edge.[6]

Control setup on the Fritz X

Annotated still from a 1946 USAAF-published

film on the Fritz-X, showing control spoiler
locations and location of its autonomous roll

The Fritz X possessed a spoiler-based control setup on its tailfin unit,

with three sets of differentially operating, oscillating control spoiler
systems. The roll control setup existed on the outboard sections of the
horizontal tailfin surfaces within the annular set of tailfin surfaces, and
like the American Azon ordnance's "aileron" surfaces, were entirely
autonomous in their function, operated by an internal gyroscope in the
tail's central housing to keep the ordnance level during its trajectory.
The inboard set of spoiler surfaces, whose airflow was separated from
the outboard units by a set of wing fence-like flat surfaces, controlled
the pitch angle after release and were controlled by the Kehl-Straburg
radio control link, giving the Fritz X the ability to control the range of
the drop, something that the Azon ordnance did not have. The yaw
control spoilers housed in the vertical tailfin surfaces had similar

Fritz X
"fence" surfaces to guide airflow over them, and worked to change the yaw angle of the ordnance. Each
Kehl-Straburg externally-controlled spoiler surface, when deployed, barely protruded from the surface during
operation, and gave a degree of "proportionality" in their operation by varying their rate of oscillation from side to
side when a control input was sent to them.[7]

Combat service
The only Luftwaffe unit to deploy the Fritz-X was Gruppe III of Kampfgeschwader 100 Wiking (Viking), designated
III./KG 100, the bomber wing itself evolved as the larger-sized descendent of the earlier Kampfgruppe 100 unit in
mid-December of 1941. This unit employed the medium range Dornier Do 217K-2 bomber on almost all of its attack
missions, though in a few cases toward the end of its deployment history, Dornier Do 217K-3 and M-11 variants
were also used. Fritz-X had been initially tested with a Heinkel He 111 bomber, although it was never taken into
combat by this aircraft. A few special variants of the Heinkel He 177 long-range bomber were equipped with the
Kehl transmitter and proper bombracks to carry Fritz-X and this combination saw limited combat service.
Fritz-X was first deployed on 21 July 1943 in a raid on Augusta harbor in Sicily. A number of additional attacks
around Sicily and Messina followed, though no confirmed hits were made and it appears the Allies were unaware
that the large bombs being dropped were radio-guided weapons.[8]
On 9 September, the Luftwaffe achieved their greatest success with the weapon. After Pietro Badoglio publicly
announced the Italian armistice with the Allies on September 8, 1943, the Italian fleet had steamed out from La
Spezia and headed to Malta. To prevent the ships from falling into Allied hands, six Do 217K-2s from III. Gruppe of
KG100 (III/KG100) took off, each carrying a single Fritz X. The Italian battleship Roma, flagship of the Italian fleet,
received two hits and one near miss, and sank after her magazines exploded. 1,255 men, including Admiral Carlo
Bergamini, died. Her sister ship, Italia, was also damaged but reached Malta.[9]
The American light cruiser Savannah was hit by Fritz-Xs at 10:00 on 11 September 1943 during the invasion of
Salerno, and was forced to retire to the United States for repairs. A single Fritz-X passed through the roof of "C"
turret and killed the turret crew and a damage control party when it exploded in the lower ammunition handling
room. The blast tore a large hole in the ship's bottom, opened a seam in her side, and blew out all fires in her boiler
rooms. Savannah lay dead in the water with the forecastle nearly awash and took eight hours to relight boilers and
get underway for Malta.[9]
Savannah's sister ship, Philadelphia, had been targeted earlier that same morning. While it is often believed the ship
was hit by a Fritz X, in fact the bomb just missed the ship, exploding about 15 meters away. Damage was
The light cruiser HMS Uganda was hit by a Fritz-X off Salerno at 1440 on 13 September. The Fritz X passed
through seven decks and exploded under her keel. All boiler fires were extinguished, sixteen men were killed, and
Uganda took on 1,300 tons of water. Uganda was towed to Malta for repairs.
Two merchant ships may have been hit by Fritz X bombs at Salerno, though the evidence is uncertain. SS Bushrod
Washington was hit by a glide bomb, either a Fritz-X or a Hs 293, on 14 September while offloading a cargo of
gasoline.[11] SS James W. Marshall was set afire by a conventional bomb, Hs 293 or Fritz-X on 15 September. As
with the Bushrod Washington, the nature of the weapon that damaged James W. Marshall is uncertain. A witness
aboard a ship nearby, Joseph A. Yannacci, attributes the attack to Ju 87 "Stuka" dive bombers, which were too small
to carry glide bombs. While an attack with a Fritz-X cannot be ruled out, there is at least an equal case to suggest
that, if a glide bomb was involved, the culprit was actually a Hs 293 from II./KG 100; Luftwaffe records show that
II./KG 100, armed only with Hs 293 glide bombs, was active over Salerno that day.

Fritz X

KG 100 scored another success with Fritz-X while the British

battleship Warspite was providing gunfire support at Salerno on 16
September. One bomb penetrated six decks before exploding in
number 4 boiler room. This explosion put out all fires and blew out the
double bottom. A second Fritz-X near-missed Warspite, holing her at
the waterline. She took on a total of 5,000 tonnes of water and lost
steam (and thus all power, both to the ship herself and to all her
systems), but casualties were few. She was towed to Malta by tugs
Hopi and Moreno, then returned to Britain via Gibraltar and was out of
action for near 9 months; she was never completely repaired, but
returned to action to bombard Normandy during Operation Overlord.[9]

Savannah is hit by a Fritz-X during the Salerno


The last Fritz-X attack at Salerno again lightly damaged the light cruiser Philadelphia with two near misses on 17
September. This attack is sometimes reported as taking place on 18 September. However, according to US Navy
records, the cruiser Philadelphia departed Salerno the night of 17/18 September. Moreover, according to Luftwaffe
records, III./KG 100, the Luftwaffe unit armed with the Fritz-X, flew its last mission on 17 September. Other ships
damaged by Fritz-X included Dutch sloop Flores and destroyer Loyal.
The control system used for Fritz-X, known as Kehl-Straburg and named for Kehl, a German suburb of Strasbourg,
and Strasbourg, the French/German city on the Rhine, was also used by the Hs 293. It relied on radio contact
between the bomb and the guidance unit, and was susceptible to electronic countermeasures. After the initial attacks
in August 1943 the Allies went to considerable effort to develop devices which jammed the 48.2MHz to 49.9MHz
low-VHF band radio link between the Kehl transmitter aboard the launching aircraft and the Straburg receiver
embedded in the Fritz-X ordnance. Early efforts by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory produced the XCJ jamming
transmitter installed aboard the destroyer escorts USS Herbert C. Jones and Frederick C. Davis in late September
1943, too late for Salerno. The XCJ was ineffective because the frequencies selected for jamming were incorrect.
This was updated in time for combat at Anzio with the XCJ-1 system, installed aboard two destroyer escorts above
as well as destroyers USS Woolsey, Madison, Hilary P. Jones and Lansdale. These six ships rotated service at Anzio,
with three deployed at any time. This manually operated system met with some success, though cumbersome and
easily overwhelmed if large numbers of weapons were deployed simultaneously.
In early 1944 the UK began to deploy its Type 650 transmitter, which employed a different approach. This system
jammed the Straburg receiver's intermediate frequency section, which operated at a 3MHz frequency and appears
to have been quite successful, especially as the operator did not have to attempt to find which of the 18
Kehl/Straburg command frequencies were in use and then manually tune the jamming transmitter to one of those
frequencies. This system automatically defeated the ordnance's receiver regardless of which radio frequency had
been selected for an individual Luftwaffe missile.
Following several intelligence coups, including a capture of an intact Hs 293 at Anzio and recovery of important
Kehl transmitter components from a crashed Heinkel He 177 on Corsica, the Allies were able to develop far more
effective countermeasures in time for the invasions at Normandy and Southern France. This included an updated
XCJ-2 system from the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (produced as the TX), the modified airborne AN/ARQ-8
Dinamate system from Harvard's Radio Research Laboratory, NRL's improved XCJ-3 model (produced as the
CXGE), the Types MAS system produced by the Airborne Instruments Laboratory (at the time affiliated with the
Radio Research laboratory), the British Type 651 and the Canadian Naval Jammer. Even more sophisticated
jammers from NRL, designated XCK (to be produced as TY and designated TEA when combined with the upgraded
XCJ-4) and XCL, were under development but were never deployed as the threat had evaporated before they could
be put into service.

Fritz X
By the time of Normandy landings, a combination of Allied air supremacy, keeping bombers at bay, and
ship-mounted jammers meant the Fritz-X had no significant effect on the invasion fleet. Some accounts say the
Norwegian destroyer Svenner was hit by Fritz-X at dawn on D-Day. This is highly unlikely as III./KG 100, the unit
which carried the Fritz-X into combat, had largely been re-equipped with the Hs 293 missile by that time for its
anti-ship missions, and the attack on Svenner occurred before the first glide bombers launched their assaults on the
Normandy beaches.
Fritz-X is often incorrectly listed as having been responsible for the loss of the hospital ship HMHS Newfoundland at
Salerno as well as the destroyer HMS Janus and the light cruiser HMS Spartan at Anzio. However, these ships were
hit by Hs 293s, as clearly demonstrated by a careful analysis of Luftwaffe records regarding the deployment of
III./KG 100,[8] the nature of the damage inflicted,[12] as well as reports from witnesses.[13] (In the case of Janus,
either an Hs 293 or a conventional torpedo was responsible.)
The closest Allied equivalent to Fritz-X was Azon.

Combat procedure
Fritz-X was steered by the bombardier in the launching aircraft over a radio link between the aircraft's Kehl
transmitter and the weapon's Straburg receiver. The bombardier had to be able to see the target at all times, and the
bomb had a flare in the tail so it could be seen from the controlling aircraft for its MCLOS-form guidance to control
it properly. The disadvantage with this in comparison to self-contained glide bombs like the operational U.S.
Navy's Bat radar-homing glide bomb, used against Japan in 1944-45 were that the aircraft had to be flown toward
the target on a steady course and that as the missile neared its target it became possible to misguide by jamming its
radio channel.
Unlike the Hs 293, which was deployed against merchant ships and light escorting warships, Fritz X was intended to
be used against armoured ships such as heavy cruisers and battleships. The minimum release height was 4,000
metres (13,000ft) and a release height of 5,500 metres (18,000ft) was preferred assuming adequate visibility. The
Fritz X had to be released at least 5 kilometres (3mi) from the target. The plane had to decelerate upon bomb release
so momentum would carry the bomb in front of the aircraft where the bombardier could see and guide it. This
deceleration was achieved by making a steep climb and then level out. The bombardier could make a maximum
correction of 500 metres (1,600ft) in range and 350 metres (1,150ft) in bearing. The bomber was vulnerable to
fighter attack as well as ship-based air defense weapons while maintaining a slow, steady course so the bombardier
could maintain visual contact to guide the bomb.[9] When working properly, the missile was able to pierce 130mm
(5.1in)[4] of armor.
Accuracy is the main reason for developing a weapon system of this kind, rather than continuing to use so-called
"dumb bombs". A skilled bombardier could manage to guide 50% of the bombs to within a 15m (50ft) radius of the
aiming point, and about 90% hit within a 30m (100ft) radius. (Other sources say 60% hits within 4.6 meters

Fritz X


[2] Splitterbombe, dickwandig, German for "fragmentation bomb, thick-walled".
[3] Fitzsimons, Bernard, ed. "Fritz-X", in The Illustrated Encyclopedia of 20th Century Weapons and Warfare (London: Phoebus, 1978), Volume
10, p.1037.
[4] Fitzsimons, "Fritz-X", p.1037.
[5] Named for the German town of Kehl, at the time, a suburb of Strasbourg.
[8] RL 10/493: Ttigkeitsbericht ber Einsatzperiode das K.G. 100 mit F.K. in der Zeit von 12.7.43 - 30.4.44. [Activity Report of Missions of
KG 100 with Guided Weapons in the Period from 12.07.43 to 30.04.44.]
[9] Bogart, Charles H. "German Remotely Piloted Bombs" United States Naval Institute Proceedings November 1976 pp.62-68
[10] See Barbara Tomblin's With Utmost Spirit: Allied Naval Operations in the Mediterranean, 1942-45 (Lexington: The University Press of
Kentucky, 2004), 273. Tomblin cites as her source the original action reports filed by the Philadelphia which clearly indicate the bomb
missed. Had a Fritz X actually struck Philadelphia, the ship would have severely damaged or sunk. The erroneous notion that Philadelphia
was hit emerged from an article in Proceedings in 1976 by Charles Bogart and has been repeated since.
[11] It remains uncertain today the exact cause of the loss of Bushrod Washington. Most accounts credit the attack to an Hs 293 launched from
II./KG 100, and certainly it is known from Luftwaffe records that II./KG 100 was active above Salerno around that time, flying nine missions
from 9 September to 30 September, three of them during the day. Certainly eyewitness descriptions indicate the side of the ship was blown
out, more consistent with an Hs 293 attack than a Fritz X. The situation if further confused because original reports, possibly contrived to
avoid mention of the glide bombs in accordance with U.S. policy at the time, suggest two conventional 250 kg bombs dropped from dive
bombers were responsible.
[12] DNC 6/R.322: "Report by the Admiralty Department of Naval Construction: Board of Enquiry 9 February 1944 in Naples." This is the
official report on the loss of Spartan and clearly identifies the Hs 293 as the weapon used; the nature of the damage, described in detail, is
fully consistent with an Hs 293 and inconsistent with Fritz-X.
[13] See for example Captain John Eric Wilson's first-hand account as presented in "Sinking of the Hospital Ship SS Newfoundland",
Newfoundland Times, September 1994, pp.9-15. The Newfoundland Times is the semi-annual publication of the HMS Newfoundland
Association, formed by veterans of the cruiser (not hospital ship) HMS Newfoundland.

External links
USAAF-captured (1946) German wartime film on details of the Fritz X bomb (
The Dawn of the Smart Bomb (
German guided weapons of World War II (
Allied & German guided weapons of World War II (
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (
Ruhrstahl AG Fritz-X - Royal Air Force Museum, Cosford (UK) (
" How Radio-Controlled Bombs Were Jammed (
how-radio-controlled-bombs-were-jammed.html)", C.I.C. (Combat Information Center), U.S. Office of the Chief
of Naval Operations, Dec. 1945.

Article Sources and Contributors

Article Sources and Contributors

Fritz X Source: Contributors: Al Lemos, Andrwsc, Ashley Pomeroy, Attilios, Bachrach44, Bagheera, Benea, Bilsonius, Birdhurst,
Brutaldeluxe, Cabalamat, Catsmeat, David R. Ingham, Dawkeye, Dekimasu, Denniss, Dewritech, E Wing, EZ1234, Emoscopes, Fritzelblitz, GMan552, Gaius Cornelius, GeneralPatton,
GraemeLeggett, Greyengine5, Ground Zero, Gunbirddriver, Hideyuki, Ian Dunster, Joshbaumgartner, Just a member, KTo288, Kuru, Lars T., LilHelpa, Martarius, Maury Markowitz,
Mjbollinger, MoRsE, Modest Genius, Moroboshi, N328KF, NE Ent, Noclador, Oberiko, PWilkinson, Petronas, ProudIrishAspie, Rjwilmsi, Rlandmann, Rsrikanth05, Sardanaphalus, Sgeureka,
Sindresolberg, SkyLined, SoLando, Staygyro, StoneProphet, Sus scrofa, Tabletop, Template namespace initialisation script, The PIPE, Thewellman, Thunderbrand, ThurnerRupert, Trekphiler,
Trulystand700, Uebersetzer, Varlaam, Wernher, Whitepaw, Wik, Wikinegern, Zegoma beach, 51 anonymous edits

Image Sources, Licenses and Contributors

Image:Fritz X side.jpg Source: License: GNU Free Documentation License Contributors: Kogo
File:Flag of German Reich (19351945).svg Source: License: Public Domain Contributors: Fornax
Image:FRITZ X.jpg Source: License: GNU Free Documentation License Contributors: User:kogo
File:Fritz-X Tail Control Setup.jpg Source: License: Creative Commons Zero Contributors: User:The PIPE
File:USS Savannah (CL-42) is hit by a German guided bomb, off Salerno, 11 September 1943.jpg Source:,_off_Salerno,_11_September_1943.jpg License: Public Domain Contributors: US
Navy Employee

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