The Sänger-Bredt anti-podal bomber


We recently came across the website of a man who makes splendid models of exotic craft from card:

One of his models was of the the Sänger-Bredt anti-podal bomber, surely the most splendidly named war machine ever.

Sänger and Bredt plan world domination

This sub-orbital, hypersonic vehicle, designed in the 1930s by Eugen Sänger and Irene Bredt, was designed to take off using a rocket powered sled which would blast it two miles down a track. Once airborne, rocket engines on the craft would take over and kick it up to an altitude of 90 miles and a speed of 13,800 mph.


It would then descend into the atmosphere and bounce off the increasingly dense air, getting more lift and descending again before further bounces.

The planned bouncy trajectory

The bomber over New York: watch the skies, Yanks!

In this way it would "skip" across the Atlantic, drop a 8,800lb bomb on America and then proceed to a Japanese held landing site in the Pacific, completing a total journey of 15, 000 miles. All very friendly, considering the Germans weren't actually at war with America in the 1930s.

Sneaky camouflaged version

In reality, this craft, called the Silbervogel (how sweet) by the Germans, never went beyond a wind-tunnel model and post-war research showed that the design did not have sufficient shielding to survive re-entry. However, the design incorporated seveal radical features: such as the principle of the lifting body and the regenerative engine where fuel is run around the engine bell to cool it; a design used by all modern rocket engines.

The wind tunnel model

After World War 2, Sänger and Bredt worked for the French government and in 1949 founded the Fédération Astronautique.

I first became aware of the craft when I was a boy from the Bonestell/Ley book Conquest of Space and thought it just had a brilliant name and looked very futuristic!

Hollywood rocket

Interestingly, in the George Pal film When Worlds Collide (1951) they used a similar track- launched rocket ship but, amazingly, whilst the Hollywood design looks dated today the original Sänger-Bredt version looks completely modern. A design classic!

Very Fifties!

If it looks like anything the Sänger-Bredt anti-podal bomber looks like the modern Boeing AGM 86C cruise missile. Or, rather, the missile looks like the bomber!

Cruise on!

The US Air-Force used many of the principles of the Sänger-Bredt in their X20 Dyna-Soar project intended to develop a re-usable space plane. The project ran from 1957 until December 1963 when it was cancelled just after construction of the spaceship began, having cost a staggering $660million. The government was worried about the spiralling costs and was also doubtful about the Air Force's role in manned spaceflight, feeling that that was better handled by NASA.

Another plane that never was.

The fastest plane built so far is the hypersonic X43A which has acheived Mach 9.6 or nearly 7000mph, around half of the planned speed of the Sänger-Bredt.

X43A scramjet

As long as I can remember people have been predicting a hypersonic airliner which can fly from London to Sydney (why anyone would want to spend huge amounts of money and generate vast carbon emissions to go to Australia, of all places, is not clear). This is Fireflash from Thunderbirds.

Fireflash: designed by Gerry Anderson model designer Mike Trim

This is the hypersonic airliner announced last week by an optimistic EU funded group (which is why it will fly from Brussels to Sydney) which should do the Europe-Australia trip in just under five hours.

Euro Plane

Vorsprung durch Technik: or should that be Kraft durch Freude?

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