The Henschel Hs-293 at the Udvar-Hazy Center
The Henschel Hs-293 at the Udvar-Hazy Center
In the Udvar-Hazy Center’s James S. McDonnell Space Hangar there is the Smithsonian’s Henschel Hs-293 among the many missiles on display. The Hs-293 was a glide bomb with rocket assists and was controlled with a joystick by the bombardier of the mother aircraft. A Smithsonian restorer described the inner works of the Hs-293 as being like the inside of a watch.
Henschel Hs-293 Against Allied Ships
The Luftwaffe used the Hs-293 against allied ships from August 1943 to August 1944. These attacks illustrate the dangers Luftwaffe bombers posed to allied ships.
- 25 August 1943 -The Hs-293s first use in combat. In this attack Hs-293s damaged the HMS Landguard and HMS Bideford. A sailor on the HMS Bideford died in the attack.
- 27 August - An Hs-293 launched from a Dornier Do-217 sank the sloop HMS Egret, killing 194 of the 229 people on board. Another Hs-293 heavily damaged the HMCS Athabaskan. This caused the British to halt their hunting patrols in the Bay of Biscay.1
- September 13 - In the Gulf of Salerno, a single Luftwaffe bomber struck the hospital ship HMHS Newfoundland with an Hs-293. The Hs-293 mortally damaged the ship. It was later sunk by the USS Plunkett. The hospital ship was properly marked. It was also the target of two previous dive bombing attacks. Those killed included 6 British staff nurses and all the medical officers.2
- September 14 - An Hs-293 struck the U.S. merchant ship SS Bushrod Washington. The attack killed 6 crew members, and one U.S. Navy sailor of the ship’s armed guard.
- September 26 - Hs-293s sank the RHS Vasilissa Olga3 and HMS Intrepid4 in Lakki Bay, Leros.
- September 30 - An Hs-293 sank the HMS LST-79 in Ajaccio Harbour, Corsica.
- October 4 - Hs-293s damaged the SS Hiram S. Maxim and SS Selvik while they were in convoy UGS 18. A Do-217 sank the SS Fort Fitzgerald5.
- November 11 - An Hs-293 struck the HMS Rockwood, knocking it out of the war.6
- November 13 - A Do-217 attacked the HMS Dulverton with an Hs-293 off Kos, Dodecanese. The attack mortally wounded the ship. The attack killed 78 of the crew.7
- 21 November 1943 Luftwaffe Heinkel He-177s of K.G. 40 attacked a convoy. Many of the bombers missed the convoy and attacked the straggling merchant ships Marsa and Delius. The Marsa evaded six of the Hs-293s. Two more Hs-293s apparently malfunctioned. Then a He-293 struck the Marsa. The one fatality was Christian Joseph Cayley.8 An Hs-292 also damaged the merchant ship Delius. The He-177s that attacked the ships in convoy were attacked by a Royal Air Force B-24 Liberator, piloted by Pilot Officer A. Wilson. In this heavy bomber vs. heavy bomber combat Pilot Officer Wilson and his crew drove off 4 He-177 and damaged as least two of them. The Liberator sustained no hits.9 The Germans lost 3 He-177s from all causes on this mission.
- November 26 - K.G. 40 launched 21 He-177s against convoy KMF 26. French Spitfires of GC 1/7, P-39s of the USAAF 350th Fighter Group, and Beaufighters of RAF No. 153 Squadron attacked the bombers. K.G. 40 lost 6 He-177s and two more crashed on landing. This mission convinced the Luftwaffe to cease daylight attacks on the convoys.10 This was the most lethal day for the He-293. The only ship it sank was the troop transport Rohna. Over 1,000 of the 2,000 troops the Rohna was carrying died. When The Stars and Stripes reported the loss of the Rohna it discounted the possibility it had been lost to an air attack.
- January 23, 1944 - An Hs-293 struck the HMS Jervis. The ship required 3 months of repairs.11
- January 26 - Two near misses from Hs-293s damaged the SS John Banvard.12
- January 29 - Hs-293s sank the cruiser HMS Spartan and the SS Samuel Huntington.13 Over 300 sailors died on the HMS Spartan and four of the Huntington’s mariners died. The Spartan was the largest warship sunk by an Hs-293.
- February 15 – An Hs-293 damaged the USS Herbert C. Jones.
- February 16 - An Hs-293 attack sank the SS Elihu Yale and LCT 35. Three Elihu crew members and two of the armed guard died in the attack.14
- February 25 - An Hs-293 sank the HMS Inglefield off the coast of Anzio, Italy, killing 35 crew members.15
- April 20 - Ju-88s and He-111s attacked convoy UGS28. An Hs-293 damaged the SS Samite. The SS Paul Hamilton was blown out of the water, killing all 580 on board. The bombers sank the destroyer USS Lansdale, killing 48 crew members. The bombers also sank the SS Royal Star and damaged the SS Steven T. Austin. The convoy’s anti-aircraft guns shot down at least two He-111s.16
- 13 June - A Luftwaffe bomber carried out an Hs-293 attack on the HMS Boadicea off the coast of Normandy, France. An Hs-293 sank the ship and killed 175 crew members.17
- July 22 – A Do-217 struck the HMCS Matane with an Hs-293 in the Bay of Biscay. This left the ship dead in the water. The attack killed three. The HMCS Monnow towed the Matane to Plymouth where the Matane underwent major repairs before it was returned to service.18
- August 15 - An Hs-293 sank the USS LST-282.19
In its 12months of use against allied shipping, despite allied aircraft, anti-aircraft, and jamming, the Hs-293s caused considerable damage to allied ships and caused many allied sailor, troop, and mariner casualties.
1 An Unavoidable Loss: The Sinking of the HMS Egret, by Alister Waters (https://eview.anu.edu.au/cross-sections/vol5/pdf/12.pdf)
2 WW2 People’s War (http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peopleswar/stories/71/a3412171.shtml)
3 U-Boat Net (http://www.uboat.net/allies/warships/ship/9917.html)
4 Naval History Net (http://www.naval-history.net/xGM-Chrono-10DD-29I-HMS_Intrepid.htm)
5 Wreck Site (http://www.wrecksite.eu/wreck.aspx?95476)
6 U-Boat Net (www.uboat.net/allies/warships/ship/4689.html)
7 U-Boat Net (http://uboat.net/allies/warships/ship/4647.html)
8 The Convoy Web (http://www.convoyweb.org.uk/sl/mem/139_1.htm)
9 Aircraft Profile 234: Heinkel He 177, by Alfred Price© Profile Publications, Ltd., 1972.
10 Aircraft Profile 234: Heinkel He 177, by Alfred Price © Profile Publications, Ltd., 1972.
11 Naval History Net (http://www.naval-history.net/xGM-Chrono-10DD-36J-HMS_JervisJERVIS%201a.htm)
12 History of the 188th Port Company (http://www.488thportbattalion.org/188thHistory.html)
13 Wreck Site (http://www.wrecksite.eu/wreck.aspx?136079)
14 Chronological List of U.S. Ships Sunk or Damaged during 1944 (http://www.usmm.org/sunk44.html)
15 U-Boat Net (http://www.uboat.net/allies/warships/ship/4411.html)
16 The Story of USS Lansdale DD426, by Charles C. Wales (http://www.usna.com/page.aspx?pid=573)
17 The Cynical Tendency (http://thecynicaltendency.blogspot.com/2009/06/hms-boadicea-d-day-normandy-and-loss.html)
18 U-Boat Net (http://www.uboat.net/allies/warships/ship/165.html)
19 NavSource Online: Amphibious Photo Archive (http://www.navsource.org/archives/10/16/160282.htm)
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2015 Robert Sacchi