By the end of World War II, the Nazis were in a lot of trouble. Most of their weapons factories and airfields had been destroyed by combined Allied bombing, and morale was very low. It seemed imminent to the Nazi leadership that at this rate, the Third Reich’s reign over much of Europe will end in no time. So, to balance the military books, the Germans turned to develop cutting edge and somewhat insane technologies to become technologically superior to their rivals. We all know about the Nazi research into Nuclear weapons and rocket technology. Although they couldn’t reach anywhere with the former, in the latter case they were quite successful and made several short-range rockets though it saw no action in war. Many of these desperate attempts to excel in military technology helped us later on in space exploration too. This jetpack, on the other hand, didn’t help us much.
It was after the invention of this piece that the military engineers and technologists thought about a possible jetpack to gain a battle advantage over the enemy especially the cases where infantry was involved. The technology from the rockets would be scaled down to become a backpack sized rocket to enable soldiers to jump higher and have advantage over the enemy by jumping over fences, barbed wires and even small rivers and ravines. It was named Himmerlsturmer or Sky Stormer in English due to its thundering noise that instilled fear on its opponents. There was no flying or individual any minimum altitude involved. It was just the jump that the Germans were interested in and rightly so. I don’t think it would have lasted for long!
Paul Schmidt, a German engineer, had patented his design of a pulse rocket which basically uses oxygen in lots of amounts along with the propellant to generate the required thrust. It is not the same as the V-1 pulsejet as it is much smaller and can be carried by a single soldier but the issue of oxygen persisted so a tank of liquid oxygen had to be placed alongside to provide the combustion needed to make a significant thrust. The design of Himmelsturmer was very simple consisting of two pulse tubes. One of them was for a forward flight, and the other smaller one was for controlling the directions with the help of hand-based grips.
Both tubes had to be started at the same time and turned off at once after landing. It consumed 100 grams of fuel each second so that the flight duration was minimal and couldn’t be increased since a soldier can only carry limited amount. These sky Stormers were still in an experimental phase at the end of the war, and many people were fascinated by its development. So much that after the war, many private companies tried to develop it in their own regard but couldn’t because of safety and range related problems that couldn’t be addressed. The USA started its own program to build such a jetpack and even made one in 1960 that could be controlled much better and its flight lasted an astonishing twenty seconds!
But the high cost and low progress of both these programs meant that their development never saw daylight and they were shelved later on. But man I would love to fly one of those these days! I wonder what can be achieved with the help of modern electronics and propulsion systems.
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