Missile, Air-to-Air, Ruhrstahl X-4, Aft Skin Panels

Display Status:

This object is not on display at the National Air and Space Museum. It is either on loan or in storage.

Collection Item Summary:

The German X-4 was a small air-to-air missile of World War II that could be fired at heavily armed Allied bombers from a distance. To prevent jamming, guidance was by wires running between the missile and launch aircraft, rather than by radio. Slated for use on the Me 262 jet fighter, the X-4 could also have been fired from such piston-engine aircraft as the Ju 88, Ju 388, and Fw 190, all of which launched test missiles beginning in August 1944. Ruhrstahl produced 1,000 X-4 airframes in late 1944, but an Allied air raid destroyed the BMW engines and production lines, a blow from which the program never recovered.

The Smithsonian obtained these skin panels from the X-4's rear fuselage as part of the the U.S. Navy Bureau of Aeronautics' transfer of World War II missile artifacts in 1948.