Collection Item Summary:
The German R4M unguided air-to-air rocket was developed near the end of World War II and briefly deployed on the Messerschmitt Me 262 jet fighter. It was designed to replace the increasingly heavy cannons needed to shoot down Anglo-American heavy bombers, as well as larger air-to-air rocket systems that created a lot of drag. The slim profile of the R4M and its folding fins, which sprung out upon leaving the aircraft, greatly reduced aerodynamic drag on the fighter. The warhead contained 520 g (17.6 oz) of Hexogen high explosive, which would likely destroy a bomber with one hit. Each fighter would carry up to 24 rockets, to be fired in four salvos, saturating a box to ensure a hit.
The Smithsonian received this rocket from the Deutsches Museum in 2018.