Operation Eisenhammer

iron hammer

This was a German unrealised plan for an air offensive against munitions factories and power plants in and around the Soviet cities of Moscow and Gorky, using ‘Mistel’ composite attack aircraft for greater range and accuracy (1943/November 1944).

The concept was the brainchild of Professor Heinrich Steinmann, an official of the Reichsluftfahrtministerium, and envisaged the destruction of 12 turbines in water and steam powerplants near Moscow, Gorky, Tula, Stalinogorsk and also under the Rybinsk Reservoir, as well as attacks on certain substations, transmission lines and factories. The destruction of 67% of the turbines would have deprived the Soviet war production facilities of about 75% of the power they needed. Only two smaller electricity-generating plants, to the east of the Ural mountains and in the Soviet Far East, would have been left intact.

At this time the USSR had no turbine manufacturing capabilities and the only repair facility was that in Leningrad, which had been severely damaged.

‘Mistel’ weapons were to be used for the destruction of the steam-powered plants, and Sommerballon (summer balloon) floating mines for the attacks on the hydro-electric plants: the Sommerballon mines were to be dropped in the water upstream of the turbine installations and be drawn into them by the water current.

The overall shortage of bombers and fuel, technical problems with the floating mine, and the Soviet army’s overrunning of the air bases earmarked for the plan combined to postpone the implementation of the origin plan.

In February 1945, however, ‘Eisenhammer’ was revived and the Kampfgeschwader 200 special operations wing grouped reconnaissance aircraft and about 100 Mistel composite warplane weapons near Berlin in anticipation of the better spring weather which would allow attacks on the plants around Moscow. After a raid by US bombers on Berlin-Rechlin airfield, which destroyed 18 Mistel weapons, the plan was postponed again and then terminated.