Henschel Hs 117

Hs 117 Schmetterling

A Schmetterling missile on display at the National Air & Space Museum (NASM), Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.
Type Surface-to-air (SAM) / Air-to-air (AAM) missile
Place of origin Germany
Production history
Designer Professor Herbert A. Wagner
Designed 1942-1943
Manufacturer Henschel Flugzeugwerke
Variants Hs 117M (air-to-air missile variant)
Specifications (Hs 117)
Weight 450 kg (990 lb),[1] 620 kg (1,370 lb) with launch boosters
Length 4,200 mm (170 in)
Diameter 350 mm (14 in)

Warhead High explosive

Engine 1x BMW 109-558 liquid-fuelled rocket engine
3.7 kN (830 lbf) for 33 sec, followed by 0.588 kN (132 lbf) for 24 sec[1]
Wingspan 2,000 mm (79 in)
Propellant Tonka-250 (50% triethylamine and 50% xylidine) fuel, with SV-Stoff (nitric acid) oxidiser[1]
32 km (20 mi; 17 nmi)
Flight altitude 6,000–9,000 m (20,000–30,000 ft)[1]
Boost time 2x Schmidding 109-553 Ethylene glycol solid fuel boosters, giving total 17.1 kN (3,800 lbf) thrust for 4 sec.
Speed 900–1,000 km/h (560–620 mph; 490–540 kn)[1]
MCLOS; visual guidance by telescope, radio controls; two-man crew[1]

The Henschel Hs 117 Schmetterling (German for Butterfly) was a radio-guided German surface-to-air missile project developed during World War II. There was also an air-to-air version, the Hs 117H.[2]

The operators used a telescopic sight and a joystick to guide the missile by radio control, which was detonated by acoustic and photoelectric proximity fuses, at 10–20 m (33–66 ft).[3]


In 1941, Professor Herbert A. Wagner (who was previously responsible for the Henschel Hs 293 anti-ship missile) invented the Schmetterling missile and submitted it to the Reich Air Ministry (RLM), who rejected the design because there was no need for more anti-aircraft weaponry.

However, by 1943 the large-scale bombing of Germany caused the RLM to change its mind, and Henschel was given a contract to develop and manufacture it. The team was led by Dr. Herbert Wagner, and it produced a weapon somewhat resembling a bottlenose dolphin with swept wings and cruciform tail.[1]

In May 1944, 59 Hs 117 missiles were tested, some from beneath a Heinkel He 111; over half the trials failed.[2] Mass production was ordered in December 1944, with deployment to start in March 1945. Operational missiles were to be launched from a 37mm gun carriage.[1]

In January 1945, a prototype for mass production was completed, and production of 3,000 missiles a month was anticipated,[1] but on 6 February, SS-Obergruppenführer Hans Kammler cancelled the project.


The Hs 117H was an air-launched variant, designed to be launched from a Dornier Do 217, Junkers Ju 188, or Junkers Ju 388.[4] This version was designed to attack enemy aircraft up to 5 km (16,000 ft) above the launching aircraft.[5]

See also

Related lists


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