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"German Rope Barrage" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following U.S. military report describes a German "rope barrage" used for antiaircraft defense. This article originally appeared in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 19, February 25, 1943.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


According to a German publication, the German Air Defense League has requested its members and people living in certain districts to help the antiaircraft defense by searching for and collecting parachutes and ropes the day after an enemy raid. These are to be used for "sailing shells," a kind of rope barrage, somewhat similar to the British balloon barrage. These shells have rarely been used by the Germans, who have up to the present paid more attention to the production and improvement of antiaircraft artillery and night-fighter aircraft. Now, if enemy aircraft approach Berlin, to take an example, a rope barrage may be put up around the center of the town in addition to the usual air defense barrage.

German Army testing establishments have carried out a great number of tests with these shells, which are fired as ordinary projectiles. When they explode, a rope about 200 yards long attached to a parachute unrolls and sinks slowly to the ground, forming an obstruction, which, according to German antiaircraft officers, is much more dangerous to aircraft than the more rigid British balloon barrage. At one end of the rope there is an explosive adjusted for time ignition. If no aircraft catches in the rope within 10 minutes, the explosive charge is automatically detonated.

It is reported that use of these shells has recently begun, and that they form part of the equipment of every antiaircraft battery.

Comment: The "rope barrage" is in reality, no doubt, a form of aerial minefield. This sort of thing is perfectly feasible, though such a minefield would cover only a fairly limited area. It could be utilized to defend an area which was being heavily attacked. An average height at which aircraft were operating would be determined, and the barrage fired to that approximate height. The projectile itself would almost certainly be rocket-fired. Again, there would be no difficulty in designing a rocket projectile containing a parachute and length of wire with an explosive charge attached.


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