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"The German Cable Cutter" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following intelligence report on the German Kutonase (barrage balloon cable-cutter) was originally published in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 18, Feb. 11, 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.]


Balloon barrages equipped with steel cables, which are used to protect industrial and military areas in the British Isles, and used to some extent in Egypt, present formidable obstacles to German fighters and bombers. These barrages are both fixed and mobile, and are capable of effective operation at considerable altitudes. In numerous instances, they have damaged the wings or fuselage to such an extent as to cause the enemy planes to crash or force-land on British territory. Avoidance of these barrages can be effected by flying over them, but this reduces the accuracy of level bombing. There are other means of avoiding balloon cables.

To cope with the situation, the Germans have developed knife-edge cutters called Kutonase which are fitted to the leading edge of the wings, and sometimes around the nose of the fuselage. They are made of steel, and the blade is suitably faired.

[Leading Edge of Dornier Wing, Fitted with Kutonase]

Three different types of Kutonase have been examined and tested. On the Ju-88 it was applied to a standard wing, the cutter having a hardened edge, covered with a thin sheet of duralumin forming the wing leading edge.

On the Dornier 217E, the wing in front of the spar had been specifically designed to take the cutter. The general design is similar to that on the Ju-88, but the cutter is of rolled steel instead of being fabricated, while the adverse effect of the fairing on the cutting is minimized by the insertion of a strip of thinner material along the fairing immediately over the cutting edge.

The Kutonase found on a Heinkel 111 was of an overshoe type, designed to be fitted to aircraft already in service, the complete unit being held in position by straps anchored to the front spar, and covered with doped fabric. In this case, the only material interposed between the cutter and the cable was doped fabric, but the advantage of this is probably decreased by the additional stiffness provided by the turned-in edges of the metal fairing. The cutter plate and mounting were similar to those on the Ju-88.

It is believed that the Kutonase on the Dornier 217E provides complete protection against heavy balloon cables at speeds over 200 mph but is effective against light barrage wire only at a considerably higher speed. Although the type used on the He-111 is just as efficient as that used on the Dornier 217E, the former plane is not so well protected on account of its lower maximum and cruising speeds. The Kutonase of the Ju-88 appears to provide little or no protection in normal flight, but might be effective at the speeds obtained after pulling out of a steep dive.


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