Rüstsätze (Luftwaffe) were field modification kits produced for the German Luftwaffe during the Second World War. They were packaged in kit form, usually direct from the aircraft manufacturer, and allowed for field modifications of various German aircraft used in World War II, predominantly fighter bombers and night fighters. Rüstsätze kits could be fitted in the field, as opposed to Umrüst-Bausätze kits, which were typically fitted in the factory. This was not a hard and fast rule, however; during production runs various Rüstsätze kits were often fitted by factories in order to meet Luftwaffe demands, and "/R" designations were also occasionally applied to more complex changes in an aircraft's airframe design that were much more suitably completed at production line facilities, as with a few of the "/R"-designated versions of the He 177A-5 heavy bomber.


Typical Rüstsätze kits would include extra cannon or machine gun armament, most often mounted in underwing gun pods, bomb and drop tank fittings, extra armor, fuel, and various electrical system upgrades. The kits were numbered R1, R2, R3 and so forth. Some of these upgrades would become almost standard on certain fighters.

Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-674-7772-13A, Flugzeug Focke-Wulf Fw 190, Bewaffnung
Arming the underwing WGr 21/BR 21 rocket mortar

The nomenclature was often confusing, as each Luftwaffe aircraft type — always defined by their RLM 8-xxx airframe number — used their own unique series of /R-series (as well as the factory fitted, Umrüst-Bausatz /U-series) numbers: the "/R2" kit for a Messerschmitt Bf 109G was for the fitment of a pair of the powerful Werfer-Granate 21 (Wfr. Gr. 21 or BR 21) underwing mounted rocket launchers, while the Focke-Wulf 190 used the "/R6" designation for this same exact fitment.

The Focke-Wulf Fw 190 was well known for its various Rüstsätze, which included:

Details of an Fw 190's underwing BR 21's launch-tube mount
  • R1: Standard radio equipment upgraded to the FuG 16ZE (as fitted to the Fw 190A-4 and A-5)[1]
  • R1: Addition of a WB (Waffen-Behälter) 151/20 cannon pod under each wing (as fitted to the Fw 190A-6, A-7 or A-8)[1]
  • R2: Addition of an MK 108 cannon pod mount under each wing (as fitted to the Fw 190A-6 and A-8)[1]
  • R2: Outboard wing mounted MK 108 cannon (as fitted to the Fw 190A-7, A-8 and A-9)[1]
  • R2: Addition of wing mounted MK 108 cannons and a fuselage center line mounted WGr (Werfer-Granate) 21 rocket (as fitted to the Fw 190A-8)[1]
  • R3: Addition of wing mounted MK 103 cannons (as fitted to the Fw 190A-6 and A-8)[1]
  • R4: Addition of fuselage fitted GM-1 nitrous boost system (as fitted to the Fw 190A-6 and A-8)[1]
  • R5: Addition of fuselage fitted 115 liter fuel tank (as fitted to the Fw 190A-8)[1]
  • R6: Addition of two wing mounted Werfer-Granate 21 (Wfr. Gr. 21 or BR 21) bomber destroyer rocket launchers (as fitted to the Fw 190A-4, A-5, A-6, A-7 and A-8)[1]
  • R7: Addition of armor to the cockpit (as fitted to the Fw 190A-6, A-7 and A-8)[1]
  • R8: Addition of wing mounted MK 108 cannons and cockpit armour (as fitted to the Fw 190A-8 and A-9)[1]
  • R11: Addition of FuG 125 radio, PKS 12 radio direction finder, and window heaters (as fitted to the Fw 190A-8 and A-9)[1] and D-series airframes (also used for the Ta 152).
  • R12: Addition of FuG 125 radio, PKS 12 radio direction finder, window heaters and wing mounted MK 108 cannons (as fitted to the Fw 190A-8)[1]
  • R14: Addition of ETC 502 torpedo rack (as fitted to the Ta 152)



  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Campbell & Greer 1975, p. 27.


  • Campbell, Jerry L. & Greer, Don (1975). Focke Wulf Fw 190 in Action. squadron/signal publications. ISBN 0-89747-018-4.

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Arado Ar 234

The Arado Ar 234 Blitz (English: lightning) was the world's first operational jet-powered bomber, built by the German Arado company in the closing stages of World War II.

Produced in limited numbers, it was used almost entirely in the reconnaissance role, but in its few uses as a bomber it proved to be nearly impossible to intercept. It was the last Luftwaffe aircraft to fly over the UK during the war, in April 1945.

Avia S-199

The Avia S-199 is a propeller-driven fighter aircraft built after World War II, notable as the first fighter obtained by the Israeli Air Force, and used during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

Constructed in Czechoslovakia, with parts and plans left over from Luftwaffe aircraft production, the aircraft had numerous problems and was generally unpopular with its pilots. Czechoslovak pilots nicknamed it Mezek ("Mule"), while in Israel it was officially known as the Sakeen ("knife" in Hebrew). In practice, the aircraft was more often called Messerschmitt or Messer (which also means "knife", in German and Yiddish).

Focke-Wulf Fw 190

The Focke-Wulf Fw 190 Würger (English: Shrike) is a German single-seat, single-engine fighter aircraft designed by Kurt Tank in the late 1930s and widely used during World War II. Along with its well-known counterpart, the Messerschmitt Bf 109, the Fw 190 became the backbone of the Luftwaffe's Jagdwaffe (Fighter Force). The twin-row BMW 801 radial engine that powered most operational versions enabled the Fw 190 to lift larger loads than the Bf 109, allowing its use as a day fighter, fighter-bomber, ground-attack aircraft and, to a lesser degree, night fighter.

The Fw 190A started flying operationally over France in August 1941, and quickly proved superior in all but turn radius to the Royal Air Force's main front-line fighter, the Spitfire Mk. V, particularly at low and medium altitudes. The 190 maintained superiority over Allied fighters until the introduction of the improved Spitfire Mk. IX. In November/December 1942, the Fw 190 made its air combat debut on the Eastern Front, finding much success in fighter wings and specialised ground attack units called Schlachtgeschwader (Battle Wings or Strike Wings) from October 1943 onwards.

The Fw 190A series' performance decreased at high altitudes (usually 6,000 m (20,000 ft) and above), which reduced its effectiveness as a high-altitude interceptor. From the Fw 190's inception, there had been ongoing efforts to address this with a turbosupercharged BMW 801 in the B model, the much longer-nosed C model with efforts to also turbocharge its chosen Daimler-Benz DB 603 inverted V12 powerplant, and the similarly long-nosed D model with the Junkers Jumo 213. Problems with the turbocharger installations on the -B and -C subtypes meant only the D model entered service in September 1944. While these "long nose" versions gave the Germans parity with Allied opponents, they arrived too late to affect the outcome of the war.

The Fw 190 was well-liked by its pilots. Some of the Luftwaffe's most successful fighter aces claimed many of their kills while flying it, including Otto Kittel, Walter Nowotny and Erich Rudorffer. The Fw 190 provided greater firepower than the Bf 109 and, at low to medium altitude, superior manoeuvrability, in the opinion of German pilots who flew both fighters. It was regarded as one of the best fighter planes of World War II.

Focke-Wulf Fw 190 operational history

The Focke-Wulf Fw 190 Würger was used by the Luftwaffe during the Second World War in a variety of roles. Like the Messerschmitt Bf 109, the Fw 190 was employed as a "workhorse", and proved suitable for a wide variety of roles, including air superiority fighter, strike fighter, ground-attack aircraft, escort fighter, and operated with less success as a night fighter. It served on all the German fronts: Eastern Front, Western Front, North African Campaign and the Defence of the Reich.

When it was first introduced in August 1941, it quickly proved to be superior in all but turn radius to the Royal Air Force (RAF) front-line fighter, the Spitfire Mk. V variant. The 190 wrested air superiority away from the RAF until the introduction of the vastly improved Spitfire Mk. IX in July 1942 restored qualitative parity. The Fw 190 made its air combat debut on the Eastern Front much later, in November/December 1942. The Fw 190 made a significant impact seeing service as a fighter and fighter-bomber. The fighter and its pilots proved just as capable as the Bf 109 in aerial combat, and in the opinion of German pilots who had flown both fighters, the Fw 190 presented increased firepower and manoeuvrability at low to medium altitude.

The Fw 190 became the backbone of Jagdwaffe (Fighter Force) along with the Bf 109. On the Eastern Front, owing to its versatility, the Fw 190 was used in Schlachtgeschwader (Attack Wings) which were specialised ground attack units. The units achieved much success against Soviet ground forces. As an interceptor, the Fw 190 underwent improvements to make it effective at high altitude, allowing the 190 to maintain relative parity with its Allied counterparts. The Fw 190A series' performance decreased at high altitudes (usually 6,000 m (20,000 ft) and above), which reduced its usefulness as a high-altitude fighter, but these complications were mostly rectified in later models, notably the Focke-Wulf Fw 190D variant, which was introduced in September 1944. In spite of its successes, it never entirely replaced the Bf 109. The Fw 190 was well liked by its pilots. Some of the Luftwaffe's most successful fighter aces flew the Fw 190, including Otto Kittel with 267 victories, Walter Nowotny with 258, and Erich Rudorffer with 222 claimed. A great many of their kills were claimed while flying the Fw 190.

Heinkel He 111

The Heinkel He 111 was a German aircraft designed by Siegfried and Walter Günter at Heinkel Flugzeugwerke in 1934. Through development it was described as a "wolf in sheep's clothing". Due to restrictions placed on Germany after the First World War prohibiting bombers, it masqueraded as a civil airliner, although from conception the design was intended to provide the nascent Luftwaffe with a fast medium bomber.Perhaps the best-recognised German bomber due to the distinctive, extensively glazed "greenhouse" nose of later versions, the Heinkel He 111 was the most numerous Luftwaffe bomber during the early stages of World War II. The bomber fared well until the Battle of Britain, when its weak defensive armament was exposed. Nevertheless, it proved capable of sustaining heavy damage and remaining airborne. As the war progressed, the He 111 was used in a variety of roles on every front in the European theatre. It was used as a strategic bomber during the Battle of Britain, a torpedo bomber in the Atlantic and Arctic, and a medium bomber and a transport aircraft on the Western, Eastern, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and North African Front theatres.

The He 111 was constantly upgraded and modified, but became obsolete during the latter part of the war. The German Bomber B project was not realised, which forced the Luftwaffe to continue operating the He 111 in combat roles until the end of the war. Manufacture of the He 111 ceased in September 1944, at which point piston-engine bomber production was largely halted in favour of fighter aircraft. With the German bomber force virtually defunct, the He 111 was used for logistics.Production of the Heinkel continued after the war as the Spanish-built CASA 2.111. Spain received a batch of He 111H-16s in 1943 along with an agreement to licence-build Spanish versions. Its airframe was produced in Spain under licence by Construcciones Aeronáuticas SA. The design differed significantly in powerplant only, eventually being equipped with Rolls-Royce Merlin engines. The Heinkel's descendant continued in service until 1973.

Heinkel He 177

The Heinkel He 177 Greif (Griffin) was a long-range heavy bomber flown by the Luftwaffe during World War II. The He 177 was the only operational long-range heavy bomber available to the Luftwaffe during the war years that had a payload/range capability similar to the four-engined heavy bombers flown by the USAAF and RAF in the European theatre; it had higher cruising and maximum speeds.

Designed to a 1936 requirement known as Bomber A, the aircraft was originally intended to be a purely strategic bomber intended to support a long-term bombing campaign against Soviet industry in the Urals. In spite of its large, 30 metres (98 ft) wingspan, the design was limited to two engines. During the design, Luftwaffe doctrine came to stress the use of moderate-angle dive bombing, or "glide bombing", to improve accuracy. Applying the changes needed for this type of attack to such a large aircraft was unrealistic.

To deliver the power required from only two engines on an aircraft this large, engines of at least 2,000 horsepower (1,500 kW) were needed. Such designs were not well established and the DB 606 "power system" engine, combined with the cooling and maintenance problems caused by the tight nacelles, caused the engines to be infamous for catching fire in flight. Early models gained the nicknames Reichsfeuerzeug (Reich's lighter) from Luftwaffe aircrew.

The type matured into a usable design too late in the war to play an important role. It was built and used in some numbers, especially on the Eastern Front where its range was particularly useful. It is notable for its use in mass raids on Velikiye Luki in 1944, one of the late-war heavy bombing efforts by the Luftwaffe. It saw considerably less use on the Western Front, although it played a role during Operation Steinbock (baby blitz), against the UK in 1944.

Henschel Hs 129

The Henschel Hs 129 was a World War II ground-attack aircraft fielded by the German Luftwaffe. The aircraft saw combat in Tunisia and on the Eastern Front.

A key requirement of the original specification was that the aircraft be powered by engines that were not in demand for other designs. This limited it to low-power engines, with most models using a 700 horsepower (520 kW) French engine. In spite of being very small and relatively light, the design was generally underpowered. Attempts to fit more powerful engines, both German and Italian, were thwarted for a variety of reasons.

The design was relatively effective when it was first introduced, and saw service on the Eastern Front in a variety of front-line roles. As the war continued and anti-tank support became the main goal, the aircraft was continually up-gunned, eventually mounting a 75 mm gun in the anti-tank role that left the plane barely flyable. Only a small number of these B-3 models were produced, late in the war.

Karl-Heinz Meltzer

Feldwebel Karl-Heinz Meltzer (also known as Karlheinz) (23 February 1922 – August 1943) was a German fighter ace of World War II. He was born in Hamburg, served in the Luftwaffe on the Eastern front and was presumed killed in action in August 1943.

List of Focke-Wulf Fw 190 variants

This is a list of variants of the Focke-Wulf Fw 190, with detailed descriptions.

MG 81 machine gun

The MG 81 was a German belt fed 7.92×57mm Mauser machine gun, used in flexible installations in World War II Luftwaffe aircraft, replacing the older drum magazine-fed MG 15.

The MG 81 was developed by Mauser as a derivative of their successful MG 34 general-purpose machine gun. Development focus was to reduce production cost and time and to optimize the machine gun for use in aircraft. Developed in 1938/1939, it was in production from 1940 to 1945.

A special twin-mount MG 81Z (the Z suffix stands for Zwilling, meaning "twin") was introduced in 1942. It paired up two of the weapons on one mount to provide even more firepower with a maximum cyclic rate of fire of 3,200 rounds per minute without requiring much more space than a standard machine gun.

Towards the end of the war many specimens were delivered to the army and equipped for use in ground battles with shoulder rest and bipod.

Messerschmitt Bf 109

The Messerschmitt Bf 109 is a German World War II fighter aircraft that was, along with the Focke-Wulf Fw 190, the backbone of the Luftwaffe's fighter force. The Bf 109 first saw operational service in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War and was still in service at the dawn of the jet age at the end of World War II in 1945. It was one of the most advanced fighters of the era, including such features as all-metal monocoque construction, a closed canopy, and retractable landing gear. It was powered by a liquid-cooled, inverted-V12 aero engine. From the end of 1941, the Bf 109 was steadily being supplemented by the Focke-Wulf Fw 190. It was commonly called the Me 109, most often by Allied aircrew and among the German aces, even though this was not the official German designation.It was designed by Willy Messerschmitt and Robert Lusser who worked at Bayerische Flugzeugwerke during the early to mid-1930s. It was conceived as an interceptor, although later models were developed to fulfill multiple tasks, serving as bomber escort, fighter-bomber, day-, night-, all-weather fighter, ground-attack aircraft, and reconnaissance aircraft. It was supplied to several states during World War II, and served with several countries for many years after the war. The Bf 109 is the most produced fighter aircraft in history, with a total of 33,984 airframes produced from 1936 to April 1945.The Bf 109 was flown by the three top-scoring German fighter aces of World War II, who claimed 928 victories among them while flying with Jagdgeschwader 52, mainly on the Eastern Front. The highest-scoring fighter ace of all time was Erich Hartmann, who flew the Bf 109 and was credited with 352 aerial victories. The aircraft was also flown by Hans-Joachim Marseille, the highest-scoring German ace in the North African Campaign who achieved 158 aerial victories. It was also flown by several other aces from Germany's allies, notably Finnish Ilmari Juutilainen, the highest-scoring non-German ace, and pilots from Italy, Romania, Croatia, Bulgaria, and Hungary. Through constant development, the Bf 109 remained competitive with the latest Allied fighter aircraft until the end of the war.A significant portion of Bf 109 production originated in Nazi concentration camps, including Flossenbürg, Mauthausen-Gusen, and Buchenwald.

Messerschmitt Bf 109 variants

Due to the Messerschmitt Bf 109's versatility and time in service with both the Luftwaffe and other foreign air forces, numerous variants were produced over the eight years of service with the Luftwaffe and even more were produced by its foreign users.

RLM aircraft designation system

The German Air Ministry (Reichsluftfahrtministerium; RLM) had a system for aircraft designation which was an attempt by the aviation authorities of the Third Reich to standardize and produce an identifier for each aircraft design's airframe type produced in Germany. It was in use from 1933 to 1945 though many pre-1933 aircraft were included and the system had changes over those years.

As well as aircraft of the Luftwaffe, it covered civilian airliners and sport planes, due to the RLM handing all aviation-related matters in the Third Reich, both civilian and military in nature.

Rheinmetall BK-5

The Rheinmetall Bordkanone 5, or BK-5 for short, was a 50 mm autocannon intended primarily for use against Allied heavy bombers, especially the United States Army Air Forces's (USAAF) Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress. The heavy, large calibre shells had a high muzzle velocity, and therefore great kinetic energy, allowing them to be accurately fired from long ranges, well outside the range of the defensive guns mounted on the bombers, and the large explosive material content of each shell almost ensured destruction of any bomber that was hit by even one of its shells.Rheinmetall was given a contract in 1943 to adapt the 50 mm KwK 39 tank gun, from the Panzer III tank, for aerial use in the twin-engined Me 410 Hornisse bomber destroyer. They were installed as Umrüst-Bausätze (Factory Modification) 4 in the Me 410 A-1/U4, and experimentally, in two Me 262 A-1a/U4 jet fighter prototypes (though these were not used operationally), as the MK 214 cannon of similar caliber was not yet available. An experimental fitment of the BK 5 in an undernose Bola (or "dustbin") mount on a small number of He 177A-3 heavy bombers was part of a small force of the bombers that was given the task of suppressing Flak on the Eastern Front near Stalingrad early in the winter of 1942-43 as the A-3/Rüstsatz 5 version, allegedly nicknamed the Stalingradtyp. The semi-circular magazine of the BK 5 weapon system held 21 rounds.

Approximately 300 were produced and it saw only limited action, most notably in the Me 410 A-1/U4 aircraft that served with the II. Gruppe of Zerstörergeschwader 26 (ZG 26). It was also mounted on the Junkers Ju 88 P-4 night attack aircraft. Intended for long-range shots, the cannon was given a telescopic sight in addition to the Me 410's standard Revi C12C gunsight, in order to make it easier to take long-range shots from outside a bomber's defensive perimeter, as a "stand-off" weapon system. This proved to be more of a hindrance than a help in the turning fights in which the Me 410s often found themselves when engaged by enemy fighters, as the maneuvering targets easily escaped from the telescopic sight's small field of view, forcing them to use to normal sights instead. Since the BK 5 was almost useless against such small, nimble targets, the use of the telescopic sight was unnecessary in these situations anyway.As installed in the Me 262, with the muzzle protruding well beyond the nose of the fighter, the cannon was found to be prone to jamming, and if fired at night the BK 5's muzzle flash tended to temporarily blind the pilot's night vision.According to the account of the engagements against the USAAF by II./ZG 26 from late February through mid-April 1944 mentioned at a German language website, the 53 Me 410 Hornisse of that Zerstörergruppe equipped with the BK 5 - as the Umrüst-Bausätze factory modification designated /U4 for the Me 410 series of aircraft - were said to have shot down a total of 129 B-17 Flying Fortress and four B-24 Liberator heavy bomber aircraft, distributed over a series of five or six interceptions, all while losing only nine of their own Me 410s.

TPz Fuchs

The TPz (Transportpanzer) Fuchs ("Fox") is an armoured personnel carrier originally developed by Daimler-Benz but manufactured and further developed by the now Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles (RMMV). Fuchs was the second wheeled armoured vehicle to enter service with the Bundeswehr (West German Military) and it can be used for tasks including troop transport, engineer transport, bomb disposal, Nuclear, Biological and Chemical reconnaissance and electronic warfare. RMMV and its predecessors manufactured 1,236 Fuchs 1, mostly for the German Army.

Further development of the design resulted in the Fuchs 2, first shown in 2001. The enhanced Fuchs 2 is currently in production, known customers include Algerian Army, Kuwait Army and the United Arab Emirates Army (UAE).

Werfer-Granate 21

The Werfer-Granate 21 rocket launcher, also known as the BR 21 (the "BR" standing for Bordrakete) in official Luftwaffe manuals, was a weapon used by the German Luftwaffe during World War II and was the first on-board rocket placed into service by the Luftwaffe, first introduced in mid 1943. The weapon was developed by Rheinmetall-Borsig under the leadership of Dipl.-Ing. Rudolf Nebel, who had pioneered German use of wing-mounted offensive rocketry in World War I with the Luftstreitkräfte.


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