1/72 Heller Fi-103 Reichenberg 
"We should fly in this thing?"

Gallery Article by Gerd Wilcken on Jan 31 2018



The late WWI German Flying Bomb V-1 was transformed in 1944 into the manned Fi 103 Reichenberg by adding a small, cramped cockpit at the point of the fuselage that was immediately ahead of the pulsejet's intake, where the standard V-1's compressed-air cylinders were fitted. The cockpit had basic flight instruments and a plywood bucket seat. The single-piece canopy incorporated an armored front panel and opened to the side to allow entry. The two displaced compressed-air cylinders were replaced by a single one, fitted in the rear in the space which normally accommodated the V-1's autopilot. The wings were fitted with hardened edges to cut the cables of barrage balloons.

The project was given the codename "Reichenberg" after the capital of the former Czechoslovakian territory "Reichsgau Sudetenland" (present-day Liberec), while the aircraft themselves were referred to as "Reichenberg-Gerät" (Reichenberg apparatus).

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Originally intended to be carried to their targets beneath the wings of Heinkel 111 bombers and air-launched. Officially the pilot was supposed to escape at the last moment before it exploded, but the presence of the pulse jet intake just above the cockpit would have made this impossible. 

About 175 were built in assembly plants at Neu-Tramm in Dannenberg / Lower Saxony (annotation: In this some barracks I graduated in 1972 a part of my officers course at the former West German Federal Border Police) and Pulverhof. None entered combat. I thought of a scene that could happen, when the volunteer pilots of the Luftwaffe had their first contact with the Flying Bomb.

The old Heller Kit was bought a long time ago and not so well built by me. So it rests a long time in a box. As I saw a picture of the Fi-103 in a magazine I remembered the old kit. So out of the box, stripped down all paint and start a complete repaint.

I used Vallejo acrylics from the "Luftwaffe Color Set 1941 to end-war". The German pilots and mechanics are from Preisser. Then I do a little washing with Umbra ink and an airbrushed weathering. Camouflage stripes are done by brush, because I think that in early 1945 very many paintings had to be done very hastily to get these Flying Bombs into war.

Gerd Wilcken

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Photos and text © by Gerd Wilcken