Featured Links

Plan Your Visit
E-newsletter Sign-up
Explore Museum Exhibits
Browse Photos
Visit Press Room
Become a Volunteer
Air Force Museum Foundation

Ruhrstahl X-4 Air-to-Air Missile

Allied bombing success in Germany during World War II led the Germans to develop air-to-air missiles. The X-4 was to be launched from fighter planes against B-17 bombers. This missile, like the V-weapons, is an example of advanced technology that failed to prevent German defeat, but previewed future arms development. The missile's warhead was "tuned" to the vibrations of the bomber's engines, and it was meant to explode as it passed nearby. Fighter pilots guided the missile visually with a small joystick, and thin wires -- nearly four miles long -- relayed guidance commands to the missile. Though about 1,300 X-4s were built, the Allies bombed the Ruhrstahl factory, and the Germans turned their attention to other projects. The X-4 was an early attempt to use guided missiles in aerial engagements, a concept which has since been developed to produce highly accurate weapons that are the mainstay of air-to-air combat.

Warhead: 44 lbs.
Range: 2,700 yards
Maximum speed: 560 mph

Click here to return to the World War II Gallery.


Find Out More
Related Fact Sheets
German V-Weapons: Desperate Measures
Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress
Note: The appearance of hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the National Museum of the USAF, the U.S. Air Force, or the Department of Defense, of the external website, or the information, products or services contained therein.