The Bachem Ba-349 Natter entered flight trials in March 1945. The type was rushed in production to protect Germanys cities against the Allied bombardments. Around a number of bigger cities a number of launch sites were erected each with a number of launch towers for the Natter.
A specialist squadron, Jagdgeschwader 501, was formed to operate the type. The pilots were all volunteers. Attrition was high in the early months of operation. This was mainly due to poor production quality which caused the aircraft to fall apart in mid-air during the high acceleration of the take-off.
After a number of accidents a stricter quality control was enforced and the number of incidents dwindled. The Natters brought down a large number of allied bombers. They were in service from May 1945 until late 1947 when they were replaced by unmanned surface to air missiles.