Mistel was originally a bomber airframe, usually a Junkers Ju 88 variant, with the entire nose-located crew compartment replaced by a specially designed nose filled with a large load of explosives, with a fighter aircraft on top, joined to the bomber by struts. The combination would be flown to its target by a pilot in the fighter; then the unmanned bomber was released to hit its target and explode, leaving the fighter free to return to base. The first such composite aircraft flew in July 1943 and was promising enough to begin a programme by Luftwaffe test unit KG 200, code-named "Beethoven".
The definitive Mistel warhead was a shaped charge of nearly two tonnes in weight fitted with a copper or aluminium liner. The use of a shaped charge was expected to allow penetration of up to seven meters of reinforced concrete.
Some 250 Mistels of various combinations were built during the war, but they met with limited success. They were first flown in combat against the Allied invasion fleet during the Battle of Normandy, targeting the British-held harbour at Courseulles-sur-Mer.
While Mistel pilots claimed hits, none of these match Allied records; they may have been made against the hulk of the old French battleship Courbet, which had been included as a component of the Mulberry harbour at Arromanches and specially dressed up as a decoy by the Allies. Serious blast and shrapnel damage from a near-miss was suffered by HMS Nith, a floating headquarters, on 24 June. Nine men were killed and 26 wounded, and Nith was towed back to England for repairs.
A second opportunity to use the Mistels, in Scapa Flow in 1944, was abandoned after the sinking of the German battleship Tirpitz led to the departure of all of the Royal Navy's major surface units from the target.
As part of Operation Iron Hammer in late 1943 and early 1944, Mistels were selected to carry out key raids against Soviet weapons-manufacturing facilities—specifically, electricity-generating power stations around Moscow and Gorky. These plants were known to be poorly defended by the Soviets and irreplaceable. However, before the plan could be implemented, the Red Army had entered Germany, and it was decided to use the Mistels against their bridgehead at Küstrin instead. On 12 April 1945, Mistels attacked the bridges being built there, but the damage caused was negligible and delayed the Soviet forces for only a day or two. Subsequent Mistel attacks on other bridges being thrown across the Oder were similarly ineffective.
Ich lege großen Wert auf die Feststellung, daß die Symbole der NS-Zeit ( Swastikas ) lediglich einer originalgetreuen Wiedergabe und Darstellung der Modelle dienen. Eine politische Einstellung / Gesinnung kann und sollte nicht davon abgeleitet werden !
Den allgemein geltenden Gesetzen und Richtlinien, die zwar eine Ausstellung von NS-Symbolen erlaubt, aber eine Verherrlichung verbietet, wird somit entsprochen !
I attach great importance to the statement that the symbols of the Nazi period ( Swastikas ) serve only a faithful reproduction of the models. A political attitude can and should not be derived from it. The generally applicable laws and regulations, which allow an exhibition of Nazi symbols, will therefore be satisfied.