TYPE: Heavy bomber, Long-range reconnaissance aircraft
ACCOMMODATION: Crew of nine
POWER PLANT: Six BMW 801D radial engines, rated at 1,700 hp each plus two Junkers Jumo 004 turbojet engines, rated at 900 kp thrust each
PERFORMANCE: 450 mph (estimated)
COMMENT: The Focke-Wulf Ta 400 was a large six-engined heavy bomber design developed in Nazi Germany in 1943 by Focke Wulf Aircraft Company as a serious contender for the Amerika Bomber project. One of the first aircraft to be developed from components from multiple countries, it was also one of the most advanced Focke Wulf designs of World War II, though it never progressed beyond a wind tunnel model.
In response to the RLM guidelines of January 1942, Kurt Tank of the Focke-Wulf company designed the Ta 400 as a bomber and long-range reconnaissance aircraft, to be powered by six BMW 801D radial engines, to which two Junkers Jumo 004 turbojet engines were later added. Design work was begun in 1943, much of it being carried out by French technicians working for Focke-Wulf at the Arsenal de l’Aéronautique at Chatillon-sous-Bagneux near Paris, with contracts for design and construction of major components being awarded to German, French, and Italian companies in an attempt to speed the process and begin construction of prototypes as soon as possible.
The Ta 400 had a shoulder-mounted wing with 4° dihedral, with a long straight center section extending to the middle engine on each wing, and highly tapered outer wing panels. It had twin vertical stabilizers mounted at the tips of the tailplane. Like the American Boeing B-29 Superfortress, the Ta 400 was to have a pressurized crew compartment and tail turret, connected by pressurized tunnel, as well as multiple remote-controlled turrets. The crew was to be protected by a heavy defensive armament, including ten 20 mm MG 151 cannons; and the same Hecklafette quadmount tail-turret with two MG 131 machine guns, as the later model Heinkel He 177A series aircraft and Heinkel He 177B bombers would have used. Fuel supply was to have distributed across 32 fuel tanks. Another design feature was tricycle landing gear.
The maximum bomb load was to have been 24 t. With a gross weight of 80.27 tonnes, the Ta 400 with Daimler Benz DB 603 engines was estimated to have a range of 7,500 mi in the reconnaissance role, cruising at 202 mph. The two bomber versions would have 76.07 tonnes and 80.87 tonnes gross weights with estimated ranges of 2,800 mi and 6,600 mi respectively. The projected Jumo-powered aircraft would have had a maximum range of 8,700 mi for long range reconnaissance and 8,100 mi as a bomber.
As with the Heinkel He 277 competitor for the Amerikabomber contract, no prototype of the Ta 400 was ever built It never progressed beyond a wind tunnel model, and performance, range and dimensions here are based solely on the designers’ estimates. The master aircraft designer Ernst Heinkel himself remarked in October 1943, while both designs were still being worked on, that he thought that only the Ta 400 could be a worthy competitor to his firm’s He 277, for the Amerika Bomber competition. The Ta 400 was essentially a backup design for the Messerschmitt Me 264. As the design required more materials and labor than the Me 264, the RLM became convinced that further development of the Ta 400 was a waste, and on October 1943 notified Focke-Wulf that the program would be terminated, but the minutes of a meeting in Italy between Tank and Italian aviation industrialists on April 1944 – just two days before the entire He 277 program was also cancelled – confirmed that work on the design was still ongoing and proposed the cooperation of Italian industry in the project (Ref.: 24).
POWER PLANT: One Hitachi GK2B Amakaze 21 radial engine, rated at 515 hp
PERFORMANCE: 140 mph at 5,577 ft
COMMENT: The Kyushu K11W Shiragiku (“White Chrysanthemum”) was a land-based bombing trainer aircraft which served in the Imperial Japanese Navy Airforce Service (IJN) in the latter years of World War II.
In late 1940 work on a single-engined crew trainer began at K.K. Watanabe Tekkosho to meet the requirements set by the Japanese Navy in the 15-Shi specification calling for an aircraft intended to replace the Navy Type 90 Operations Trainer Mitsubishi K3M. Even though the aircraft was to be used to train a complete bomber crew, Watanabe retained a single-engine configuration and, with its wings mounted at mid-fuselage, deep belly and retactable main undercarriage, the aircraft bore a strong resemblage to the North American O-47 observation monoplane. The pilot and radio-operator/gunner were seated above the wing under a transparent canopy while the instructor, navigator and bombardier were housed in a cabin under the wing.
Powered by a 515 hp Hitachi GK2B Amakaze 21 air-cooled radial, the prototype K11W1 made its first flight in November 1942, and the flight trials programm was completed rapidly, as no major problems were encountered. Shortly after the reorganization of K.K. Watanabe Tekkosho into Kyushu Hikoki K.K. , the company received a production contract for the K11W1 which entered service in summer 1943 as the Navy Operations Trainer Shiragiku (White Crysanthemum) Model 11. For armament training the Shiragiku carried a single flexible rear-firing 7.7 mm machine-gun and two 30 kg bombs, but late in the war the aircraft was modified to carry a single 250 kg bomb for Kamikaze sorties.
Development of the Shiragiku led to the K11W2, an all-wood version, which was built in small numbers and saw limited service as a utility transport and anti-submarine aircraft. Experience with this version led to the design of a specialzed anti-submarine patrol aircraft, the Q3W1 Nankai (South Sea). The Nankai was a two seater retaining much of the structure oft he K11W2 and fitted with redesigned square-tipped tail surfaces, but its development was suspended when in January 1945 the maiden flight of the single prototype ended in a wheels-up landing (Ref.: 1).
ACCOMMODATION: One or two pilots, up to 23 troops or freight
POWER PLANT: Two Gnome-Rhone 14M-04/-05 radial engines, rated at 700 hp each
PERFORMANCE: 180 mph at 9,800 ft
COMMENT: The Gotha Go 244 was a transport aircraft used by the German Luftwaffe during World War II.
From an early design stage of the Gotha Go 242 transport glider, consideration was given tot he possibility of introducing a degree of „motorization“, either on a temporary or permanent basis, both to simplify the retrieval of empty gliders from forward airstrips and to provide a transport capable of operating out of fields too small for towplane-glider combinations. Numerous project studies were prepared, these ranging from the temporary application of a single engine which could be „bolted on“ after the Go 242 had performed its supply mission, enabeling the empty glider to return to its base under ist own power, to the permanent installation of one or more power plants to remove entirely the aircraft’s dependence on towplanes.
An early proposal for temporary „motorization“ of the glider envisaged the provision of an Argus As 10C air-cooled engine complete with oil tank, oil cooler and firewall as a „power egg“ which could be attached to the nose of the Go 242 by means of four bolts. The scheme envisaged the Go 242 being employed as an orthodox tranport glider for the supply mission. After landing and being unloaded, the glider was to have the As 10C „Power egg“ bolted to the nose of the fuselage and in this form it was expected to be capable of returninjg to base without assistance. This and several similar proposals failed to find approval with the RLM, but the projected installation of a pair of air-cooled radial engines in the 500 – 750 hp category on a permanent basis was accepted, and during early summer 1942 the Gotha Waggonfabrik adapted several Go 242B airframes to test various types of air-cooled radial engines as prototypes for the Go 244.
The first prototype, the Go 244 V1 was powered by two 660 hp BMW 132 radials, while the second prototype had two 700 hp Gnome-Rhone 14Ms and the third two 750 hp Shwetsov M-25 A radial engines, with this model of Shvetsov OKB engine design being essentially a Soviet-built Wright Cyclone American-based nine-cylinder radial. Although only the third prototype offered adequate engine out performance, the Luftwaffe had large stocks of captured French Gnome engines, so this was chosen as the basis for the production conversion — usually fitted in counter-rotating pairs in production — although a few more aircraft were fitted with the BMW and Shvetsov engines.
The Go 244B series was the main production model, being based on the Go 242B with a wheeled tricycle undercarriage and with fuel and oil carried in the tailbooms. 133 aircraft were converted from Go 242 Bs, while a further 41 were built from new before production reverted to the glider Go 242.
The first examples of the Go 244 were delivered to operational units in Greece, based in Crete in March 1942. Some were also assigned to Transport Geschwader in North Africa and the Eastern Front but on the former front they proved vulnerable to anti-aircraft fire and were withdrawn, being replaced by Junkers Ju 52 or Messerschmitt Me 323 Gigant aircraft.
The Go 244B was decidedly underpowered and was incapable of remaining airborne on one engine othe than empty conditions (Ref.: 7, 24).
POWER PLANT: Three Toku-Ro I Type I solid-fuel rocket engines, rated at 100 kp thrust each
PERFORMANCE: 190 mph
COMMENT: In November 1944, the Navy Aviation Bureau looked into the possibilities of an aircraft to undertake suicide missions. While the mission was not unique, the fact that the aircraft being investigated would be a glider was unique. The Bureau envisioned that gliders would be launched with rocket boosters from caves or shore positions and pilots would guide the aircraft and the 100 kg explosive payload inside into Allied ships or tanks should the Japanese home islands be invaded. The Bureau assigned the Yokosuka Naval Air Technical Arsenal at Yokosuka the task of turning the glider into reality. The project was realized by a number of teams that would each be responsible for one part of the glider. The different sections were the wings, the fuselage, control surfaces, aerodynamic testing and test flights once the prototype was complete. The Navy Aviation Bureau gave instructions that the glider must be built from as much wood as possible.
This restriction was imposed for two reasons. The first was that in using wood and keeping the use of metal to an absolute minimum, the glider could be manufactured in any small shop using only wood working tools, and secondly, as a consequence, what metals were available would be conserved for other military uses. A number of concepts were discussed and sketched and after much deliberation among the design teams the prototype was complete by May 1945, and the Mizuno Corporation, a small glider manufacturer better known for sports equipment, had almost finished the glider.
The glider was very simple and used a high-wing monoplane form. The straight and flat wings were wide but had a short span and were designed to ensure that the glider was easy to handle given that inexperienced pilots would be at the controls. Also, the platform would be able to accommodate the rocket engines that were to be used to boost the glider into the air. The pilot sat in an open cockpit. The design was sent to the Navy Aviation Bureau for review with the result that several changes were necessary.
After these had been made the design was approved. Work began on the revised Jinryu (Divine Dragon), as the glider was now called, by the middle of June 1945. Construction of the Jinryu was again given to Mizuno Corporation. Working around the clock, the company completed two prototypes with such speed that wind tunnel testing of the design was still underway. In fact, the first flight of the Jinryu occurred in mid-July 1945 at the airfield in Ishioka, a city located about 90 km northeast of Tokyo. The Jinryu was towed into the air by a Tachikawa Ki-9. These tests showed that the glider was stable and possessed good handling characteristics. For the second flight the diving capability of the the Jinryu was tested and the glider reached a speed of 190 mph.
The Jinryu was modified by adding some strengthening in the enlarged tail and the the next phase of a powered flight began. The glider was modified to accept a group of three Toku-Ro I Type I rocket engines that together would produce 300 kg of thrust during a 10-second burn. Testing of the rocket array showed two serious flaws. The first was the quality of the rockets that resulted in a number of failures. The second reason was the inconsistency of the burn times. Despite the changes made to the glider to improve the flight characteristics, it was a challenging aircraft to fly and as a result the Jinryu was found to be unsuited for suicide missions. In total only five Jinryu gliders were produced.
Nevertheless, it was suggested that instead of being used for suicide operations, the the design was modified to a much enlarged glider fighter aircraft. Provision was made that the glider should be modified to take six rocket engines each with a 30-second burn time. It was estimated that at maximum burn the new design could attain a speed of 470 mph, and for weapons it was envisioned that it could carry ten explosive charges adapted from artillery shells used by the Imperial Japanese Army Airforce (IJA) in their 100 mm guns. This new aircraft was designated Shinryu (Divine Dragon II) and could be used against tanks and ships but added that it could also be used to attack US Boeing B-29 Superfortress bombers. All work was stopped with the end of WW II (Ref.: 24).
POWER PLANT: One Daimler-Benz DB 603G liquid-cooled engine, rated at 1,874 hp plus one Junkers Jumo 004C turbojet engine, rated at 950 kp thrust
PERFORMANCE: Not available
COMMENT: The Dornier Do 435 was a heavy all-weather fighter projected by the Dornier aircraft manufacturer for the German Luftwaffe during World War II. The design based on the twin-engine Do 335 „Pfeil“ (Arrow) heavy fighter, Luftwaffe‘s fastest piston-engined aircraft of World War II.
In May 1942, Dornier submitted a design Do P.231/1 for a twin-engine single-seat „Schnellbomber“-like high-speed bomber/intruder with a 1,000 kg bombload. The performance of this project was predicted to be better than other twin-engine designs due to its unique push-pull configuration and the lower aerodynamic drag of the in-line alignment of the two engines.The proposed front engine was a Daimler-Benz DB 605E and drove a puller-type propeller while the second DB 605E was located in the rear part of the fuselage and drove a pusher-propeller.
This project was selected as the winner after beating rival designs from Arado, Junkers, and Blohm & Voss. A development contract was awarded, by the RLM issuing the Dornier firm the airframe approval number 8-335, for what after many manfications would become known as the Dornier Do 335 „Pfeil“ (Arrow). In autumn 1942, Dornier was told that the Schnellbomber Do 335 was no longer required, and instead a multi-role fighter based on the same general layout would be accepted. This delayed the prototype delivery as it was modified for the new role.
The first prototype Do 335 V1 flew on 26 October 1943. However, several problems during the initial flight of the Do 335 would continue to plague the aircraft through most of its short history. On May 1944, the RLM ordered maximum priority to be given to Do 335 production. The first preproduction Do 335 (A-0s) were delivered in July 1944. But only approximately 22 preproduction aircraft were thought to have been completed and flown before the end of the war.
Early in 1943, while the first prototype of the Dornier Do 335 was under construction the Dornier design team dicussed the possibility to increase the performance of this new heavy twin-engine fighter. With the availability of the brand new incomming turbojet engines the original Dornier project Do P. 231/1 was redesigned and had the company’s internal designation Do P.231/3. The design was a single seat fighter aircraft with conventional empennage. The nose-mounted Daimler-Benz DB 603 piston engine remained unchanged while the rear DB 603 engine was replaced by a non specified turbojet engine. The piston engine would be used for normal flight and cruising and the turbojet added for high-speed flight.
On May 1943 Dornier submitted a further development, the single-seat Do P.323/2. The DB 603 was replaced by a 1,874 hp DB 603G and a tail-mounted Junkers Jumo 004 delivering app. 900 kp thrust was provided. The two air intakes for the turbojet were lokated at both sides of the mid fuselage. The air-flow duct was later positioned on the rear back of the fuselage (project Do P.232/3). While the development made progress the RLM decided to convert the design to a night-/bad weather fighter. The air-ducts were relocated to the fuselage sides and a navigator/radar-operator was seated in between on the upper surface in a glass-covered cockpit. A FuG 220 “Lichtenstein SN-2” radar with “Hirschgeweih” (Stag’s Antlers) aerial array was provided. The airframe was designated Dornier Do 435 and was in summer 1944 in an advanced project stage. For modification as prototype the Dornier Do 335 V4 was envisaged. But in autumn 1944 the RLM decided to stop all further work on the project. Nevertheless, Allied intelligence reports from early May 1945 mention spotting a Do 435 at the Dornier factory airfield at Löwenthal (Ref.: 24).
POWER PLANT: One Argus As 10C-3 liquid-cooled engine, rated at 240 hp
PERFORMANCE: Na data available
COMMENT: The Sack AS-6 was a German prototype circular-winged aircraft built privately during the Second World War. It did not see production.
The aircraft was designed by Arthur Sack, a farm owner and amateur engineer from a little town near Leipzig. In his attempts to create a circular-winged aircraft he built five model aircraft, each with little success. He entered his fifth model, with a 1.25 meter diameter wing and 1.5 horsepower engine, in a 1939 competition for remotely controlled models with combustion engines. The models were to take off and land at the same point. None of the entries managed to do so. Sack’s model was unable to take off from the ground but flew when released by hand.
At the end of 1940 Sack started design of the AS-6, a full-sized, manned aircraft and successor to the earlier models. Its wing diameter was four times larger than the last model. He built it privately in a shed at his farm, using a wood construction. The Argus As 10 engine as well as the main landing gear from a Messerschmitt Me 109 was sponsored by ATG, a company at Leipzig, that assembled Junkers bomber aircraft. In 1944 the AS-6 prototype was finished and its design documents provisionally approved. Arthur Sack enlisted the help of the chief test pilot of ATG to test the aircraft. Approximately a dozen tests revealed multiple failings, especially in the undercarriage, and managed little more than a hop off the ground. The tests continued at an airbase in Brandis by a pilot in a Messerschmitt Me 163B unit based there. As the AS-6 did not appear on an inventory of seized items when US forces captured the airbase it is assumed that the plane was destroyed to prevent capture (Ref.: 24).
It is to note that the US Navy also planned to realize a disc-shaped Short Take-off/Landing (STOL) aircraft. In the late 1930s the Vought Company was working on an experimental twin engine, circular winged aircraft, the V-173 Flying Pancake. After successful and promising flights the US Navy placed an order for two prototypes of a new carrier-based fighter aircraft, larger, heavier and more powerful than the V-177. Two prototypes oft he Chance Vought XF5U-1 Flying Flapjack were built made only ground runs and never lifted into the air. Due tot he end of WW II and with jet aircraft coming into service, the Navy finally canceled the project in 1947. Possibly a turbojet powered variant, the Vought Jet skimmer, was on the drawing board. Exact data are not available.
POWER PLANT: Two Daimler-Benz DB 601E liquid-cooled engines, rated at 1,175 hp each
PERFORMANCE: 385 mph
COMMENT: The Arado Ar 240 was a German twin-engine, multi-role heavy fighter aircraft, developed for the Luftwaffe during WW II by Ardo Flugzeugwerke. Its first flight was in 1940, but problems with the design hampered development, and it remained only marginally stable throughout the prototype phase. The project was eventually cancelled, with the existing airframes used for a variety of test purposes.
The Ar 240 came about as the response to a 1938 request for a much more capable second-generation heavy fighter to replace the Messerschmitt Bf 110, which was becoming outdated. Both Arado and Messerschmitt responded. Messerschmitt’s response, the Me 210, was a totally new design, but thanks to Messerschmitt’s experience with the Zerstörer (“Destroyer”) concept, it would be able to enter service quickly. Arado’s design was considerably more ambitious for the smaller firm, a dream project of Arado’s chief designer, Walter Blume, since the mid-1930s. While it would take some time before deliveries of the Arado design could begin, the Reichsluftfahrtministerium (RLM, German Aviation Ministry was nevertheless interested enough to order prototypes of both designs.
Prior to this point, Arado had invested heavily in several lines of basic research. One was the development of the “Arado travelling flap” which offered excellent low-speed lift performance. Another was ongoing work in the design and construction of pressurized cockpits, which dramatically lowered pilot fatigue for any flight above about 14,760 ft. Finally, they had also invested in a technically advanced remote-control defensive gun system, which they had been experimenting with for several years. The system used a gunsight located in the rear cockpit, operated by the navigator/gunner, which had optics on both the top and bottom of the aircraft, allowing aim in any direction. The gunsight was hydraulically connected to well-streamlined pancake-shaped, remotely-operated turrets on the top and bottom of the aircraft. For the Ar 240 design, the Arado engineers combined all this research into a single airframe.
For outright performance, they used as small a wing as reasonable, thereby lowering parasite drag (at the expense of greater lift-induced drag). Normally this would make the plane have “impossibly high” landing speeds, but this was offset by the use of a huge travelling flap and leading edge slats for high low-speed lift. When the flaps were extended, the upper portion of the ailerons would remain in place while the lower portion extended rearward, essentially increasing the wing area. A Jumo 222-powered Junkers Ju 288 prototype with ducted spinners, of a similar type to that intended for the Ar 240.
The Daimler-Benz DB 601 inline engines were conventionally installed and equipped with three-blade, fully adjustable propellers. The radiators were somewhat unusual however, quite similar to those fitted to the Junkers Ju 88 which pioneered them – but much more closely resembling the intended installation of the radiators intended for the junkers Ju 288, when powered by its intended multibank Junkers Jumo 222 liquid-cooled 24-cylinder engines – for both types, consisting of an annular block located in front of each engine, but with the Ar 240 partially covering each of them with an oversized, ducted flow-through propeller spinner forward of each radiator unit, with air entering through a large hole in the front of the spinner and exiting out of the cowl flaps, as the Jumo 222-powered Ju 288 design was intended to have. As with the Jumo inline-powered versions of the Ju 88, this made the plane look as if it were mounting a radial engine, and the Ar 240, like later Jumo inline-powered fighter aircraft from the Focke-Wulf firm (the Fw 190D, Ta 152 and twin-engined Ta 154) also benefitted from the simpler setup of an annular radiator just forward of the engine.
The fuel cells in the wings were provided with a newly developed self-sealing system that used thinner tank liners, allowing for more fuel storage. The liners could not be easily removed as they stuck to the outer surface of the tank, so in order to service them, the wing panelling had to be removable. This led to a complex system for providing skinning stiff enough to be handled in the field, complicating construction and driving up weight.
As with all German multi-use aircraft designs of the era, the aircraft was required to be a credible dive bomber. The thick wing panelling was not suitable for piercing for conventional dive brakes, so a “petal”-type brake was installed at the extreme rear of the fuselage — appearing much like what had been trialled with the Dornier Do 217 — which, unlike the Do 217’s vertically-opening “petals”, opened to the sides instead when activated. When closed the brake looked like a stinger, extending beyond the horizontal stabilizer and twin fins.
Finally, the cockpit was fully pressurized. This would not have been easy if the armament had to be hand-operated by the gunner, as it would have required the guns to penetrate the rear of the cockpit canopy. However, the remote control system allowed them to be located in turrets in the unpressurized rear of the fuselage.
All of this added weight, and combined with the small wing, led to a very highwing loding of 330 kg/m2, compared to an average of about a 100 for a single-seat fighter.
Technical specifications were first published in October 1938, followed by detailed plans later that year. In May 1939, the RLM ordered a batch of six prototypes. The first Ar 240 V1 prototype took to the air on 25 June 1940, and immediately proved to have poor handling in all axes, also tending to overheat during taxiing.
The handling was thought to be the result of the ailerons being too small, given the thick wing, so the second prototype was modified to have larger ones, as well as additional vertical fin area on the dive brakes to reduce yaw. In addition, small radiators were added to the landing gear legs to improve cooling at low speeds, when the gear would normally be opened. Ar 240 V2, first flew on 6 April 1941, and spent most of its life at the factory in an experimental role.
Ar 240 V3 followed, the first to be equipped with the FA 9 rear-firing armament system, developed jointly by Arado and DVL, armed with a 7.92 mm MG 81Z machine gun. Ar 240 V4 was the first to include an operational dive brake, and flew on 19 June 1941. Ar 240 V5 and the V6 followed in December and January, including the upgraded FA 13 system, using two 13 mm MG 131 machine gun in place of the MG 81Z for a considerable boost in firepower. Ar 240 V7 and V8 acted as prototypes for the planned Ar 240 B, which was to use two Daimler Benz DB 605As, while Ar 240 V9, V10, and V11, and V12 served as prototypes of the Ar 240 C.
The Ar 240’s excellent performance quickly led to the V3, V5 and V6 being stripped of their armament, including the defensive guns, and used as reconnaissance aircraft over England, where no other two-seater could venture by 1942. A number of pre-production Ar 240As served on the northern part oft he Eastern Front overflying Soviet military positions. In grand total 14 Arado Ar 240 were built (Ref.: 24).
POWER PLANT: Two Pratt & Whitney R-1830-90 Twin Wasp radial engines, rated at 1,200 hp each
PERFORMANCE: 224 mph at 10,000 ft
COMMENT: The Douglas C-47 Skytrain or Dakota (RAF, RAAF, RCAF, RNZAF, and SAAF designation) was a military transport aircraft developed from the civilian Douglas DC-3 airliner. It was used extensively by the Allies during WW II and remained in front-line service with various military operators for many years.
The C-47 differed from the civilian DC-3 by way of numerous modifications, including being fitted with a cargo door, hoist attachment and strengthened floor – along with a shortened tail cone for glider-towing shackles, and an astrodome in the cabin roof.
During World War II, the armed forces of many countries used the C-47 and modified DC-3s for the transport of troops, cargo, and wounded. The U.S. naval designation was Douglas R4D. About 10,174 aircraft were produced in four US factories.
The specialized C-53 Skytrooper troop transport started production in October 1941 at Douglas Aircraft’s Santa Monica plant. It lacked the cargo door, hoist attachment, and reinforced floor of the C-47. Only 380 aircraft were produced in all because the C-47 was found to be more versatile.
The C-47 was vital to the success of many Allied campaigns, in particular, those at Guadalcanal and in the jungles of New Guinea and Burma, where the C-47 and its naval version, the R4D, made it possible for Allied troops to counter the mobility of the light-traveling Japanese Army. Possibly its most influential role in military aviation, however, was flying “The Hump” from India into China. The expertise gained flying “The Hump” was later used in the Berlin Lift, in which the C-47 played a major role until the aircraft were replaced by Douglas C-54 Skymasters.
In Europe, the C-47 and a specialized paratroop variant, the C-53 Skytrooper, were used in vast numbers in the later stages of the war, particularly to tow gliders and drop paratroops. During the invasion of Sicily in July 1943, C-47s dropped 4,381 Allied paratroops. More than 50,000 paratroops were dropped by C-47s during the first few days of the D-Day campaign also known as the Invasion of Normandy, France, in June 1944. In the Pacific War, with careful use of the island landing strips of the Pacific Ocean, C-47s were used for ferrying soldiers serving in the Pacific theater back to the United States.
About 2,000 C-47s (received under Lend-Lease) in British and Commonwealth service took the name „Dakota“, possibly inspired by the acronym “DACoTA” for Douglas Aircraft Company Transport Aircraft.
The C-47 also earned the informal nickname “gooney bird” in the European theatre of operations. Other sources attribute this name to the first aircraft, a USMC R2D—the military version of the DC-2—being the first aircraft to land on Midway Island, previously home to the long-winged albatross known as the gooney bird which was native to Midway
After World War II, thousands of surplus C-47s were converted to civilian airline use, some remaining in operation in 2012, as well as being used as private aircraft (Ref.: 24).
POWER PLANT: Four Junkers Jumo 211J inline engines, rated at 1340 hp each or four BMW 801G radial engines, rated at 1,750 hp each.
PERFORMANCE: 339 mph at 36,000 kg at 20,015 ft
COMMENT: The Messerschmitt Me 264 was a long-range strategic bomber developed during World War II for the German Luftwaffe as its main strategic bomber. The design was later selected as Messerschmitt‘s competitor in the RLM (Reichsluftfahrt-ministerium, German Air Ministry) Amerikabomber programme, for a strategic bomber capable of attacking New York City from bases in France or the Azores.
Three prototypes were built but production was abandoned to allow Messerschmitt to concentrate on fighter production and the Junkers Ju 390 was selected in its place. Development continued as a maritime reconnaissance aircraft instead.
The origin of the Me 264 design came from Messerschmitt’s long-rangereconnaissance aircraft project, the P.1061, of the late 1930s. A variant on the P.1061 was the P.1062 of which three prototypes were built, with only two “engines” to the P.1061’s four, but they were, in fact, the more powerful Daimler-Benz DB 606 “power systems”, each comprising a pair of DB 601 inverted V-12 engines. These were also successfully used in the long-range Messerschmitt Me 261, itself originating as the Messerschmitt P.1064 design of 1937. The DB 606’s later use in the Heinkel He 177A‘s airframe design resulted in derision by Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring as „welded-togehter engines in August 1942, due to badly designed engine installations. In early 1941, six P.1061 prototypes were ordered from Messerschmitt, under the designation Messerschmitt Me 264. This was later reduced to three prototypes.
The progress of these projects was initially slow, but after Germany had declared war on the United States four days after the Pearl Harbor attack by Imperial Japan, the Reichsluftfahrtministerium started the more serious Amerikabomberprogramme in the spring of 1942 for a very long range bomber, with the result that a larger, six-engine aircraft with a greater bomb load was called for. Proposals were put forward for the Junkers Ju 390, the Focke-Wulff Ta 400, a redesign of the unfinalized and unbuilt Heinkel He 277 design, and a design study for an extended-wingspan six-engine Messerschmitt Me 264B. The need for six engines was prompted by the ongoing inability of Germany’s aviation powerplant designers to create combat-reliable powerplants of 2,000 PS and above power output levels, thwarting efforts to do the same with just four engines instead. As the similarly six-engined Junkers Ju 390 could use components already in use for the Junkers Ju 290 this design was chosen.
The Me 264 was not abandoned, however, as the Kriegsmarine (German Navy) separately demanded a long-range maritime patrol and attack aircraft to replace the converted Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor in this role. As a result, the two pending prototypes were ordered to be completed as development prototypes for the Me 264A ultra long-range reconnaissance aircraft.
The Me 264 was an all-metal, high-wing, four-engine heavy bomber of classic construction. The fuselage was round in cross-section and had a cabin in a glazed nose, comprising a “stepless cockpit” with no separate windscreen section for the pilots, which was common for most later German bomber designs. A strikingly similar design was used for the Boeing B-29 Superfortress, of slightly earlier origin. The wing had a slightly swept leading edge and a straight trailing edge. The empennage had double tail fins. The undercarriage was a retractable tricycle gear with large-diameter wheels on the wing-mounted main gear. . In order to provide comfort on the proposed long-range missions, the Me 264 featured bunk beds and a small galley complete with hot plates.
The Me 264’s first prototype was originally fitted with four Junkers Jumo inverted V12 engines using the then-new Kraftei (or “power egg”) unitized powerplant installation as standardized for the earlier Junkers Ju 88A Schnellbomber, but inadequate power from the Jumo 211 engines led to their replacement on the Me 264 V1 first prototype with four similarly unitized 1,700 hp BMW 801G engines. The first prototype, the Me 264 V1, bearing the Stammkennzeichen factory code of RE+EN, was flown on 23 December 1942. It was powered at first by four Junkers Jumo 211J inline engines of 1,340 hp each. In late 1943, these were changed to the BMW 801G radial engines which delivered 1,750 hp each.
Trials showed numerous minor faults and handling was found to be difficult. One of the drawbacks was the very high wing loading of the Me 264 in fully loaded conditions at some 356 kg/m2. Comparable aircraft, such as the Boeing B-29 Superfortress with a wing loading of 337 kg/m2, the redesigned Heinkell He 277 at 334.6 kg/m2 and the Junkers Ju 390 at 209 kg/m2 had lower wing loadings. The relatively high wing loading caused poor climb performance, loss of manoeuvrability, stability and high take-off and landing speeds. The first prototype was not fitted with weapons or armour but the following two prototypes, the Me 264 V2 and V3 had armour for the engines, crew and gun positions. The Me 264 V2 was built without defensive armament and vital equipment and the Me 264 V3 was to be armed and have the same armour.
In 1943, the Kriegsmarine withdrew their interest in the Me 264 in favour of the Ju 290 and the planned Ju 390. The Luftwaffe indicated preference for the unbuilt Focke Wulf Ta 400 and the Heinkel 277 as Amerikabomber candidates in May 1943, based on their performance estimates. Further payments for development work to Messerschmitt AG for its design were stopped. Late in 1943, the second prototype, Me 264 V2, was destroyed in a bombing attack. On 18 July 1944, the first prototype, which had entered service with Transportstaffel 5, was damaged during an Allied bombing bombing raid and was not repaired. The third prototype, which was unfinished, was destroyed during the same raid. In October 1943, further Me 264 development was stopped to concentrate on the development and production of the Messerschmitt Me 262 turbojet fighter-bomber.
Following the cancellation of the competing He 277 in April 1944, on 23 September 1944, work on the Me 264 project was officially cancelled. Messerschmitt proposed a six-engine version of the Me 264, the Me 264/6m (or alternately Me 364), but it was never built (Ref.: 24).
POWER PLANT: One Allison V-1710-87 liquid-cooled engine, rated at 1,325 hp
PERFORMANCE: 365 mph
COMMENT: The North American A-36 (listed in some sources as “Apache“ or “Invader”, but generally called Mustang) was the ground-attack/dive bomber version of the North American P-51 Mustang, from which it could be distinguished by the presence of rectangular, slatted dive brakes above and below the wings. A total of 500 A-36 dive bombers served in the Mediterranean and Southeast Asia theaters during WW II before being withdrawn from operational use in 1944.
The A-36 project was a stopgap measure intended to keep North American (NAA) assembly lines running during the first half of 1942 despite the US having exhausted its funds earmarked for fighter aircraft. When the order came for more P-51s in June 1942, the NAA workforce was thoroughly experienced.
With the introduction of the North American Mustang Mk.I with the Roya Air Force’s Army Co-operation Squadrons in February 1942, the new fighter began combat missions as a low-altitude reconnaissance and ground-support aircraft. Supplementing the Curtiss P-40 Tomahawks already in service, Mustang Mk Is were first supplied to No. 26 Squadron RAF, then rapidly deployed to 10 additional squadrons by June 1942.
Despite the limited high-altitude performance of the Allison V-1710 engine, the RAF was enthusiastic about its new mount, which “performed magnificently”. During the Mustang Mk. I’s successful combat initiation, North American’s president pressed the newly redesignated U.S.Army Air Forces (USAAF) for a fighter contract for the essentially similar P-51, 93 of which had passed into the USAAF when the Lend-Lease contract with Britain ran out of funds. The Mustang Mk IA/P-51 used four 20 mm Hispano wing cannon in place of the original armament, a combination of four wing-mounted 7.62 mm M1919 Browning machine guns and four 12.7 mm M2 Browning machine guns, two of which were mounted in the wings, while the second pair was mounted in the “chin”, or lower engine cowling, and synchronized to fire through the propeller. No funds were available for new fighter contracts in fiscal year 1942, but General O. P. Echols and Fighter Project Officer B. S. Kelsey wanted to ensure that the P-51 remained in production.
Since appropriations were available for an attack aircraft, Echols specified modifications to the P-51 to turn it into a dive bomber. The contract for 500 A-36A aircraft fitted with bomb racks, dive brakes, and heavier-duty wing, was signed by Kelsey on 16 April 1942, even before the first flight of the first production P-51 in May 1942. With orders on the books, North American Aviation (NAA) began modifying the P-51 to accept the bomb shackles which had already been tested in a “long-range ferry” program that the RAF had stipulated. Utilizing the basic P-51 airframe and Allison engine, structural reinforcing “beefed up” several high stress areas and “a set of hydraulically operated dive brakes were installed in each main wing plane”. Due to the slightly inboard placement of the bomb racks and unique installation of four cast aluminum dive brakes, a complete redesign of the P-51 wing was required
The first A-36A was rolled out of the NAA Inglewood plant in September 1942, rapidly going through flight testing with the first flight in October, with deliveries commencing soon after of the first production machines. The A-36A continued the use of nose-mounted 12.7 mm machine guns along with wing armament of four 12.7 mm caliber machine guns. The USAAF envisaged that the dive bomber would operate mainly at altitudes below 12,000 ft and specified the use of a sea level-rated Allison V-1710-87, driving a 10 ft 9 in-diameter three bladed Curtiss-Electric propeller and delivering 1,325 hp at 3,000 ft The main air scoop inlet was redesigned to become a fixed unit with a larger opening, replacing the earlier scoop which could be lowered into the airstream. In addition the A-36 carburetor air intake was later fitted with a tropical air filter to stop sand and grit being ingested into the engine.
The USAAF later ordered 310 P-51As, which were essentially A-36s without the dive-brakes and nose-mounted weapons, leaving an armament of four wing-mounted 12.7 mm Browning machine guns. An Allison V-1710-81 1,200 hp was fitted and used the same radiator and air intake as the A-36A. The P-51A was still fitted with bomb racks although it was not intended to be used primarily as a fighter-bomber and the racks were mainly used to carry drop tanks
Besides dive bombing, the A-36A racked up aerial victories, totaling 84 enemy aircraft downed. As fighting intensified in all theaters where the A-36A operated, the dive bomber began to suffer an alarming loss rate with 177 falling to enemy action. The main reason for the attrition was the hazardous missions that placed the A-36A “on the deck” facing murderous ground fire. German defenses in southern Italy included placing cables across hill tops to snare the attacking A-36As. Despite establishing a reputation for reliability and performance, the one “Achilles’ heel” of the A-36A (and the entire Mustang series) remained the ventral-fuselage location of the radiator/cooling system, leading to many of the losses. By June 1944, A-36As in Europe were replaced by Curtiss P-40 Warhawks and Republic P-47 Thunderbolts.
The aircraft model shown here was a North American A-36 Apache of the 86thFBG, 527th FBS showing with only approx. 100 sortie markings in winter 1943/44. In the end the whole side was full of 190 bombing logs, before it was struck off charge. Because it was such a long-lasting aircraft the late-war blue markings were painted over the temporarely red-framed markings anf therefore appear distinctive darker as the blue in the disk (Ref.: 24).
Scale 1:72 aircraft models of World War II
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