Category Archives: Heavy Bomber

Heavy Bomber

Junkers Ju 488 V401 (Kora Models, Resin)

TYPE: Heavy strategic bomber

ACCOMMODATION: Crew of three

POWER PLANT: Four BMW 801TJ or BMW 802 radial engines, rated at 2,500 hp each

PERFORMANCE: 429 mph at 23,620 ft

COMMENT: The Junkers Ju 488 was Germany’s last real attempt to create a four-engined, long range bomber. In early 1944, Junkers design department at Dessau made a proposal to simply and quickly produce a heavy bomber, using a minimum of new building jigs or parts. Basically, the Ju 488 was to be constructed out of existing Junkers aircraft. The Ju 388K was to supply the pressurized crew cabin, the Ju 188E supplied the rear fuselage, the ventral pannier was to come from the Ju 88A-15 and Ju 388K series, outer wing sections from the Ju 388K and finally the entire twin fin tail section from the Ju 288C. Added to this collection were a new center fuselage section and a parallel wing center section, to carry the four engines.
The Ju 488 V401 and V402 were to be entirely of metal construction, with the exception of the ventral pannier, which was constructed of wood. The fuselage had an internal bomb bay and five fuel tanks located behind the fuselage and above the bomb bay. The mid-fuselage mounted wing was tapered on the outer wing panels and featured a two spar, all metal construction, with a total of eight fuel tanks within the wing. Four BMW 801TJ 14 cylinder radial engines (driving four bladed propellers) were mounted in individual nacelles, with each nacelle containing a single main landing gear leg, which retracted to the rear. One interesting design workaround was that the outer engines had to be mounted lower on the wing, because the wing dihedral would have left the landing gear a little short from reaching the ground. No defensive armament was to be fitted to either the V401 or V402.
Proceeding in parallel with the first two 488 prototypes’ construction, a new, larger aircraft was being designed. This was to be the production model Junkers Ju 488A, and four prototypes (V403-406) were ordered. This new version deleted the wooden ventral pannier and the wing was moved further to the rear. The BMW 801TJs were to be replaced by four Jumo 222A-3 or B-3 liquid cooled 24 cylinder four row radial engines. Perhaps the biggest change was the lengthened fuselage, which was to use a welded steel tube construction with a sheet metal covering towards the front portion of the aircraft, and a fabric covering for the rear. An extra fuel tank could now be carried within the fuselage, for a maximum total of 15.066 liters (3.980 gallons). Defensive armament consisted of a remote controlled tail barbette with two MG 131 13 mm machine guns and a single remote controlled dorsal turret with two MG 151 20 mm cannon, both controlled from the pressurized cockpit via a periscope.
Work was begun on the Junkers Ju 488 V401 and V402 prototypes in the former Latécoère factory at Toulouse in early 1944. The plan was for the fuselage and the new wing center section to be built in Toulouse, all other components would come from the Junkers Dessau and Bernburg factories. It was hoped to have the Ju 488 in operational service by mid-1945. Construction was well advanced when the decision was made in July of 1944 to move the existing work done to date to Bernburg by train, due to the rapidly advancing Allied invasion forces. On the night of July 1944, resistance fighters succeeded in destroying the Ju 488 V401 fuselage and center wing section to the extent they could not be salvaged. After the last of the German forces evacuated the city in late August 1944, the V402 forward fuselage section was found covered and abandoned on a railway siding. No record seems to exist as to the final disposition of this last remaining Ju 488 piece. The entire Ju 488 program was discontinued in November 1944, when it was realized that a new large bomber aircraft was not needed at this stage in the war. An attempt was made to offer the Ju 488 design to the Japanese, but they were not interested (Ref.: 17).

Heinkel He 177A-5/R2 “Greif” (“Griffin”) with Ruhrstahl Fritz X, 4./KG 100, (Revell)

TYPE: Heavy long-range bomber


POWER PLANT: Two Daimler- Benz DB 610 “power systems”, each one created from a twinned-pair of Daimler-Benz DB 610A-1/B-1 liquid-cooled engines, rated at 2,950 hp each

PERFORMANCE: 303 mph at 19,685 ft

COMMENT: The Heinkel He 177 “Greif” (“Griffin”) was a long-range heavy bomber flown by the German Luftwaffe during World War II. The He 177 was the only operational long-range heavy bomber available to the Luftwaffe during the war years that had a payload/range capability similar to the four-engined heavy bombers flown by the USAAF and RAF in the European theatre; it had higher cruising and maximum speeds.
Designed to a 1936 requirement known as “Bomber A”, the aircraft was originally intended to be a purely strategic bomber intended to support a long-term bombing campaign against Soviet industry in the Urals. In spite of its large wingspan, the design was limited to two engines. During the design, Luftwaffe doctrine came to stress the use of moderate-angle dive-bombing, or “glide bombing”, to improve accuracy. Applying the changes needed for this type of attack to such a large aircraft was unrealistic.
To deliver the power required from only two engines on an aircraft this large, engines of at least 2,000 hp were needed. Such designs were not well established and the Daimler-Benz DB 606 “power system”, combined with the cooling and maintenance problems caused by the tight nacelles, caused the engines to be infamous for catching fire in flight. Early models gained the nicknames  Reichsfeuerzeug“ (“Reich’s lighter”) from Luftwaffe aircrew.
On 9 November 1939, the first prototype, the He 177 V1, was flown. Further seven prototypes were completed until 1942, followed by 35 pre-production He 177 A-0s and 130 He 177 A-1s. The early aircraft in this batch were used for further trials, and after a brief and unhappy operational debut the remainder were withdrawn from service. From late 1942 they were replaced by He 177 A-3s. Starting in August 1943, all He 177’s delivered had an extended rear to both instill greater stability for bombing and to offset the slightly lengthened engine nacelles. Most of the short-fuselage A-3s were rebuilt to the longer standard . From November 1942 to June 1944 612 He 177A-3 were built resp. converted (from short fuselage to long fuselage). These were followed by 350 He 177A-5.
The type matured into a usable design but was too late in the war to play an important role. It was built and used in some numbers, especially on the Eastern Front where its range and cruising altitudes in excess of 19,690 ft was particularly useful. So, losses were relatively light. The Soviet Air Force, equipped mainly for low-level interception and ground-attack roles, could do little to hinder the high-flying bombers. In contrast the He 177 saw considerably less use on the Western Front late in 1944.
As the war progressed, He 177 operations became increasingly ineffective. Fuel and personnel shortages presented difficulties, and He 177s were sitting on airfields all over Europe awaiting new engines or engine-related modifications. Constant attacks of the Allied against Luftwaffe long-range combat units in France made continuous operations difficult.
In common with most piston-engined German bombers, the He 177 was grounded from the summer of 1944 due to the implementation of the Emergency Fighter Program (Jäger Notprogramm). Until November 1944, 1,153 He 177 in several subtypes were built by Arado and Heinkel.
One Heinkel He 177A-0, one A-3, and two A-5 were rebuilt as Heinkel He 177 B  prototypes from December 1943 to July 1944. From the beginning these aircraft were designed as a four-engined development with four Daimler-Benz DB 603 in separate nacelles instead  of the “coupled engine” powered He 177 A-series. Further plans show that these engine arrangements were postulated for the successor, the Heinkel He 277.
The Heinkel He 177 A-5/R2, shown here, belongs to the 4./KG 100, stationed at Chateaudun, France. This version was optimized for Ruhrstahl Fritz X and Henschel Hs 293 guided bombs and equipped with FuG 203 Kehl-Straßburg control gear.


Ruhrstahl Fritz X was the most common name for a German guided anti-ship glide bomb used during WWII. Fritz X was the world’s first precision guided weapon deployed in combat and the first to sink a ship in combat. Fritz X was a nickname used both by Allied and German Luftwaffe personnel. Alternative names include Ruhrstahl SD 1400 X, Kramer X-1, PC 1400X or FX 1400 (the latter, along with the unguided PC 1400 Fritz nickname, is the origin for the name “Fritz X”.
Fritz X was a further development of the PC 1400 (Panzersprengbombe, Cylindrisch 1,400 kg) armour-piercing high-explosive bomb, itself bearing the nickname Fritz. It was a penetration weapon intended to be used against armored targets such as heavy cruisers and battleships. It was given a more aerodynamic nose, four stub wings, and a box shaped tail unit consisting of a roughly 12-sided annular set of fixed surfaces and a cruciform tail with thick surfaces within the annulus, which contained the Fritz Xs aerodynamic controls.
The Luftwaffe recognized the difficulty of hitting moving ships during the Spanish Civil War. Dipl. engineer Max Kramer, who worked at the Deutsche Versuchsanstalt für Luftfahrt (DVL) had been experimenting since 1938 with remote-controlled free-falling 250 kg bombs and in 1939 fitted radio-controlled spoilers. In 1940, Ruhrstahl AG was invited to join the development, since they already had experience in the development and production of unguided bombs.
Fritz X was guided by a FuG 203 Kehl-Straßburg radio control link, which sent signals to the movable spoilers in the thick vertical and horizontal tail fin surfaces, within the annular tail fin structure. This control system was also used for the unarmored, rocket-boosted Henschel Hs 293 anti-ship ordnance, itself first deployed on 25 August 1943. The Kehl-Straßburg receiver antenna installations on the Fritz X were aerodynamically integrated into the trailing edge of the annular surfaces of the tail fin, non-metallically encapsulated within a quartet of “bulged” sections in the trailing edge. This design feature of the FuG 230 Kehl-Straßburg receiver installation is not entirely unlike the Azon (Azimuth only ) US contemporary guided bomb, which had its own receiving antennas placed in the quartet of diagonal struts bracing the fixed sections of its tail fins.
Minimum launch height was 13,000 ft – although 18,000 ft was preferred – and a range of 5 km was necessary. As it was an MCLOS (manual command to line of sight)-guidance ordnance design, the operator had to keep the bomb in sight at all times (a tail flare was provided, as with the Azon, to assist the operator in tracking the weapon) and the control aircraft had to hold course, which made evading gunfire or fighters impossible. Approximately 1,400 examples, including trial models, were produced (Ref.: 24).

Messerschmitt Me P.1108/I “Fernbomber“ with fuselage (Antares Models, Resin)

TYPE: Long-range turbojet bomber. Project


POWER PLANT: Four Heinkel/Hirth HeS 011 turbojet engines, rated at 1,200 kp each


COMMENT: In January/February 1945, only four month before the German “Third Reich” surrendered, Messerschmitt proposed two designs of a “Fernbomber” (Long-distant range/long-range bomber), the Me P.1108/I and –II. Although no post-war information provided by Messerschmitt’s employees could be independently verified, since all data had already been removed by the French it seems that both projects were designed by Dr. Wurster from Messerschmitt to a concept by Dr. Alexander Lippisch.
While the Messerschmitt Me P.1108/I, (design drawing Nr. IX-126 from 28th February, 1945) was a more conventional design with a fuselage, 35 degree back-swept wings and a butterfly-type tailplane, the Me P.1108/II (design drawing Nr.117 from January 12th, 1945) was a flying wing concept with 40 degrees sweep of the leading edge without any tailplane. Common to both projects were the installation of four Heinkel/Hirth HeS 011 turbojet engines, the air intakes were under the wings or in the wings leading edge. Calculated fully loaded weight was to be 30 tons, a range of 4,300 mi at a speed of 500–530 mph and a height of 30,000–39,000 ft. was estimated.
The Messerschmitt Me P.1108/I design had an aerodynamic clear fuselage with circular cross section and low positioned swept back wing with four He S 011 turbojet engines in paired nacelles half-embedded in the wing trailing edge. These were fed by a common intake on each lower wing surface. A two man crew sat in tandem position in a pressurized cockpit in the extreme nose of the aircraft. A tricycle landing gear arrangement was designed, with the main wheels retracting into the fuselage. It was planned that the armament of the production aircraft should consist of three twin 20mm cannon turrets, two located on the back of the fuselage and aft of the cockpit and one under the fuselage. All were remotely controlled from the cockpit.
Understandably, at the end of March 1945, only few weeks before the total collapse of the “Third Reich” Messerschmitt was ordered by the RLM to cease all development on long range bomber designs (Ref.: 15, 20).

Junkers EF 132 (Antares Models, Resin)

TYPE: Long-range turbojet bomber. Project


POWER PLANT: Six Junkers Jumo 012 turbojet engines, rated at 2,500 kp thrust each


COMMENT: The Junkers EF 132 was one of the last aircraft project developments undertaken by Junkers in WWII, and was the culmination of the Junkers Ju 287 design started in 1942. The shoulder-mounted wings were swept back at a 35 degree angle and featured a small amount of anhedral. Six Junkers Jumo 012 jet engines, each of which developed 2,500 kp of thrust, were buried in the wing roots. Wind tunnel results showed the advantages of having the engines within the wing, rather than causing drag by being mounted below the wing surfaces. Several wooden mockups were built of the wing sections, in order to find the best way to mount the engines without wasting too much space while at the same time providing maintenance accessibility.  The landing flaps were designed to be split flaps, and the goal was to make the gearing and operation simple. Because of the high placement of the wings to the fuselage, an unbroken bomb bay of 12 meters could be utilized in the center fuselage.  The tail plane was also swept back and the EF 132 had a normal vertical fin and rudder. An interesting landing gear arrangement was planned, that consisted of a nose wheel, two tandem main wheels beneath the center rear fuselage, and outrigger-type wheels under each outer wing. A fully glazed, pressurized cockpit located in the extreme fuselage nose held a crew of five. Armament consisted of two twin 20mm cannon turrets (one located aft of the cockpit, the other beneath the fuselage) and a tail turret containing another twin 20mm cannon. All of the defensive armaments were remotely controlled from the cockpit, and a bomb load of 4000-5000 kg was envisioned to be carried.
A wind tunnel model was tested in early 1945, and a 1:1 scale wooden mockup was also built at the Dessau Junkers facility to test the placement of various components, and also to check different air intake openings in the wing leading edge for the turbojet engines. The development stage had progressed far when the Soviets overran the Dessau complex and took possession of all of the Ju 287 and Junkers EF 131 and Junkers EF132 designs and components. The Soviets gave its approval for the bombed out Junkers Dessau factory to be partially rebuilt, the wind tunnels repaired and the turbojet engine test and manufacturing facilities to be put back into operation. In October 1946, the whole complex and the German engineers were transferred to GOZ No.1 (Gosoodarstvenny Opytnyy Zavod, State Experimental Plant), at Dubna in the Soviet Union, to continue development of the EF 131 and EF 132. Design work on the EF 132 continued under Dr. B. Baade at OKB-1 (the design bureau attached to GOZ No.1), under order of Council of Ministers (COM) directive No.874-266, an unpowered example was constructed to gather additional data, but only slow progress was made before the project was terminated on June 1948, by COM directive 2058-805 (Ref.: 17. 24).

Blohm & Voss Bv P. 188.04-01 (Unicraft Models, Resin)

TYPE: High-speed bomber. Project


POWER PLANT: Four Junkers Jumo 004C turbojet engines, rated at 1,020 kp each


COMMENT:  With its Blohm & Voss Bv P.188 bomber projects the aircraft company proposed several different designs that would have been powered by four powerful turbojet engines. Most unusual was a long, specifically W-shaped wing design. The wings were placed –­ differing of project – from high to low on the fuselage side. Common to all projects was the layout of wings: their inner halves were swept back 20 degrees while the outer halves were swept 20 degrees forward. It was hoped that this arrangement would provide a better performance, both at high and low speeds.
The Blohm & Voss Bv P.188 bomber project had three different known variants. Blohm & Voss Bv P.188.01 was powered by four turbojets placed in separate nacelles under the wings. The W-shaped wing was placed high on the fuselage, the tail section was of a conventional type.
Very similar in design was the Blohm & Voss Bv P.188 02 except for a smaller, slightly raised cockpit, the wings were placed in mid-fuselage and a tail with a twin rudder arrangement.
The last design was the Blohm und Voss P.188.04 turbojet bomber. The fuselage center section was designed as an armored steel shell which was to hold the fuel supply, with the forward and rear sections being bays for the tandem twin main landing gear wheels. The W-shaped wing was place low on the fuselage and had a constant 3 degree dihedral. A crew of two sat in tandem in an extensively glazed, pressurized cockpit, which was flush with the fuselage. Four Junkers Jumo 004C turbojet engines were mounted in two nacelles, which were located beneath each wing, very similar to the Arado Ar 234C “Blitz” (“Lightning”) turbojet bomber. There were also an auxiliary ‘outrigger’ type landing gear outboard of the engine nacelles, these being more to steady the aircraft, and did not touch the ground when it was on an even keel. The tail was of a twin fin and rudder design, with a dihedral tail plane and the extreme tail had an airbrake. Armament consisted of two remote-controlled FDL 131 Z twin 13mm machine guns, guided by two PVE 11 periscopes aft of the cockpit, and firing to the rear. A bombload of 2000 kg could be carried externally. None of these futuristic projects were realized (Ref: 17, 24).

Blohm & Voss Bv P.188.02 (Unicraft, Resin)

TYPE: Heavy jet-bomber. Project


POWER PLANT: Four Junkers Jumo 004C-1 turbojet engines, rated at 1,020 kp thrust each


COMMENT: This Blohm & Voss jet bomber project was designed to carry a great bomb load and enough fuel for long distance operations. There were four different designs, P.188.01 to P.188.04. Common to all was a rather wide fuselage center section – except for the Bv P.188.04 whose fuselage was slender – designed as an armored steel shell and located in the center of gravity. This caused a special arrangement of the landing gear in all projects with twin main wheels in tandem with an auxiliary outrigger landing gear outboard from the wings. Very unusual was the W-type layout of the wings. These had a constant 3 degree dihedral with the inner section swept back to 20 degree and then a 20 degree swept forward outer section. This was calculated to give good performance at both low and high speeds. The only drawback was excessive air pressure on the wing tips, which was to be corrected by a variable incidence system which could be adjusted through 12 degrees. An advantage of this arrangement was the fact that the fuselage was constant horizontal during take-off and landing. The crew sat in a pressured, extensively glazed cockpit. Four Junkers Jumo 004 C-1 turbojets were mounted in four single nacelles, two beneath each wing, again except for the Bv P.188.04 where two engines were combined in one nacelle on each side. Both designs of the Bv P.188.01 and Bv P.188.03 had a single fin and rudder design and an airbrake at the tail, while the Bv P.188.02 and Bv P.188.04 were of a twin fin and rudder design, with a dihedral tail-plane and the extreme tail had a remote-controlled FDL 131 Z twin 13mm machine guns firing to the rear. All these futuristic designs remained on the drawing boards (Ref.: 17).

BMW Strahlbomberprojekt I (Unicraft, Resin)

TYPE: Heavy Jet Bomber. Project

ACCOMMODATION: Pilot and Bombardier/Gunner

POWER PLANT: Six BMW 003 turbojet-engines, rated at 850 kp each

PERFORMANCE: 510 m.p.h.

COMMENT: Besides four “Strahljägerprojekte I – IV” (Jet fighter projects I – IV) the BMW company worked on designs of two “Strahlbomberprojekte I and II” (Jet bomber projects I and II). Strahlbomberprojekt I was a tailless design, but in order to achieve sufficient stability  a tail boom with fin was installed. Six turbojet-engines were planned, four in the wing roots and two aside the cockpit. Project not realized.

Junkers Ju 287 V1 (Huma)

TYPE: Aerodynamic testbed, bomber prototype


POWER PLANT: Four Junkers Jumo 004B-1 turbojet engines, rated at 950 kp each

PERFORMANCE: 347 mph at 19,685 ft

COMMENT: The Ju 287 was intended to provide the Luftwaffe (German Air Force) with a bomber that could avoid interception by outrunning enemy fighters. The swept-forward wing was suggested as a way of providing extra lift at low airspeeds, necessary because of the poor responsiveness of early turbojet engines at the vulnerable times of takeoff and landing. A further structural advantage of the forward-swept wing was that it would allow for a single massive weapons bay forward of the main wing spar. The first prototype was intended to evaluate the concept, and was assembled from the fuselage of a Heinkel He 177, the tail of a Junkers Ju 388, main undercarriage from a Junkers Ju 352, and nose wheels taken from crashed Consolidated B-24 ‘Liberator’, all of which were fixed to lower weight and complexity, and equipped with spats to reduce drag. Two of the Junkers Jumo 004 turbojet engines were hung in nacelles (pods) under the wings, with the other two mounted in nacelles added to the sides of the forward fuselage. Flight tests began on 16 August 1944, with the aircraft displaying extremely good handling characteristics, as well as revealing some of the problems of the forward-swept wing under some flight conditions. The most notable of these drawbacks was ‘wing warping’, or excessive inflight flexing of the main spar and wing assembly. Tests suggested that the warping problem would be eliminated by concentrating greater engine mass under the wings. This technical improvement would be incorporated in the subsequent prototypes. The production version of the Junkers Ju 287 was intended to be powered by four Heinkel-Hirth HeS 011 engines, but because of the development problems experienced with that engine, the  BMW 003 was selected in its place. The second and third prototypes, V2 and V3, were to have employed six of these engines, in a triple cluster under each wing. Both were to feature the all-new fuselage and tail design intended for the production bomber, the Ju 287A-1. V3 was to have served as the pre-production template, carrying defensive armament, a pressurized cockpit and full operational equipment.
Work on the Ju 287 program, along with all other pending German bomber projects (including Junkers’ other ongoing heavy bomber design, the piston-engined Junkers Ju 488 came to a halt in July 1944, but Junkers was allowed to go forward with the flight testing regime on the V1 prototype. The wing section for the V2 had been completed by that time. Seventeen test flights were undertaken in total, which passed without notable incident. Minor problems, however, did arise with the turbojet engines and the RATO booster units, which proved to be unreliable over sustained periods. This initial test phase was designed purely to assess the low-speed handling qualities of the forward-swept wing, but despite this the V1 was dived at full jet power on at least. After the seventeenth and last flight in late autumn of 1944, the V1 was placed in storage and the Ju 287 program came to what was then believed to be its end. However, in March 1945, for reasons that are not entirely clear, the 287 program was restarted, with the RLM issuing a requirement for mass production of the jet bomber (100 airframes a month) as soon as possible. The V1 prototype was taken out of storage and transferred to the Luftwaffe evaluation center at  Rechlin, but was destroyed in an Allied bombing raid before it could take to the air again. Construction on the V2 and V3 prototypes was resumed at the Junkers factory near Leipzig, where they were captured by Soviet troops and brought to the Soviet Union including the Junkers design team. Redesigned in its original work number EF 131 the V3 aircraft flew for the first time in 1947 (Ref.: 24).

Junkers EF 131 (Ju 287A-1), (Schorsch-Modellbau, Resin)

TYPE: High speed bomber,

ACCOMMODATION: Crew of three

POWER PLANT: Six Junkers Jumo 004B-1 turbojet engines, rated at 950 kp each


COMMENT: The Junkers EF 131 was, in essence, a hybrid airframe built from the components of the Junkers Ju 287 V2 and V3 of the Luftwaffe’s radical forward-swept-wing jet bomber. The V2 was nearly complete at the time of its capture by Soviet forces in 1945, and was taken into Red Air Force hands under military intelligence supervision along with the skeletal airframe of the barely-started V3. The V3 was to have been the first Ju 287 to be made to pre-production model specifications, and the eventual EF-131 was almost identical to it in terms of overall design. The airplane was completed and briefly test flown in the Soviet zone of occupied Germany, before being dismantled and transported to GOZ-1 (Gosoodarstvenny Optnyy Zavod – state experimental plant), at Dubna near Moscow. OKB-1 at GOZ-1 was formed with Dr. Baade as the chief designer, and a very talented team of German engineers seconded by the Soviet government. Extreme pressure was applied to get the aircraft ready to appear in the 1947 Aviation Day fly-past at Tushino airfield, but several factors combined to prevent the EF-131 from appearing. Flight testing in the USSR began on 23 May 1947, at the LII airfield, after the airframe had been strengthened. The first flight resulted in the port undercarriage collapsing due to a bolt failure, subsequent flight tests revealed major deficiencies such as nose wheel shimmy and tail surface vibration. Rectification of the defects caused many delays but the worst delays were caused by bureaucracy when it was decreed that foreign workers could not work at the LII airfield. The aircraft sat at LII over the winter but the harsh conditions caused the deterioration of rubber components and wiring, which required lengthy repairs. Preparations for resuming flight tests were almost complete in June 1948 when Ministry of Aircraft Industry ordered that further work on the EF-131 be discontinued. The Junkers EF-131 had become obsolete as newer Soviet-built engines with better performance became available (Ref.: 24).