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).