by Jim "Twitch" Tittle
October 04, 2001
Back To "Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe - Part II"
Aircraft or Politics?
It does make one wonder what the learned German design geniuses actually thought of the regime that ruled their country through mid-1945. Like most scientific whizzes many design first and then governments apply those designs to whatever use they see fit. That still happens today. Some were ardent believers in the Nazi cause. Some simply believed a totalitarian state was better for all. Every one was zealous when it came to anything aviation related.
Messerschmitt AG—Augsburg, Germany: Beyond The Me 262
Augsburg was a locale of armament making back in Medieval times when fine weapons and personal armor was produced there. It seems appropriate that an aircraft manufacturer of Messerschmitt’s caliber should be based there. The most plentiful aircraft produced, of course was the Bf 109 series, of which about 33,000 were made. We all know that the first operational jet, the Me 262, came from these factories and many other designs were well along by May 8, 1945. Performance specifications of the 262 are well known, but what was beyond the 262 for Messerschmitt?
As stated in "Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe Part 2
" the unfinished airframe of the P.1101 swept-wing fighter was copied almost exactly as the X-5 in the U.S. But what else? The Me 262, like any plane, was the first model only. It was a 1938 design of Messerschmitt’s chief designer Waldemar Voight. Where the Me 262A was a rather crude first step refinements were on the way.
|Me 262-Next Gereration |
|Powerful HeS 011 Was For Real |
The 1,984 lb. thrust Jumo 004B-1s were good for about fifteen hours of use before rebuild. They flamed out at high altitude and they guzzled fuel. Heinkel HeS 011 turbines of 2,855 lbs, thrust were scheduled for employment in the next 262 variant, the P.262 HG. The concept was a 2-seater with a radar operator in back. The fuselage was almost the same as the original, as was the tail, but the wings were radically new. The HeS engines didn’t hang under the wing like an afterthought. On the HG-2 they blended in above the wing and were married to the fuselage. And that wing, which was swept at 18-degrees on the operational 262, now had an extreme 43-degree sweep. The 262 went from sleek to slick and was more graceful to the eye. But function was the intent and the HG series wing and engines would have been good for 621 MPH. Dimensions are similar to the Me 262A but not known exactly. The four Mk 108 30 mm cannon were to be retained. A single-seat HG-3 was planned. And a forward-mounted cockpit was designed for the basic 262 in the Schnellbomber Ia (Fast Bomber) layout.
Provider To The Luftwaffe
Willy Messerschmitt was born in 1889, built and flew sailplanes and flew in air races. “Speed is the only thing that makes airplanes worthwhile,” he believed. After a WWI stint in the army, he graduated from the Technical University of Munich and by 1923 Messerschmitt Flugzeubau GmbH was born. Racing plane fabrication continued until he designed the Bf 108 Taifun (Typhoon) 2-seat sport plane. It sold well. By 1932 he concentrated solely on military planes with the Bf 109 as his first. The Bf comes from the 1925 merger with WWI, 62-kill ace Ernst Udet’s Bayerische Flugzeugwerke. As of 1932 Messerschmitt was the sole owner thanks to a loan from the Air Ministry.
|Ernst Udet & Willy Messerschmitt |
By WWII the Air Minisrty head was Erhard Milch, who had a frictional relationship with Willy Messerschmitt that dated back to 1928 and he thwarted the designer throughout the war. Third in charge of the Ministry, Udet, had a good relationship with Messerschmitt. This may have been one of the few things that helped, notwithstanding his excellent designs.
As we flash forward to the waning days of WWII, the P.262 HG-2 was in prototype stage actually waiting for takeoff clearance when an aircraft in an emergency landing clipped it. The fire that ensued destroyed the P-262 HG-2. The Russians obtained the blueprints and built their version in the late 1940s but no details are available.
|P.1101 Art Concept |
|P.1101- Almost Real |
The P.1101 design lacked only an engine powerful enough to propel it when its layout was drawn up in 1942. It sat on the drawing board until the HeS evolved. It was problem-ridden in its early stages as are most prototypes. Modifications continued until the end though and the plane would have been easy to maintain with good access to the one turbojet. Originally a 650-670 MPH speed was anticipated but estimates of about 612 MPH were calculated after all the modifications and strengthening changes were made. The five Mk 108 30 mm cannon in the nose caused a space problem adjacent to the intake and spent shell chutes were problematic. Finally weighing 8,966 lbs., the P.1101 would have climbed at 4,370 FPM and had a maximum range of 932 miles and a 45,933-foot ceiling. Certainly the X-5 proved the design in its flights.
The Amerika Bombers
The long-range Me 264 “Amerika Bomber” existed in three prototypes. It had the look of a B-29 but for the twin-rudder tail. Its role was the same as the Ju 390 discussed in "Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe Part 1
". But the Me 264 had a much greater range—9,320 miles! This plane was readied to wisk Hitler to Japan non-stop if the rebel generals had gained an upper hand in July 1944 after the assassination attempt. It first flew in 1942.
|Me 264- 1st Amerika Bomber |
It had four 1,700 HP BMW 801D 14-cylinder radials with GM-1 boost on its 141 foot wings. The smooth fuselage measured 68.5 feet in length and it could weigh as much as 123,460 lbs. when fully loaded. 75-79,000 lbs. was normal. A 4,400 lb. bomb load could be carried at maximum range configuration. Four 13 mm Mg 131s and two 20 mm MG 151s were mounted for defensive purposes. Normal cruise was 217 MPH but at 75,000 lbs. it could haul at 351 MPH with the GM-1 on at its 27,230-foot ceiling.
But Willy Messerschmitt thought this was not good enough and the company came up with the P.1107A & B jet bombers. Plans to bomb the U.S. as far in as Chicago were conceived in 1942 but the pesky Russians kept things busy. After seeing how much material the U.S. had supplied to Europe the idea was revived again. A 4,400 lbs. load of bombs would not have done much damage on the east coast of the U.S. singly but an atomic weapon would have. The jet would use the same basic fuselage as the Me 264 but swept wings and two pods of two BMW 003s with 2,425 lbs. thrust each or two BMW 018s with 7,500 lbs. thrust each. The horizontal stabilizer rode high atop the vertical tail. The power plants could have produced a 621 MPH top speed. Weighing 95,700 lbs. loaded it would have had a range of 9,300 miles or 24-hours endurance and a ceiling of 49,872 feet. Wingspan and length were almost identical to the Me 264.
Yet the Air Ministry, no doubt negatively influenced by Milch, said that existing U.S. fighters would be able to shoot it down! Amazing! The Horton Ho 18-A flying wing was chosen as the Amerika Bomber.
The P.1107B was a re-thought layout. The B mounted its four HeS 011 jets in the wingroots and the plane had a clean look with its V tail. It is a dead ringer for 1960s Hadley-Page Victor bomber. Another layout with the jets tapering out of the trailing wing root edge looks like the 1950s Comet airliner. Range was to be 4,350 miles from plane at 67,693 lb. loaded. A speed of 547 MPH was predicted and a ceiling of 45,931 feet was envisioned. 8,818 lbs. of bombs could be carried. Span was but 57 feet and length was 56 feet. Again the proposal was rejected by the Ministry in favor of the Horton P.18B design.
Pocket Fighters & Ultimate Bomber
In 1941 the parasite fighter concept was explored by Messerschmitt’s Projekt 1079 and by 1943 it was considered as a cheap way to combat the probable Allied landing on the continent from ground launch sites. Accepted it became the Me 328. It could be towed by semi-rigid pole and possibly retrieved in flight by He 177s or Me 264s, then released in the target area to fend off enemy fighters with the pilot bailing out or, if possible, regaining friendly territory and landing on its skid.
|Me 328- A Dozen Were Built |
Two 660 lb. thrust Argus As 014s that powered V-1s were attached below the wings. By 1942 the A-1 was envisaged with two 20 mm MG 151s with 200 RPG and the A-2 would mount an additional pair of powerful 30 mm Mk 103s with 60 RPG. The A-3 variant would have in-flight refueling capability. 1943 gliding trials saw 465 MPH. The Me 328B was to carry externally a 1,102 lb., or 2,205 lb. bomb that the pilot would guide in and bail out of. A low-high sortie with bomb release and egress was an alternative. It could take off from a wheeled dolly Me 163 style. Plans to launch Me 328s from U-boats were proposed.
Its non-swept wings measured 28.1 ft. and it was 22.3 ft. long weighing 7,125 lbs. clean. Initial climb was 7,125 FPM but top speed was 434 MPH at sea level and 402 MPH at 6,500 ft. It had a ceiling of 22,300 ft. As a bomber with its 2,205 lb. bomb speed was only 329 MPH. After release it would climb to 16,400 ft. to escape. Range clean was 466 miles and with bomb 338 miles. About a dozen were built and flown but the project was terminated in favor of conventional FW 190 fighter-bomber delivery of ordnance.
|P.1111 & P.1112 |
The last Messerschmitt fighter design was the tailless P.1111 and P.1112. Knowledge from the tailless Me 163 came into use here. Using the HeS 011 with 2,866 lbs. thrust this compact little plane had a 30-foot wingspan and a 21.3-foot length. The P.1111 had a vertical tail where the P.1112 had a V layout. Climb was expected to be 4,688 FPM with a ceiling of 45,934 ft. I would cruise at 507 MPH and would have had a top speed of 634 MPH weighing 9,440 lbs. loaded. Four Mk 108 30 mms mounted alongside the cockpit was the armament. Yet another American X plane can be seen as a copy in the Northrup X-4!
|P.1111 Flew As The X-4 |
|P.1108: Ultimate Amerika Bomber |
But we save the best for last in the delta wing P.1108 that had no vertical stabilizer. This was the Amerika Bomber on steroids. The four 7,500 lb. thrust BMW 018 turbines were completely buried in the thin, 6.6 ft. delta wing. Air was ingested through ducts in the leading wing roots. The cockpit had no protruding canopy but extended in front of the wing. The span was to be 71.2 ft. and length 51 ft. while it would weigh 70-80,000 lbs. at takeoff. Its ceiling was estimated at 49,871 ft. 8-10,000 lbs. of bombs would be carried. But most astonishing was the projected speed of 640-800 MPH at cruise and 1,000 MPH at maximum, plus a 10,000-mile range!!!
Willy Messerschmitt was a believer in the Nazi cause and refused to work with any U.S. manufacturer after the war. While Production Minister Albert Speer served twenty years in prison, Messerschmitt was fined by a benevolent 1948 court the sum of 2,000 marks—about $600 at the time. It is said he lost a fortune of about $50 million at the war’s end but soon began manufacturing consumer goods like sewing machines, mobile and pre-fab homes, the three-wheeled P 511 and the four-wheeler KR 200 autos in the early 1950s.
|P 511- Door/Canopy Opened Like a 109 |
Later Messerschmitt was allowed to resume aircraft production and produced training aircraft for Egypt and Spain and then the F-104 for the Luftwaffe. He was livid that Germany lost a three-year edge in aircraft technology feeling that the Air Ministry and the system as a whole was to blame. He believed Germany could have been more successful if that edge was exploited.
Just before his suicide, Hitler ordered Messerschmitt to destroy all models and take all of his blueprints and put them in hermetically sealed chests then dump them into Lake Zell in Austria. He said that was done and they are there today—waiting. It was never disclosed for what they wait. Willy Messerschmitt died in Augsburg in 1979 still pretty much despising the U.S.
Blohm & Voss Abteillun Flugzeugbau—Hamburg: Glider Fighter
We know Blohm & Voss were famous for their huge flying boats but they also built a bizarre little crate called a glide-fighter. The FW 190 presented a frontal area of 17 sq. ft., a target an average bomber gunner could hit at 1,000 yards. Enter the BV 40 concept. Dr. Richard Vogt designed the mini-ship largely from non-essential materials, which could be assembled by workers with no aircraft construction experience.
|Look, Ma. No Engine! |
The fuselage was metal while the wings and tail were wood. It was amply protected by armor plate accounting for 26-percent of its 2,094 lbs. loaded weight. A Bf 109G could tow it above the bombers at 344 MPH, release it and presumably watch the fun as it dived to attack at a 20-degree angle. A suspended explosive charge on a cable was considered but it necessitated the removal of one of the two Mk 108 30 mm cannon with its 35 rounds. With its 25.9 ft. wingspan and 18.75 ft. length the glide-fighter could dive at bomber formations at 560 MPH. The program was ended with seven prototypes built by autumn 1944 after fatal test crashes. By then the Me 163 was in service.
Opposite Of Messerschmitt
Richard Vogt was born in 1894 near Stuttgart and flew a plane he designed and built with a loaned engine at age fifteen. During WWI he transferred from the infantry to the Luftwaffe. After the war he received his degree from the Institute of Technology in Stuttgart. Over successive years he worked for the Zeppelin Works, Heinkel and Dornier. He went to Japan for Dornier to oversee the building of all-metal planes, which the Japanese used in the Manchuria War of 1931.
|Vogt In the 1960s |
By 1933 Walter and Rudolf Blohm lured him to their company. He was the principal in the six-engine BV 238 and the monster BV 222 flying boat with eight engines. His designs included several jet fighters and bombers, which we’ll discuss in future "Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe" installments. After the war he turned down a British government job offer but accepted one from the U.S. He worked on the “floating wing” arrangement where two F-84s attached themselves to the wing tips of B-29s and later B-36s. They would idle their engines and detach if a threat was encountered then re-attach to return home. The B-52’s debut proved the concept unnecessary.
|US Nuclear Powered Bomber Never Flew |
Vogt worked on secret delta-wing bombers with nuclear propulsion that were cancelled due to unsolvable difficulties with the airborne reactors. A job offer from Walter Blohm was turned down in 1955. Vogt was living in California, which he loved, and was, as he put it, “an American.” An offer from the University of Stuttgart to be head of the aeronautics department was similarly rejected. He consulted for Boeing in the 1960s and designed for NASA a pivoting straight wing design that gave the effect as a swept wing when asymmetrically angled. Richard Vogt died in 1979.
In lieu of the laser in 1945, which focuses and amplifies light to pinpoint accuracy, a device was captured at the conclusion of the war that attempted that end. The inventor was not known but the contraption was dubbed the “Archimedes Sun Cannon” by American analysts. The parabolic reflector was several meters in diameter and reflected sun light could be aimed at intruding aircraft via radar control. A death ray of about a square meter was produced. No documents were captured so operational use or experiments were unknown. It was simply one of those devices found in the confused geography of Germany at the time. No data exists on American tests if they were ever performed.
- Green, William
Bombers & Recon Aircraft Vol. 10
Doubleday & Co. NY, 1968
- Green, William
Fighters Vol. 1
Doubleday & Co., 1960
- Green, William
Jets Aircraft of the World
Macdonald, London, 1955
- Green, Wm.
The Complete Book of Fighters
Smithmark Publishers, NY, 1994
- Myhra, David
Secret Aircraft Designs of the Third Reich
Schiffer Publishing, Atglen, PA 1998