Heavy bombers of the Third Reich

Strong front-line aviation provided Germany with victory at the beginning of World War II and the possibility of long resistance after it. The heavy bombers of the Third Reich remained in the shadow of history. Today our story will be about them.

The possibility of reconstructing strategic aviation was discussed in Germany in 1934. Even then, the problem of choosing between tactical and strategic aviation appeared, which did not lose its acuity until 1944. A heavy bomber is an expensive toy, the equivalent of several front-line ones, and the resources of a warring country are always limited. The most active lobbyist of the “strategists” was the chief of staff of the Luftwaffe, Lieutenant General Walter Wefer, who believed that the Reich in any case needed a plane that could reach the enemy’s industrial centers. The general had many opponents, including Goering himself. But the future Reichsmarshal was not yet omnipotent, and his subordinate had a reputation as one of the best students of Ludendorff and the support of Minister of War von Blomberg, still far from disgrace. Wefer won, but the results of his victory were unexpected.

Not flown to the Urals

In the summer of 1935, Dornier and Junkers firms received an order for a heavy four-engine bomber. The Dornier prototype, Do 19, first took off on October 28, 1936. The almost square cross section of the fuselage showed in the car the heir to the “flying boats”,

glorified the company in the 1920s. The aircraft was all-metal, with a retractable landing gear, a two-spar wing was sheathed with steel sheet. The bomb bay contained up to 16 bombs of 100 kg or 30 to 50. The first two prototypes were unarmed, the third with standard weapons, but problems arose with it. The terms of reference included one MG-15 machine gun in the nose and tail and two towers with two arrows each, top and bottom with 20 mm guns. With machine guns, everything was simple, and for some reason the cannon towers were thought of as innovative - one shooter turned the turret left and right, the other pointed the gun up and down. Movement was carried out by hydraulic drive. The design came out heavier than thought, and required the strengthening of the fuselage. The heavier aircraft began to miss 600-horsepower engines. The problem was solved by putting Bramo-Fafnir-323A-1 engines with an output of 830 hp.

Ju 89 markedly differed both externally and constructively. The first flight took place in December 1936. Like Do 19, the third prototype was supposed to get weapons, and the same. But the matter did not come to torment.

The Hs.293 guided bomb was designed by Henschel since 1939. It entered service with the Luftwaffe in 1943. In fact, it was a standard SC500 high-explosive bomb with wings and a 109-107V Walter liquid rocket engine. The mass of the warhead is 295 kg. The bomb was dropped from the carrier aircraft at an altitude of 300 to 2000 m, and after a second and a half, a jet engine that worked for 10 seconds was turned on. The control was carried out manually on the radio using the FUG203 "Kiel" guidance system, which allowed changing the flight altitude, but there was no possibility of turning left-right, which required the crews to accurately approach the target. Only in 1943−45. 16 Allied ships were sunk by Hs.293 planning bombs, about the same were seriously damaged. For World War II, the result is modest.

On June 3, 1936, General Wefer was killed in a plane crash. Very in a hurry, he ordered his pilot to take off without a preflight inspection. As it turned out, the ailerons of the aircraft were fixed for a while. Albert Kesselring, the future field marshal, one of the great commanders of the Second World War and, alas, a war criminal, was appointed in place of Wefer. But, all this will happen later, and in 1936 the “smiling Albert” unconditionally put tactical aviation in the first place. In the spring of 1937 the program was closed.

It is widely believed that the 1936 bombers were intended for raids on industrial facilities of the Urals and Volga region, in many publications they are called “Ural”. The version is beautiful, but its origin is unclear: the distance from the eastern borders of Germany in 1935 to the Urals exceeds the design range of the bomber by about half.

Flying lighter

Kesselring saw the bomber concept differently. The new aircraft was supposed to be more universal, cheaper and fly further. According to the first version of the requirements, the range was 6600 km, albeit with just one ton of bombs. The highlight of the program was the dive bombing - for a heavy car it’s exotic, but the experience of using Stuck in Spain temporarily overshadowed common sense. However, the dive angle was still limited to 60 degrees, against 80 on the Ju 87.

A month after the closure of the Ural Bomber, Heinkel received the technical assignment for a heavy bomber called the Bomber-A. Thus began the story of one of the most controversial aircraft of the Second World War.

To improve aerodynamics, it was decided to use Heinkel’s know-how of those years - a twin installation of two DB 601 engines that rotate one screw through a common gearbox. The resulting unit called DB 606 has already been tested on the He 119 semi-experimental bomber, allowing it to set a number of speed records. Under the common hood, the spark had the same resistance as one engine. Everything would be fine, but on the aircraft intended for the series, I had to change the engine cooling system, and the engine compartment in pursuit of the characteristics was made smaller than the rules allowed. The results of this decision pursued the car for many years. The cylinders were unevenly cooled, the gas pumps clogged, the engines were filled with gasoline at the afterburner and lighted up occasionally, and the location of the electrical wiring and oil lines close to the exhaust pipes completed the idyll.

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