This article is certainly not meant to glorify the German Air Force, but to show you many photos of aircraft you may not have seen before. Along with the photos will be specifications and comments. The German aircraft did have many innovative designs that have stirred the minds of history buffs and aviation enthusiasts. Before I begin I would like to point out it was fortunate for us that the USAF cleared the skies of their aircraft. If given enough time to produce large amounts of these aircraft the outcome would have been too close for comfort. I believe any military strategist will agree that Germany was more of a danger to the entire world than we would like to admit. We are indeed fortunate that Adolf Hitler continuously made the mistakes he made.
Hitler was responsible for making decisions that either slowed or completely stopped many extremely important projects. Germany had the scientists capable of finalizing the production of a nuclear bomb. They had progressed to the point of where they were close to putting it all together. Wernher von Bruan had developed an awesome ballistic missile in the V-2 bomb. If given time we all agree he had the capability of producing a nuclear warhead which could have been attached to a perfected V-2 that could have reached the U.S. Once again we were lucky the U.S. rushed him to our country, along with other German scientist, to work on our many developing projects. We now know his capability as he solved many of our problems such as working on the Manhattan project. The V-1 Buzz bomb was an extremely dangerous weapon that did horrible damage to the civilian population of Britain. The Germans were also blessed with such an aeronautical genius as Messerschmitt. Even the auto by Mercedes was a piece of art. The aircraft they developed before anyone else were much faster. Even today the German Luger is a real collectors item. So if all this is true, then what happened? Massive American production of military hardware happened. We produced the B-24, the B-17, and the P-51 by the thousands. We continuously dropped tons of bombs on specific targets every day until we destroyed all manufacturing plants and completely shut down the entire German Air Force, not to mention the complete destruction of every building in every city.
This article will feature many photos of interesting aircraft along with specifications.
ME-262 AT USAF MUSEUM
The ME-262 was the worlds first operational fighter. With two turbojets it had a speed of 540 MPH, and an altitude capability of 37,500 feet. Manufactured by Messerschmitt it was faster than any allied aircraft by 200 MPH. It had a slow start due to Hitler. He wanted a bomber, not a fighter. After his objections they hung two 500 pound bombs under it. He said "that’s only a fighter with a couple of bombs." In Aug, 1939, one week before the beginning of WWII, a German aircraft made the first jet-powered flight in history. It was two years before the British or American flights. Again Hitler stalled production and ordered only a few initial prototypes. Feb. 1944- allied bombing of the ME factories delayed production another few months. April 1944- the first production planes were destroyed by bombing. In Sept. 1944, the Luftwaffe’s 60 ME 262s were destroyed on the ground by allied bombers. In March 1945 the German jet fighter wing shot down six American bombers and two fighters, and lost only one 262. March 45- In the last big air combat over Germany, Berlin was bombed by 1200 American bombers escorted by fighters. Although greatly outnumbered the 262s shot down 25 bombers and 5 fighters.
The next month 30mm cannons were added plus 50mm air to air rockets. Adolph Galland scored 103 victories, mostly due to the added armament. Overall over 1400 ME-262s were produced, but due to lack of fuel less than 100 were available at any one time. The top German ace was Heinz Baer with 220 victories, scoring 16 of these with the ME -262.
ROCKET POWERED ME-163
The rocket powered ME-163 Komet is the only rocket-powered fighter aircraft to have ever been operational. It’s design was revolutionary, and the plane was capable of performance unequaled at the time. In 1944 it reached 698 MPH. Over 300 were built, however it proved ineffective as a fighter. It was powered by a liquid-fuel rocket. It had a very limited flying time of only seven and a half minutes, and a range of only 25 miles- seriously damaging it’s capability. It was armed with two 30mm MK-108 cannons. Only 10 remain today in museums. The Komet did not have a landing gear. The two wheels mounted on each side of the landing skid, were released on takeoff, many times bouncing up and striking the aircraft. For landing it actually landed on the skid, resulting in a rough and dangerous landing. Many exploded just sitting on the ramp, and fueling proved to be a job everyone feared. Fueling the Komet was actually like a suicide mission.
GERMAN V-1 BUZZ BOMB
The German V-1 "flying bomb" was actually an early cruise missile. It was developed by the Luftwaffe between June 44 and March 45. The purpose was to have it hit population centers in London. It was powered by a pulse jet engine. Speed was close to 400 mph, and a range of 150 miles. The bomb could not take off on it’s own and required a catapult or air-launch from a HE-111. The guidance system employed a somewhat sophisticated automatic pilot, a weighted pendulum system, a gyrocompass, and a radio transmitter for flight direction. An odometer driven by a vane anemometer on the nose determined when the target had been reached. The bomb then set off a complicated cut -off system putting it into a steep dive. About 15 to 18 a day could be launched. 30,000 V-1s were made, with 10,000 fired at England. 2,419 reached London killing over 6,000 and injuring 18,000. Over 4,261 were destroyed by fighters, and heavy bombing of the launch site.
The V-2 bomb, developed by Wernher von Braun, was a long range ballistic missile that was completed just before the end of WWII. The V-2 was the world’s first long range combat-ballistic missile and the first to achieve sub-orbital space flight. It was the influence of all modern rockets. Over 3,000 V-2s were launched as military rockets by the German Wehrmacht against allied targets inWWII, mostly London and later Antwerp, resulting in the death of an estimated 7,250 military personnel and civilians.
An estimated 20,000 inmates at the manufacturing plant died constructing the V-2. Of these 9,000 died from exhaustion and collapse, 350 were hanged, including 200 executed for acts of sabotage, and the remainder were either shot or died from disease or starvation. The rocket had large liquid-fuel engines, supersonic aerodynamics, gyroscopic guidance and rudders for control. Hitler, not impressed, pointed out that it was merely an artillery shell with longer range and higher cost. An average of 10 V-2s launched per day and over 1,000 per month as the supply allowed.
The V-2 program was the single most expensive development project of the Third Reich. 6,048 were built, 3,225 were launched. Concentration camp prisoners were used as slave laborers, and the entire project had a reputation of brutality. The V-2 is probably the only weapon system to have caused more deaths by it’s production than it’s deployment.
A submarine-towed launch platform was tested successfully, which would have allowed a U-boat to launch missiles against the U.S. Work on the Atomic Bomb, if completed and adapted to the V-2, would have caused havoc in the U.S. With the atomic warhead attached the outcome could have been devastating.
ARADO 234-B-2 GERMAN TWIN JET BOMBER
ARADO 234-B-2 BLITZ
The Smithsonian took five years to restore this aircraft, and it became one of the first aircraft moved to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles International Airport. It is displayed next to the only surviving Dornier Do 335. Maximum speed was 461 mph with a service ceiling of 32,800 feet. The AR-234-C was equipped with four BMW 003A engines mounted in a pair of twin engine nacelles. The C-1 was a four engine version of the AR-234-B-1, and the C-2 was a four engine version of the B-2. The Arado 234 was the world’s first operational jet powered bomber. Remember the ME-262 was a fighter. The Arado was built in the closing months of the war. The Arado-234 at the Smithsonian is the only one in existence today. SEE THE PHOTO AT END OF ARTICLE OF AN ARADO 234 C-2
The German single seat fighter was the last mass produced aircraft to see action in WWII. Some of the Luftwaffe’s most successful fighter aces flew the FW-190, including Otto Kittel with 267 victories, Walter Nowotny with 258 victories, and Erich Rudorffer with 222 kills. Maximum speed of this aircraft was 408 mph.
The ME-109F was the backbone of the entire German Luftwaffe fighter force. It was the most produced warplane of WWII, with over 30,573 built during the war. It was the most produced fighter aircraft in history with a total of 33,984 units produced up to April 1945. Three top-scoring German aces claimed 928 victories with this aircraft. Maximum speed reported at 400 mph, ceiling at 39,370 feet.
This aircraft is not only the most unusual, but is the only one in existence today. It belongs to the NASM at Washington and is stored at the Garber facility. It was the fastest German piston engine plane in WWII. No allied fighter was able to reach it’s speed up until the end of the war. Top speed was 474 mph with a ceiling of 37,400 feet. It was armed with one 30mm cannon and two 20 mm cannons. The interesting push-pull arrangement is somewhat unique. This plane was returned to the Dornier Plant in Germany for restoration. Many workers restoring the aircraft had worked on the plane originally.
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