Aviation of World War II
Me 264. The Luftwaffe's Lost Transatlantic Bomber.
Me 264 V1. On the cold, winter day of 23 December 1942, the Messerschmitt Me 264, V 1, W.Nr. 26400001, coded RE+EN, was rolled out of its hangar at Augsburg ready for its maiden flight. The aircraft, weighing 21,175 kg, was fitted with four 12-cylinder, liquid-cooled Junkers Jumo 211 J-1 engines, the same as those used on the Junkers Ju 88 A-4, together with Ju 88 nacelles and radiators, but carried no armament or gun turrets. The flight-test programme was under the overall control of Dipl.-Ing. Gerhard Caroli and the pilot was Hugkapitau Dipl.-Ing. Karl Baur, one of Messerschmitt's most experienced test-pilots who had been closely involved with the Me 264 since construction of the V 1 prototype had first started.
As a first stage, the aircraft underwent an extensive taxiing test, before moving to the start line on the runway. Take-off was trouble-free, although because of some safety concerns, the landing gear was left down for the duration of the flight.
A Messerschmitt drawing dated 10 December 1942 showing the fuel tank layout in the port wing of the Me 264. The combined weight of all nine tanks in each wing was 9,740 kg.
Me 264 V3. 'Sonderaufklärer' As is evident from surviving Messerschmitt records, Karl Seifert continued to struggle with the issue of range and ever-increasing weight. On 10 February 1945, he prepared a revised specification and weight assessment for the 'Sonderaufklarer' variant of the Me 264. This variant was to be powered by four BMW 801 G engines, with GM 1 nitrous oxide power boost for 25 minutes duration, to carry three RB 50/30 cameras and to be able to accommodate 12 troops or passengers. Armament was to consist ot one Arado-built FPL 151 gun turret with a PVE 6 periscopic sight and an MG 131 in a DL (Drehlafette - rotating gun mount) 131 turret.
Range was projected at 13,000 km with small external tanks and up to 15,200 km with larger auxiliary tanks. Flight duration was calculated at 42 hours or 47 hours depending on the type of external tank carried, with speed at 6,000 metres being 410 km/h.The aircraft would require a take-off distance of up to 3,600 metres without RATO units, or 2,050 metres with RATO units fitted.
Engines (BMW 801 TC), propellers, GM-1 power boost, and associated equipment: 10,103 kg
Ancillary equipment, engine controls, navigational equipment, hydraulics etc 1,614 kg
Seifert then calculated three overall weight options allowing for different fuel loads:
C) With heavier jettisonable undercarriage (total six wheels, two fixed, four jettisonable)
During March 1944, the Allied air forces inflicted damage on the Me 264 programme and also gained vital information on the very existence of the 'Sudeten'. On the 18th, B-17 Flying Fortresses of the USAAF Eighth Air Force's 1st Bomb Division attacked a snow-covered Lechfeld as part of a concerted strike against a number of airfields in southern Germany. The Me 264V 1 was slightly damaged as a result of the raid, but it was repaired quickly. As far as is known, the uncompleted V 2 and V 3 airframes were undamaged. However, at some stage after the attack, it was decided to move the still uncompleted V 2 and V 3 north to the so-called 'Metallbau Offingen', a small production facility in the village of Offingen near Gunzburg, to the east of Neu-Ulm, where bomb bays and armament were to be installed. The move was also made to alleviate the increasing production bottlenecks affecting construction of the Me 262.
There were plans to build the V 2 with temporary armament consisting of one MG 131, three MG 151 Z and several lateral window mounts.The weight of such an aircraft with this armament was estimated at 50,000 kg, and the OKL believed that fitted with BMW 801 engines, the aircraft would be capable of a cruising speed of 350 km/h and a range of 9,500 km. Based on such a specification, the Messerschmitt Progektburo produced numerous variations to the basic plan. Three revised series versions of the Me 264 emerged:
Version A: Long-range reconnaissance
Range: 13,600 km (with two auxiliary tanks). Maximum speed at 6,300 m — 580 km/h. Max flight duration = 40 hours. Three cameras to be fitted at rear.
Version B : Long-range bomber
Planned with four BMW 801 E engines and two further Jumo 004 C jet engines. Defensive armament was to consist of an MG 131 in the A and B turret positions, an HD 151/Z in the B-2 position and an MG 131 in C turret position. Two MG 131s were planned for the waist positions.
Gross weight between 48,100 and 49,900 kg depending on whether the aircraft was fitted with the two jet engines.
The range with a 3,000 kg payload was 11,600 km without jet engines and 8,500 km with jets. Calculated maximum speed at 6,400 m would have been approximately 577 km/h, while with jumo Jet engines fitted, approximately 655 km/h at 6,700 m. Due to its pressurised cabin the aircraft would be able to operate at altitudes up to 14,500 m.
The Me 264 B was intended for long-range anti-shipping operations. As with the long-range reconnaissance version it was to be equipped with four Jumo 222 E/F high-altitude engines and two additional jet engines. Its maximum offensive load was to consist of six SCX/SD 1000 bombs.
The full-vision cockpit was to be replaced by a stepped version, similar to that proposed for the Ta 400, which would be less vulnerable from enemy fire.
The defensive armament for the Me 264 B was revised on several occasions up to August 1944, but finally settled upon 360-degree revolving turrets to be equipped with two MG 213s.
Version C : Special long-range reconnaissance ('Sonderaufklärer')
Provisionally to be fitted with a pressurised cockpit, but not confirmed. This version was to carry three Rb 50/30 automatic cameras and defensive armament was to consist of an MG 131 in the A and 13 turret positions, an HD 151/Z in the B-2 position and an MG 151 in C turret position. Two MG 131s were planned for the waist positions.
Two drop tanks would allow the machine a range of 13,600 km and a top speed of almost 580 km/h at 6,300 m. Maximum projected flight duration was 41 hours. Messerschmitt planned a further variant of this version featuring two additional Jumo 004 jet engines or BMW 801 E/F high-altitude engines and submitted plans to the Luftwaffe ordnance specialists for evaluation.
A long-range transporter able to carry 12 to 17 paratroops armed with one FHL (Fernbedienbare Hecklafette - remotely-controlled rear gun mount) 151/Z was also planned, but no detailed designs were submitted.
From the V 4 it was planned that all further prototypes as well as first series aircraft should be fitted with four high-performance BMW 801 E engines with turbo-charger and GM 1 system. The GM 1 tanks were to be installed in the centre section of the fuselage.
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