Aviation of Word War II

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Me 321

Large Cargo Glider


Me 321

The Messerschmitt Me 321 Gigant was a large German cargo glider developed and used during World War II. It was developed into the six-engined Messerschmitt Me 323 Gigant.

Me 321B Me 323E/WT Me 323V-16
Crew 6 17 12
Length, m 28.15 28.15 28.15
Wing span, m 55 55 55
Height, m 10.15 9.6 9.6
Wing area, m² 300 300 300
Empty weight, kg 1220 32000 32000
Normal takeoff weight, kg 34400 40000 48000
Maximum takeoff weigh, kg 39400 42000 54000
Loaded weight, kg 22000 - 18200
Wing loading, kg/m² 114,7 133,3 160
Engine - 6 x G-R 14N 6 x Jumo 211RN
Power, hp - 6 x 1140 6 x 1140
Maximum speed, km/h (empty) - 255 285
Cruising speed, km/h at alt. H=1500m - 225 220
Landing Speed, km/h 120 120 130
Ceiling, m - 4500 5000
Range at altitude H=2000m, km - 1100 1100
Take-off run, m 1200 800 900
Landing field length, m 400 600 700
Transported Soldiers 200 - 130
Pcs Cannon - 11 x 20 mm 2 x 20 mm
Machine guns 2-4 x
7.92 mm
4 x
7.92 mm
5 x
13 mm

Brief technical description of the Me 321 transport glider

The glider is a strut-braced high-wing aircraft of mixed construction, with deck empennage and landing ski landing gear.

Fuselage of rectangular cross-section, is a truss welded from steel pipes. Outside, wooden stringers are attached to the power truss, and linen sheathing is attached to them. The lows of the frames-frames of the fuselage truss in the area of ​​the cargo compartment have an I-section and are welded from steel sheets. Cargo flooring - corrugated steel sheets. There are three steel U-beams under the floor. Along the sides of the cargo compartment there are two power channels, which are used to attach a removable wooden second deck. For loading the fuselage, the front cargo hatch is mainly used, the left and right flaps of which open outward. In the closed position, these flaps form the nose of the fuselage. The sash of the load carrier is a frame bent from pipes, covered with canvas. In addition, there is a cargo door on each side of the fuselage behind the wing. The pilot's cabin is located above the cargo one and is protected by armor plates. Behind it is the radio operator's cabin.

The wing consists of a center section and two detachable parts (OCHK). The center section struts are made of steel pipe and are covered with fairings. Each brace is supported by two V-pillars. The wing structure is welded from steel pipes. It consists of a main spatial truss of a quadrangular cross-section, flat transverse frames (ribs) and two flat longitudinal frames (walls) fixed on it. A shaping frame is attached to the wing load-bearing structure, consisting of wooden stringers and formers (rib arches). The covering of the front part of the wing is plywood, then (behind the main truss) - linen. A two-section flap equipped with servo compensators is located along the trailing edge of the center section. The trailing edge of the OCHK is occupied by a two-section aileron. On the inner section of each aileron there is a controllable trim tab. Ailerons have axial aerodynamic compensation and external weight balancing - mono-cargoes located on the brackets. Aileron and flap skins are made of linen.

Strut-braced plumage, with a stabilizer adjustable in flight. The plumage frame is solid wood. The keel and stabilizer have a combined skin: on the toes - plywood, then - canvas. The rudders are made with horny aerodynamic compensation and are sheathed with canvas. The rudder and both halves of the elevator are equipped with forward weight balancers and trim tabs.

The landing gear is fixed, includes four steel skis, placed in pairs along the sides of the fuselage. Each ski is mounted on a parallelogram mechanism with a built-in shock absorber. A sprung crutch is installed on the aft fuselage, followed by a safety bow. During takeoff, wheels are used, which are hung on the skis and, after the glider has taken off, are thrown off. Front wheel mounting brackets allow them to self-orientate to a limited extent.

Glider control - manual. The rudder and aileron control lines are mixed, with the help of cables and rigid rods.

The hydraulic system is used to extend the flaps and reposition the stabilizer in flight. The pressure in the system is generated by a hand pump.

Special equipment. The takeoff of the glider is carried out using a towing aircraft. The cables are attached to the tow locks installed at the bottom of the fuselage. During takeoff, 8 launch rocket boosters (4 for each half wing) of the HWK109-500 type can be used. Due to the catalytic decomposition of hydrogen peroxide, the accelerator develops a thrust of 500 kgf for 30 s. Spent boosters are dropped and parachuted down to the ground for reuse.

Photo Description
Drawing Me 323D-1 Drawing Me 321B-1
An anchored by ropes on the ground Me 321 An anchored by ropes on the ground Me 321 B with vehicle maintenance.


  • Warplanes of the Third Reich /Green, William.н/
  • Messerschmitt Me 321/323: The Luftwaffe's "Giants" in World War II. /Dabrowski, Hans-Peter./