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Me 264

Strategic Bomber

Messerschmitt

Me 264 V-1

Me 264. America Bomber. 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.

Me 264 V-3 calculations
Wing assembly 5,287 kg
Fuselage 2,164 kg
Tail assembly 421 kg
Controls 142 kg
Landing gear 1 424 kg
Total: 9,438 kg

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

Armament (with ammunition) 749 kg
Camera equipment 247 kg
Reserve 500 kg
Total accumulated weight: 22,651 kg

Seifert then calculated three overall weight options allowing for different fuel loads:

A) Without external tanks B)* With jettisonable undercarriage
Crew 540 kg Crew 540 kg
Supplies 100 kg Supplies 100 kg
Emergency lubricant 288 kg Emergency lubricant 288 kg
GM Boost 697 kg GM Boost 697 kg
Tanks protected 13,680 kg Tanks protected 13,680 kg
Tanks unprotected 5620 kg Tanks unprotected 5800 kg
Fuel in external tanks - Fuel in external tanks 4,362
Lubricant 432 kg Lubricant 432 kg
Plus Total accumulated weight 22,651 kg Plus Total accumulated weight 22,651 kg
Total weight: 44,008 kg Total weight: 49,000 kg

* - (total four wheels, two fixed, two jettisonable)

C) With heavier jettisonable undercarriage (total six wheels, two fixed, four jettisonable)

Crew 540 kg
Supplies 100 kg
Emergency lubricant 288 kg
GM Boost 697 kg
Tanks protected 13,680 kg
Tanks unprotected 5800 kg
Fuel in external tanks 11,082
Lubricant 640 kg
Plus Total accumulated weight 22,651 kg
Total weight: 56,000 kg

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.

Me 264 V-3
Crew 6-8
Dimensions
Wing Span, m 43.00
Wing Area, m² 127.80
Length, m 20.90
Height, m 4.30
Power Plant
4 x PE BMW 801D (G)
Power, hp 4 x 1,700
Weight, kg:
Empty weight 21,150
Loaded weight 56,000
Performance
Speed, km/h 580 km/h at altitude 6300 m
Cruise speed, km/h 410 km/h at altitude 6000 m
Flight duration, h 42, 47 depending on the type of additional tanks
Service ceiling, m 8,000
Maximum range, km 13,000 - 15,200 depending on the type of additional tanks
Armament
Machine guns and Cannon 4 x 13-mm Machine guns MG 131, 2 x 20-mm Cannon MG 151/20
Bomb, kg 2,000
Photo Description
Drawing Me-264V1

Drawing Me-264 V1 with four Jumo 211 engines.

Me-264 V1 with four BMV-801 engines.

Drawing Me-264V1 with long span wing

Drawing Me-264 V1 with long span wing.

Me-264 arrangement

Arrangement Me-264. A Messerschmitt design office drawing showing the interior layout of the crew accommodation of the Me 264. Note that the design for the nosewheel is still based on the original proposal in that it retracted horizontally under the pilot's position. The drawing shows the aircraft fitted with BMW 801 engines.

Messerschmitt Me 264, V 1, W.Nr. 26400001

The completed Messerschmitt Me 264, V 1, W.Nr. 26400001, coded RE+EN, emerged from its hangar at Augsburg for the first time on 23 December 1942. It was fitted with four 12-cylinder, liquid-cooled Junkers Jumo211J-1 engines but carried no armament.

Messerschmitt Me 264, V 1, W.Nr. 26400001 of the port side

A rare view of the port side of the Me 264 V 1, W.Nr. 26400001, RE+EN seen at Augsburg. Note the fuselage observation window between the code letters 'R' and 'E'.

Me 264 view of the cockpit

Detail view of the cockpit and starboard wing with its Jumo 211 engines. When retracted, the nosewheel was covered by three doors, two of which are visible here.

Me 264 cockpit

The virtually completed cockpit of the Me 264V1. The armoured pilot's seat in the photograph, but the co-pilot's seat has not yet been installed on its runners. Note also the absence of the 13 mm MG 131 machine gun as seen in the mock-up. The main instrument panel directly ahead of the seats contains the compass. The central console between the seats holds the secondary compass, control box for RATO units, propeller controls, oil temperature gauges, FuG 16 and indicator lights. Note the oxygen unit on the fuselage wall to the right of the co-pilot's position. Note also the lifting handle on the metal unit immediately behind the control console to allow easy access to wiring. The cockpit glazing is heavily smeared, probably with condensation and general grease associated with the environment in the workshop.in the photograph, but the co-pilot's seat has not yet been installed on its runners. Note also the absence of the 13 mm MG 131 machine gun as seen in the mock-up. The main instrument panel directly ahead of the seats contains the compass. The central console between the seats holds the secondary compass, control box for RATO units, propeller controls, oil temperature gauges, FuG 16 and indicator lights. Note the oxygen unit on the fuselage wall to the right of the co-pilot's position. Note also the lifting handle on the metal unit immediately behind the control console to allow easy access to wiring. The cockpit glazing is heavily smeared, probably with condensation and general grease associated with the environment in the workshop.

Me 264 oxigen units

Close-up of two oxygen supply units in the fuselage compartment. These would probably have been for the flight engineer and gunners. Note a similar unit on the fuselage wall in the previous photograph.

Me-264 cabin

The view looking back through the fuselage from the cockpit. To the right is the navigator and radio operator's station with fold-down table and a larger, fixed map table beyond. Two wall-mounted anglepoise lamps provide illumination, but natural light would also have come from the observation windows directly above and in the side of the fuselage just before the access to the central fuselage. On the other side of the fuselage is a control panel used by the flight engineer. The access arch behind these stations leads through the fuselage, above the bomb bay and past a gun position seat. The seats seen are unlikely to have been the final models, which leads to the conclusion that access space for aircrew with the bulk of flying suits and oxygen equipment would have been quite restricted.

Me-264 section of the port side

The Me 264 contained an astonishing mass of wiring, cable and ducting as can be seen from this photograph of a section of the port side fuselage wall. The wording on the metal junction boxes reads 'Schutzkappe erst beim Einsetzen des Gerätes entfernen!' - 'Close lid first before activating equipment!'. Notice the crew entrance/exit hatch to bottom left.

The Me 264 V 1 in flight

The Me 264 V 1 in flight.

References

  • "Messerschmitt Me 264. America Bomber. The Luftwaffe's Lost Transatlantic Bomber." /Robert Forsyth & Eddie J.Creek/
  • "Aviation of Luftwaffe" /Viktor Shunkov/
  • "Encyclopedia of military engineering " /Aerospace Publising/

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