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Why No Heavy Bomber for Germany?


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#1 David Scott

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Posted 25 September 2011 - 07:13 PM

Hitler, the big-thinking warlord, generally liked large everything. He wanted huge tanks and battleships (until he became disillusioned with the latter’s effectiveness in the German cause); huge monuments, buildings and offices (or at least one for himself) and, most of all, a huge empire for him to rule. In regard to weaponary, strategy and tactics, he constantly favored offense over defense, with “counterattack” perhaps becoming his favorite word during the course of the war. One of his most counterproductive interference in military matters was his order that bombers be given priority over the fighters Germany desperately needed later in the war.

In this light, it seems puzzling why Germany never built a 4-engine bomber, comparable to our renowned flying fortress. This prevented Germany from effectively retaliating later in the war in the wake of devastating Allied air raids upon German cities in an effort to destroy enemy morale.

Does anyone know why or have any thoughts on the question?

#2 LJAd

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Posted 25 September 2011 - 08:07 PM

The why is simple :Germany had not the means to build thousands of heavy bombers .Before WWII,no one had the means to buid such bombers .

#3 Skipper

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Posted 25 September 2011 - 08:15 PM

the FW 200 Condor was a 4 engined aircraft.


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#4 LJAd

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Posted 25 September 2011 - 08:19 PM

And, there also is the fact that the results of the bombers were disappointing:the losses were high,and they were vulnerable to the fighters.
I don't also see why the Germans would need these heavy bombers:it is dubious that they could force Britain to give up, and they would be useless in the east .

#5 brndirt1

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Posted 25 September 2011 - 08:23 PM

I suppose one must compare and contrast Walter Wever and Hermann Goering and the economics of production costs to find the; or even "an" answer. Then factor in the death of Walter Wever, and the removal of his strategic bomb carrying aircraft as opposed to the tactical mind-set which evolved in the "fast and short" war strategy. Goering was in favor of the concept of the aircraft as tactical bombing/strafing support for the troops on the ground, and in this the Luftwaffe excelled in the beginning of the conflict. It wasn't that the idea of long-range bombers had been considered or proposed, just that the limited finances and "who" was in charge shaped the Luftwaffe of WW2.

May 1934.
RLM request for Ural bomber.
Do-19 and Ju-89 were top contenders.

17 April 1936.
RLM request for Bomber A. More advanced then previous Ural bomber specification.
.....Top speed of 335 mph
.....Operational radius of 1,000 miles with 2,000kg payload.
.....Capable of shallow angle bombing.
.....This program eventually produced the He-177 and He-277.
The Bomber A program more or less killed the Ural Bomber program. And the decision was made while General Weaver was still alive. The almost ready Ju-89 Ural Bomber prototype was completed but it was dead on arrival. The Luftwaffe had decided to skip ahead to the more advanced Bomber A specification.

11 Apr 1937. Ju-89 prototype flying.

29 Apr 1937. Ju-89 program canceled by RLM . Junkers attempted to proceed with this aircraft as a civilian airliner. However without RLM funding R&D proceeded at a crawl.

Feb 1938. RLM issues specification for Do-217 large medium bomber.
The resulting aircraft was probably overall superior to many early model "heavy" bombers like the American B-17. Another nail in the coffin for the Ural Bomber program.

July 1939. RLM issues the very advanced Bomber B specification.
.....Speed of 600 kph
.....Bomb load of 4,000kg.
.....Pressurized cabin.
.....Remote control defensive armament.

September 1939. Start of WWII in Europe.
This causes a huge Wehrmacht resource shift to the Heer. It costs a lot of money for ammunition and other consumables even for fighting a short war.

19 Nov 1939. He-177 heavy bomber prototype first flight. Bomber A program.

From this point onward all the pieces were in place for a German heavy bomber program (i.e. Ural Bomber, Bomber A, Bomber B programs). Plus the Do-217 large medium bomber. However fighting an increasingly larger war consumed German resources that otherwise would have produced heavy bombers.

One other consideration in the dearth of German strategic bombing capability was the placement of Goering in a position controlling the German economy through a four-year plan that was, as far as possible, to make Germany self sufficient as to raw materials. The difference in materials allotment between the medium and heavy bombers resulted in Goering's April 29, 1937 order to cease heavy bomber development, as well as the successful aerial bombing of Guernica, Spain three days prior. (emphasis mine)

Jeschonnek and Udet's addition of the requirement that all Luftwaffe bombers had to have dive-bombing capability put a damper on development.


For some excellent insight into the political and construction intrigues of the Luftwaffe read:


Ernst Heinkel's; Stormy Life: Memoirs of a Pioneer of the Air Age. New York: Dutton, 1956


Goto:


Walter Wever, Luftwaffe strategic bombers...

Edited by brndirt1, 25 September 2011 - 08:29 PM.
spacing/spelling

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#6 LJAd

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Posted 25 September 2011 - 08:27 PM

the FW 200 Condor was a 4 engined aircraft.


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I was to fast,but,at the end of 1940,the number of FW Condor was only 36:a negligible number .And,at the end of 1941,there were also only 170 flying fortresses,also a small number .

#7 brndirt1

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Posted 25 September 2011 - 08:36 PM

the FW 200 Condor was a 4 engined aircraft.


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True enough, but the "Condor" was an exceedingly weak air-frame, it would (even under no load) break in half on landing in rough conditions. Not a candidate for a "bomber", it wasn't a competitor in that area. For bombing unprotected ships at sea it wasn't a total failure, but really....
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#8 Vinny Maru

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Posted 25 September 2011 - 08:45 PM

IIRC the FW 200 was designed as a transport, and had a bad habit of breaking It's back under combat load stresses.


I see someone else was entering the same thing while I was.

Edited by Vinny Maru, 25 September 2011 - 08:47 PM.
duplicated info


#9 brndirt1

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Posted 25 September 2011 - 08:47 PM

IIRC the FW 200 was designed as a transport, and had a bad habit of breaking It's back under combat load stresses.


It (FW-200) was designed as a Lufthansa passenger plane, and did have an extremely weak air frame as to landing stresses under less than perfect conditions.
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#10 phylo_roadking

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Posted 25 September 2011 - 09:14 PM

Actually - the British were capable of it! Check out the various milepost dates for the Short Stirling.

The Condor was actually prone to breaking into three! There were TWO weak points in the airframe - just behind the main wingspar, and just in front of the tail...

However, this was the early C-ausfrung, used in Norway in 1940; there was slow but incremental strengthening - sometimes as little as 29lbs of extra strengthening per design revision. Later types, the dedicated maritime recce bombers, had to be strengthened as much as the design could take because of the great increase in all-up weight - a huge amount of extra tankage in the fuselage, the gondola, extra gun postions...and of course gunners! But even with it's mid-term re-enginning it was still a very fine balance for the designers to achieve.

One of the ongoing weaknesses however was the landing gear; that very advanced articulated landing strut wasn't very strong, and there was a service-long issue with the design of the main wheel brakes. They could sieze on after sitting up for a while, or if used in excess - such as Hitler's aircraft's problems when he arrived in Finland for Mannerheim's birthday. In that aircraft, when the brakes were applied suddenly and hard for the slightly-short runway, the bolts holding the brake backplate sheared and the plate revolved, shearing the brake fluid lines and the fluid poured into the red hot brake hub and the fluid soaked linings caught fire!

And of course - in an aircraft that had sat on the apron for some time, a pilot could roll his aircraft forward, not realising that the brakes were partly siezed on, and by the time he reached the end of the runway at Brest he could be rasing wheels with nice little brake liner fires into the engine nacelles - which also contained bombs!

there also is the fact that the results of the bombers were disappointing:the losses were high,and they were vulnerable to the fighters.


LJad - here's the rub....this wasn't the opinion when they were being designed! The WWI lesson (and SCW too) was that rifle-calibre defensive fire was enough to hold off fighters armed with a similar armament! What those peslly designers ALSO did however was move to either cannon or multibank MG armament fior fighters, so that while "now" if a bomber's defensive fire would stop a fighter holding a bead on it for more than a few seconds - those seconds involved them doing quite a lot MORE damage than was anticipated when the bombers were designed!
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#11 phylo_roadking

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Posted 25 September 2011 - 09:20 PM

For bombing unprotected ships at sea it wasn't a total failure, but really....


For an 8-month period it was a supreme shipkiller - but not necessarily for the reasons most of us might think!

It's Revi bombsight wasn't great for the job; it had to be recalibrated each flight - the Condors carried a concrete practice bomb in the gondola bombbay for this purpose - and of course precision bombing of aircraft with single large bombs at medium or high altitude was hopeless...and at low level the Condor would be over a cargo vessel in the blink of an eye...

So the Condor pilots of KG40 developed another tactic - they would straddle a ship at sea with three bombs as they passed over, without precision aiming...and the idea was that in the era of single-skinned, iron-hulled merchantmen, at least one would be close enough to warp its plates and send it to the bottom!

But by the time Churchill made his "scourge of the Atlantic" comment, the Condor was already on the way out; the Camship Hurricanes were about to bring a real enemy right to them, but also the light AA armament of merchantmen was beefed up, and the Condors were very vulnerable to AA fire.

Edited by phylo_roadking, 25 September 2011 - 10:25 PM.

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#12 phylo_roadking

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Posted 25 September 2011 - 10:42 PM

One other consideration in the dearth of German strategic bombing capability was the placement of Goering in a position controlling the German economy through a four-year plan that was, as far as possible, to make Germany self sufficient as to raw materials. The difference in materials allotment between the medium and heavy bombers resulted in Goering's April 29, 1937 order to cease heavy bomber development


This is of course one important factor - but another was simply that pre-war, Germany's aero engine industry couldn't build the power plants for ALL the applications needed - fighters, light bombers, medium bombers AND multi-enginned heavies. Only the Jumo and DB 600 family were practical - with the latter not coming into service until the start of the war. Apart from those, its BMW radials were small and underpowered, requiring ~50% more per application than current American and British radials, not much upgrading had been done yet to the original licensed American design.

Not only had military aircraft design been held back by the strictures of the Versailles Treaty - aero engines had been hit MUCH harder ;) I can't remember the limits offhand, but until the Germans repudiated Versailles in this respect, aero engines over a certain power output couldn't be designed or manufactured in Germany at all; even the Napier Lions and RR Kestrels used in its...ahem..."constabulary aircraft" had to be crated and freighted back to the UK for major overhauls! And it was the reason why the legendary Do-X flying boat used so many small engines - it's all there was!

German civil design kept pace, and in some cases was ahead of its rivals - and a degree of military design and experimentation ahd been maintained at Lipetsk in the USSR - but it was the lack of both good engines early enough, and enough manufacturers with a high enough output per factory, that really out the kybosh on Wever's early attempts.

Heinkel's own book is good...but for a complete overview, E.R Hooton's classics Phoenix Triumphant and Eagle in Flames are essential reading.
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#13 David Scott

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Posted 26 September 2011 - 01:26 PM

What a valuable resource this forum is for all interested in WWII! I have printed out this entire thread for further reading and study. Obviously I hadn’t known that the Germans had built even a limited number of four engine bombers. Thanks, Skipper, for the fantastic photo of the FW 200 Condor, and to all for the follow-up information.

By the way, Clint, I’ve finished the Alfons Heck book you recommended on the Hitler Youth. Although he wasn’t a professional writer—he tended to ramble at times and repeat himself, apparently forgetting what he had already stated in previous chapters—, I found his account riveting and illuminating. Perhaps I’ll write a brief review to post here when I have some time. Thanks again for recommending it!

Best regards,

Dave

#14 Martin Bull

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Posted 26 September 2011 - 02:09 PM

Forgive my blundering in here with what may be an overs-simplification but I've always felt that the heavy bomber didn't 'fit' with Germany's early-war strategy ( ie Blitzkrieg, close infantry/air co-operation, sudden moral collapse of opponents etc ). As we now know, RAF Bomber Comamnd was a very blunt instrument indeed, slogging away for months and years in what was effectively a war of attrition. Hitler's thinking was very much along the lines of the infamous 'kick in the front door and the whole rotten structure will come down' etc.

By the time the war had changed its nature ( ie by the late Battle of Britain and certainly by Barbarossa ) it was almost too late to develop suitable heavy bombers. The Germans then went and made a familiar mistake by over-complicating things with the He177 ( on which the engines never did work ).

By this time obsessed with revenge, Hitler insisted that much effort be put behind the A4 (V2) which absorbed large resourcesand took too long to develop.....
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#15 Drew Childers

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Posted 26 September 2011 - 02:24 PM

Should a discussion of the Amerika Bomber project be part of this thread? I realize it was eventually cancelled, but several protos were built, if I remember correctly. I don't have much more to add, but would love to hear from some of you guys that do.

#16 brndirt1

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Posted 26 September 2011 - 02:32 PM

Should a discussion of the Amerika Bomber project be part of this thread? I realize it was eventually cancelled, but several protos were built, if I remember correctly. I don't have much more to add, but would love to hear from some of you guys that do.


Not really, it was (as many things in Hitler's Germany), too little, too late. The Me-264 had one prototype that actually flew, but it and the two others which had been delayed were eventually destroyed by being bombed into oblivion themselves.

Goto:

www.warbirdsresourcegroup.org - Luftwaffe Resource Center - Messerschmitt Me 264
Happy Trails,
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#17 Skipper

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Posted 26 September 2011 - 03:20 PM

Germany made another unsucessfull attempt with the HE-177 . A rahther daring twinned pair engined bomber (looks like it has two , but actually it has four engines) .
Without the overheating problems and the leaking oil , it could have been quite a thread for British towns , even though it was built too late and in too small quantities.


http://www.ww2incolo...I-676-7969A-25#


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#18 brndirt1

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Posted 26 September 2011 - 03:37 PM

Here is a link to a fine collection of data on bombers in the LW, both production models and experiments. There were a number of four engine bombers proposed, a few built in prototype, and even some production runs.

Goto:

Luftwaffe Resource Center - A Warbirds Resource Group Site - Bombers & Ground Attack

T
here are more photos of the Condor's with broken airframes in there as well.
Happy Trails,
Clint.

#19 Gromit801

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Posted 26 September 2011 - 03:46 PM

Goering and Hitler notwithstanding, the main reason is because strategic thinking Wever was killed in a crash, and tactical thinking Udet took his place. After Wever's death, other strategists, like Earnst Udet and Hand Jeschonnek favoured smaller aircraft as they did not expend as much material and manpower.

A very good book to read is Luftwaffe Over America by Manfred Griehl.
Amazon.com: Luftwaffe over America: The Secret Plans to Bomb the United States in World War II (9780760786970): Manfred Griehl: Books
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#20 Carronade

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Posted 26 September 2011 - 06:34 PM

I think people are too quick to take for granted that since we had heavy bombers, and we won the war, and Germany lost, that 'proves' that Germany, or any major power, 'needs' a massive force of heavy bombers. "Massive" is a key word. Although air power advocates had predicted that anything within their range would be erased, in reality it took a large, sustained commitment of resources over a period of years to create, field, and support bomber commands, and even then it took several years to have a significant effect.

You never get something for nothing. Sure, the Germans could have made use of a bomber force if it just fell from the sky - o.k., maybe not the best analogy ;) - but the real question is would it be worth sacrificing say half their tactical air, armor, motor vehicles, or whatever? Germany's first concern was to field armies and their supporting air that could face her opponents on the continent.

I've always been puzzled by the idea that bombing factories in say Paris, and bombing them again whenever the French repair them, is 'strategic' and 'air-minded', while helping your army to capture Paris once and for all is 'tactical' and somehow inferior. I would submit that an air-ground team overrunning entire countries is conducting strategic warfare. The Germans captured, and made available for their own use, most of what Bomber A could have bombed, and most of what the ground forces couldn't reach, the air forces couldn't either. Much Russian industry was in or beyond the Urals, and the heart of Allied production was completely unreachable in the United States.

The English Channel created the curious situation of two great powers a few hundred miles apart, but unable to reach each other on the ground. Both the 'need' and the possibility of the Allied bomber campaign derive from the difference in width of the Channel and the river Dneiper.

Luftwaffe Over America is a fascinating book, despite the overly dramatic title. It's mainly a history of the German heavy aircraft program - I say 'aircraft' because many of them were intended to serve as bombers, transports, maritime, reconnaissance, etc. Most notably it shows how virtually every aircraft company in Germany had one or more heavy aircraft projects consuming engineering and production resources. I do think Germany would have benefitted from a small force of long-range aircraft, but the first thing they needed to do was to identify one or two of the most promising types to focus their efforts on.

#21 Gromit801

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Posted 26 September 2011 - 06:47 PM

what the Luftwaffe really needed if it wanted to destroy British industry, was a long range fighter, ala the Mustang.
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#22 Gebirgsjaeger

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Posted 26 September 2011 - 07:28 PM

They made one but they did it wrong again. They made the destroyer Me 110 to be a long range fighter but it hasn´t had any chance against the Spitfires. Based on the "Blitzkrieg Tactics" there was no need to have a 4-engine bomber, but later in war they ´ve seen that there is no chance to reach the war industry of Russia with their twin engine bombers. Strategically a really bad decision to stay with the twin engines. And instead to develop a good usable 4 engine heavy bomber, they dreamed of a "America Bomber" which costs lots of resources and it had no chance without a long range fighter. Or some carrier based fighters. So you can see the cat bites in her own tail.
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#23 phylo_roadking

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Posted 26 September 2011 - 09:06 PM

They made one but they did it wrong again. They made the destroyer Me 110 to be a long range fighter but it hasn´t had any chance against the Spitfires.


Actually - yes it could....but with major caveats

Eric Brown tested a C-model during the war, and a G just after; the 110 could dogfight with fast monoplanes like the 1940 Spitfire and Hurricane - but bercause of its too-small tail surfaces it was ONLY that flickable and manouverable right up in the last 20mph of its performance envelope, when air was passing fast enough over its control surfaces.

And it was hindered in reaching this speed by TWO things; its mechanical fuel injectors were quite slow at building up speed from cruising...and of course in the BoB it was earmarked as an escort fighter, so was "pinned" to that speed for too long. In other words - when RAF fighters appeared, 110s had to accelerate to reach their full fighting manouverability....but that acceleration happened slower than the RAF's fighters!

Thus - first the Poles, then the French that Polish exiles taught the tactic to, then the RAF that French pilots taught the tactic to, discovered that the easiest way to bring down 110s was a P40 vs Zero-style "boom and zoom" attack - drop down on them from above and behind, fire on them, then immediately dive away fast...leaving the 110 behind them trying but failing to accelerate to catch them - if it survived ;)

When the 110 became a nightfighter, the problem was even worse; not only were the nightfighter versions heavier, with heavier armament and radar sets on board, they had more drag because of the antennas...AND as Eric Brown discovered the "tune" of their exhaust stubs was ruined by the flame suppressors fitted.

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#24 brndirt1

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Posted 26 September 2011 - 10:27 PM

The Me-110 holds the distinction of being the only escort fighter which needed single engine fighter escort. Now that isn't a good thing.
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#25 phylo_roadking

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Posted 26 September 2011 - 10:49 PM

Yep, because tied to the speed of the bombers it was escorting, it was vulnerable as I described. So the LW ended up with a three-tier system in the BoB - the 110s providing close escort on the bombers, with 109s flying escort above and behind the 110s...instead of free hunting.

However - it had also proved itself as an intruder-bomber during the BoB, with the precision low-level attacks of ErPro210; unfortunately, the LW moved away from airfield attacks...

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