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Messerschmitt Me 328: Wikis

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The Messerschmitt Me 328 was originally designed as a parasite aircraft to protect Luftwaffe bomber formations during World War II. During its protracted development, a wide variety of other roles were suggested for it. Late in the war, the design was resurrected for consideration as a selbstopfer (suicide weapon or kamikaze) aircraft, but was judged unsuitable even for this purpose. The tiny fighter was to have been propelled by pulsejets, but the unsuitability of these engines doomed the Me 328 from the start.

Contents

History

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Design

The aircraft was designed as Messerschmitt project P.1073 in 1941, and was originally conceived as a cheap and simple escort fighter, to either be towed aloft by a Heinkel He 177 heavy bomber or Junkers Ju 388 using a semi-rigid bar (the Deichelschlepp, which was also considered for towing auxiliary fuel tanks), or carried on a Me 264 in a Mistel type fashion. Three versions were proposed: an unpowered glider, a version powered by Argus pulsejets, and a version powered by a Jumo 004 turbojet.[1] Its construction was to be mainly of wood. It was subsequently handed over to the Deutsche Forschungsanstalt für Segelflug (DFS - "German Research Institute for Sailplane Flight") for development. Two versions were proposed, the Me 328A (fighter) and the Me 328B (bomber); it was estimated that four Me 328s could be built for the cost of a Focke Wulf Fw 190 or Bf 109 fighter. It was also suggested at one point that it be towed behind the Me 264 heavy bomber for protection[2]

Prototypes

Test pilot Hanna Reitsch carried out a test programme on the two prototypes of the glider version, releasing from tow aircraft at altitudes of 3,000-6,000 m (9,800-19,700 ft). Ground launches, using both cable-type catapults and rocket-assisted carriages on rails were also successful. Even with a reduced wingspan the aircraft had a very satisfactory performance, and it was planned to build up to 1,000 for use as disposable bombers to be flown by volunteers from 5/KG200, the so-called Leonidas Squadron.[1]

Seven prototypes powered by two Argus As 014 pulsejets, as used on the V-1 flying bomb were built by glider manufacturer, Jacobs Schweyer of Darmstadt. It was intended for use as a fighter aircraft, to be armed with two 20 mm MG 151/20 cannons. However, during static testing it soon became apparent that the same problems which were to plague the early development of the V-1 flying bomb - namely, excessive vibration - would make the project difficult to bring to a successful conclusion, and the manned flight programme was suspended in mid-1944, after only a few test flights had been made.[1] Some sources say two prototypes were indeed destroyed by inflight structural failure caused by vibration.

Despite this, planning continued, and a version was projected, which would use four Argus pulsejets, two mounted below the wings in addition to the original pair mounted above the rear fuselage. Bomber versions of both types were proposed, and work continued on them at the insistence of Adolf Hitler long after the point when anything other than token use could have been made of them.[1]

Moves were made to revive the Me 328 again in 1944 as a piloted flying bomb based on the Me 328B, fitted with a 900 kg (2,000 lb) bomb, but it was dropped in favour of the Fieseler Fi 103R (Reichenberg).[3] A revised version, the Me 328C, was proposed, to be fitted with a Jumo 004 turbojet, but this came to nothing.

Proposed roles

A wide variety of roles were suggested for the aircraft, ranging from a point-defence interceptor, to a version with folding wings and twin pulsejets to be launched from a catapult on a U-Boat[1], to a ground-attack aircraft. Various modifications to the prototypes were made to evaluate their suitability for these missions, and different engine configurations were tested. Despite all this, the vibration problem simply could not be overcome and the program was abandoned in early 1944, even as production facilities were being readied to construct the aircraft at the Jacobs Schweyer sailplane factory in Darmstadt.

According to Thomas Powers's book Heisenberg's War[4] the Me 328 had been intended as a parasite bomber for the Amerika Bomber program. It was to be carried by or towed behind either an Me 264 or a Ju 390 to attack New York. Plans for this tactic were hatched from a meeting between Generalfieldmarschall Erhard Milch and Generalmajor Freiherr von Gablenz at Berlin on 12 May 1942. After release, the Me 328 pilot would release a bomb over Manhattan and then ditch at sea near a U-boat. After the war, a chart came to light showing the effect of a nuclear air burst over Manhattan.

Specifications

Data from

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1, pilot
  • Length: 8.63 m (27 ft 7 in)
  • Wingspan: 6.40 m (20 ft 6 in)
  • Height: 2.10 m (7 ft)
  • Empty weight: 1,840 kg (4,056 lb)
  • Loaded weight: 2,674 kg (5,896 lb)
  • Powerplant: 2× Argus As 014 pulsejets, 5.9 kN (1,320 lbf total) 5.9 kN each

Performance

Armament

Notes

  1. ^ a b c d e Wood & Ford, pp. 41-42
  2. ^ Wood & Ford, p. 30
  3. ^ Deist, Wilhelm; Meier, Schreiber, et al.. Germany and the Second World War. Oxford University Press. pp. 336–337. ISBN 0198228899.  
  4. ^ Powers, Thomas (2000). Heisenberg's War: The Secret History of the German Bomb. Da Capo Press. pp. 145, 514. ISBN 0306810115.  

References

  • Wood, Paul; Roger Ford (2000). Germany's Secret Weapons in World War II. Zenith Imprint. pp. 41–42. ISBN 0760308470.  
  • Reitsch, Hanna; Lawrence Wilson (trans.) (1991). The Sky My Kingdom: Memoirs of the Famous German World War II Test-pilot. Presidio Press. pp. 194. ISBN 1853670936.  

External links


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