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Ural bomber: Wikis


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The Ural bomber was a program to develop a long-range bomber for the Luftwaffe, created and led by General Walther Wever in the early 1930s. Wever died in an air crash in 1936, and the program ended almost immediately. Albert Kesselring took over his position in the Luftwaffe, abandoning most of his designs and turning others into tactical bombers.

Wever, the chief of staff of the newly-formed Luftwaffe in 1933, realized the importance that strategic bombing would play in any future conflict. In a war with the Soviet Union he expected that German forces would not attempt to move very far east of Moscow, which would leave much of Stalin's recently re-located industry out of reach of existing bombers. Wever proposed using a dedicated strategic bomber to reduce these factories, ending their ability to fight even without the need for ground forces to advance.

Under the Ural bomber program, he began secret talks with two of Germany's leading aircraft manufacturers, Dornier and Junkers, requesting designs for a long-range bomber. The two companies responded with the Dornier Do 19 and the Junkers Ju 89 respectively, and the RLM (Reichsluftfahrtministerium, "Reich Aviation Ministry") ordered prototypes for both aircraft in 1935.

Wever was killed in an air crash in April 1936, and the dream of a strategic bomber force died with him. His replacement, Albert Kesselring, saw no need for such a force, and was much more interested in building a larger number of smaller tactical aircraft instead. He canceled the program outright on April 29, 1937, and the prototypes of the Ju 89 and Do 19 were used for flight research and cargo duties.

The Ju 89 also inspired the Junkers Ju 90 after Lufthansa requested a passenger version with lower-powered engines. When the Ural bomber program was canceled, the partially completed 3rd prototype was converted to passenger layout and served as a Ju 90 prototype instead. Ironically the Ju 90 was later pressed into military service as a patrol aircraft, as it was one of the few really long-range designs available in Germany. The Ju 90, in turn, led to the development of the Junkers Ju 390, which became one of the entrants in the Amerika Bomber project.

According to some sources, the Ju 89 was considered to be the better performing of the two Ural bomber prototypes and after the cancellation of the project on 29 April 1937 the V1 and V2 prototypes continued to carry out flying trials and briefly served with the transport unit KGrzbV 105 during the Norway invasion.

Some sources contend that contrary to popular belief, it was not Kesselring who killed off the Ural bomber concept; rather it was Herman Goering who ceased strategic bomber development in Nazi Germany before the start of World War II, upon the advice of Kesselring, Ernst Udet and Erhard Milch. Kesselring was a vocal supporter of twin engine bombers and backed up Udet who preferred dive bombers. This was the questionable decision that was made to convert the Ju 88 medium bomber, and the even more disastrous decision to convert the Heinkel He 177 heavy bomber, into a form of "Big Stuka" dive bomber.

Milch, on the other hand, wanted the project canceled simply because at that stage the German airplane industry was incapable and would remain so, of building a large fleet of heavy bombers. Thus, Goering shelved the project and is later supposed to have said, "The Fuhrer will never ask me how big our bombers are, but how many we have."

In late 1943, Goering bemoaned the lack of a heavy bomber fleet and cursed those who had told him the medium bomber was superior to the heavy bomber. "Well those inferior heavy bombers of the other side are doing a wonderful job of wrecking Germany from end to end," was his acid-tongued response.

The He 177, and especially the later Heinkel He 274 and Heinkel He 277 developments of the 177 design, came the closest to providing the Luftwaffe with a true heavy bomber-the original 177 design, with its troublesome coupled Daimler-Benz 606 and 610 "power system" engines, was later developed into the 274 and 277, which each had four individual Daimler-Benz DB 603 engines, and would have provided the Luftwaffe with a bombing capability on par with the RAF Bomber Command's Avro Lancaster.

Of course, the German heavy bomber projects were not dead. After pleas from the Chief of Branch 1 of the Luftwaffe Operations Staff, Major Paul Deichmann, to Goering, an amazing about face occurred in late 1937, when specifications were issued to develop an aircraft to deliver a five-ton bomb load to New York. Thus was born the Amerika Bomber project.

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