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German Balkenkreuz

Germany's Heinkel He 177 Greif bomber ("Griffon")

Photos

  • Heinkel He 177 Greif bomber
  • Heinkel He 177 Greif bomber
  • Heinkel He 177 Greif bomber
  • Heinkel He 177A Greif bomber
  • Heinkel He 177A-02 Greif bomber
  • Heinkel He 177A-3 Greif bomber
  • Heinkel He 177

Design

The Heinkel He 177 was the only strategic bomber developed by the Germans.

The RLM went to Heinkel with a requirement for a heavy bomber. It was to carry two tons of bombs up to 1,000 miles at 340 mph. Siegfried Günther was the chief designer of the He 177.

One of the limitations on the design of the He 177 was that it was supposed to be able to do 60° diving attacks.

Due to the unreliability of the He 177's engines it was nicknamed the "flying coffin" by it's crews.

Cockpit

The nose glazing allowed for excellent forward visibility for the crew. There was a 7.9 mm MG 81 with 2,000 rounds that could be fired from the cockpit.

Missiles

The bombardier used a FuG 203 transmitter that took the inputs from a joystick in the under nose gondola that directed the Hs 293 or FX 1400 missile. The missiles had flares in the tail to help the bombardier visually follow its flight.

Gunners

Originally all the gun turrets were to be remotely controlled but they were replaced by manned positions which added weight.

The forward turret was remotely controlled by the gunner that sat under a dome above the flight deck. This turret has two MG 131s with 1,500 rounds total.

The tail gunner sat under the rudder with a MG 151.

Engines

The exhausts, fuel lines, and oil lines were crammed together in a very small space which contributed to the engine fires that plagued the He 177.

The prototype Heinkel He 177 had four DB 601 engines (1,000 HP) mounted in pairs and known as the DB 606.

Initially there was an advanced cooling system for the engines, but this was scrapped and bigger radiators were used. This caused more drag, so more fuel was needed, which lead to strengthening the fuselage which made the aircraft heavier and reduced performance for the He 177.

The propellers were 14' 10" / 4.52 m in diameter.

Prototype

The He 177V1 first flew on November 19, 1939 / December 19, 1939.

Three of the five prototypes crashed.
Six of the prototypes crashed due to structural failures or engine fires.

Production

Arado built five of the pre-production He 177A-0s.

It was planned to produce 70 He 177s per month, but only five per month were completed.

  • Prototypes: 8, 30
  • Heinkel He 177A-0: 35
    • Built starting in November 1941.
  • Heinkel He 177A-1: 130
    • Deliveries started in March 1942.
  • Heinkel He 177A-3: 170
  • Heinkel He 177A-5: 565
    • Deliveries started in February 1943.
  • Total: 908, 1,000, 1,160
    • Manufacturer: Heinkel and Arado

Variants

  • Heinkel He 177 V1: First prototype.
  • Heinkel He 177 V2: Second prototype that broke up in flight.
  • Heinkel He 177 V3:
  • Heinkel He 177 V4: Prototype that was lost.
  • Heinkel He 177 V5: Prototype that was lost.
  • Heinkel He 177V38: Designed to carry Germany's atomic bomb.
  • Heinkel He 177A-0: Five pre-production aircraft built by Arado.
  • Heinkel He 177A-1: First used in July 1942 / 1942.
  • Heinkel He 177A-3: Longer fuselage. Mounting points for engines were redesigned. Fowler flaps over entire edge of wing.
  • Heinkel He 177A-3/R3: Carried three Hs 293 anti-shipping weapons.
  • Heinkel He 177A-3/R5: Had a 75 mm in the ventral gondola.
  • Heinkel He 177A-3/R7: Was able to launch the LT 50 glider torpedo.
  • Heinkel He 177A-5: Had a stronger wing. Was able to launch the LT 50 glider torpedo. Some had 33 upward firing rockets.
  • Heinkel He 177B: Had four separate Daimler-Benz DB 603A engines. Only a prototype.
  • Heinkel He 274: One prototype of the four propeller version was produced by Farman in France and flew in December 1945.
  • Heinkel He 277: Three He 177s were converted to having four separate engines with their own propellars. Flown in 1943. Cancelled in 1944.

Usage

The I./KG 50 flew He 177A-1s with Mk 101 cannons for flak suppression assignments.

Starting in the spring of 1944 the II./KG 40 started using the He 177A-5/R6s for reconnaissance missions in the Atlantic.

The He 177 had a tendency to swing its tail on takeoff.

More He 177s were lost to engine fires than to combat.

He 177A-0

Out of 35 He 177A-0s built, 25 were lost to accidents or fires. Seven crashed during take-off.

Operational Trials

The I./KG 40 received the He 177 in July 1942 for operational trials. They were used in raids on England.

Of the 1,000 built only about 200 became operational.

Stalingrad

Some of the He 177s were used in relief efforts at Stalingrad.

Specifications

  Heinkel He 177
Type Heavy bomber, Long range bomber, Over water reconnaissance, Anti-shipping
Crew 5 - 6, 6
Pilot, copilot / bombardier / gunner, navigator / radio operator / gunner, gunners (3)
Engine (Type) 4: Daimler-Benz DB 606
Engine - Port 2: Daimler-Benz DB 610A
Engine - Starboard 2: Daimler-Benz DB 610B
Cylinders 24
Cooling Water
HP 1,325 each, 2,700 each
Propeller blades 4 blade VDM constant speed
Fuel capacity 2,788 gallons
Dimensions  
Span 103', 103' 2"
31.46 m
Length 67' 3", 72'
21.9 m
Height 18' 2", 21' 10"
6.7 m
Wing area 1,076 sq ft
100 sq m
Weight  
Empty 37,000 lb
16,800 kg
Loaded 68,500 lb, 71,600 lb
31,100 kg
Performance  
Speed 340 mph
Speed at 17,000' /
5,185 m
295 mph
472 kph
Climb to 17,000' /
5,185 m
25 minutes
Service ceiling 26,500'
8,080 m
Range 3,400 miles
Armament 5: MG
Nose 1: 7.9 mm MG 81
Gondola - Forward 1: 20 mm MG 151/20
Gondola - Rear 1: 13 mm MG 131
Tail 1: 20 mm MG 151/20
Turret - Forward Dorsal 1 or 2: 13 mm MG 131
Turret - Rear Dorsal 1 or 2: 13 mm MG 131
Bombs 12,000 lb
OR 48: 70 kg
OR 10: 500 kg
OR 6: 1,000 kg
OR 2: 2,500 kg
  Heinkel He 177A-0
Type Pre-Production
Engine (Type) 2: DB 606 (two DB 601 E joined)
Propeller blades 4
Armament 2: 13 mm MG 131
1: 20 mm MG FF
1: 7.9 mm MG 81
1: 7.9 mm twin MG 81
  Heinkel He 177A-1
Engine (Type) 2: Daimler-Benz DB 606 (joined DB 601s)
Cylinders 24 (2 inverted V 12)
HP 2,700 each
Propeller blades 4 each
Dimensions  
Span 103' 2"
31.44 m
Length 66' 11"
20.4 m
Height 21'
6.4 m
Weight  
Empty 35,494 lb
16,100 kg
Loaded 66,139 lb
30,000 kg
Armament 3: 13 mm MG 131
1: 7.9 mm MG 81
1: 20 mm MG FF
1: 30 mm MK 101
  Heinkel He 177A-3
Engine (Type) 2: DB 610 (two DB 605 engines joined)
Armament 5: 13 mm MG 131
1: 20 mm MG FF
1: 7.9 mm MG 81
Bombs - Glider 2: Hs 293
  Heinkel He 177A-5
Engine (Type) 2: Daimler-Benz DB610A/B (joined DB 605A)
2: DB 610 (two DB 605 engines joined)
Cylinders Inverted V 24
HP 2,950 each
Propeller blades 4 each
Dimensions  
Length 72' 2"
22 m
Weight  
Empty 37,038 lb
16,800 kg
Loaded 68,343 lb
31,000 kg
Performance  
Speed @ 20,015' /
6,100 m
303 mph
487 kph
Cruising speed 210 - 258 mph
338 - 415 kph
Climb 620'/minute
189 m/minute
Service ceiling 26,250'
8,000 m
Range 3,417 miles
5,500 km
Armament 4: 13 mm MG 131
1: 7.9 mm MG 81
2: 20 mm MG 151/20
Nose 1: 7.9 mm MG
Forward turret 1: 13 mm MG
Dorsal turret 2: 13 mm MG
Ventral gondola 1: 20 mm
Rear gondola 2: 7.9 mm MG
Tail 1: 20 mm
Bombs 13,225 lb
6,000 kg
OR  
Missiles 2: Hs 293
3: Hs 293
OR 2: Fritz X
OR 2: Hs 294
OR 2: PC 1400 FX
  Heinkel He 177A-5/R2 Greif
Type Heavy bomber, Reconnaissance, Anti-shipping
Crew 6
Engine (Type) 2: Daimler-Benz DB 610
2: Daimler-Benz DB 610A 1/B-1 piston
Cylinders 24, Inline, Inverted V 12
Cooling Liquid
HP 2,950 each
Propeller blades 4 each
Dimensions  
Span 103' 1.75", 103' 2"
31.44 m
Length 66' 11.25", 72' 2"
20.4 m, 22 m
Height 20' 11", 20' 11.75"
6.39 m, 6.4 m
Wing area 1,098 ft2
102 m2
Weight  
Empty 37,257 lb, 39,960 lb
16,800 kg, 16,900 kg
Loaded 68,200 lb, 68,342 lb
31,000 kg
Performance  
Speed @ 19,685' /
6,000 m
303 mph
488 kph
Speed @ 20,000' /
6,100 m
303 mph
488 kph
Climb 623'/minute
190 m/minute
Climb @ sea level 623'/minute
190 m/minute
Service ceiling 26,245, 26,250'
8,000 m
Range with Hs 293 missiles 3,400 miles, 3,418 miles
5,500 km
Armament  
Guns 2: 20 mm
3: 7.92 mm MG
3: 13 mm MG
Nose 1: 7.92 mm MG 81
Forward turret 1: 13 mm MG 131
Dorsal turret 1: 13 mm MG 131
Ventral gondola 1: 13 mm MG 131
1: 20 mm MG FF
Tail 1: 20 mm MG FF
Bombs 2,200 lb, 13,228 lb
1,000 kg, 6,000 kg
OR  
Missiles 2 under wing
2: Hs 293
  Heinkel He 177A-7
Dimensions  
Span 120'
36.6 m
  Heinkel He 274
Type High Altitude Bomber
Crew 4
Pilot, copilot / navigator / bombardier, gunners (2)
Engine (Type) 4: Daimler-Benz DB 603
Cylinders Inverted V 12
Cooling Water
Fuel capacity 1,805 - 2,450 gallons
Dimensions  
Span 145' 1"
44.2 m
Length 73'
22.3 m
Wing area 1,616 sq ft
150 sq m
Weight  
Empty 46,300 lb
21,020 kg
Loaded 79,400 lb
36,050 kg
Performance  
Speed at 39,360' /
12,000 m
310 mph
496 kph
Armament  
Turret - Nose 1: 13 mm MG 131
Turret - Fuselage 2: 13 mm MG 131
Bombs 8,800 lb
4,000 kg

Sources:

  1. Aircraft of WWII, General Editor: Jim Winchester, 2004
  2. Fighting Aircraft of World War II, Editor: Karen Leverington, 1995
  3. Aircraft of WWII, Stewart Wilson, 1998
  4. World War II Airplanes Volume 1, Enzo Angelucci, Paolo Matricardi, 1976
  5. Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook, Ensign L. C. Guthman, 1943
  6. Jane's Fighting Aircraft of World War II, 1989
  7. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, Chris Bishop, 1998
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site