World War II Vehicles, Tanks and Airplanes, picture of P-51 Mustang
World War II Vehicles, Tanks and Airplanes, picture of T-34/85
World War II Vehicles, Tanks and Airplanes, picture of Fw-190
World War II Vehicles, Tanks and Airplanes, picture of Churchill
wwiivehicles.com ©2016
Search:
German BalkenkreuzGermany's Balkenkreuz aircraft marking

Germany's Messerschmitt Me 321 transport glider

Photos

  • Messerschmitt Me 321 glider
  • Messerschmitt Me 321 glider

Design

The Messerschmitt Me 321 was designed to be a glider to supply troops during invasions.1,2 It was to carry a company of troops, a gun, or a tracked vehicle.3

The Me 321 was made of welded steel tube and fabric or plywood covering.1,3

There were rockets that assisted with takeoff.4

Crew

Initially the pilot had to be very strong to control the glider as there were no assistants and no power.3 Later there was a crew of three.3

Prototype

The Me 321 prototype first flew on March 7, 1941.1,3

Production

Production ended in April 1942.1

  • Messerschmitt Me 321: 2001, ~2002
    • Me 321A-1: 11

Variants

  • Messerschmitt Me 321A-1: Pilot model.1 Had multiple wheels on each side.3
  • Messerschmitt Me 321B-1: Larger cockpit for two pilots.1 Had two wheels each side.3

Usage

The Me 321 was towed by three Messerschmitt Bf 110s4 or the five engine Heinkel He 111Z.1 The Me 321 could also be towed by a Junkers Ju 290.2 To assist in takeoff some Me 321s had rocket boosters (9,000 lb of thrust2) attached.1,3,4

When taking off from rough terrain the Me 321 couldn't get enough lift from the tow plane(s) to get off the ground.2

Eastern Front

The Me 321 was first used on the Eastern Front in late 1941.1 It was used in delivering supplies to the rear areas and in assaults in the Baltic area.1

Specifications

  Messerschmitt Me 321
Type Heavy transport glider1
Cargo 21 tons4
21,380 kg4
Dimensions  
Span 180' 5.5"1
55 m1
Length 93' 4"1
28.45 m1
Height 31' 6"1
9.6 m1
  Messerschmitt Me 321B
Performance  
Towing speed 112 mph1
180 kph1
Gliding speed 87 mph1
140 kph1
  Messerschmitt Me 321B-2
Crew 31
Cargo 48,500 lb1
22,000 kg1
Weight  
Empty 26,896 lb1
12,200 kg1
Loaded 74,956 lb1
34,000 kg1

Sources:

  1. Aircraft of WWII, Stewart Wilson, 1998
  2. World War II Airplanes Volume 1, Enzo Angelucci, Paolo Matricardi, 1976
  3. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, Chris Bishop, 1998
  4. Jane's Fighting Aircraft of World War II, 1989
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site