Thursday, December 31, 2020


German aircraft designs were consistently among the most advanced and successful of the war. Of all the nations, Germany was the first to begin to make significant use of jet aircraft, although these nevertheless came too late in the war and in insufficient quantity to have a decisive effect on the course of the air war. The Luftwaffe (German air force) had a few advocates for the production of large four-engine bombers, most notably the prewar chief of staff general Walther Wever. However, with his death in April 1936, the idea of a strategic role for the Luftwaffe also died, and the German air force instead adopted the basic doctrine that bombers should be used tactically to support the ground troops directly by striking targets on or near the battlefield. By the time the war began, German bombers were used strategically to bomb civilian targets, especially London and other English cities during the Battle of Britain. However, because of prevailing Luftwaffe doctrine, Germany, unlike the United States and Great Britain, produced no significant four-engine bombers. Abortive plans were made for the “Amerika” bomber, a spectacular aircraft of intercontinental range, but nothing came of the project.

The Stuka. Perhaps the most infamous of Germany’s bombers was the single-engine Junkers Ju87, better known as the Stuka. Designed in the mid-1930s, the Stuka was a dive bomber, which deployed its 1,100-pound bomb load not from level flight but from low altitude, near the end of a sharp 80-degree dive. This ensured surgical accuracy of the strike. By 1942, it was even fitted with a single 4000-pound bomb, which was used against heavy tanks. After striking its target with bombs, the Stuka often circled around to strafe survivors with its three 7.9-mm machine guns. The aircraft was also fitted with sirens, so-called Jericho trumpets, which produced a truly terrifying scream during the high-speed dive. Thus, the weapon produced as much panic and terror as physical destruction.

Stukas were deployed with great effect in the invasion of Poland, the Battle of France, and the invasion of the Soviet Union. However, after these early operations, the 238-mile-per-hour, poorly maneuverable Stuka proved increasingly vulnerable to fighter attack and was reconfigured in 1942 as the Ju87G-1, a dedicated antitank aircraft.

The Ju87B-2, best known of the Stuka iterations, was powered by a single 1,200-horsepower Jumo 211 Da engine and had a wingspan of 45 feet 3 1/3 inches, a service ceiling of 26,250 feet, and a range of 490 miles. It could be configured to carry a maximum of four individual bombs. About 5,700 Stukas were completed before production ended in 1944.

Germany’s other significant bombers were twin-engine medium bombers and included the following.  

Heinkel He111H-3. Crewed by four or five, the Heinkel first flew in early 1939. It was powered by two Junkers Jumo 211D-2 V-12 engines, each making 1,200 horsepower for a top speed, empty, of 258 miles per hour. Range was 745 miles and service ceiling 25,590 feet. The plane’s wingspan was 74 feet 1 3/4 inches. It was heavily armed with 7.92-mm machine guns in the nose cap, in the dorsal position, in a ventral gondola, in waist windows, in a fixed forward-firing position, in the side of the nose (could be operated by the copilot), and in the tail. The plane also had a 20-mm cannon on a fixed mount in the front part of the ventral gondola. Bomb load was up to 4,410 pounds.

Junkers Ju88A-4. A very successful design, 14,676 were built in all versions. About 9,000 were configured as medium bombers. The rest were configured mostly as night fighters. The versatile aircraft was used throughout the war, beginning with operations in Poland in 1939 and against just about every enemy Germany fought. The Ju88A4 version was capable of operating as a level bomber, a dive bomber, and a torpedo bomber. Generally, the bomb load consisted of 10 50-pound bombs loaded internally with as many as four bombs of various types fixed to hard points under the wings. A pair of torpedoes could also be mounted under the wings. Wingspan was 65 feet 10 inches, and the plane was driven by a pair of 950-horsepower Junkers Jumo 211 F engines. Top speed was 292 miles per hour, ceiling 26,900 feet, and range 1,106 miles.

Dornier Do 217K/M. The Do 217 series of bombers became operational in March 1941 and represented a significant advance over the Do 17. In addition to serving as a level bomber, the Do 217 could be configured as a night fighter, a torpedo bomber, and a reconnaissance aircraft. By August 1943, the aircraft was also being used to carry anti-shipping missiles, and by September, it was delivering guided bombs against warships. Production reached 1,905 of all types, including some 1,366 level bombers. The Do 217K and M versions were crewed by four and powered by two 1,700-horsepower BMW 810D 14-cylinder radials (K) or two 1,750-horsepower Daimler-Benz DB603A inverted V12s (M). Top speed was 320 miles per hour, service ceiling 24,600 feet, and range 1,430 miles. Wingspan was 62 feet 4 inches, and, for the M version, armament consisted of four 7.92-mm and two 13-mm machine guns with a bomb load of 8,818 pounds; the K version added two underwing FX-1400 Fritz X radio-controlled bombs, two FX-1400 bombs, or two Hs 293 missiles.

Junkers Ju188E-1. Produced in reconnaissance (designated D) and bomber versions (designated E), the Ju188 series was crewed by five and first flew in 1940. About 1,100 were produced during the war. The Ju 188E was powered by two BMW 801G- 2 18-cylinder two-row radials, each producing 1,700 horsepower for a top speed of 310 miles per hour. Service ceiling was 31,510 feet, and range was 1,211 miles. Wingspan was 72 feet 2 inches. Typically, the aircraft was armed with a single 20-mm cannon in its nose and three 13-mm machine guns, one in a dorsal turret, one manually aimed from the rear dorsal position, and one manually aimed from the rear ventral position; in some configurations, twin 7.92-mm machine guns were substituted for the last position. Typical bomb load was 6,614 pounds loaded internally, or two 2,200- pound torpedoes under the wings.

Heinkel He177A-5. This was the largest bomber Germany actually deployed, with a wingspan of 103 feet 1 3/4 inches and a bomb load capacity of 13,228 pounds. It was powered by two massive 3,100-horsepower Daimler-Benz DB610 coupled engines. This design feature was an innovative attempt to reduce drag, but it created severe reliability problems that often resulted in engine fires. Fully three-quarters of the preproduction prototypes crashed; 1,146 were produced, and while the 3,100-mile range was badly needed by the Luftwaffe, the airplanes were not very effective as strategic bombers. They were used with moderate effectiveness in an antitank role. Top speed was 295 miles per hour and service ceiling 26,500 feet. Armament consisted of one 7.92-mm machine gun manually aimed in the nose, one 20-mm machine gun manually aimed in the forward ventral gondola, two 13-mm machine guns in a front dorsal turret, one in the aft dorsal turret, and one 20-mm cannon in the tail position.

Arado Ar234B-2. Of greater historical than practical significance was the Arado Ar234B-2, the world’s first jet bomber, which became operational at the end of November 1944, too late to have any impact on the course of the war. Powered by a pair of BMW 003A-1 jets, each developing 1,764 pounds of thrust, the Arado had a top speed of 461 miles per hour and could carry 4,409 pounds of bombs over a 1,000-mile range. Service ceiling was 32,810 feet. For defensive purposes, the Arado carried two 20-mm cannon. Only 210 were built.

German fighter designs were generally more successful and more innovative than its bomber designs. The two most important fighters were the Messerschmitt 109 series and the Focke-Wulf 190 series.  

Messerschmitt 109. The Messerschmitt 109 first flew in October 1935, powered by British Rolls- Royce Kestrel engines. The aircraft entered Luftwaffe service in spring 1937 and received its baptism of fire in the Spanish civil war. By the beginning of World War II, the aircraft existed in a number of variants, and 1,000 were deployed against Poland in September 1939. The 109 was superior to most other fighters at the outbreak of the war but was fairly evenly matched with the British Spitfire and Hurricane in the Battle of Britain. It did have one very significant advantage over these rivals, however. Its fuel injection system allowed for a constant fuel flow even in negative-g conditions, which meant that a pilot could dive or shear away much more quickly than his opponents. This added significantly to the plane’s survivability. Counterbalancing this advantage, however, was the 109’s limited range—a 300-mile operating radius for the 109G. This gave the fighter precious little combat time over relatively remote targets such as those in England.

Some 109 variants had a cannon placed in the hollowed-out nose cap. In early models, this created an unacceptable level of vibration, which, however, was eliminated in later versions. Additionally, most of the fighters were fitted with two wing-mounted cannons and two machine guns mounted on the top of the nose cone that were synchronized to fire through the propeller arc. The 109G, introduced in 1942, was powered by a Daimler- Benz DB605 1,475-horsepower engine to a top speed of 387 miles per hour at 23,000 feet. Wingspan was 32 feet 6 1/2 inches. The backbone of the Luftwaffe, some 30,000 109s were built before the end of the war.

Focke-Wulf Fw 190. Superior even to the formidable Messerschmitt 109 was the Focke-Wulf Fw 190, which made its first flight on June 1, 1939. It first saw action in the Battle of France in September 1941 and was markedly superior to the British Spitfire. Most Fw 190s were the A series, powered by a single BMW 801 2,100-horsepower radial engine. However, late in 1943, the D was deployed against U.S. bombers, powered by the Jumo 213 inline, liquid-cooled engine, which developed only 1,770 horsepower but had improved performance, producing a top speed of 426 miles per hour, 18 miles per hour faster than the A version. In all, some 20,000 Fw 190s of all types were built before the end of the war. Wingspan of the D type was 34 feet 5 1/3 inches, and armament consisted of two 20-mm wing-mounted cannon and two 13-mm machine guns in the nose. Range was 520 miles and service ceiling 40,000 feet.

Messerschmitt Bf 110. The twin-engine Messerschmitt Bf 110 made its first flight in May 1936. With all-metal construction and a crew of three, the aircraft was powered by two Daimler Benz DB 601 engines, each making 1,100 horsepower and propelling the plane to a maximum speed of 336 miles per hour over a range of 680 miles. Wingspan was 53 feet 4 inches, and armament consisted of five machine guns and two 20-mm cannon. Formidable as all this seems, the aircraft performed poorly in the Battle of Britain. This prompted a redesign with the inclusion of radar, which transformed the Bf 110 into the Luftwaffe’s finest night fighter. In all, nearly 6,000 Bf 110s were produced before the end of the war. 

Jet and rocket-propelled fighters. Late in the war, in 1944, Germany introduced both jet- and rocket-propelled fighters. The Messerschmitt 163B was powered by a single Walter rocket motor developing 3,700 pounds of thrust and capable of reaching 590 miles per hour at 20,000 feet. Range, however, was extremely limited. Armed with two 30-mm cannon and 24 R4M rockets, the 163B had a wingspan of 30 feet 7 inches. Very few were produced. More significant, however, was the jet-powered Messerschmitt 262A, with two Junkers 004 jets, each making 1,980 pounds of thrust, mounted under the wings. Top speed was 540 miles per hour over a range of 420 miles. Armament was limited to four 30-mm cannon. The aircraft was designed primarily to attack Allied bombers, which it did very effectively. Had the aircraft been introduced earlier and in much greater numbers, its impact on the air war over Europe would have been profound.

Further reading: Brown, Eric. Wings of the Luftwaffe: Flying German Aircraft of the Second World War. Shrewsbury, U.K.: Airlife, 2001; Donald, David, ed. German Aircraft of World War II. Minneapolis: Motorbooks International, 1996; Griehl, Manfred. German Jets of World War II. London: Arms & Armour, 1989; Gunston, Bill. An Illustrated Guide to German, Italian and Japanese Fighters of World War II: Major Fighters and Attack Aircraft of the Axis Powers. London: Salamander Books, 1980; Gunston, Bill. World War II German Aircraft. London: Book Sales, 1985; Kay, Antony L., and J. R. Smith. German Aircraft of the Second World War. Annapolis, Md.: United States Naval Institute, 2002; Shepherd, Christopher. German Aircraft of World War II. London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 1975.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Operational History Me 210

 Messerschmidt Me-210A-1

Deliveries to frontline units started in April 1942, and the plane proved to be even less popular with pilots. Production was stopped at the end of the month, by which time only 90 had been delivered. Another 320 partially completed models were placed in storage. In its place, the Bf 110 was put back into production. Although the Bf 110 was now equipped with the newer DB 605B engines and greater firepower, it was still an outdated design.

The Me 210 never quite acquitted itself as a sound fighting platform and total production yielded only 258 flyable aircraft. Thought was already being given to an altogether different version, the Me 310, but only one prototype of this design was completed with a first flight had on September 11th, 1943. Armament was to remain the same as in the Me 210 but engines were switched to the DB 603A series inline. However, the aircraft showed little improvement over the Me 210 which led to yet another follow-up design in the "Me 410" (detailed elsewhere on this site). The Me 410 was adopted by the Luftwaffe and saw serial production figures reach 1,189 units before the end - the problems encountered in the Me 210 nearly all solved in the newer offering.

For its time in the war, the Me 210 had a disastrous run as a frontline fighter. Deliveries began in April of 1942 but practical use showcased the design's many inherent flaws to the point that manufacture of the product was halted before May - forcing the now-outclassed Bf 110 to keep its place in the Axis inventory for a time longer. The Me 210C saved the line some with its new engine fit and airframe modifications but this stock only numbered a few hundred in Luftwaffe service - as many as 108 being received.

The Luftwaffe started receiving their Hungarian-built planes in April 1943, and the Hungarians in 1944; when they entered service they were more than satisfied with them. Production ended in March 1944, when the factory switched over to produce the Bf 109G. By that time, a total of 267 Me 210C had been built, 108 of which had been given to the Luftwaffe. They operated mostly in Tunisia and Sardinia, and were quickly replaced by the Me 410.

Me 210
While this work went ahead, many modifications were made to the dozens of Me 210s that were available. Existing A-1 and A-2 aircraft were fitted with the new rear fuselage and slats and issued to 16./KG 6 and later to III/ZG 1, the latter unit also receiving many A-1s and A-2s which Messerschmitt received permission to complete in late 1942. These saw action in Sicily, Tunisia and Sardinia. Following tests with an A-0 fitted. with DB 605B engines, the Me 210C was put into production at Duna (Danube) aircraft works for both the Luftwaffe and Hungarian air force, using DB 605B engines made by Manfred Weiss. Meanwhile there were schemes to replace the MG 131 barbettes, which were troublesome, one featuring twin 20-mm MG 151 cannon fixed to Messerschmitt Me210/Me410 Museum fire to the rear and aimed by the pilot via a tall aft-facing periscopic sight. A few Me 210B reconnaissance aircraft were built, and Blohm und Voss fitted seven A-1s as tandem dual trainers (the back-seater, of course, facing forward).

    Luftwaffe operated 90 German-built Me 210A and 108 Hungarian-built Me 210 Ca-1.
        Eprobungsgruppe(A) 210 (first testing unit)
        Versuchstaffel 210
        3./SKG 210
        16./KG 6
        1.,2.(F)/Aufkl.Gr.122 (Me/DAF 210C-1 user)
        FAGr 122
        Stab/AG 22
        II.,III.,7.,8.,9./ZG 1 'Wespe' (Me/DAF 210C-2 [Ca-1] user)
        10./ZG 26 (Me/DAF 210C-2 [Ca-1] user)
        I.,II./NJG 1
        NJG 101

As is customary in the Luftwaffe to test a new type of fighter plane, a Erprobungsstaffel 210 is set up in Lechfeld in May 1942. It is renamed 16./KG 6 and moved to Soesterberg (Netherlands) on 31 August, still under orders of the Oberleutnant Walter Maurer, this time to evaluate the new machine under operational conditions. Her initial staffing is 9 devices. His beginnings are not placed under the best auspices because this Staffel loses two planes, descended by Typhoon above Yorkshire on 6 September, including that of her Kapitän, taken prisoner this one is replaced by the Oberleutnant Walter Lardy. Two other aircraft are lost (of which one to the enemy) in the course of the following week!

With only 5 machines left, the Staffel is grounded until 20 September, when it is transferred to Beauvais-Tillé under the name of 11./ZG 1. Its existence is ephemeral, since, after a crossing to Chinisia (Sicily) to be engaged beyond Tunisia, it was dissolved at the end of November 1942 to form Erprobungsstaffel 410; in the meantime, she lost her Staka, Oberleutnant Friedrich Plank, who was reported missing south of Tunis on 29 November. On October 2, 1941, the 3./SKG 10 left the Eastern Front for Landsberg am Lech (Bavaria) to be processed on Me 210 A-0. At the end of the month, she went back to Tchaikovka in order to participate in the operation "Taifun aimed at the capture of Moscow. It is the only squadron of I./SKG 10 to have received Me 210; gathered in Lechfeld (Bavaria) on January 4, 1942, this Gruppe is fully refitted in Bf 110 under the new name of I./ZG 1 Hauptmann's IlI./ZG 1 Wilhelm Hobein hits his first 17 Me 210 in October 1942 in Trapani (Sicily); two months later, this Gruppe is fully equipped with this new device. In June 1943, he began to collect Me 410. The loss of 7 machines to the enemy since Castel Veltrano sounds the death knell of Me 210 in this unit; it disappears from its inventory at the end of July 1943. 10./ZG 26 (Oberleutnant Peter Habicht) settled in Foggia (Sicily) with an allocation of Me 210 on 29 October 1942; in February 1943, it is folded on Lechfeld to be transformed on Me 410. The 2. (F) / 122, unit of recognition placed under the orders of Oberleutnant Dirk Lütjens, receives 4 Me 210 A-1 in December 1942, to which will be added another 10 before this type is removed from circulation in June 1943 in favor of Me 410. Used over Tunisia since Trapani, they will lose four of their aircraft in combat and five in of various accidents. On the other hand, contrary to what is generally accepted, we found no trace of Me 210 at StablAufklärungsgruppe 122.

Other Me 210 A-1s will be assigned to front-line units, including those planned to be converted to Me 410, but none will participate in war missions.

    Royal Hungarian Air Force operated 179 Hungarian-built Me 210 Ca-1. The type was relatively successful against Russian planes and last Me 210s were destroyed by their crew at Parndorf (Hungarian: Pándorfalu) after the fall of Hungary March 1945 due to the lack of fuel and spare parts.
        1° and 2° RKI Század "Villám" (Evaluation wing), RKI (Hungarian Aviation Institute)
        5/1.Légi Század "Bagoly" (NF Sqn)
        102.Gyorsbombázó, 102/1.Század "Tigris"
        102.Gyorsbombázó, 102/2.Század "Sas"
        102.Gyorsbombázó, 102/3.Század "Villám"

The production and development of the Me 210 multirole aircraft in Hungary
During the development of the reconnaissance variant, the original long-range-reconnaissance factory designs were changed, and on many parts of the plane they made simplifications. With changing the plane’s design, there were an opportunity to place more cameras on the plane. Under the plane’s nose they built an observation tub and the bomb chamber was removed. This tub contained 5 high performance observation cameras and the observation officer. At the long-range-reconnaissance variants – to increase the plane’s range – a spare fuel tank got place. The short-range reconnaissance variants had only two copies, the first one’s flight was in 1943. October 1st, the second one was ready by December. The long range-reconnaissance variants had three copies. Further development was cancelled due to the factory relocation. (After all, in 1944.May 30th, by the decision of the Hungarian-German production workgroup, the complete Me 210 production was considered as finished. In the future, the factories only polished and finished existing main parts, and they built planes only from existing parts until November. However, this had an influence of further developments.)

A night-fighter variant was also built. The 16 night-fighter variants didn’t have radar, but they had the German BAKE blindlanding equipment and the 5/1 Night-fighter wing had these planes. In night-fighter role it was a great advantage, that the Me 210 had an excellent cockpit view in every direction. However, the planes correct flying and the big surface loading wasn’t an easy task at night or in bad weather. There was an attempt to build a Hungarian made radar – on the model of the FUG. X radar – called Turul, however, we know very little about it. (Turul is the name of the Hungarian’s Holy Bird.)

The General Staff insisted on the Turul radar system which was capable of fulfilling night-fighter role tasks. The Philips firm was entrusted to produce the EC-103 tube equipped radar. The only one copy – prototype – that could be built into the plane – Me 210 night-fighter – the RKI (Planes’ Testing Institute) built in and flew a test flight with it in Várpalota. In The Me 210 related radar technics development the decreased radio electronic detection to the enemy was reassuring. By experimental purposes they made an equipment with an oscillator that can be tuned, which equipment’s wavelength was variable, making harder to detect to the enemy.

It’s worth to say some words about the Hungarian Me 210 unique signs. Due to economic reasons the country – Hungary – couldn’t afford to produce different engines than in the plane producing specifications. Fortunately, the Me 210 Ca-1’s and the Bf 109 G’s engine is the same DB 605 engine. The Hungarian made Me 210 Ca-1’s engine’s build design was the same as the German one, which didn’t had a career due to the Me 410. So, the main difference int he German and Hungarian variants was the differing engine’s built-in methods.

The DB 605 engines produced 1075 HP at 2300 RPM, and produced 1475 HP at 2800 RPM. This performance could be higher with MW-50 injection reaching 1650 HP for two minutes. The engines mortice stroke was 154x160 mm, and the mortice capacity was 35,7 litres, geometric compression rate was 7,5:1, weight was 725 kilograms. Both cylinder heads had a camshaft, with two intake and two exhaust on each cylinders. The valves were controlled by swipes. The valve shafts were filled with natrium to be more heatproof against high exhaust gas temperature. The cylinders were equipped with shaded spark plugs. The injection system was the Bosch system, with 270 kg/cm2 injection pressure. This engine with automatic pressure-management and centrifugal high-altitude compressor could operate up to 5700 metres without performance drop. The compressor’s one stage centrifugal system RPM change was done by an automatic, barometric, dual hydraulic switch, that modifies the transmission between 7,5 and 10,2 according to engine loading, RPM, oil temperature and current flying altitude. The charger pressure was 1,42 atmosphere at landing and for cruising speed. The crankcase was cast from a single unit, its material was aluminum. The pistons materials were forged light metal. However, the WM (Weiss Manfréd) DB 605 engines had the same problems as the gliders. They always had difficulties and slippage during the productions. According to the international agreement, the first engines must have been ready until 1942 August, however, the engines were ready only in October. The Hungarian engineers suggested six implementations during the production of the engine, which all six implementations were accepted by Germany.

Together with the production difficulties, due to the engine’s novelty there were also aerodynamic issues. The plane had serious problems with length stability problems and to solve this according to German designs the Hungarian variants fuselage was lengthened. This change was beneficial during at take offs as well. The Me 109, especially it’s G and K variant commonly known tended to brake out during somebody opened out the throttle. Due to the common engine and airscrew this problem appeared at the first German „short fuselage”  Me 210, which was a problem thanks to the relatively high weighed airscrew, furthermore the airscrews’ unfavourable placement according to the airscrews’ rotating flat’s hub. By lengthening the fuselage, the vertical stabilizer was placed further than the airscrews’ rotating flat’s line, which was beneficial not only in aerodynamics, but in using the rudder to prevent the brake out. However, lengthening the fuselage caused hub issues, to solve this engineers used slightly swept wings (four degrees back ). Despite the developments, the Me 210 still remained a plane that needed big patience. The trouble-free adaptation and accident free training needed different standards. Only those people could be trained to Me 210s who had Ju-87 grade card, had twin engine aircraft grade card, furthermore, had dive bomber and blind flying grade cards. The cautiousness of the institutes’ pilots was understandable, because the Me 210’s landing and takeoff attributes were unknown in the Hungarian Royal Airforce. They had to learn how to use the flaps, a sudden application of flaps could cause an immediate stall and spin, so after the plane took off the minimum height where they were allowed to raise the flaps was 150 metres.

The variant had a complex armor protection, which contained altogether 27 smaller-bigger 5 mm armor plates in majority. The engine hood’s pectoral had armor, the oil tank’s forward looking part had armor, the oil cooler upper and lower parts and the tubes to the oil cooler had armor, the cockpit’s nose part had armor, the pilot seat furthermore the places behind the pilot and the observation officer, and some other important instruments also had armor. There was an armored windscreen in front of the pilot. The fuel tanks were self-sealing. Thanks to the two engines and the extensive armor, the plane had the sufficient survivability for military tasks. On the Hungarian variants together with lengthening the fuselage, the lack of bottom armor improved the flying characteristics, with less weight.

Evaluating the Hungarian Me 210 development program
The Hungarian Royal Airforce fought until the end of World War II with the Me 210.  With different tasks and missions, the air force achieved 13 aerial victories. They flew their last sortie in 1945. May 20th. The remaining planes were burnt up in the Austria (Oesterreich) Pandorf. With the burnt-up planes not only a historical era, but an industrial era was ended as well. At the same time, the results that was achieved during the production of the Me 210 are still significant. Altogether 1 copy in 1942, 57  copy in 1943, 214 copy in 1944, until 1944. November 15, 272 copies were built – 110 for Germany and 160 for Hungary. The Hungarian variants had numbers from Z.001 to Z 160. In 1944 November-December Hungary gave 19 Me 210 Ca-1 fast bombes to Luftflotte 4. Altogether, 174 Me 210s were in Hungarian service. The number of DB 605 engines were produced in 1942 were 10, in 1943 about 550, until the end of 1944 November 650, altogether nearly 1200 DB 605 engines were built. The German Me 210 had 385 copies, meanwhile the Me 410 had 1030 copies.
"The type's original quick bomber variant had a total of 1000kg bombload.

In theory, it could carry the German produced HE (SC 1000), HE-frag (PC 1000) or multiple-charge (SB 1000) bomb variants. These 1t bombs were available on the Royal Hungarian Army's depots. The most commonly used bomb was however the 250 kg HE-frag bomb, but sometimes they used 500kg cluster bombs too.

The actual development started in 3 ways: in short term, they wanted to develop a heavy fighter, a photo-reconnaissance and a night fighter variant. The most advance of these was reached with the heavy fighter variant. In this case, the pressure on the developers was high, because the allied air superiority started to be threatening, and there was a burning need for a fighter that can deal with bombers. The original theory was that the fighter needs to be able to engage the bombers outside of their gunners' effective range. To achieve that, the advanced Hungarian variant of the Me-210 was armed with unguided rockets. These blocks were modified from the 15cm Nebelwerfer 6-rocket blocks (used by the Royal Hungarian Army as well), to have 3 rockets per block, one block per wing. However, these rocket blocks caused high drag, so in this case, they needed to be jettisonable in case of an aerial fight. This modification was finished in March 1944. To further increase the firepower, with the help of the engineers of the Military Technology Institute, a 40mm autocannon was built in to the bomb chamber. The weapon was attached to the attachment points in the bomb chamber, the loading was the duty of the radio operator (gunner). To lead off the recoil, the cannon's second attachment point was on the main frame beam. According to calculations, the cannon was able to open fire at 1000-1200m range., and a few direct hits should destroy a 4-engine bomber. The 40mm variant of the plane was ready in 1944 June, shooting range tests were done by August. However, because the factory moved out from the country, mass production was never started. The 40mm cannon armed Me-210 was handed over to the RHAF (Royal Hungarian Air Force) in 1944. October 5th.

The reconnaissance variant was developed from the original German long range recon variant, where the engineers simplified a lot of things. With the modification of the blueprints, they were able to equip more cameras. An observation chamber was made in the nose of the plane, and the bomb chamber was removed. The observation chamber gave place to 5 high performance cameras and the observing officer. In the long range recon variant, an extra fuel tank was built into the back part of the bomb chamber.

A night fighter variant was built as well. The 16 Me-210s were built without a radar, but they had the German BAKE blind landing equipment.

There was a proposal to equip the type with the Hungarian produced "Turul" radar (based on the German FUG X radar). 1 prototype of the Me-210 Ca-1s was equipped with the radar, and a test flight was done with it by the Flight Test Institute at Várpalota. From the radio technology addicted to the Me-210, the most advanced one was a plane equipped with a variable frequency oscillator to possibly jam the enemy radars used for spotting. 

The Hungarian produced Me-210 variants were powered by the stronger DB605B engines  instead of the original DB601F engines, which gave 80 more HP per engine, and the Hungarian Me-210s got the 3 feather VDM propeller unit of the Bf-109 Gs, which were also produced in Hungary. The WM DB605 engine at 2300 RPM provided 1075 HP, at 2800 RPM provided 1475 HP, with MW50 methanol-water injection, it could provide 1650 HP for a short amount of time. ATA was 1,42 atmosphere at take off and emergency power.

The original Me-210 blueprints were altered to solve the tail resonance problem, a longer tail section was equipped, and to match the change of the centre of mass, the wings were swept back by 4°.
The type had a complex armor layout with 27 separate armor plates, most of them 5mm thick."

Me 210 Ca-1 specification:
    Maximum speed on height:               560      km/h  on 5000 metres
    Rate of climb:                                      20     minutes to 6500 metres
    Twin DB 605 engines
    Take off speed:                                  270     km/h
    Wingspan:                                         16,4   metres
    Height:                                                3,4   metres
    Length                                             12,96   metres
    Structural weight:                   5400-6400      kgs
    Maximum take-off weight      8200-9400      kgs
    Maximum useful load ability           1600      kgs
    Maximum bomb-load                        1000      kgs        ( with maximum fuel load )
    Wing area                                           36,2    m2
    Service ceiling                                 10500      m
    Range                                        1600-2000      m
        2x 20mm MG 151 cannons
        2x 7,92mm MG 17
        6 unguided rockets under wings - 3-3 under each wing
        40mmL/60 Bofors anti-air cannon - on some late variants
        2x 13,2mm backward firing MG131 cannons controlled by a gunner via remote control

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Dornier Night Fighters

Conversion of the Dornier Do 17Z bomber into a long-range intruder and heavy night fighter followed the Luftwaffe's realisation in 1940 that the RAF was beginning a determined, if rather haphazard, night bombing offensive against Germany. Thus, the experimental three-seat, twin-engine Do 17Z-7, code-named Kauz (Screech- Owl), was produced to trial the idea. The former bomb-aimer's position in the nose was replaced by a solid fairing accommodating three 7.9mm MG 17 machine guns and one 20mm MG 151 cannon. Flight-tests proved the modification would work in spite of the aircraft's size and nine Z-10 Kauz IIs followed, each with an armament of four MG 17s and two MG 151s. These were delivered to 2 Staffel of Nachtjagdgruppe 1 formed on June 28, 1940.

Often over looked during the Battle of Britain is the valiant attempts by the British RAF Bomber Command to counter the German Luftwaffe bombing with its own raids.   Suffering as heavily as the Germans, they switched to nighttime bombing as a way to avoid fighters.   Indeed, it was an accidental night bombing raid by the RAF bombers that saved England from defeat!   The Luftwaffe needed something to stop RAF bombers at night. They chose the Bf-109D, Me-110C, and Do-17Z's. This choice is a strong affirmation of the 17's potential as a nimble and fast fighter (passing over the Ju-88C for some reason), creating arguably the first custom built (rather then simple modification) night fighter!  These 'bombers' now became the test beds and foundation for all future night fighter designs; anything used by "Nachtjäger" squadrons was first tested on a 17Z or 215B-5.   The first 17Z-6 "Kazu" (Screech Owl) conversions ironically used an Ju-88c nose section, but was this was awkward and quickly changed to an original design, and renamed the 17Z-7.   There is a report of a Do-17P also being pressed into this roll. Still not satisfied with the performance, a new design built from experience with the early prototypes was created, resulting in the successful 17Z-10 "Kazu II". These were stripped of all excess weight and all but one defensive MG15, and then armed with 4x MG17 7.92mm machine guns and 2x MG/FF 20mm cannons and a first of its kind "Spanner-Anlage" Infrared searchlight and Detector (modern day FLIR).   The first 2 night fighter kills made by the new "Nachtjäger" force are credited to Do-17Z's shooting down 2 Wellingtons on 23 July 1940 (the day after NJG1's official creation).   After perfecting the designs with the 17Z's, the Luftwaffe then modified at least 20 of the faster 215's toward the end of 1940 (it is believed).   Airborne radar was not available until mid-1941, so the first non-radar equipped 215B-5 "Kazu III" could top 500kph (310mph), faster then most Ju-88's!   The leading night ace who flew 17's and 215's during this time was nicknamed "Dr. Night"; Ludwig Becker tallied 46 kills before he himself was shot down (in a ill planned daylight attack using Bf-110).   A 17Z-10 "Kazu II" was also used in developing airborne radar and the "Schrage Music" weapon system which was soon installed in 215B-5's, but that reduced its top speed to around 485kph.   The Do-17/215-night fighters served nearly two years before replaced by other aircraft types (Me-110, Ju-88c, Do-217, He-219).

17Z-6 = questionable if it was a night fighter, but whatever its use it was converted from a Z-3.
17Z-7 = Kauz I' 1 or 2 converted from Z-2.
17Z-10 = Kauz II' about 9 converted from Z-2; at least one had radar, possibly a Schrage Music testbed!
215B-5 = Kauz III' 20 converted from B-1 and B-4's; radar installed sometime later.
"Kauz" means "screech owl" in English.

The first 2 kills claimed by the Luftwaffe's newly formed Night Fighter squadron (NJG1) was made by Do-17Z-10's over a pair of Wellingtons.   It is important to note that NGJ1 did have Ju-88c's at their disposal, as well as Bf-109 and Bf-110's, so it is intriguing that the Do-17 was chosen as the lead platform for developing nightfighting hardware and tactics. Over time NJG1 continued to convert more Do-17's and then Do-215's, despite the fact its Ju-88c could have just have easily been chosen instead. In the latter half of 1940, the RAF's night bombing was making a mark so it was a priority project to counter this nuisance (note the accidental bombing of Berlin and Hitler's reaction), thus it is reasonable to assume they would use the best equipment to counter it, not "obsolete and surplus" Do-17's, a very interesting and telling fact on the performance of the type!   The first version, the 17Z-6, used the nose of a Ju-88c, but this marriage was not ideal, so a new nose was made, but used the same weapons.   The 17Z-7 was not satisfactory either, so an entirely new nose was made, with nearly double the armament of the 88c, the 17Z-10, and that was the arrangement used in all future versions.   A logical conclusion is that the 17 was far from out classed in 1940, and could still provide good service.

Fitted with the early FuG 202 Lichtenstein airborne radar and a Spanner infra-red searchlight, the third conversion was a Do 215B-5, named Kauz III. This was in use until mid-1942 when the larger, more powerful Do 217J-1 arrived with 4./NJG 1. The prototype of this fighter conversion of the Do 217E-2 bomber few in late-1941 and with a formidable armament of four 20mm and four 7.9mm guns, great hope rested on its arrival in service. Hope turned to despair when the crews experienced the type's poor maneuverability, insufficient power from the BMW 801 engines and that old problem which plagued a number of German designs, a weak undercarriage.

While Ju 88s and Bf 110s made up the bulk of the night-fighter force, Dornier persevered and with the J-1s relegated to training it delivered the Lichtenstein radar-equipped Do 217J-2 for service from early-1943. This proved marginally better but it was still too heavy and with the radar antenna cutting the speed down to less than an RAF Halifax bomber, it had limited success.

Another attempt was made with the Do 217N-1 which few on July 31, 1942. Re-engined with 1,750hp Daimler-Benz DB 603As it entered service late that year and showed much-improved performance. Additional to the nose armament, some aircraft received upward-firing cannon in the centre fuselage which allowed the German pilots to fly under the bomber and attack its unprotected belly, an arrangement also adopted for use in Bf 110s and Ju 88s.

With the new weaponry the Do 217N-2 entered service in spring 1943 but lasted less than a year before withdrawal from use. Production of all versions totalled 364.