[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department Technical Manual, TM-E 30-451: Handbook on German Military Forces published in March 1945. — Figures and illustrations are not reproduced, see source details. — As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. — Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]
CHAPTER X. GERMAN AIR FORCE
Section V. EQUIPMENT
a. CONVENTIONAL TYPES. (1) General. The decision of the German Air Ministry to concentrate on mass production of a few selected types has led to the development of versatile aircraft capable of performing several duties. Therefore, certain types of aircraft fall into more than one category; i.e., the Junkers 88 is both a twin-engine fighter and bomber. The German Air Force has relied chiefly on the Focke-Wulf 190, Messerschmitt 109, and Junkers 88 to perform the major part of all fighter, day and night bomber, and reconnaissance missions. During the course of the war, however, improvements became necessary, and many sub-types have been produced. It was important to prevent these changes from interfering seriously with production schedules, and especially to avoid the substitution of entirely new types. Therefore most of the improvements consisted of modernizations and adaptations of existing types rather than the creation of completely new models. The most favored improvements were the installations of more powerful engines, additional armament, and heavier armor plate. When these modifications did not achieve the desired end, the plane's structure was changed. One of the outstanding weaknesses of early German planes—their lack of defensive armament and protective armor—received increased attention, and in many cases has been adequately remedied.
(2) Single-engine fighters (a) General. The German single-engine
fighter force is made up of only two plane types—the Messerschmitt 109 and
the Focke-Wulf 190. Both types are produced in several versions and series, but the
basic design of each has remained unchanged. Improvements have been achieved mainly
by installation of more highly powered engines and heavier armament. The principal
developments in these fighters have been the introduction of special high-altitude
versions and the conversion of the
(b) Important operational aircraft. (1) Messerschmitt 109. This plane was the standard single-engine fighter at the beginning of the war. At present, it is one of two standard single-engine fighters and is used primarily for high-altitude defensive duties.
(2) Focke-Wulf 190. This is the first single-engine fighter in the Air Force
to use an air-cooled, radial engine. Of a more recent design than
(3) Twin-engine fighters. (a) General. The Germans started the war
with but one operational twin-engine fighter, the Messerschmitt 110. Attempts
at introducing improved models (
(b) Important operational aircraft. (1) Junkers 88. Similar in
appearance to its bomber prototype, except for the metal-panelled nose, the
fighter version of the
(2) Dornier 217. Likewise a modified bomber model, the
(4) Ground attack aircraft. The original
(5) Multi-engine bombers. The long range bomber force has been relegated
to a minor role in German Air Force operations. Allied fighter superiority, combined
with the necessity of increased German fighter production, largely has restricted
bomber activities to mine laying and occasional night bombing. Principal types used
(6) Transport planes. Although a pre-war model, the Junkers 52 three-engine,
low-wing monoplane is still the standard freight and troop carrying transport of
the German Air Force. It also is used extensively for carrying and dropping parachute
troops and as a glider tug. Other operational transport types include the six-engine
Messerschmitt 323 and the four-engine Junkers 290. Converted bombers, such as the
(7) Gliders. Gliders are of two types: powered and tow. Both resemble a conventional monoplane, but the tow glider lacks an engine and landing gear. The tow glider generally uses wheels during take-off and then jettisons them, subsequently landing on a skid. Both types of gliders are equipped with landing flaps and dive brakes, as well as navigation and landing lights.
The principal types of tow gliders are the
(8) Army cooperation and reconnaissance aircraft. The standard type of Army cooperation plane, typified by the Henschel 126, has proved very vulnerable to modern fighters and antiaircraft fire. This has resulted in the employment of converted fighters, sufficiently fast, maneuverable, and armed to undertake short-range reconnaissance without fighter protection. Such conversion usually consists of replacing some of the armament with cameras. Recent development of high-speed jet aircraft has furnished the German Air Force with a highly desirable reconnaissance plane.
b. GERMAN COMPOSITE OR "PICK-A'BACK" AIRCRAFT. This innovation, still in the
experimental stage, consists of a multi-motored plane with a large amount of
explosive in the nose, surmounted and controlled by a single-engine aircraft. The
latter directs the former in a dive towards the target and then releases
it. Thereafter its operation is apparently by remote control. The usual
components observed have been the
c. JET- AND ROCKET-PROPELLED. (1) General. The perfection and application of jet and rocket propulsion as motive power for aircraft are outstanding German aeronautical developments of the current war. To counter this new type aircraft, if it is employed on any appreciable scale, might well necessitate a general revision of defensive and offensive aerial tactics. Required changes or improvements also might extend to include ground defenses against attacks by these aircraft. To date the Germans have not employed jet or rocket aircraft on a sufficient scale to permit full and accurate assessment of their characteristics and possibilities. Those currently in use, however, appear to possess significant advantages over conventional types. In level flight, dives, and rate of climb all known conventional types have been surpassed by aircraft with this type of motive power. The propellerless power unit is capable of operation on the lowest grade fuels, and the absence of many intricate parts, necessary in conventional types, probably greatly simplifies assembly and repair methods.
(2) Types. Operational types of German jet and rocket aircraft thus far have been limited to those powered by single or twin-units. They have been employed to date as defensive fighters, as ground-attack or low-altitude bombers, and for reconnaissance. For the latter purpose they have proved to be very effective because of their speed.
(a) The only rocket-propelled aircraft known to be operational by the German
Air Force is the Messerschmitt 163 (
(b) The Messerschmitt 262 (
(c) Other German twin-unit jet aircraft, either currently operational on a
limited scale or expected to become operational in the near future, are the
Arado 234 (
d. NAVAL AND MARINE. At present, naval and marine aircraft are operated by
the German Air Force on a limited scale. The use of the
2. Power Units
a. ENGINES. The German Air Force has equipped practically all operational aircraft with engines manufactured by three large companies: Daimler-Benz (D.B.); the Bayerische Moteren Werke (B.M.W.); and the Junkers (Jumo). The trend of aeronautical engine development has been toward more powerful engines with increased altitude performance. German aero-engine designers have obtained this by modifying existing engines to use GM-1 (nitrous oxide) and MW-50 (methanol injection) apparatus and, in certain instances, by coupling two existing engines together. Lack of time for experimentation with new engines has led to the modification of existing types which could be more quickly put into service in war time.
b. JET PROPULSION UNITS. An outstanding achievement in the field of aircraft
power units has been the development of jet propulsion, an example being the
Junkers Jumo 004. This unit often is referred to as a jet-propulsion turbine,
or turbo jet. Propulsion is developed through the reaction to ejected hot gases
which have been created by compressed air igniting with liquid fuel. As these
gases pass out to the vents they traverse a turbine, which in turn operates
the air compressor. Original momentum of the turbine is created by an auxiliary
engine which disengages when the turbine has developed sufficient speed to
create the required compression. German aircraft using jet propulsion turbines
include the Messerschmitt 262, Arado 234 and
c. ROCKET-PROPULSION UNITS. A closed unit in which fuel is burned or gasified, a rocket does not require air from the atmosphere for combustion. The gases leave through a nozzle at the rear to provide thrust by jet propulsion. Fuels are of three types: solids, (e.g., cordite); two liquids, one a fuel, (e.g., gasoline), and the second an oxidizing agent (e.g., liquid oxygen); or a single liquid with or without liquid as a catalyst, (e.g., hydrogen peroxide with potassium or sodium permanganate).
The Germans started the war with only a few types of aircraft armament, in
order to standardize manufacture and achieve large-scale production. As the
war progressed, improvements became necessary and many changes and additions
have been made. In addition to increasing the rate of fire, muzzle velocity,
and caliber of aircraft armament, the number of guns on German Air Force
fighters has been greatly increased. The addition of
The armor protection in German planes varies in thickness from 4 to 20 mm. The total weight per plane may vary from 100 pounds or less in some army cooperation types to over 1,000 pounds for a ground-attack plane. The demands of modern warfare have necessitated increased protection of the pilot as well as of the engine and accessory equipment. Other crew members are normally protected by plates on the sides and floor of the plane.
5. Tabulated Data
Specifications given are for the principal types in current operation. The following type abbreviations are used:
LWM—Low Wing Monoplane.
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