TM-E 30-451 Handbook on German Military Forces

[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.]



1. Aircraft

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 FW 190 into a fighter-bomber.

(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 the ME 109, the FW 190 is a larger, cleaner plane. Its armor, armament, and simplified electrically operated controls are essential features that make it an exceptionally good medium-altitude fighter. It also is extensively used as a fighter-bomber with a normal bomb load of 550 pounds.

(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 (ME 210 and 410) encountered production difficulties, and these aircraft have not proved very successful as twin-engine fighters or been operational in large numbers. However, the German Air Force has adopted two of its long-range bombers as twin-engine fighters, the JU 88 and the DO 217. The fighter version of the JU 88 appeared in 1941, and this type since has been used in increasing numbers, now constituting a very substantial part of the German twin-engine fighter force. The DO 217 fighter is used primarily for night fighting, but has not achieved the success of the JU 88. Generally speaking, the night fighter branch of the German Air Force has constituted its most effective arm throughout the war.

(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 JU 88 is currently the most formidable German night fighter. It is relatively fast, heavily armed, and well protected. This type is employed for intruder and ground attack operations in addition to night fighting.

(2) Dornier 217. Likewise a modified bomber model, the DO 217 is used as a night-fighter, but has not proved as effective as the JU 88 in this category.

(4) Ground attack aircraft. The original JU 87 "Stuka" dive bomber, while still in limited use for night ground attack duty, has been largely superseded by faster single-engine fighters, equipped with bomb racks and known as fighter-bombers. The latter aircraft, of which the FW 190 is the best example, have the greater speed and maneuverability required by all ground attack operations without the necessity of strong fighter escort. The ME 262 jet plane also is being used for this type of operation.

(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 are the JU 88, DO 217 and HE 111.

(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 HE 111, also are employed frequently for heavy transport duty.

(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 DFS 230, GO 242 and ME 321. Principal powered gliders are ME 323 and GO 244.

(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 JU 88 and the ME 109, but there is no reason to believe that other similar types could not be adapted for this purpose.

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 (ME 163). It is a very fast, single-seat fighter. Although it has only a single power unit, it has a remarkable rate of climb. Because of its present limited endurance, to date it has seen comparatively little use, particularly in forward areas.

(b) The Messerschmitt 262 (ME 262), a twin-unit, jet-propelled aircraft, has proved to be the most successful of the German jet or rocket types thus far developed. Employed as a fighter, as a ground-attack or low-level bomber, and for reconnaissance duties, it is the most versatile of the jet or rocket aircraft yet introduced by the Germans.

(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 (AR 234) and Heinkel 280 (HE 280). Both of these aircraft are somewhat similar to the Messerschmitt 262 in appearance and are expected to be about equal in performance.

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 BV 138 for reconnaissance in the Norway and Denmark areas is the principal duty performed by this type of aircraft. Other types, such as the HE 115 and AR 196, are employed for general reconnaissance and liaison with the various naval testing units operating in the Baltic Sea, and for the performance of air/sea rescue service. In addition, naval aircraft such as the BV 222 are occasionally used for marine supply and transport duty.

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 Heinkel 280.

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).

3. Armament

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 Model 108 30-mm cannon, a new weapon in aircraft armament, to FW 190's, ME 262's, ME 110 G's and ME 109 G's stands out as a great advancement, in terms of striking power. A detailed discussion of the various types of aircraft armament can be found in Chapter VII, Section IX.

4. Armor

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.
        HWM—High Wing Monoplane.
        MWM—Mid-Wing Monoplane.
        TT—Twin tails.
        TB—Twin tail booms.

        Table: Fighters
        Table: Bombers
        Table: Transport and Glider Tugs
        Table: Gliders
        Table: Reconnaissance and Army Cooperation
        Table: Navy Types


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