Heinkel He 177
| Heinkel He 177 ： ウィキペディア英語版|
The Heinkel He 177 ''Greif'' ("griffin") was the only operational "four-engined", long-range heavy bomber to be flown in combat by the Luftwaffe during World War II. In general terms, the He 177 had payload/range capability similar to strategic bombers in the USAAF and RAF, although it had much higher cruise and maximum speeds.
Designed to a 1936 requirement known as Bomber A, the aircraft was originally intended to be a purely strategic bomber intended to support a long-term bombing campaign against Soviet industry in the Urals. During the design phase, Luftwaffe doctrine came to stress — unrealistically, for a 30-meter (100 ft) wingspan-class bomber airframe — the use of moderate-angle dive bombing in order to improve accuracy, and the design was extensively modified to allow shallow-angle "glide bombing". This change, along with the demand that it use only two fully nacelled "power system" engines to allegedly reduce drag for the initially demanded "glide bombing" capability, created numerous problems for the aircraft. Luftwaffe aircrew nicknamed it the ''Luftwaffenfeuerzeug'' ("Luftwaffe's lighter") or the "Flaming Coffin" due to the serious engine problems on initial versions. Many of these stemmed from the power plants' inadequately-designed and maintained installation in their wing nacelles,〔Price 2004, p. 162.〕 which caused cooling and ventilation problems which were never completely solved.
The type eventually matured into a usable design, but too late in the war to play an important role. It was built and used in some numbers, especially on the Eastern Front where its range was particularly useful. It is noted for its use in mass raids on Velikiye Luki in 1944, one of the few late-war heavy bombing efforts by the Luftwaffe. It saw considerably less use on the Western Front, although it played a role during the late-war Operation Steinbock, or "baby blitz", against the UK.
==Design and development==
In 1936 the company of Heinkel Flugzeugwerke received details of the new Bomber A specification from the ''Reichsluftfahrtministerium'' (RLM). This specification, first proposed by the RLM on 3 June 1936 – ironically, the same day that the main advocate for the Luftwaffe having a strategic bomber force, ''General'' Walther Wever, lost his life – called for an aircraft more advanced than the Dornier Do 19 or Junkers Ju 89 "Ural bomber" prototypes that ''General'' Wever had championed.〔 The ''Bomber A'' aircraft specification required the plane to carry a bomb-load of at least 1,000 kg (2,200 lb) over a range of 5,000 km (3,100 mi), with a maximum speed of not less than 500 km/h (311 mph) at altitude.〔Griehl and Dressel 1998, p. 8.〕
This was a formidable specification, calling as it did for an aircraft able to outrun any modern fighter – as was expected with the top speeds of the main force ''Schnellbomber'' concept – and outperform, by a considerable margin, any bomber then in service. On 2 June 1937, ''Heinkel Flugzeugwerke'' received instructions to proceed with construction of a full-scale mock-up of its ''Projekt'' 1041 Bomber A. That was completed in November 1937, and on 5 November 1937 it was allocated the official RLM airframe type number "8-177", the same day that the Luftwaffe High Command (OKL) stipulated that the new design should possess sufficient structural strength to enable it to undertake medium-degree diving attacks.〔Griehl and Dressel 1998, p. 9.〕 Heinkel Flugzeugwerke's estimated performance figures for ''Projekt'' 1041 included a top speed of 550 km/h (342 mph) at 5,500 m (18,050 ft) and a loaded weight of 27,000 kg (59,500 lb). In order to achieve these estimates, Heinkel's chief designer, Siegfried Günter, employed several revolutionary features.
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