Despite the oft referred to term “Arsenal of Democracy”, regarding America’s ability to produce war materials, I would insist that it was the grace of God that we were able to overcome the obstacles posed by our unpreparedness at the outbreak of WW II. In making this post, I had to refer to my memory of statistics found in long out of print books, and substantially more accurate accounts of events during WW II. Revisionist history is starting to unnerve me.
I made a post about the ME-262; In making this post, we have to make three suppositions. One, that the Germans in general, and Hitler in particular, had not been so arrogant, thinking that they would win the war before such advanced weapons would be needed.
Two, that they took into consideration America’s industrial ability to produce; unencumbered by any threat of attack to prevent them in their efforts.
Three, and crucial to the strategic aspects of winning, that Hitler would have not decided to invade Russia, but consolidated their conquered territories, regrouped the Wehrmacht, trained new pilots, and allowed his military to mount another assault against England with these fighters; in particular against the RAF airfields, and other tactical targets, not against the civilian population.
The terrible consequences toward our war effort would have been unthinkable.
The Me-262 was a pure interceptor. It was over 100 mph faster then the P-51-B which first escorted bombers to Berlin in the spring of 1944. Had its development, necessary refinements and production not been impeded, this interceptor, with already seasoned pilots, and its four 30mm cannon would have been available en masse by late 1942. Catastrophe would have awaited any B-17 formations that dared to enter German airspace in 1943. This also presupposes that England would not have been invaded and taken out of the equation.
The Bendix gun turrets employed on the B-17’s couldn’t even track the 262; moreover, at the start of 1943 the formidable, but short ranged P-47’s were not yet available. Consider that they suffered over 20 percent losses in two separate raids on Schweinfurt, in mid and late 1943.
These were made against the ball bearing works; we’re talking ten men to a Fort, so 10X the sixty plus bombers lost each time equals over 600 men on one mission.
But this grim possibility becomes even worse; a little known swept wing jet designed by the makers of the Focke-Wulf 190, (I wonder whether the Soviets used this as a template for their Mig-15) might also have been made available; this was an adept, potentially deadly dogfighter, attributes the ME 262 lacked; it was far more suited to the hit and run tactics of fast interceptors, like the famed P-38 Lightning.
This aircraft never made it past the first designs; God’s grace again in play, when one contemplates the consequences if, in addition to the Me-262, this fighter had reached production in say, late 1943. the videos below are of RC models of this aircraft, and just as a comparison, one of the ME 262.
More info on the TA 184 included after the videos.
In early 1944, the Reich Air Ministry (RLM, for Reichsluftfahrtministerium) became aware of Allied jet developments, and were particularly concerned that they might have to face the Gloster Meteor over the continent. In response, they instituted the Emergency Fighter Program which took effect on July 3, 1944, ending production of most bomber and multi-role aircraft in favour of fighters, especially jet fighters. Additionally, they accelerated the development of experimental designs that would guarantee a performance edge over the Allied designs, designs that would replace the first German jet fighters, the Messerschmitt Me 262 and Heinkel He 162.
Development of the Ta 183 started as early as 1942 as Project VI, when the engineer Hans Multhopp assembled a team to design a new fighter, based on his understanding that previous Focke-Wulf design studies for jet fighters had no chance of reaching fruition because none had the potential for transonic speeds. The aircraft was intended to use the advanced Heinkel HeS 011 turbojet, although the first prototypes were to be powered by the Junkers Jumo 004B. Early studies also included an optional 1,000 kgf (10 kN) thrust rocket engine for takeoff and combat boost, much as the special “003R” version of the BMW 003 jet engine was meant to use, with fuel and oxidiser for up to 200 seconds of burn time stored in drop tanks under the wings.
The wings were swept back at 40° and were mounted in the mid-fuselage position. The wings appear to be mounted very far forward compared with most designs, a side-effect of attempting to keep the centre of pressure (CoP) of the wing as a whole as close to the middle of the fuselage as possible. Reflecting the dilemma of a shortage of strategic materials, the first option of using aluminum in the construction of the main spar consisting of two tapered I-beams attached together on the top and bottom with shear webs of thin steel sheeting, led to a reappraisal. Multhopp chose to use wood instead of metal throughout the wing structure, with wood structure ribs attached to the front and back of the I-beams to give the wing its overall shape, and then covered with plywood. The box-like structure contained six fuel cells, giving the aircraft a total fuel load of 1,565 l (413 US gal).
The original design used a T-tail, with a notably long vertical stabilizer and a seemingly undersized horizontal stabilizer. The vertical tail was swept back at 60°, and the horizontal tail was swept back and slightly dihedralled. The horizontal surface’s small “elevator” surfaces were used only for trimming, the main pitching force being provided by the ailerons, which were well behind the center of gravity — their trailing edges’ tips virtually even, horizontally, with the intended HeS 011 jet engine’s exhaust orifice — and thus could provide both pitch and roll control, functioning as elevon control surfaces, as Messerschmittt’s Me 163 tailplane-less Komet rocket fighter already did. Many problems beset the project, including the chance of a Dutch roll. Work therefore concentrated on the much less problematical Focke-Wulf Project VII. However, when the RLM eventually rejected that design, Huckebein was again brought to the fore.
The Ta 183 had a short fuselage with the air intake passing under the cockpit and proceeding to the rear where the single engine was located. The pilot sat in a pressurized cockpit with a bubble canopy which provided excellent vision. The primary armament of the aircraft consisted of four 30 mm (1.18 in) MK 108 cannons arranged around the air intake.
It was also possible to carry a bomb load of 500 kg (1,100 lb), consisting of one SD or SC 500 bomb, one BT 200 bomb, five SD or SC bombs or a Rb 20/30 reconnaissance camera. The weapons load would be carried in the equipment space in the bottom of the fuselage and thus partially protrude about halfway from the fuselage, possibly allowing for other armament packages such as the Ruhrstahl X-4 wire-guided missile.
Multhopp’s team also seriously explored a second version of the basic design, known as Design III, a modified Design II (it is unknown what Design I referred to). The first of these had only minor modifications, with slightly differently shaped wingtips and repositioning of the undercarriage. The second version had a reduced sweepback to 32°, allowing the wing and cockpit to be moved rearward. The tail was also redesigned, using a short horizontal boom to mount the control surfaces just above the line of the rear fuselage. This version looks considerably more “conventional” to the modern eye, although somewhat stubby due to the short overall length of the HeS 011.
The second of these two schemes was entered in the official competition ordered by the Oberkommando der Luftwaffe at the end of 1944. On 28 February 1945, the Luftwaffe High Command examined the various Emergency Fighter proposals and selected the Junkers EF 128 to be developed and produced; the Focke-Wulf team gained second place. However, in the last few weeks of the war, it was decided that the Huckebein was really the best design and, at a meeting in Bad Eilsen, Tank was told to arrange mockups and to plan for full production. It had a planned speed of about 1,000 km/h (620 mph) at 7,000 m (22,970 ft) and it was estimated that 300 aircraft per month would be delivered when production got into its stride, each aircraft being produced in 2,500 man hours.
A total of 16 prototypes were to be built, allowing the tail unit to be interchanged between the Design II and III variations. Of the Versuchs (experimental test series) aircraft, the Ta 183 V1-V3 were to be powered by the Jumo 004B turbojet with somewhat lengthened rear fuselages to accommodate them, pending delivery of the HeS 011 jet engine. The Ta 183 V4-V14 were intended to be A-0 series pre-production aircraft and V15-V16 were to be static test aircraft. The first flight of the aircraft was projected for May 1945, but none was completed by 8 April 1945, when British troops captured the Focke-Wulf facilities.
Specifications (Ta 183, as originally designed)
Creek, Eddie J.; Smith, J. Richard (1982). Jet Planes of the Third Reich. Boylston, MA USA: Monogram Aviation Publications. pp. 384–387. ISBN 0-914144-27-8.
Length: 9.40 m (30 ft 10-1/4 in)
Wingspan: 10.00 m (32 ft 9-3/4 in)
Height: 3.86 m (12 ft 8 in)
Wing area: 22.5 m² (242.2 ft²)
Empty weight: 2,830 kg (6,240 lb)
Loaded weight: 4,300 kg (9,481 lb)
Powerplant: 1 × Heinkel HeS 011 turbojet, 13 kN (2,700 lbf)
Maximum speed: 955 km/h (593 mph)
Service ceiling: 14,000 m (45,935 ft)
Rate of climb: 20.4 m/s (4,020 ft/min)
Wing loading: 196 kg/m² (41 lb/ft²)