Me 261 - any possible uses?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by wuzak, Mar 23, 2012.

  1. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

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    The Me 261 was originally designed as a long range record breaking aircraft, and was intended to transport the Olympic torch from Berlin to Tokyo for the 1940 games.

    Once war started it was put on a low priority.

    However, was there roles in which the Me261 could have been successful?

    Long range reconnaissance, perhaps over the Atlantic? Could it have performed a similar role to the Fw200 Condor? I haven't seen any mention of payload, and it's fuselage was small - though big enough for crew bunks. Also, didn't the Fw200 carry its bombs in the under fuselage gondola?


    Kay and Smith, German Aircraft of the Second World War suggest that further development was blocked because additional military equipment would require reduction the fuel that could be used, so reducing the range. But as the range was estimated at 11,000km, nearly 3 times that of the Condor, I would think it had plenty to give.

    Also, if used in the maritime reconnaissance/bombing role how much defensive armament would it require? In the mid Atlantic what armed allied aircraft would be able to catch the Me261 (top speed 385mph)?
     
  2. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    I can't think of a good wartime use for it. Adding some necessary armament would slow it down and the structure wan't designed for wartime use. The service ceiling was only 27,000 feet, so recomaissance would not be a good choice.

    Perhaps maritime patrol but, again, no armament ... so what does the Me 261 DO when it finds a target?

    I don't see it as useful, but perhaps I judge too harshly ... maybe it WOULD be useful for something. I just can't see for what, other than liaison, and I wouldn't want to ride in it if an Me 110 were available instead.
     
  3. Capt. Vick

    Capt. Vick Well-Known Member

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    Museum piece? I wish....
     
  4. Thorlifter

    Thorlifter Well-Known Member

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    With a Wiki reported range of 6,800 miles, couldn't it have been used for deep recon over the Atlantic? With a speed of 380mph in 1940, it could easily outrun any trouble it encountered.
     
  5. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

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    That's my thinking.

    Even if it doesn't carry any offensive load it could be used to direct U-boats to meet convoys.

    And even if range is reduced with additional military equipment there would be more than enough.

    Just wondering if a small bomb load could be carried interally, perhaps instead of crew bunks.

    I agree it could easily outrun any trouble it encountered - but what would that trouble be? B-24s? Sunderlands? Ferrying P-38s?
     
  6. norab

    norab Well-Known Member

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    Hurricats on CAM ships
     
  7. Thorlifter

    Thorlifter Well-Known Member

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    The Hurricats would not have been an issue, unless jumped by surprised, as the me-261 was 40mph faster. Being that it was already at speed and altitude, no problem.
     
  8. woljags

    woljags Active Member

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  9. Elmas

    Elmas Active Member

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    #9 Elmas, Mar 25, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2012
    Maritime patrol was vital for BdU and I think that Doenitz would have been more than delighted to have some dozen of Me 261 to find allied convoys....
    but......
    1st - to fix an accurate position (say within 50 nm) in an aeroplane in the middle of the Atlantic after 6 or 7 hours flying wasn't an easy task and submarines have by far legs too short to play hide and seek
    2nd - to fly over the sea with such unreliable engines for long hours certainly was not the best for the crew peace of mind
    3rd - the Luftwaffe had already far too many crates and far too few eggs....
     
  10. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

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    Apparently the Db606s and DB610s weren't as troublesome in the Me261 as they were on the He177.
     
  11. Elmas

    Elmas Active Member

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    #11 Elmas, Mar 25, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2012
    Probably because in the Me 261 they were "picked by hand" and perfectly matched and tuned..... but in operative squadrons, with large numbers and with the stress of a war use, I wouldn't bet a dime on those engines.....
     
  12. Siegfried

    Siegfried Banned

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    #12 Siegfried, Mar 26, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2012
    The distance between Berlin to Tokyo is 5545 miles. Using a polar route is not much worse.

    The political problem is avoiding flight over Russian airspace, not because of the danger of interception but because the Russians might become irritated enough to declare war on Japan.

    Leaving from Norways coast, eg Bergen would be somewhat less distance.

    Regular communication between Germany and Japan would have dramatically improve the transfer of technology as well as very high value materials (eg chromium, tungsten). Secret flights to Neutrals (eg Argentina) might also have been possible.

    The Germans had some excellent and sophisitcated radars with good anti-jamming systems though they fell behined between 43 and late 44 due to not having developed a microwave radar. The Japanese had one, as good as the British one, but just not sophsiticated in the signal processing side. Co-opperation would have been fruitfull. The Japanese could have benefitted from help with their troublesome coal to oil program.
     
  13. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Me-261 V3 prototype.
    Messerschmitt Me 261 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Maximum speed: 620 km/h at 3,000 m (385 mph at 9,840 ft)
    Range: 11,024 km (6,850 mi

    Ju-288A. 22 produced.
    Junkers Aircraft of WWII - Ju288
    645 km/h
    3,850 km range.
    Combat configuration. 3,000 kg internal payload. Defensive gun turrets. Armor.

    What can a Me-261 do that a Ju-288 cannot? The Me-261 carried no armor, defensive weapons or bomb load. Delete those items from a Ju-288 and you would probably equal Me-261 range while pushing max speed over 400 mph.
     
  14. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

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    Junkers Ju 288 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia lists the range as 2700km for the Ju 288B, using Db606s.

    Do you expect to quadrouple the range to match the Me261 with the same engines?

    Someone suggested that a brave soul would be reuired to climb on board a DB606 powered maritime patrol aircraft, but I'd suggest they would need to be even braver if it was powered by Jumo 222s.
     
  15. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

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    There weren't exactly "large numbers" of Fw200s in usefor maritime patrol.
     
  16. Elmas

    Elmas Active Member

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    I'm not talking of FW 200s: I know that they were in small numbers and plagued with structural problems, due to their civil ancestors.....
    I'm talking about the dozen Adolfines capable to fly for long hours, that Doenitz would have been probably delighted to send all over the Atlantic to discover the Allied convoys.... one thing is to prepare five or six engines to beat a world record, another is to service on the field hundreds of Db606s and DB610s.
    I can't see the Fiat AS 6 of the MC 72 mounted on a fighter in 1939......
    Unfortunately for the BdU there were for the Me 261 the three problems I've pointed before.
     
  17. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Let's make some quick calculations.

    .76kg per liter of gasoline.
    3000kg internal bomb load.
    .....Deleting the Ju-288 bomb load allows 3,947 liters of additional fuel.

    The Me-210 had about 400kg of protective armor. I'm going to assume the Ju-288 was similiar.
    .....Deleting Ju-288 armor allows 526 liters of additional fuel.

    How much do Ju-288 defensive weapons weigh? How about bomb sight, bomb racks and bomb bay machinery?

    It's not difficult to imagine a stripped down Ju-288 carrying 6,000 liters of additional fuel. Not sure how much additional range would be achieved but it should be quite a bit.
     
  18. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Ah, where do you put it?

    The Me 261s wing was designed to act as a giant fuel tank. For those of us who have not converted to metrics 6000 liters is 212 cubic feet or 7.85 cubic yards.

    The Me 261s wing was about a meter thick at the wing root, not including the fillet.
     
  19. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    Ranges between types are simply not comparable. You do not know the operating conditions of either type, whether it was an actual range or a theoretical range. For experimental types you cannot rely on operational history to determine true effetive ranges.

    The 6000 mile/km range for the me 261 is meaningless, the same as the range given for the Ju290.

    FW 200 had civil ranges able to cross the Atlantic. Under wartime conditions they could just reach a mid point between the north coast of ireland and the se tip of iceland. That gives a pretty good idea of just how badly range is affected by wartime conditions. It happens in every nationality and for every type

    Forget trying to work out operational ranges or published ranges for types that never entered large scale service. And in particulalr forget trying to compare the ranges of two such types. Its meaningless and pointless
     
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