Focke-Wulf Ta 400
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|Number built||incomplete prototype only|
The Focke-Wulf Ta 400 was a large six-engined heavy bomber design developed in Nazi Germany in 1943 by Focke-Wulf as a serious contender for the Amerika Bomber project. One of the first aircraft to be developed from components from multiple countries, it was also one of the most advanced Focke-Wulf designs of World War II, though it never progressed beyond a wind tunnel model.
Designed as a bomber and long-range reconnaissance plane by Kurt Tank, the Ta 400 had a shoulder-mounted wing with 4° dihedral. One of the most striking features were the six BMW 801D radial engines, to which two Jumo 004 jet engines were later added.
Design and development
In response to the RLM guidelines of 22 January 1942, Kurt Tank of the Focke-Wulf company designed the Ta 400 as a bomber and long-range reconnaissance aircraft, to be powered by six BMW 801D radial engines, to which two Jumo 004 jet engines were later added. Design work was begun in 1943, much of it being carried out by French technicians working for Focke-Wulf at Châtillon-sous-Bagneux near Paris, with contracts for design and construction of major components being awarded to German, French, and Italian  companies in an attempt to speed the process and begin construction of prototypes as soon as possible.
The Ta 400 had a shoulder-mounted wing with 4° dihedral, with a long straight center section extending to the middle engine on each wing, and highly tapered outer wing panels. It had twin vertical stabilizers mounted at the tips of the tailplane. Like the American Boeing B-29 Superfortress, the Ta 400 was to have a pressurized crew compartment and tail turret, connected by pressurized tunnel, as well as multiple remote-controlled turrets. The crew of nine was to be protected by a heavy defensive armament, including ten 20 mm MG 151 cannons; and the same Hecklafette quadmount tail-turret with four MG 131 machine guns, as the later model Heinkel He 177A-series aircraft and He 177B bombers would have used. Fuel supply was to have distributed across 32 fuel tanks. Another design feature was tricycle landing gear.
The maximum bomb load was to have been 24 t (53,000 lb). With a gross weight of 80.27 tonnes (177,000 lb), the Ta 400 with DB 603 engines was estimated to have a range of 12,000 km (7,500 mi) in the reconnaissance role, cruising at 325 km/h (202 mph). The two bomber versions would have 76.07 tonnes (83.85 short tons) and 80.87 tonnes (89.14 short tons) gross weights with estimated ranges of 4,500 km (2,800 mi) and 10,600 km (6,600 mi) respectively. The projected Jumo-powered aircraft would have had a maximum range of 14,000 km (8,700 mi) for long range reconnaissance and 13,000 km (8,100 mi) as a bomber.
As with the Heinkel He 277 competitor for the Amerika Bomber contract, no prototype of the Ta 400 was ever built. It never progressed beyond a wind tunnel model, and performance, range and dimensions here are based solely on the designers' estimates. The master aircraft designer Ernst Heinkel himself remarked in October 1943, while both designs were still being worked on, that he thought that only the Ta 400 could be a worthy competitor to his firm's He 277, for the Amerika Bomber competition.
The Ta 400 was essentially a backup design for the Messerschmitt Me 264. As the design required more materials and labor than the Me 264, the RLM became convinced that further development of the Ta 400 was a waste, and on 15 October 1943 notified Focke-Wulf that the program would be terminated, but the minutes of a meeting in Italy of Tank with Italian aviation industrialists on 18 April 1944 — just two days before the entire He 277 program was also cancelled — confirmed that work on the design was still ongoing and proposed the cooperation of Italian industry in the project.
Specifications (Ta 400, estimated)
Data from
- Crew: nine
- Length: 28.7 m (94 ft 2 in)
- Wingspan: 45.8 m (150 ft 3 in)
- Gross weight: 60,000 kg (132,277 lb)
- Powerplant: 6 × BMW 801D 14-cyl. air-cooled twin-row radial piston engines, 1,300 kW (1,700 hp) each
- Powerplant: 2 × Junkers Jumo 004 turbojet engines, 8.8 kN (2,000 lbf) thrust each
- Maximum speed: 720 km/h (447 mph; 389 kn)
- Range: 9,000 km (5,592 mi; 4,860 nmi)
- 10,000 kg (22,000 lb) to 5,589 miles
- 24,040 kg (53,000 lb) max.
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
- Boeing B-29 Superfortress
- Heinkel He 277
- Junkers Ju 390
- Messerschmitt Me 264
- Nakajima G10N
- Victory Bomber
- Uziel 2012, p.48-49
- "Kurzbeschreibung Focke-Wulf Ta 400 Fernkampfflugzeug - Heckstand" (PDF). deutscheluftwaffe.de (in German). Focke-Wulf Flugzeugbau, Bremen. October 13, 1943. p. 11. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 24, 2015. Retrieved January 3, 2016.
(in German)Der Schwerpunkt der Abwehr feindlicher Angriffe liegt bei dem bemannten Vierlings-Heckstand HL 131 V, der von der Firma Borsig entwickelt wurde. Der Stand hat hydraulischen Antrieb und bei gleichzeitigem Richten von Höhe und Seite eine maximale resultierende Richtgeschwindigkeit von 60°/sec. Der Schwenkwinkelbereich beträgt +/- 100° in horizontaler und +/- 60° in vertikaler Richtung. Die Munition ist in 4 Kästen zellenseitig untergebracht und wird durch Gurtfördermotoren dem Stand zugeführt. Die Schußanzahl beträgt pro Lauf ~1000 Schuss.
- Griehl 2006, pp. 60–61.
- Griehl, Manfred; Dressel, Joachim (1998). Heinkel He 177 - 277 - 274. Shrewsbury, UK: Airlife Publishing. pp. 197–199. ISBN 1-85310-364-0.
- Griehl 2006, p. 138.
- Griehl, Manfred; Dressel, Joachim (1998). Heinkel He 177 – 277 – 274. Shrewsbury, UK: Airlife Publishing. p. 203. ISBN 1-85310-364-0.
- Griehl 2006, p. 138.
- Uziel 2012, p. 48
- "Kurzbeschreibung Focke-Wulf Ta 400 Fernkampfflugzeug - Heckstand" (PDF). deutscheluftwaffe.de. Focke-Wulf Flugzeugbau, Bremen. 13 October 1943. p. 11. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 August 2015. Retrieved 3 January 2016.
- Griehl, Manfred. Luftwaffe over America. London: Greenhill Books, 2006. ISBN 978-0-7607-8697-0.
- Herwig, Dieter and Heinz Rode. Luftwaffe Secret Projects: Strategic Bombers 1935-45. Earl Shilton, UK: Midland Publishing, 2000. ISBN 1-85780-092-3.
- Uziel, Daniel. Arming the Luftwaffe: the German aviation industry in World War II . McFarland, US, 2012. ISBN 978-0-7864-6521-7.
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