Henschel Hs 124 (Kampfzerstorer) - Nazi Germany, 1936
Detailing the development and operational history of the Henschel Hs 124 (Kampfzerstorer) Heavy Fighter / Bomber Destroyer Aircraft.
Entry last updated on 1/16/2017; Authored by Staff Writer; Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
The Henschel Hs 124 lost out to the Messerschmitt Bf 110 twin-engine design in the lead-up to World War 2.
Many aviation concerns of pre-World War 2 Germany competed to have their submission selected by the rearming Luftwaffe (which still remained largely a secret branch in the early 1930s). From a 1933-1934 requirement calling for a "Kampfzerstorer" ("Battle Destroyer") heavy fighter came several designs of note from Messerschmitt, Focke-Wulf and Henschel. For the latter, the submission arrived in the form of the Henschel Hs.124, a twin-engined, multiple crew platform which impressed but was not pursued into a serial production form - that honor instead falling to the iconic Messerschmitt Bf 110.
Henschel engineers delivered a mid-wing monoplane arrangement in which each wing carried an engine nacelle along its leading edge and freed the centralized fuselage to contain the cockpit, crew positions, avionics, and fuel stores. Additionally, lacking an engine fitting in the nose meant that any gun battery installed here was given unobstructed views of a target / target area. All-metal construction was featured for a most modern approach and the fuselage given a deep frontal profile. Each engine would drive a three-bladed propeller. The tail unit formed a twin-fin arrangement which sat a central plane straddled on either side by vertical planes (similar to that as seen in the Bf 110). A "tail-dragger" undercarriage was used for ground running and the basic crew would include a pilot and radioman/machine gunner.
From this early design work came three distinct forms designated rather simply as "V1", "V2" and "V3". V1 fitted 2 x Junkers Jumo 210C 12-cylinder inverted Vee liquid-cooled inline engines of 640 horsepower each and intended to carry a nose-mounted, power-assisted turret outfitted with 1 x20mm Rhienmetall-Borsig autocannon. First flight was had in early 1936 but the nose turret was only in a mocked-up state as troubles with its development mounted.
Prototype V2 carried2 x BMW 132D 9-cylinder air-cooled engines of 850 horsepower each, a German copy of the American-made Pratt & Whitney "Hornet" radial. The nose-mounted turret was bypassed in this prototype with the nose reworked to an all-glazed shape featuring heavy framing - producing a "stepped" appearance in profile - and offering better visibility for a third crewman. This position was intended to mount 2 x 20mm cannons along gimbals and a single 7.92mm MG 15 machine gun was to round out the armament suite.
V3 intended to carry 2 x BMW 601A engines and had its crew reduced to two. Nose armament was the most impressive of the trio through 2 x 20mm cannons and 2 x 7.92mm MG 15 machine guns. However, availability of the intended 601A engines meant that the type was forced to rely on the 2 x BMW 132Dc radials of the V2 prototype instead, these outputting at 870 horsepower each.
During the flight testing phase, the aircraft responded with good agility for its size and it was an overall promising design on the eve of World War. However, with the Luftwaffe move away from the original Kampfzerstorer concept, the basic "Zerstorer" requirement was fulfilled by the Messerschmitt Bf 110 which went on to have a stellar wartime career. This shift left the Hs.124 to be cancelled with only the three prototypes completed.