The Henschel Hs 124 lost out to the Messerschmitt Bf 110 twin-engine design in the lead-up to World War 2.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited:
Credit: Image from the Public Domain.
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.
Crew 2 or 3
[ 3 Units ] : Henschel and Son - Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany (cancelled)
- Ground Attack
47.57 ft (14.5 m)
59.71 ft (18.2 m)
12.30 ft (3.75 m)
(Showcased structural dimension values pertain to the Henschel Hs 124 V2 production model)
9,370 lb (4,250 kg)
15,939 lb (7,230 kg)
(Showcased weight values pertain to the Henschel Hs 124 V2 production model)
2 x BMW 132Dc (Pratt & Whitney Hornet) 9-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engines developing 850 horsepower each.
(Showcased powerplant information pertains to the Henschel Hs 124 V2 production model)
270 mph (435 kph; 235 kts)
9,843 feet (3,000 m; 1.86 miles)
2,610 miles (4,200 km; 2,268 nm)
1,125 ft/min (343 m/min)
(Showcased performance values pertain to the Henschel Hs 124 V2 production model; Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database)
1 x 20mm cannon in power-assisted nose turret
2 x 20mm cannons in nose
1 x 7.92mm machine gun
2 x 20mm cannons in nose
2 x 7.92mm machine guns
6 x 220lb conventional drop bombs held in an internal bomb bay.
12 x 110lb bombs held at external hardpoints.
(Showcased armament details pertain to the Henschel Hs 124 V2 production model)
Hs 124 - Base Series Deisgnation
Hs 124 V1 - Initial prototype; 2 x Junkers Jumo 210C 12-cylinder inline engines fitted; 20mm cannon in powered nose turret.
Hs 124 V2 - Second prototype; revised, glazed-over nose section; 2 x 20mm cannons in nose; 1 x 7.92mm machine gun fitted; BMW 132 Dc radial piston engines of 850 horsepower fitted.
Hs 124 V3 - Third and final prototype; 2 x 20mm cannons in nose; 2 x 7.92mm machine guns fitted; BMW 132Dc engines of 870 horsepower.
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