Part of the German problem heading into the middle-to-later years of World War 2 (1939-1945) was the shipping lanes used to keep Allied forces resupplied in Europe from America and elsewhere. As such, these routes became battle zones for German aircraft, warships, and submarines to target, hoping to derail or halt any future deliveries of much-needed war-making goods. With this thinking came several novel approaches by German aircraft engineers like Alexander Lippisch to develop bomb delivery systems intended to combat surface ships. The Lippisch "Gleiter Bombenflugzeug" - or "GB" - was one of the promoted solutions but little ever came from the proposal before the end.
The purpose of the GB design was to supply the Luftwaffe with a cost-effective solution - the aircraft carried no internal powerplant, a utilitarian cockpit and relied on basic aerodynamics and controlling to see the mission through. At its core, it was a bombing glider that was to be attached to a "mothership" for its journey to the target. Aircraft like the Junkers Ju 88 / Ju 188 or similar bomber were slated to serve in the carrier role. Once near the target area, the GB would be released with the pilot controlling the high-speed diving action and bomb delivery from there. His return trip was to rely on the glider's inherent qualities as no method of official recovery was actually planned at this point - this most certainly would have limited the GB in terms of range and tactical value had it seen service in the war.
The design of the GB was rather simple yet unique. The pilot was held forward in a fuselage pod making up the cockpit. The aft end of the pod held a stem that ran aft which led to the tail control surfaces. The surfaces encompassed four planes arranged in a cruciform pattern that offered basic flight controls. There were swept-back wing mainplanes fitted to the fuselage pod which added the other necessary flight controls. Since the aircraft was to glide back to friendly territory under its own power, the fuselage could be kept quite compact and no undercarriage would be fitted (landing assumed to be accomplished by way of a belly skid in an open field). A large bomb - in the 1,000 kg range - would be slung under the fuselage of the GB.
In theory the GB attacker was to be released at an altitude of about 8,000 meters ahead of the target area. Diving from this altitude allowed the GB to reach speeds in excess of 800 miles per hour assuming the airframe could hold up to the pressures involved. Release of the aircraft would occur around 10 kilometers from the target in question and, once the war load cleared the dive bomber, a balloon held behind the cockpit would be slowly inflated and opened, retarding the high-speed fall of the GB to an extent.
While never pursued thoroughly this Lippisch design stands as one of the most unique of all the German wartime aircraft proposals. Its actual effectiveness in the grand scope of the war is left to the imagination but there were clearly many hurdles (both technological and operational) that would have to be cleared before the GB design could ever have been considered viable. At any rate, this showed the desperation brewing on the part of the Germans as the war closed in around Berlin. Its years of consistent successes on (and over) the battlefield were clearly behind it and it stood that designs like the GB had some chance in changing the German situation for the better.
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
✓Ground Attack (Bombing, Strafing)
Ability to conduct aerial bombing of ground targets by way of (but not limited to) guns, bombs, missiles, rockets, and the like.
✓Special-Mission: Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW)
Equipped to search, track, and engage enemy underwater elements by way of specialized onboard equipment and weapons.
✓X-Plane (Developmental, Prototype, Technology Demonstrator)
Aircraft developed for the role of prototyping, technology demonstration, or research / data collection.
28.5 ft (8.68 m)
13.5 ft (4.11 m)
6.1 ft (1.85 m)
5,512 lb (2,500 kg)
7,716 lb (3,500 kg)
+2,205 lb (+1,000 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the Lippisch GB production variant)
None. This aircraft was intended to be air-dropped via mothership.
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