In the years leading up to World War 2 (1939-1945) the German Luftwaffe mistakenly neglected heavy bomber types while its future enemies pushed several classic designs through. When the war arrived in Europe, the Luftwaffe was forced to make do with a collection of medium-class bombers like the Dornier Do 17, the Junkers Ju 88 and the Heinkel He 111 (all detailed elsewhere on this site). The push for heavy bomber platforms came much too late for the service, particularly as air superiority changed in favor of the Allies and the German focus landed squarely on defensive-minded fighters and interceptors.
It was in 1944 that BMW began work on an all-new in-house turbojet engine which was intended to see considerable operational service through an all-jet bomber force being planned by the Luftwaffe for 1947. To help sell aeronautical engineers on the merits of the new, more powerful and reliable engine, company personnel arranged four heavy bomber conceptual designs based on the upcoming BMW 018 system. The power afforded by a collection of these engines theoretically allowed for greater payloads taken over longer distances than seen in conventional prop-powered bombers like the American Boeing B-17 "Flying Fortress, the Consolidated B-24 "Liberator", and the British Avro Lancaster. The BMW intent was not to deliver a new bomber to the Air Ministry, per se, but rather sell a design that would rely on the engines it would be making.
One of the four designs fleshed out by BMW engineers was the "Strahlbomber I". It utilized a swept-back wing planform (the wings shoulder-mounted on the fuselage), a single vertical tail fin and no horizontal tailplanes. The cockpit - seating two crew (assumed back-to-back) - was fitted at the extreme front end of the fuselage with fuel, avionics, bomb stores and the like installed in the center-aft section of the airframe. The fuselage tapered towards the tail in the usual way and proposed armament became 2 x 30mm MK 108 rear-facing cannons intended to counter the threat posed by trailing intercepting aircraft. It would mostly be aimed by way of periscope or similar in-direct method and fired remotely by the rear crewman.
The Strahlbomber I had to fit all six of its engines into the design so two were paired within each wing and aspirated through a shared intake built into the wing leading edges. The engines exhausted from the wing trailing edges in individual exhaust rings. The remaining set of turbojets were then positioned well-forward, straddling the nose / cockpit section of the aircraft, which was thought to improve aircraft and crew survivability.
Beyond its proposed defensive armament scheme, the Strahlbomber I held little beyond its speed to escape an optimistic intercepting enemy - the bomber was estimated a maximum speed of 510 miles per hour with the original 003 engine set, and this was assumed to be faster once the more powerful 018 units were in play. Range was another estimated quality, this reaching out to 1,600 miles or more with a modest bomb load in tow and a service ceiling going beyond 30,000 feet was envisioned - necessitating a pressurized cabin for the crew.
Internally, the bomber was to hold provision for up to 8,000 lb of conventional drop bombs. This could be reduced some to improve operational range. At any rate, the aircraft would have clearly outclassed its prop-driven Allied bomber counterparts and then some through both bombload and over-battlefield capability.
With that said, the Strahlbomber I never materialized into any viable mockup or prototype form. It served as intended - a selling measure for a BMW product. The 018 was never readied before the end of the war in Europe came during May of 1945 and the existing work on the engine was captured and dissected by the Americans in the months following.
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(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.
✓X-Plane (Developmental, Prototype, Technology Demonstrator)
Aircraft developed for the role of prototyping, technology demonstration, or research / data collection.
60.7 ft (18.50 m)
86.9 ft (26.50 m)
16.4 ft (5.00 m)
36,376 lb (16,500 kg)
50,045 lb (22,700 kg)
+13,669 lb (+6,200 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the BMW Strahlbomber I production variant)
ORIGINAL: 6 x BMW 003 turbojet engines developing 1,764 lb of thrust each; LATER: 4 x BMW 018 turbojet engines developing 7,500 lb of thrust each.
(Showcased performance specifications pertain to the BMW Strahlbomber I production variant. Performance specifications showcased above are subject to environmental factors as well as aircraft configuration. Estimates are made when Real Data not available. Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database or View aircraft by powerplant type)
2 x 30mm MK 103 cannons in rear-facing position to be fired remotely.
Up to 8,000lb of conventional drop stores carried internally.
(Not all ordnance types may be represented in the showcase above)
Hardpoint Mountings: 0
Strahlbomber I - Base Project Name
P.1 - Project One.
Ribbon graphics not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective aerial campaigns / operations / aviation periods.
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