The Messerschmitt concern of Germany delivered for World War 2 (1939-1945) some of the most iconic fighters of the conflict. Their most famous product became the Bf 109 but the twin-engined Bf 110 proved itself serviceable throughout the war and the company was also responsible for the world's first operational jet fighter in the turbojet-powered Me 262 "Schwalbe" design. Its engineers did not stop at these well-known entries, however, for there existed a whole slew of "paper" designs destined to never see the light of day. One such offering was the Me 329 project aircraft which envisioned a heavy fighter-type form going head-to-head with enemy bombers at high altitudes. A ground attack function would also be built-in giving the platform some tactical flexibility.
The discerning reader will note this aircraft's over-battlefield role, targeting Allied bombers and advancing ground forces alike, meaning German was now clearly on the defensive in its war over Europe.
The Me 329 gained traction only towards the latter half of the war and was being developed as a successor to Messerschmitt's other fighter-bomber product, the Me 410, introduced in 1943 (1,189 were produced) to shore up limitations encountered in the earlier Me 210. In the new aircraft, engineers elected for a pseudo-flying-wing arrangement which seated no horizontal tail planes. Instead the planform was dominated by a large mainplane wing area with a sole vertical fin fitted at the tail. At the nose was the twin-seat cockpit and a twin-engine arrangement was featured in which the powerplants were seated facing aft ("pusher" function). The undercarriage, wheeled and retractable, was made up of three landing gear legs.
The crew of two (pilot / navigator-gunner) were to be seated in a staggered, side-by-side formation within a pressurized cockpit under a heavy-framed canopy with good views out of their aircraft. Contours of the airframe were very smooth and the wings were blended nicely to the airframe. Power was to come from a pair of Daimler-Benz DB603G inline piston engines developing 1,874 horsepower each ( Jumo 213 series units also given mentioned) and driving three-bladed propellers. The engines would be buried in the wings to maintain aerodynamic efficiency - aspiration coming from leading wing edge intake slots.
Estimated performance specs included a maximum speed of 425 miles per hour, a range out to 1,565 miles and a service ceiling up to 41,000 feet.
Recorded dimensions were a length of 7.7 meters, a height of 4.7 meters and a wingspan of 17.5 meters. Construction would have incorporated large amounts of wood due to the shortage of metals across wartime Germany and in an effort to keep the heavy fighter as light as possible.
In terms of armament, the Me 329 would not have disappointed. Its primary battery was to be made up of 4 x 20mm MG 151/20 cannons in the nose (over / under) and 2 x 30mm MK 108 cannons in the wing roots. To protect the aircraft's vulnerable "six" from approaching interceptors there would be a remote-controlled 20mm MG 151/20 at the extreme tail-end of the design and facing aft (aimed by way of periscope by the second crewman). For the ground attack role up to 2,200lb of conventional drop ordnance would be carried, possibly both internally and externally with the latter at presumed underwing hardpoints.
The Me 329 project was reportedly built as a partial wooden mockup to assist in figuring out the internal arrangement of the aircraft's various components while other sources also make mention of a glider form seeing active testing throughout late-1944 / early-1945. In any case, it appears that little came of this Luftwaffe "paper airplane" and little interest followed it as it slowly evolved. As such, the project was terminated before war's end and more pressing matters were addressed by the Messerschmitt concern.
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
✓Air-to-Air Combat, Fighter
General ability to actively engage other aircraft of similar form and function, typically through guns, missiles, and/or aerial rockets.
✓Close-Air Support (CAS)
Developed to operate in close proximity to active ground elements by way of a broad array of air-to-ground ordnance and munitions options.
✓X-Plane (Developmental, Prototype, Technology Demonstrator)
Aircraft developed for the role of prototyping, technology demonstration, or research / data collection.
25.3 ft (7.70 m)
57.4 ft (17.50 m)
15.6 ft (4.75 m)
15,322 lb (6,950 kg)
26,786 lb (12,150 kg)
+11,464 lb (+5,200 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the base Messerschmitt Me 329 (Zerstorer) production variant)
2 x Daimler-Benz DB603G inline piston engines engines developing 1,874 horsepower each and driving three-bladed propeller units in pusher arrangement.
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