Airborne Awesomosity

B-24 Liberator Versus HE-177 Griffin


Consolidated B-24 Liberator

File:Heinkel He177.jpg

Heinkel HE-177 Griffin












Which was the better heavy bomber of World War 2?




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HE-177 Griffin


Most people are unaware that Germany had a heavy bomber aircraft during the second World War. The Griffin has the distinction of being a four engine bomber with two props. The Griffon utilized two DB 610 engines which were two Daimler Benz 601 engines on a common prop shaft. This is similar in approach to the Allison V-3420 we saw last week.  Which was two Allison V12 engines merged together to form one new engine type. This would eventually be the types downfall. That and the design limitations that made it far to heavy by including provisions for dive bombing.

Overheating issues of the coupled engines doomed the aircraft to a smaller part of the war then it should have played. Like all German aircraft though when you take a look at the performance of the production aircraft you see how close the came to beating the Americans and British at the heavy bomber game.

  • Powerplant – 2 Daimler Benz DB 610 liquid cooled 24 cylinder engines of 3000 HP each
  • Maximum speed – 351mph
  • Combat radius – 957 miles
  • Defensive armament – 5 machine guns and 2 20mm cannon
  • Bomb load – internal 13,200 pounds, alternative external 15,800 – capable of carrying guided missiles
  • Production – 1137



B-24's visiting Ploesti

The B-17 may be the better known bomber but the B-24 was the far more capable aircraft. Designed like a land based flying boat the B-24 had a spacious bomb bay to go with it’s good performance. Even seventy years later the Davis wing looks to small to carry that aircraft through the air. For our British friends this was the same argument that Halifax fans would have against the Lancaster. Sometimes the better designed aircraft isn’t the one that is remembered.

The airframe was large enough too have been easily converted to cargo use later in the war as well. Consolidated had a winner on their hands that would get relegated to second place in the minds of enthusiasts.

  • Powerplant – 4 Pratt and Whitney R-1830 Turbo Supercharged air cooled radials of 1200 horsepower each
  • Maximum speed – 290mph
  • Combat radius – 1050 miles
  • Defensive armament – 10 50 caliber M2 Browning machine guns
  • Bomb load – Short range 8,000 pounds, long range 5,000 pounds
  • Production – 18,482


File:Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-461-0220-07, Russland, Flugzeug Heinkel He 177.jpg

I thought the door was up here?

Although a close fight in the end the HE-177 edges out it’s American counterpart for several reasons. The performance of the Greif was much higher then that of the Liberator or any of the Allied bombers of the war. It had a slightly longer range as well. Add in the ability to not only carry double the bomb load but to also carry guided missiles and the Greif just leaves the poor land based flying boat B-24 in the dirt.

This is if you take out one very large part of the equation which was reliability. Had the HE-177 4 engine variant gone into production it would have likely given the Germans a truly capable heavy bomber to cause damage to the Russian industrial machine on the other side of the Ural Mountains. Not to mention the damage it could have done to the farther out bases of the English.

In the end it would being a none point while it was saddled by the coupled engines and had to deal with the overheating issues. For now then let’s be happy the Germans never quite realized how good a heavy bomber they had in their Greif.

[image credit – all images]

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