The Messerschmitt Me 264 was a long-range strategic bomber developed during World War II for the German Luftwaffe as its main strategic bomber. The design was later selected as Messerschmitt’s competitor in the Reichsluftfahrtministerium’s (the German Air Ministry) Amerikabomber programme, for a strategic bomber capable of attacking New York City from bases in France or the Azores.
The Me 264 was the first aircraft in the world with integrated wing fuel tanks, a standard for most modern aircraft.
The origin of the Me 264 design came from Messerschmitt’s long-range reconnaissance aircraft project, the P.1061 , of the late 1930s. A variant on the P.1061 was the P.1062 of which three prototypes were built, with only two “engines” to the P.1061’s four, but they were, in fact, the more powerful Daimler-Benz DB 606 “power systems”, each comprising a pair of DB12 inverted V-12 engines, successfully used in the long-range Messerschmitt Me 261, itself originating as the Messerschmitt P.1064 design of 1937. The DB 606’s later use, and badly designed engine installations in the Heinkel He 177A’s airframe design managed to get them derided by Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring as “welded-together engines” in August 1942. In early 1941, six P.1061 prototypes were ordered from Messerschmitt, under the designation Me 264 . This was later reduced to three prototypes.
The Me 264 was an all-metal, high-wing, four-engine heavy bomber of classic construction. The fuselage was round in cross-section and had a cabin in a glazed nose, comprising a “stepless cockpit” with no separate windscreen section for the pilots, which was common for most later German bomber designs. A strikingly similar design was used for the B-29, of slightly earlier origin. The wing had a slightly swept leading edge and a straight trailing edge. The empennage had double tail fins. The undercarriage was a retractable tricycle gear with large-diameter wheels on the wing-mounted main gear.
- Crew: 8
- Length: 21.3 m (69 ft 9 in)
- Wingspan 43 m (141 ft)
- Height: 4.3 m (14 ft)
- Wing area: 127.8 m² (1,376 ft²)
- Empty weight: 21,150 kg (46,630 lb)
- Loaded weight: 45,540 kg (100,400 lb)
- Max. takeoff weight 56,000 kg (123,000 lb)
- Powerplant 4 × BMW 801 G/H radial engines, 1,272 kW (1,730 hp) each
- Maximum speed 560 km/h (350 mph)
- Cruise speed 350 km/h (217 mph)
- Range 15,000 km (9,500 mi)(!!!)
- Service ceiling 8,000 m (26,000 ft)
- Rate of climb 2 m/s (390 ft/min)
- Wing loading 356 kg/m² (72.9 lb/ft²)
- Power/mass 0.11 kW/kg (0.07 hp/lb)
- 4 × 13 mm (0.51 in) MG 131 machine guns
- 2 × 20 mm MG 151/20 cannons
Bombs: 3,000 kg (6,614 lb) bombload in internal bomb bay at 14,400 km (8,947 miles). 13,200 kg (29,101 lbs) bombload in internal bomb bay at 8,600 km (5,343 miles)