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Book Review
Me 264 Amerika Bomber
X Planes Messerchmitt Me 264 Amerika Bomber
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

Messerschmitt Me 264 Amerika Bomber from Osprey Publishing LTD reveals the technical, political and operational history of this incredible aircraft. It is the second title in their new series X-Planes. With Osprey's short code XPL 2, the soft cover book (ISBN 9781472814678) of 80 pages is authored by Robert Forsyth and illustrated by Jim Laurier and Gareth Hector. It is also available in PDF and eBook formats.

    As Europe plunged into World War II, Hitler ordered the development of a hi-tech secret weapon capable of taking the war across the Atlantic - the Messerschmitt Me 264. Chosen from designs for an 'Amerika Bomber' tendered by Messerschmitt, Junkers and Focke-Wulf, this ultra-long-range aircraft would be capable of attacking cities in the United States. Just one month before the attack on Pearl Harbor and the American entry into World War II Hitler was promising, privately, to wage a 'new war' against the USA after his victories in Europe. Dazzling digital artwork and 50 rare archive photographs perfectly complement the detailed analysis offered by Robert Forsyth as he examines the development, intended role and influence of the aircraft that Hitler planned to use to bomb New York City. - Osprey

    Throughout the last century, one-off experimental aircraft and high-tech military prototypes have pushed the boundaries of what's possible. Authoritative and accessible, X-Planes explains the technology behind the world's most important experimental and prototype aircraft, their often dangerous flight-test careers, and how their successes and failures fed into frontline development. - Osprey

Messerschmitt Me 264 Amerika Bomber is the story of Nazi Germany's attempt to build a true intercontinental bomber. This account is told through 80 pages of six chapters and supporting sections:
    Prototype Design
    Flight Test and Development
    To The Eleventh Hour
    Further Reading

Messerschmitt Me 264 is an interesting read and it is well written. There is some complexity in the story yet it is easy to read. The author includes direct quotes from personnel involved with many stages of the Me 264 - including test pilot Dipl.-Ing Karl Baur - plus excerpts from various official reports and memorandums. People who enjoy technical or Third Reich terms and titles will enjoy such content in this book.

Conventional wisdom holds that after the death of the Luftwaffes's strategic bomber proponent Oberst Walther Wever in 1936, that the Luftwaffe had no interest in long-range heavy bombers. Author Robert Forsyth examines that belief and many others, unraveling fact from legend or myth. In October 1940 OKW (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht) issued a memorandum that Hitler was considering the occupation of Iceland, the Azores and the Canaries for airfields from which to attack America. Even before Japan attacked America, Großadmiral Erich Raeder recommended that strategy, too.

In Prototype Design Mr. Forsyth explores the problems with bringing the Me 264 from the drawing board through test flights, including the animosity of Luftwaffe Air Inspector Generalfeldmarschall Erhard Milch towards Professor Messerschmitt. The schizophrenic culture of Nazi weapons R&D is obvious in the story, including meddling by the flighty Hitler, a bombastic Goering, overly optimistic Messerschmitt, and the conniving Milch. Those factors unintentionally sabotaged the Me 264, as did the shortage of the required engines, lack of production facilities, material shortages, and paucity of qualified labor and designers.

Messerschmitt actually assembled a very accomplished R&D team to create the Me 264. And when the Amerika Bomber ran into trouble, Milch sent the experienced long-range Lufthansa pilot von Gablenz to audit the program. Five questions posed by Milch concerning the feasibility of the Me 264 project and von Gablenz's replies are part of the text. Von Gablenz later tasked Fw 200 combat pilot and Knights Cross recipient Major Edgar Petersen to oversee the Me 264. Before that, development inspired Messerschmitt to publish a 1942 technical specification brochure listing in detail performance specs for six Me 264 versions: two long-range bombers, two heavy bombers, a long-range reconnaissance plane, and a long-range transport.

It is incredible just how many of Me 264s were ordered for the Amerika Bomber fleet. Their purpose is equally extraordinary in that the Nazi plan for strategic bombing was more of a plan for strategic annoyance.

The chapter also discusses the German ideas for inflight refueling, jettisonable landing gear and enormous drop tanks, and parasite fighters.

Through the 26 pages of Flight Test and Development, flight testing is related in good detail. While not all flights are recounted, dates and times aloft are often presented, along with benchmarks of how many hours had been accumulated by a certain number a flights. Identifying and addressing flaws in the aircraft was akin to playing Whack-A-Mole, while some problems were never fully fixed. Those troubles led to almost endless modifications, as did the evolving purpose for the Me 264 as the war deteriorated for the Nazis.

Me 264 subsystems are mentioned, as are offensive and defensive weapons, and the plans to power the Me 264 with jet engines.

In To The Eleventh Hour the story relates that Me 264 eventually showed more potential than its competitors, the He 177, Junker's Ju 290 and Ju 390, and the Fw 300 and the Focke-Wulf "3-Ton bomber", the Ta 400. Other offices of the Wehrmacht continued to express interest, which lead to plans to use it for ultra-long-range recon, to drop special operators thousands of kilometers away, and for anti-shipping strikes far into the Atlantic. Still, the changing war situation and pervasive problems doomed the Me 264.

The book ends with a four-page analysis and retrospective of the Me 264 in light of what was planned and what was actually accomplished, given Germany's abilities. The B-29 is used for an example and the B-36 is mentioned. How the Me 264 fit in with the Nazi nuclear weapons program is also included.

Ultimately, the book is an amazing read.

Photos, Art, Graphics
From a host of sources cited in the book, Osprey assembled an incredible gallery of photographs of the Amerika Bomber. Most are very high quality. Several are of an airborne Me 264 and there are even aerial shots of it. Several photographs show specific areas of the machine - even interior views - at the factory, with internal structure and systems displayed. A feast for modelers!

Artists Jim Laurier and Gareth Hector provide superb color artwork:
    1. Me 264 V1 Wk-Nr. 26400001 RE EN, Lechfeld, December 1942: profile, planform, and frontal views.

    2. Battle scene The Luftwaffe Over New York: 2-page center spread of Me 264s under attack by P-47s. The caption discusses the unit, camouflage, and bomb load.

    3. Messerschmitt Me 264 3-D cut-away, keyed to 24 components.

    4. Messerschmitt Me 264 profile cut-away, keyed to 23 components.

    5. Messerschmitt Me 264 fuselage planform cut-away, keyed to 22 components.

While not necessarily photos, the book also provides extraordinary images of global maps depicting the Me 264's range, produced by Messerschmitt or other sources. A general arrangement sketch of 4,000 and 6,000-litre drop tanks is included, too. Three-view plan for the Me 264 "Fernaufklärer" and Sonder-Fernaufklärer [sic] are included, as is an April 1944 profile drawing of the SonderFernaufklärer [sic]. Stylized artwork from the December 1941 Messerschmitt Me 264 promotional booklet grace multiple pages, too. Finally, reproduced is a general arrangement drawing over which Willy Messerschmitt sketched his ideas for a sweptback wing with either jet engines or pusher propellers mounted.

Several tables translate complex text into easily processed data:
    i. Specifications
      a. Me 264 Langstreckenbomber H-3:
        Airframe Dimensions
        Weights (14 lines, including with and without weapons; armor, war load)
        Range With Bomb Load In Fuselage (13 lines)
        Bomb-Bay and External Ordnance Configurations Were Planned With the Following Options (12 configurations)

      b. Me 264 Schwere Bomber H-3 (Generally the same data as above.)

      c. Me 264 Fernaufklärer H-2 (Generally the same data as above.)

      d. Me 264 Fernaufklärer H-3 (Generally the same data as above.)

    ii. Weight of powerplants and POL with jet engines fitted.

Those tables present an interesting glimpse into the minds of Milch, Messerschmitt and the OKL when one notices that some of the weights and weapons include torpedoes.

The combination of photographs and artwork is a boon for modelers as many images show details of the interior construction and apparatus of the Me 264.

Judging by Messerschmitt Me 264 Amerika Bomber, this new series X-Planes looks to be a winner for Osprey. I am thoroughly impressed with the level of detail and research in the text. I have not seen any of the other books the author cites about the Me 264, yet whether this book is more or less detailed, it delivers a satisfying amount of detail as a history of the Me 264.

Graphic support enhances the text with an incredible gallery of photographs, artwork, cutaways, and informational tables.

If I have any complaint about the book, it is that the cover art shown an Me 264 dropping a torpedo. While the book mentions the option of employing it for torpedo attacks, there is no mention of the particular advanced torpedo other than in the cover art caption.

I am very happy with this second book of the new series and happily recommend it to students of experimental Luftwaffe aircraft, Messerschmitt aircraft, and the Nazi war effort in general.

Please remember to tell Osprey and retailers that you saw this book here - on AEROSCALE.
Highs: First-hand accounts, excellent photographic and art work gallery, and fascinating facts and data.
Lows: De minimis.
Verdict: An impressive book. I happily recommend it to students of experimental Luftwaffe aircraft, Messerschmitt aircraft, and the Nazi war effort in general.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: XPL 2, 9781472814678
  Suggested Retail: $20
  PUBLISHED: Dec 03, 2016

Our Thanks to Osprey Publishing!
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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright ©2021 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


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