|TRANSPORT||Virtual Aircraft Museum / Germany / Gotha|
The work of Dipl. Ing Albert Kalkert, the Gotha Go 242 assault glider was developed with the approval of the Reichs-luftfahrtministerium since it offered almost three times the troop-carrying capacity of the DFS 230 then in use! The fuselage pod was of steel tubular construction with fabric covering, and carried jettisonable landing gear and two retractable skids; the wings were made of wood with fabric and plywood covering. The aircraft could carry 21 fully-equipped troops, or equivalent weight in military loads, such as a Kubelwagen utility vehicle, loaded through the hinged rear fuselage. Two prototypes were flown in 1941 and production followed without delay, permitting entry into service in 1942. The type's operational debut was made in the Mediterranean and Aegean theatres, Go 242 units being based in Greece, Sicily and North Africa. Heinkel He 111 tugs were usually employed and rocket-assisted take-off equipment could be fitted, the variety of propulsion units including four 500kg Rheinmetall-Borsig RI-502 solid fuel rockets. Production totalled 1,528 aircraft.
After the fall of France the French Gnome-Rhone 14M radial engine became available to the Germans in large numbers, and the Go 242 was modified to serve as the Go 244 twin-engined transport, each of the twin booms being extended forward of the leading edge of the wing to mount one of these engines; at the same time fixed tricycle landing gear was installed. A total of 133 conversions was made from the five Go 242B variants and these were designated correspondingly Go 244B-1 to B-5. First deliveries were made in March 1942 to the Greek-based KGrzbV 104 and to KGrzbV 106 in Crete, but they proved to be relatively easy targets for Allied fighter aircraft and had been withdrawn by November 1942. Some Go 244s had 492kW BMW 132Z or captured Russian Shvetsov M-25As each of 559kW.