Heinkel He 177 Greif


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Heinkel He 177 Greif

Four years of development preceded the first production orders for the He 177, the first prototype of which had flown in November 1939. It was a heavy bomber, introducing an entirely new type of power plant in which four Daimler-Benz 12-cylinder inverted engines were grouped together in pairs, each pair driving a single propeller. Many prototypes were built, most of which displayed obvious shortcomings including dangerous diving characteristics, landing gear and structural weaknesses, and problems associated with the engines including persistent crankshaft torsional vibration, lubrication and propeller troubles: two prototypes broke up in the air and at least one caught fire.

Following a brief period of use as an emergency transport aircraft on the Eastern Front, during which time several caught fire and so earned the nickname "Flaming Coffin", the Greif began its operational career in October 1943 on anti-convoy and U-boat cooperation duties. It took part (sub-types A-3 and A-5) in attacks on England in January 1944, known as the "Little Blitz", but as the war progressed was used to a greater extent as a missile carrier for anti-shipping duties. As the end of the war approached fewer and fewer Greifs remained operational: shortages of fuel and trouble with the engines grounding large numbers.

Although a small number of twin-finned He 177B were built in early 1944, most of the 1,160 or so Greifs produced were A-series types, although it is doubtful whether more than about 200 became fully operational in all respects. The He 177A-0 was the pilot production model, powered by two DB 606 engines (made up of four DB 601). Armament comprised two 13 mm MG 131 in dorsal and tail positions, one 7.9mm MG 81 in the nose, two 7.9mm MG 81 in a ventral position facing aft and a 20mm MG FF cannon firing forward from a "chin" position, plus 48x70kg, ten 500kg, six 1,000kg, or two 2,500kg bombs. The He 177A-1 was similar except for defensive armament, while the He 177A-3 had two DB 610 power units (four DB 605 engines), airframe changes and was equipped to carry two Hs 293 glider missiles. The final major version, the He 177A-5, was equipped to carry three Hs 293, two Hs 294 or two PC 1400 Fritz X (armour-piercing) radio-controlled missiles.


Despite appearances, the He 177 was a four-engined bomber. Two Daimler-Benz DB 601 engines were coupled in each nacelle to create the DB 606. Later versions used two DB 603s coupled as the DB 610.

Heinkel He 177 Greif

Later proposed designs had fou separate engines which would have solved many of the problems, but the strategic situation by 1943 meant they were never built.

Armament was heavy. On late variants streamlined turrets and a dorsal gondola carried five 20mm cannon and three 7.62mm machine guns.

Some He 177s were equipped as missile carriers, and they achieved reasonable success against Allied shipping using the Hs 293 glide bomb and Fritz X missile.

Heinkel He 177 "Greif" on YOUTUBE

Heinkel He 177 GreifA three-view drawing (596 x 692)

 ENGINE2 x Deimler-Benz DB 610A/B, 2200kW
  Take-off weight31000 kg68344 lb
  Empty weight16800 kg37038 lb
  Wingspan31.44 m103 ft 2 in
  Length20.40 m67 ft 11 in
  Height6.39 m21 ft 12 in
  Wing area102.0 m21097.92 sq ft
  Ceiling8000 m26250 ft
  Range5500 km3418 miles
 ARMAMENT3 x 7.92mm machine-guns, 3 x 13mm machine-guns, 2 x 20mm cannons, 1000kg of bomb

Heinkel He 177 Greif

JU87, e-mail, 15.12.2022 18:25



Klaatu83, e-mail, 11.10.2013 02:37

This was too sophisticated and too complicated for it's own good. The engines, in particular, were far too complicated and proved to be extremely unreliable. There were many unresolved issues. Not the least was that the heat generated by from the engines was too close to the main landing gear's hydraulic system, which could cause the hydraulic fluid to overheat and catch fire.


Mike, e-mail, 11.09.2013 17:37

So was this the alledged "Americka Bomber"? As what I've read about it here-so far- it would have been a suicide
mission just to try bomb targets in northern Maine or even
Halifax Newfoundland too-unless it could be flown from a air field that had been somehow quietly secured and set up in Greenland?

At one time there were plans made to nuke Berlin by flying a B-29 from Canada across the North Pole and then down into Germany? But it was only planned and of course
never carried out but one B-29 did fly in a test run and did cross the pole but further progress was halted by problems with two of its engines and it turned around and
returned to a 'secret base' somewhere in Canada?


Simon Gunson, e-mail, 03.01.2022 Mike

IN April 2005 Peter Brill revealed to a flying club at Sabadel in Spain that he was one of six He177 pilots trained to bomb New York using four He177 modified with enormous enlarged bomb bays and more powerful engines driving contra rotating propellers. He called this modified aircraft the AK177, However it also seems this was a hybrid Aircraft attached with wings built for the Me264, providing extra fuel capacity. Four such aircraft were stored in readiness at Sprottau, where they were likely captured by the Soviets. P Brill passed away in Feb 2013 at Palma de Mallorca. Peter said that after dropping his bomb he had to ditch for rescue by U-boat. The mission never went ahead.


Barry, 31.01.2013 19:04

Was this a good plane or was it a step a little too far? There is no doubt it had great potential but it did have it's fair share of problems not least of which, as was the case in so many projects, was interference from the high command. However, let's be thankfull that one project was not completed and that was the He177 extensively modified by Letov in 1943-4 to provide an enlarged bomb bay for the still born German atomic bomb!


nart, e-mail, 30.07.2012 04:19

i want to built this plane but i need the plan for it, i searched the web for a good plan but i did not find one, i hope if anyone can help me with a plan.


Ben Beekman, e-mail, 13.01.2011 18:26

Few people are aware that in 1940 the Douglas B-19 used eight Allison engines coupled in pairs, two in each of four engine nacelles. And yet had no engine problems such as Heinkel had with the He 177. Quite an accomplishment for the Douglas design team. This huge airplane, only one of which was built, was never meant to go into production and served out its life as a flying development lab.


michael edwards, e-mail, 31.12.2010 05:35

I thought the idea of twin engine in a single nacelle configuration is something which the Britisher also tried without success with their Manchester Bomber the predecessor of the Lancaster


wlkriessmann, e-mail, 22.09.2010 19:52

May 19 /20 /21 1944 , I few the He177 VF+QX at the airfield Fassberg( Lower Saxonia Germany) Quite an experience ,We had hydraulic problems (irregular fowler action) I think at that time KG 4 flew night missions over Great Britain wlke


Simon Gunson, e-mail, 08.05.2010 13:01

The He-177 A-1 version had 10,400 litres fuel which permitted a 4,000kg bomb load over 3,200sm. The overheating engines were a feature of the early He-177 A-0 version, however later models with different engines became quite reliable and liked by their crews. Mestersvig 72.14N, 23.55W in Greenland was where the Germans had a garrison, weather station and an ice free airstrip in summer. In 1944 it was the subject of fighting with US forces. The site was likely intended as a forward refuelling base for an attack on USA.


Paul Hughes, e-mail, 11.11.2009 23:54

The He 177 was a victim interference from the German high command and an insistance that it should be capable of dive bombing. It should have been transformed into the four DB605 engined He277 once the engine problems were all too evident. The DB610 powerplant was a compromised design solution, a good idea in theory but in practice a costly disaster for the Luftwaffe. Who knows what could have been if this bomber had proved successful from the start! Without this bomber the German high command lacked the necessary firepower to match the stratigic capability of the Britsh Lancaster & strike back at allied targets


Andrew Taylor, e-mail, 28.10.2009 19:16

What was the fuel tankage of the He177? This figure seems to be ignored but is useful when working out range with differing weapons loads.

This was a good design that never atchived its potential due to poor firewal construction and isolation of fuel lines, have you ever considerd what I different aircraft it could have been?


krieghund, e-mail, 03.09.2009 12:49

two db605 = db610
two db603 = db613
two db601 = db606

there were 40 modified he177 in norway may 1945 for a one way attack to usa


leo rudnicki, e-mail, 09.04.2009 16:25

The Fact & Figures errs. Two DB605`s makes a DB610, " DB603`s makes a DB606. The most famous raid I recall was on a Russian airbase after B17s had landed from a shuttle bombing mission. Sneaky and quite successful.


Simon, 12.03.2009 21:55

As for the He-177 two were in action against US forces in Eastern Greenland in mid December 1944 according to a Madrid newspaper. That's pretty stunning range. Did they have a refueling airstrip somewhere in Greenland ?


He 177, 21.03.2008 03:47

The problem of the fires were that the firewalls will get so hot, that the leaking gas or oil touched it and caught on fire. Most 177 didn't make it back to their base when their bomber just suddenly bursts with smoke and flame.


Rui Martins, e-mail, 29.02.2008 16:44

The Greif is the most amazing bomber of world war two


STEVEN, e-mail, 25.11.2007 12:54



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