Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the 88th largest island in the world and the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, after Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica. Crete and a number of surrounding islands and islets constitute the region of Crete, one of the 13 top-level administrative units of Greece; the capital and the largest city is Heraklion. As of 2011, the region had a population of 623,065. Crete forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece, while retaining its own local cultural traits, it was once the centre of the Minoan civilisation, the earliest known civilisation in Europe. The palace of Knossos lies in Crete; the island is first referred to as Kaptara in texts from the Syrian city of Mari dating from the 18th century BC, repeated in Neo-Assyrian records and the Bible. It was known in ancient Egyptian as Keftiu suggesting a similar Minoan name for the island; the current name of Crete is thought to be first attested in Mycenaean Greek texts written in Linear B, through the words ke-re-te, ke-re-si-jo, "Cretan".
In Ancient Greek, the name Crete first appears in Homer's Odyssey. Its etymology is unknown. One proposal derives it from a hypothetical Luwian word, *kursatta. In Latin, it became Creta; the original Arabic name of Crete was Iqrīṭiš, but after the Emirate of Crete's establishment of its new capital at ربض الخندق Rabḍ al-Ḫandaq, both the city and the island became known as Χάνδαξ or Χάνδακας, which gave Latin and Venetian Candia, from which were derived French Candie and English Candy or Candia. Under Ottoman rule, in Ottoman Turkish, Crete was called Girit. Crete is the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, it is located in the southern part of the Aegean Sea separating the Aegean from the Libyan Sea. The island has an elongated shape: it spans 260 km from east to west, is 60 km at its widest point, narrows to as little as 12 km. Crete covers an area of 8,336 km2, with a coastline of 1,046 km, it lies 160 km south of the Greek mainland. Crete is mountainous, its character is defined by a high mountain range crossing from west to east, formed by three different groups of mountains: The White Mountains or Lefka Ori 2,454 m The Idi Range (Psiloritis 35.18°N 24.82°E / 35.18.
The island has a number of gorges, such as the Samariá Gorge, Imbros Gorge, Kourtaliotiko Gorge, Ha Gorge, Platania Gorge, the Gorge of the Dead and Richtis Gorge and waterfall at Exo Mouliana in Sitia. The rivers of Crete include the Ieropotamos River, the Koiliaris, the Anapodiaris, the Almiros, the Giofyros, Megas Potamos. There are only two freshwater lakes in Crete: Lake Kournas and Lake Agia, which are both in Chania regional unit. Lake Voulismeni at the coast, at Aghios Nikolaos, was a freshwater lake but is now connected to the sea, in Lasithi. Lakes that were created by dams exist in Crete. There are three: the lake of Aposelemis Dam, the lake of Potamos Dam, the lake of Mpramiana Dam. A large number of islands and rocks hug the coast of Crete. Many are visited by tourists, some are only visited by biologists; some are environmentally protected. A small sample of the islands includes: Gramvousa the pirate island opposite the Balo lagoon Elafonisi, which commemorates a shipwreck and an Ottoman massacre Chrysi island, which hosts the largest natural Lebanon cedar forest in Europe Paximadia island where the god Apollo and the goddess Artemis were born The Venetian fort and leper colony at Spinalonga opposite the beach and shallow waters of Elounda Dionysades islands which are in an environmentally protected region together the Palm Beach Forest of Vai in the municipality of Sitia, LasithiOff the south coast, the island of Gavdos is located 26 nautical miles south of Hora Sfakion and is the southernmost point of Europe.
Crete straddles two climatic zones, the Mediterranean and the North African falling within the former. As such, the climate in Crete is Mediterranean; the atmosphere can be quite humid, depending on the proximity to the sea, while winter is mild. Snowfall is rare in the low-lying areas. While some mountain tops are snow-capped for most of the year, near the coast snow only stays on the ground for a few minutes or hours. However, a exceptional cold snap swept the island in February 2004, during which period the whole island was blanketed with snow. During the Cretan summer, average temperatures reach the high 20s-low 30s Celsius, with maxima touching the upper 30s-mid 40s; the south coast, including the Mesara Pla
Anti-aircraft warfare or counter-air defence is defined by NATO as "all measures designed to nullify or reduce the effectiveness of hostile air action". They include surface based and air-based weapon systems, associated sensor systems and control arrangements and passive measures, it may be used to protect naval and air forces in any location. However, for most countries the main effort has tended to be'homeland defence'. NATO refers to airborne naval air defence as anti-aircraft warfare. Missile defence is an extension of air defence as are initiatives to adapt air defence to the task of intercepting any projectile in flight. In some countries, such as Britain and Germany during the Second World War, the Soviet Union, NATO, the United States, ground-based air defence and air defence aircraft have been under integrated command and control. However, while overall air defence may be for homeland defence including military facilities, forces in the field, wherever they are, invariably deploy their own air defence capability if there is an air threat.
A surface-based air defence capability can be deployed offensively to deny the use of airspace to an opponent. Until the 1950s, guns firing ballistic munitions ranging from 7.62 mm to 152.4 mm were the standard weapons. The term air defence was first used by Britain when Air Defence of Great Britain was created as a Royal Air Force command in 1925. However, arrangements in the UK were called'anti-aircraft', abbreviated as AA, a term that remained in general use into the 1950s. After the First World War it was sometimes prefixed by'Light' or'Heavy' to classify a type of gun or unit. Nicknames for anti-aircraft guns include AA, AAA or triple-A, an abbreviation of anti-aircraft artillery. NATO defines anti-aircraft warfare as "measures taken to defend a maritime force against attacks by airborne weapons launched from aircraft, ships and land-based sites". In some armies the term All-Arms Air Defence is used for air defence by nonspecialist troops. Other terms from the late 20th century include GBAD with related terms SHORAD and MANPADS.
Anti-aircraft missiles are variously called surface-to-air missile and pronounced "SAM" and Surface to Air Guided Weapon. Non-English terms for air defence include the German FlaK, whence English flak, the Russian term Protivovozdushnaya oborona, a literal translation of "anti-air defence", abbreviated as PVO. In Russian the AA systems are called zenitnye systems. In French, air defence is called DCA; the maximum distance at which a gun or missile can engage an aircraft is an important figure. However, many different definitions are used but unless the same definition is used, performance of different guns or missiles cannot be compared. For AA guns only the ascending part of the trajectory can be usefully used. One term is "ceiling", the maximum ceiling being the height a projectile would reach if fired vertically, not useful in itself as few AA guns are able to fire vertically, maximum fuse duration may be too short, but useful as a standard to compare different weapons; the British adopted "effective ceiling", meaning the altitude at which a gun could deliver a series of shells against a moving target.
By the late 1930s the British definition was "that height at which a directly approaching target at 400 mph can be engaged for 20 seconds before the gun reaches 70 degrees elevation". However, effective ceiling for heavy AA guns was affected by nonballistic factors: The maximum running time of the fuse, this set the maximum usable time of flight; the capability of fire control instruments to determine target height at long range. The precision of the cyclic rate of fire, the fuse length had to be calculated and set for where the target would be at the time of flight after firing, to do this meant knowing when the round would fire; the essence of air defence is to destroy them. The critical issue is to hit a target moving in three-dimensional space; this means that projectiles either have to be guided to hit the target, or aimed at the predicted position of the target at the time the projectile reaches it, taking into account speed and direction of both the target and the projectile. Throughout the 20th century, air defence was one of the fastest-evolving areas of military technology, responding to the evolution of aircraft and exploiting various enabling technologies radar, guided missiles and computing (initially electromechanical analogue computing from the 1930s on, as with equipment describ
The Etrich Taube known by the names of the various manufacturers who build versions of the type, such as the Rumpler Taube, was a pre-World War I monoplane aircraft. It was the first military aeroplane to be mass-produced in Germany; the Taube was popular prior to the First World War, it was used by the air forces of Italy and Austria-Hungary. The Royal Flying Corps operated at least one Taube in 1912. On November 1, 1911, Giulio Gavotti, an Italian aviator, dropped the world's first aerial bomb from his Taube monoplane over the Ain Zara oasis in Libya. Once the war began, it proved inadequate as a warplane and was soon replaced by other designs; the Taube was designed in 1909 by Igo Etrich of Austria-Hungary, first flew in 1910. It was licensed for serial production by Lohner-Werke in Austria and by Edmund Rumpler in Germany, now called the Etrich-Rumpler-Taube. Rumpler soon changed the name to Rumpler-Taube, stopped paying royalties to Etrich, who subsequently abandoned his patent. Despite its name, the Taube's unique wing form was not modeled after a dove, but was copied from the seeds of Alsomitra macrocarpa, which can fly long distances from their parent tree.
Similar wing shapes were used by Karl Jatho and Frederick Handley Page. Etrich had tried to build a flying wing aircraft based on the Zanonia wing shape, but the more conventional Taube type, with tail surfaces, was much more successful. Etrich adopted the format of crosswind-capable main landing gear that Louis Blériot had used on his Blériot XI cross-channel monoplane for better ground handling; the wing has three spars and was braced by a cable-braced steel tube truss under each wing: at the outer end the uprights of this structure were lengthened to rise above the upper wing surfaces, to form kingposts to carry bracing and warping wires for the enlarged wingtips. A small landing wheel was sometimes mounted on the lower end of this kingpost, to protect it for landings and to help guard against ground loops. Taube-type aircraft from other manufacturers replaced the Bleriot type main gear with a simpler V-strut main gear design, omitted the underwing "bridge" structure to reduce drag. Like many contemporary aircraft monoplanes, the Taube used wing warping rather than ailerons for lateral control, warped the rear half of the stabilizer to function as the elevator.
Only the vertical, twinned triangular rudder surfaces were hinged. The design provided for stable flight, which made it suitable for observation. In addition, the translucent wings made it difficult for ground observers to detect a Taube at an altitude above 400 meters; the first hostile engagement was by an Italian Taube in 1911 in Libya, its pilot using pistols and dropping 2 kg grenades. The Taube was used for bombing in the Balkans in 1912–13, in late 1914 when German 3 kg bomblets and propaganda leaflets were dropped over Paris. Taube spotter planes detected the advancing Imperial Russian Army in East Prussia during the World War I Battle of Tannenberg. In civilian use, the Taube was used by pilots to win the Munich-Berlin Kathreiner prize. On 8 December 1911, Gino Linnekogel and Suvelick Johannisthal achieved a two-man endurance record for flying a Taube 4 hours and 35 minutes over Germany. While there were two Taube aircraft assigned to Imperial German units stationed at Qingdao, only one was available at the start of the war due to an accident.
The Rumpler Taube piloted by Lieutenant Gunther Plüschow had to face the attacking Japanese, who had with them a total of eight aircraft. On October 2, 1914, Plüschow's Taube attacked the Japanese warships with two small bombs, but failed to score any hits. On November 7, 1914, shortly before the fall of Qingdao, Plüschow was ordered to fly top secret documents to Shanghai, but was forced to make an emergency landing at Lianyungang in Jiangsu, where he was interned by a local Chinese force. Plüschow was rescued by local Chinese civilians under the direction of an American missionary, reached his destination at Shanghai with his top secret documents, after giving the engine to one of the Chinese civilians who rescued him. Poor rudder and lateral control made the Taube slow to turn; the aeroplane proved to be a easy target for the faster and more mobile Allied fighters of World War I, just six months into the war, the Taube had been removed from front line service to be used to train new pilots.
Many future German aces would learn to fly in a Rumpler Taube. Due to the lack of license fees, no less than 14 companies built a large number of variations of the initial design, making it difficult for historians to determine the exact manufacturer based on historical photographs. An incomplete list is shown below; the most common version was the Rumpler Taube with two seats. Albatros Taube Produced by Albatros Flugzeugwerke Albatros Doppeltaube Biplane version produced by Albatros Flugzeugwerke. Aviatik Taube Produced by Automobil und Aviatik AG firm. DFW Stahltaube Version with steel frame produced by Deutsche Flugzeug-Werke. Etrich Taube Produced by inventor Igo Etrich. Etrich-Rumpler-Taube Initial name of the "Rumpler Taube". Gotha Taube Produced by Gothaer Waggonfabrik as LE.1, LE.2 and LE.3 and designated A. I by the Idflieg. Harlan-Pfeil-Taube Halberstadt Taube III Produced by Halberstädter Flugzeugwerke. Jeannin Taube Version with steel tubing fuselage structure. Kondor Taube Produced by Kondor Flugzeugwerke.
RFG Taube Produced by Reise- und Industrieflug GmbH. Roland Taube Rumpler 4C Taube Produced by Edmund Rumpler's Rumpler Flugzeugwerke. Rumpler Delfin-Taube Version wit
The Gotha WD.2 and its derivatives were a family of military reconnaissance aircraft produced in Germany just before and during the early part of World War I. The WD.2 was a development of the Avro 503, built under licence by Gotha as the WD.1, like it, was a conventional three-bay biplane with tandem, open cockpits. The landing gear comprised twin pontoons and dispensed with the small pontoon carried under the tail of the WD.1. Machines built for the Imperial German Navy were unarmed, but those supplied to the Ottoman aviation squadrons carried a 7.92 mm machine gun in a ring mount on the upper wing, accessible to the observer, whose seat was located directly below it. In an attempt to increase performance, one WD.2 was built with its Benz Bz. III engine replaced with the more powerful Mercedes D. III. Designated the WD.5, no further examples were built in this configuration, but it served as the pattern for the WD.9, built in a small series. This differed from the WD.5 prototype in having a trainable 7.92 mm machine gun located in the rear cockpit, to which the observer had been relocated.
One such aircraft was supplied to the Navy, with the rest of the batch going to Turkey, albeit with the less powerful engine of the WD.2. The last member of the family to be built in any quantity was the D. III-powered WD.12, an unarmed version which featured greater attention to streamlining the aircraft, most around the engine area, now provided with a close-fitting cowl and a spinner for the propeller. Again, this type was supplied to the Ottoman Empire, it was followed in production by a small number of WD.13s similar but for the use again of the less powerful Bz. III. Two WD.15s were built after a considerable redesign of the aircraft. These had plywood-covered fuselages, as opposed to the fabric covering used on all earlier members of the family, were fitted with Mercedes D. IVa engines. WD.2 Unarmed version with Benz Bz. III engine, 16.43 m span wings. WD.2a A short span version of the WD.2 with 15.6 m span wings. WD.5 Unarmed version with Mercedes D. III engine WD.9 Armed version with Mercedes D.
III engine or Benz Bz. III engine WD.12 Unarmed version with Mercedes D. III engine WD.13 Unarmed version with Benz Bz. III engine WD.15 Version with plywood-skinned fuselage and Mercedes D. IVa engine Germany Turkey Data from German Aircraft of the First World WarGeneral characteristics Crew: 2 Length: 10.5 m Wingspan: 15.6 m Wing area: 56 m2 Empty weight: 1,065 kg Gross weight: 1,630 kg Powerplant: 1 × Benz Bz. III 6-cylinder water-cooled in-line piston engine, 110 kW Performance Maximum speed: 112 km/h Range: 670 km Service ceiling: 3,000 m Taylor, Michael J. H.. Jane's Encyclopedia of Aviation. London: Studio Editions. P. 428. World Aircraft Information Files. London: Bright Star Publishing. Pp. File 895 Sheet 09. Das Virtuelle Luftfahrtmuseum
The Luftwaffe was the aerial warfare branch of the combined German Wehrmacht military forces during World War II. Germany's military air arms during World War I, the Luftstreitkräfte of the Army and the Marine-Fliegerabteilung of the Navy, had been disbanded in May 1920 as a result of the terms of the Treaty of Versailles which stated that Germany was forbidden to have any air force. During the interwar period, German pilots were trained secretly in violation of the treaty at Lipetsk Air Base. With the rise of the Nazi Party and the repudiation of the Versailles Treaty, the Luftwaffe was established on 26 February 1935, just over a fortnight before open defiance of the Versailles Treaty through German re-armament and conscription would be announced on March 16; the Condor Legion, a Luftwaffe detachment sent to aid Nationalist forces in the Spanish Civil War, provided the force with a valuable testing ground for new tactics and aircraft. As a result of this combat experience, the Luftwaffe had become one of the most sophisticated, technologically advanced, battle-experienced air forces in the world when World War II broke out in 1939.
By the summer of 1939, the Luftwaffe had twenty-eight Geschwader. The Luftwaffe operated Fallschirmjäger paratrooper units; the Luftwaffe proved instrumental in the German victories across Poland and Western Europe in 1939 and 1940. During the Battle of Britain, despite inflicting severe damage to the RAF's infrastructure and, during the subsequent Blitz, devastating many British cities, the German air force failed to batter the beleaguered British into submission. From 1942, Allied bombing campaigns destroyed the Luftwaffe's fighter arm. From late 1942, the Luftwaffe used its surplus ground and other personnel to raise Luftwaffe Field Divisions. In addition to its service in the West, the Luftwaffe operated over the Soviet Union, North Africa and Southern Europe. Despite its belated use of advanced turbojet and rocket propelled aircraft for the destruction of Allied bombers, the Luftwaffe was overwhelmed by the Allies' superior numbers and improved tactics, a lack of trained pilots and aviation fuel.
In January 1945, during the closing stages of the Battle of the Bulge, the Luftwaffe made a last-ditch effort to win air superiority, met with failure. With dwindling supplies of petroleum and lubricants after this campaign, as part of the entire combined Wehrmacht military forces as a whole, the Luftwaffe ceased to be an effective fighting force. After the defeat of Germany, the Luftwaffe was disbanded in 1946. During World War II, German pilots claimed 70,000 aerial victories, while over 75,000 Luftwaffe aircraft were destroyed or damaged. Of these, nearly 40,000 were lost entirely; the Luftwaffe had only two commanders-in-chief throughout its history: Hermann Göring and Generalfeldmarschall Robert Ritter von Greim for the last two weeks of the war. The Luftwaffe was involved in Nazi war crimes. By the end of the war, a significant percentage of aircraft production originated in concentration camps, an industry employing tens of thousands of prisoners; the Luftwaffe's demand for labor was one of the factors that led to the deportation and murder of hundreds of thousands of Hungarian Jews in 1944.
The Luftwaffe High Command organized Nazi human experimentation, Luftwaffe ground troops committed massacres in Italy and Poland. The Imperial German Army Air Service was founded in 1910 with the name Die Fliegertruppen des deutschen Kaiserreiches, most shortened to Fliegertruppe, it was renamed Luftstreitkräfte on 8 October 1916. The air war on the Western Front received the most attention in the annals of the earliest accounts of military aviation, since it produced aces such as Manfred von Richthofen and Ernst Udet, Oswald Boelcke, Max Immelmann. After the defeat of Germany, the service was dissolved on 8 May 1920 under the conditions of the Treaty of Versailles, which mandated the destruction of all German military aircraft. Since the Treaty of Versailles forbade Germany to have an air force, German pilots trained in secret. Civil aviation schools within Germany were used, yet only light trainers could be used in order to maintain the façade that the trainees were going to fly with civil airlines such as Deutsche Luft Hansa.
To train its pilots on the latest combat aircraft, Germany solicited the help of the Soviet Union, isolated in Europe. A secret training airfield was established at Lipetsk in 1924 and operated for nine years using Dutch and Soviet, but some German, training aircraft before being closed in 1933; this base was known as 4th squadron of the 40th wing of the Red Army. Hundreds of Luftwaffe pilots and technical personnel visited and were trained at Soviet air force schools in several locations in Central Russia. Roessing, Fosse, Heini, Makratzki and many other future Luftwaffe aces were trained in Russia in joint Russian-German schools that were set up under the patronage of Ernst August Köstring; the first steps towards the Luftwaffe's formation were undertaken just months after Adolf Hitler came to power. Hermann Göring, a World War I ace, became National Kommissar for aviation with former Luft Hansa director Erhard Milch as his deputy. In April 1933 the Reich Aviation Ministry was established; the RLM was in charge of production of aircraft.
Göring's control over all aspects of aviation became absolute. On 25 March 1933 the German Air Sports Association absorbed all private and national organizations, while retaining its'sports' title. On 15 May 1933, all military aviation organizations in th
Gotha Go 242
The Gotha Go 242 was a transport glider used by the Luftwaffe during World War II. It was an upgrade over the DFS 230 in flight characteristics. Though it saw limited action, it appeared in multiple variants; the Go 242 was designed by Albert Kalkert in response to a Reichsluftfahrtministerium requirement for a heavy transport glider to replace the DFS 230 in service. The requirement was for a glider capable of carrying 20 laden troops or the equivalent cargo; the aircraft was a high-wing monoplane with a simple square-section fuselage ending in clamshell doors used to load cargo. The empennage was mounted on twin booms linked by a tailplane; the fuselage was formed of steel tubing covered with doped fabric. The flight characteristics of the design were better than those of the DFS 230. Cargo versions of the glider featured a hinged rear fuselage loading ramp that could accommodate a small vehicle such as a Kübelwagen or loads of similar size and weight. Two prototypes flew in 1941 and the type entered production.
A total of 1,528 were built, 133 of which were converted to the Go 244, with one each of 500 kW Gnome-Rhône 14M-04 and Gnome-Rhône 14M-05 engines, fitted to forward extensions of the tail booms. The Go 242 was tested with various rockets for overloaded take offs. A rack of four 470 N Rheinmetall-Borsig 109-502 rockets mounted on the rear of the cargo compartment was tested but not used operationally. A second rocket, called "R-Gerät" used with the glider, was a liquid-fuelled Walter HWK 109-500A Starthilfe. In service, Go 242s were towed into the air by Heinkel He 111s or Junkers Ju 52s, were fitted with RATO equipment. Most saw service in North Africa and Aegean. Ju 87D-2s had strengthened rear fuselage and combined tailwheel and hook for towing the Go 242. A few gliders, the Go 242 C-1 variant, were constructed with a flying boat-style hull allowing water landings, it was proposed that some carry a small catamaran assault boat with a 1,200 kg explosive charge suspended between its hulls. The proposed mission profile was for the pilot to land near an enemy ship and transfer to the assault boat, setting off at high speed for the enemy ship and locking the controls before bailing out.
Gotha Go 242 - Musée de la Resistance du Vercors. Valence, France Gotha Go 242 C-1 - Technik Museum and Luftwaffenmuseum der Bundeswehr. Berlin, Germany Go 242 A-1 - initial cargo-carrying version Go 242 A-2 - initial troop-carrying version Go 242 B-1 - cargo version with jettisonable landing gear Go 242 B-2 - B-1 with improved landing gear Go 242 B-3 - troop-carrying version of B-1 with double rear doors Go 242 B-4 - troop-carrying version with doors of B-3 and landing gear of B-2 Go 242 B-5 - training version with dual controls Go 242 C-1 - maritime assault version with flying boat-style hull. Never used operationally Data from Die Deutsche Luftruestung 1933–1945 Vol.2 – Flugzeugtypen Erla-HeinkelGeneral characteristics Crew: 2 Capacity: 23 equipped troops or 3,500–4,000 kg cargo Length: 15.8 m Wingspan: 24.5 m Height: 4.7 m Wing area: 64.4 m2 Aspect ratio: 9.32 Empty weight: 3,200 kg Max takeoff weight: 7,100 kg Performance Never exceed speed: 300 km/h Maximum glide ratio: 16:1 Towing speed: 240 km/h Armament 4 × 7.92 mm MG 15 machine-guns Related development Go 244Aircraft of comparable role and era DFS 230 DFS 331 Waco CG-4A - General Aircraft Hamilcar General Aircraft Hotspur Airspeed Horsa Slingsby Hengist Related lists List of aircraft of World War II List of World War II military aircraft of Germany List of military aircraft of Germany List of World War II military gliders Nowarra, Heinz.
U. S.: Schiffer Publishing Ltd. ISBN 0-88740-358-1. "War in the Air:early intelligence drawing of Go 242". Flight. XLI: 130. 12 February 1942. Retrieved 16 March 2018
Messerschmitt Me 323
The Messerschmitt Me 323 Gigant was a German military transport aircraft of World War II. It was a powered variant of the Me 321 military glider and was the largest land-based transport aircraft of the war. A total of 213 are recorded as having been made, a few being converted from the Me 321; the Me 323 was the result of a 1940 German requirement for a large assault glider in preparation for Operation Sea Lion, the projected invasion of Great Britain. The DFS 230 light glider had proven its worth in the Battle of Fort Eben-Emael in Belgium, would be used in the invasion of Crete in 1941. However, in order to mount an invasion across the English Channel, the Germans would need to be able to airlift vehicles and other heavy equipment as part of an initial assault wave. Although Operation Sea Lion was cancelled, the requirement for a heavy air transport capability still existed, with the focus now on the forthcoming Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union. On 18 October 1940, Junkers and Messerschmitt were given just 14 days to submit a proposal for a large transport glider.
The emphasis was still much on the assault role: the ambitious requirement was to be able to carry either an 88 mm gun and its half-track tractor, or a Panzer IV medium tank. The Junkers Ju 322 Mammut reached prototype form but was scrapped due to difficulties in procuring the necessary high-grade timber for its all-wood construction and, as was discovered during the Mammut's only test flight, an unacceptably high degree of instability inherent in the design; the proposed Messerschmitt aircraft was designated Me 261w — borrowing the designation of the long-range Messerschmitt Me 261 changed to Me 263 and became the Me 321. Although the Me 321 saw considerable service in Russia as a transport, it was never used for its intended role as an assault glider. Early in 1941, as a result of feedback from Transport Command pilots in Russia, the decision was taken to produce a motorized variant of the Me 321, to be designated Me 323, it was decided to use French Gnome et Rhône GR14N radial engines rated at 1,180 PS for take-off as used in the Bloch MB.175 aircraft.
Initial tests were conducted using four Gnome engines attached to a strengthened Me 321 wing, which gave a modest speed of 210 km/h – 80 km/h slower than the Ju 52 transport aircraft. A fixed undercarriage was fitted, which comprised four small wheels in a bogie at the front of the aircraft with six larger wheels in two lines of three at each side of the fuselage covered by an aerodynamic fairing; the rear wheels were fitted with pneumatic brakes, could stop the aircraft within 200 m. The four-engined Me 323C was considered a stepping stone to the six-engined D series; this was not much better than the Me 321, so the V2 prototype became the first to have six engines and flew for the first time in early 1942, becoming the prototype for the D series aircraft. The selection of the six engines, their specific placement on the wing's leading edge, were fitted to reduce torque – a trio of counterclockwise rotation engines mounted on the port wing, a trio of clockwise rotation engines on the starboard wing as seen forward from behind each engine, resulting in the props rotating "away" from each other at the tops of their arcs.
As per the Me 321, the Me 323 had massive, semi-cantilever, high-mounted wings which were braced from the fuselage out to the middle of the wing. To reduce weight and to save on aluminum, much of the wing was made of plywood and fabric, while the fuselage was of metal tube construction with wooden spars and covered with doped fabric, with heavy bracing in the floor to support the payload; the "D" series had a crew of five: two pilots, two flight engineers and a radio operator. Two gunners could be carried; the flight engineers occupied two small cabins, one in each wing between the inboard and center engines. The engineers were intended to monitor engine synchronisation and allow the pilot to fly without worrying about engine status, although the pilot could override the engineers' decisions on engine and propeller control. Maximum payload was around 12 tonnes, although at that weight the Hellmuth Walter Werke-designed Walter HWK 109-500 Starthilfe RATO units used on the Me 321 were required for take off.
The RATOs were mounted beneath the wings outboard of the engines, with the wings having underside fittings to take up to a total of four RATO units. The cargo hold was 3 m wide and 3.4 m high. The typical loads it carried were: One 15 cm FH18 field artillery piece accompanied by its Sd. Kfz.7 halftrack transport vehicle, two 3.6 tonne trucks, 8,700 loaves of bread, an 88 mm Flak gun and accessories, 52 drums of fuel, 130 men, or 60 stretchers. Some Me 321s were converted to Me 323s, but the majority were built as six-engine aircraft from the beginning; the Me 323 had a maximum speed of only 219 km/h at sea speed dropped with altitude. For defensive armament, it was armed wi