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Messerschmitt Me 323 Gigant

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A real weightlifter, the Me 321 Gigant was a huge glider intended for an invasion of England. With up to six engines, it became the Me 323 transport to get soldiers and equipment into battle areas. It had the perfect name: this incredible flying machine was one of the largest World War II aircraft and had astonishing carrying capacity. But it was slow, and easy prey for fighters.

The powered version the Messerschmitt Me 323 was so big it required six engines. As a glider and as an aircraft, the Gigant carried three vehicles or 200 combat troops with equipment. The clamshell nose door and the ability to 'roll-on, roll off' cargoes was a futuristic idea adopted on big transports today.

Size and capacity were not enough. The Me 323 Gigant was very slow and even with gun turrets, almost unable to defend itself. Made of fabric-covered steel tubes, the Gigant was nevertheless immensely strong and Allied fighters sometimes expended their ammunition without downing the lumbering giant. This remarkable aircraft succeeded only in regions where it did not have to face Allied warplanes.


Messerschmitt Me 323 Gigant

Messerschmitt Me 323 Gigant power for the giant glider Messerschmitt Me 323 Gigant monster weight lifter Messerschmitt Me 323 Gigant outsize cargo carrier
The Gigant was never a viable proposition as a glider, so Messerschmitt decided to produce a powered variant using French-built Gnome-Rhone engines. Key to the Gigant's ability was its huge cargo capacity. Its outsize fuselage could hold loads of up to 20 tons. The Gigant was one of the largest aircraft of its time. Even with the power of six engines it was a poor performer and very hard to fly.

Messerschmitt Me 323 Gigant (Technical Specification)
Role Heavy general-purpose transport
Manufacturer Messerschmitt
Maximum Speed 253 km/h (157 mph)
Maximum Range 1,100 km (682 miles)
Ceiling 4,500 meters (18,730 feet)
Maximum Takeoff

29,060 kg (69,932 lbs)
45,000 kg (99,000 lbs)
Wing Area

55.00 meters (180 ft)
28.50 meters (93 ft)
9.60 meters (31 ft)
300 square meters (3,228 sq ft)
Engines Six Gnome-Rhone 14N 48/49 radial air-cooled engines each providing 850-kW (1,140-hp)
Armament One 20 mm (0.79 in) MG FF cannon in each of two turrets (one on each wing)
Two 13 mm (0.51 in) machine-guns in nose doors
Five 13 mm machine-guns firing from the flight deck

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