Anigrand #AA3004 1/144 Luftwaffe Bomber-B Special Set

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Kit #AA3004. 1/144 scale. This is a highly-detailed set of three resin kits, complete with decals. The aircraft models include the four contenders in the Bomber B Program, the Focke-Wulf Fw 191, the Arado Ar 340, the Dornier Do 317, and the Junkers Ju 288.

Focke-Wulf Fw 191: This aircraft, part of the 1939 Bomber B Program, looks like the ultimate streamlined and souped-up vision of the high-performance German medium bomber. Looking like it was built for speed, it had the crew clustered in a very streamlined and glassed-in nose, remote-control gun turrets, twin engines, twin tails and a very conventional mid-wing planform. A four-engine version was planned, but not built. Powered by the Junkers Jumo 222 engine – a 2,465 horsepower inline engine with an annular radiator that made it appear to be an air-cooled radial – it could deliver a top speed that any fighter in 1939 would have envied. The aircraft had a pressurized cockpit, which required the use of remote controlled gun turrets with mixed-caliber guns, and unlike the Ju 88 – which it superficially resembled – it carried its bombload internally, though it could also mount external racks. Like all German bombers, this machine was designed to function as a dive bomber, a decision that created havoc with the design.

The engines proved troublesome, the heavy reliance on electric motors to operate flight systems – insisted upon by the Air Ministry, the RLM – added weight and vulnerability to the system, and the mandatory dive brakes created unsupportable aerodynamic issues.

To try and salvage the project, Focke-Wulf proposed a four-engined version, with no pressurization and manually-controlled guns. However, it was now 1944, and Germany needed fighters, not bombers. The program was canceled. This was an excellent design, let down by failed powerplants and RLM interference that demanded systems not suitable for a medium bomber, including all-electrical systems and dive bombing capabilities.

Arado Ar 340: This Bomber B candidate was a typically bizarre Germanic design for a medium bomber. Try to imagine a P-38 Lightning, enlarged to a medium bomber, with a central and pressurized crew- and-bomb containing fuselage, remote gun turrets and two long engine nacelles reaching back to the tail – but unlike the P-38, the two booms are not connected by the horizontal stabilizer. It was to be a big aircraft, with impressive wings, a more-or-less full-sized fuselage that stuck out far ahead of the engines, and a tail that has to be seen to be believed. Designed around the failed Junkers Jumo 222 engines, the plane never made it to prototype test model, but it would have been fast, sleek, long-ranging, hard-hitting and a remarkable sight.

Dornier Do 317: This was perhaps the most conventional of the Bomber B candidates – a Dornier Do 217 on steroids, bigger in all dimensions, but with the same muscular design. This design did go to prototype, with six V-models built. The first was a true Do 317, with a pressurized cabin, remote-controlled turrets and triangular tail fins. However, it showed no real performance enhancement over the Do 217 already in production, so the other five prototypes were finished as simplified Do 217R aircraft and fitted out to launch the Henschel Hs 293 guided ground-attack missiles – that missile had some success in sinking ships off the French and Italian coasts, but whether one of the Do 217R aircraft was involved remains a mystery.

Junkers Ju 288: With 22 prototypes built, this was the most “successful” of the Bomber B Program aircraft, though that isn’t saying a lot. As its designation suggests, it is a straight-line outgrowth of the Ju 88 and Ju 188 designs, and had many components in common, which would have sped up production, if the right powerplant had been available. Like several of the other Bomber B models, it had a pressurized crew cabin and remote-controlled gun turrets. Unlike the Ju 88, this model had a large internal bomb bay, capable of carrying 8,000 pounds of bombs. With more power and no external weapons, it would have been far faster. Because it was based on a successful design, the Junkers Ju 288 was the “winner” of the Bomber B Program even before it was built, and the other, more radical designs were considered “insurance.”

However, because there was no powerplant in production that would produce sufficient horsepower to make this heavy medium bomber feasible, it did not go into production and was canceled in 1944 in favor of more fighters. But because there were a number of prototypes flying, these planes were fitted with guns and used late in the war as reconnaissance bombers, along with a small number of Junkers Ju 388s.

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