Nope, that’s not a misspelling of the word “giant” – that’s “giant” in German! The Germans gave that nickname to their Messerschmidt Me 323 because it was a huge 6-engined troop carrier and ultimately turned out to be the largest land-based transport vehicle of WWII.
|The Messerschmidt Me 323|
The Me 323’s design was based on the Me321 glider – another “gigant” that was never used to full advantage. That machine was designed to haul 100+ troops, or a big gun, or large motorized transport vehicle. However, finding a powerful enough tow plane to get it in the air was an issue. It also needed special tow vehicles to maneuver it on the ground since it was engine-less. Finally, it could only gain an airspeed of 100 mph once it was airborne and that degraded as the glide time increased. Talk about your sitting duck… It was usable but not ideal and soon gave way to its new motorized sister vehicle – the Me 323.
|The Messerschmidt Me 321 glider|
The Germans only built about 200 of the Me 323s and none survive on land. However, one may have been discovered this year off the coast of Sardinia where it was believed to have been shot down in 1943. It is my understanding that they are still evaluating if it really is a Me 323 but most experts believe it is. There is no indication of plans to raise it (yet), but the temptation to do so must be pretty strong.
Here is a link to a 2-minute video about that wreck which has footage in it of the Messerschmidt Me 323 in use during WWII.
The Mustang and RISE ABOVE Traveling Exhibit are at Hoosier Aviation FBO in Terre Haute, Ind. through tomorrow. It is an “open house” format and admission to the grounds is free. Of course, admission to the Traveling Exhibit is always free so this is a good deal for everybody. Hours today are noon until 6 p.m. and tomorrow from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Countdown to the election: 33 days
The CAF Red Tail Squadron is a volunteer-driven 501c3 non-profit organization that operates under the auspices of the Commemorative Air Force. For more information, please visit redtail.org.