The He 177 was conceived by Germany before World War Two as a strategic heavy bomber. Chris Goss discovers why it never made a telling impact.

Aircraft Wk Nr 000017 was the second prototype and is shown being operated by Erprobungsstelle Rechlin.
All photos via Chris Goss

Political and military interference, technical problems and engine fires all contributed to the failure of the four-engined Heinkel He 177 to fulfil its potential. High fuel consumption grounded the aircraft at just the moment when all its problems seem to have been ironed out.

When war began in September 1939, the Luftwaffe had no long-range bomber, even though the feasibility of such an aircraft had been under consideration since 1936.

It was November 1939 before the He 177 Greif (Griffon) made its maiden flight, but it would be another three years before a full operational debut.

Become a Premium Member to Read More

This is a premium article and requires an active Key.Aero subscription to view.

I’m an existing member, sign me in!

I don’t have a subscription…

Enjoy the following subscriber only benefits:

  • Unlimited access to all KeyAero content
  • Exclusive in-depth articles and analysis, videos, quizzes added daily
  • A fully searchable archive – boasting hundreds of thousands of pieces of quality aviation content
  • Access to read all our leading aviation magazines online - meaning you can enjoy the likes of FlyPast, Aeroplane Monthly, AirForces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, Aviation News, Airports of the World, PC Pilot and Airliner World - as soon as they leave the editor’s desk.
  • Access on any device- anywhere, anytime
  • Choose from our offers below