Heinkel He 177 Greif (Griffin)

Developed as early as 1939 but not seeing operational trials until 1942, the He 177 was designed by Heinkel Flugzeugwerke to be used by German Luftwaffe during World War 2. Aircrews had nicknamed it the Luftwaffenfeuerzeug (Luftwaffe’s lighter) or the ill-famed ‘Flaming Coffin’ because of the engines’ tendency to catch fire on the early versions of the aircraft. The Heinkel He 177 Greif might have been an excellent heavy bomber for Germany, if it had not been detested because of its engine troubles. As a result, its production was ceased in 1944.

Externally, the He 177 appeared as a two engine aircraft as it looked fitted with two propeller systems and two engine nacelles. However, the He 177 was in fact fitted with four Daimler-Benz engines, two to each wing, yet engineered in coupled pairs. The resulting design was a technical innovation resulting in an unusual feature of the twin engines in each nacelle driving a single propeller, as the components of a “power system”.This 4-Engine diesgn helpd in reducing air resistance to a great extent. Siegfried Günther, chief designer of Heinkel, chose DB 606 engines, which were themselves a derivative of the DB 601 types. Unfortunately for Germany, they proved unreliable and prone to fires earning the aircraft several telltale nicknames like “the Torch” and “Lighter”.

It used three remotely controlled defensive gun turrets all controlled from the cockpit, which offered substantially less drag than larger manned turrets thereby making it lighter. Its capabilities included the carrying of advanced Henschel Hs 293 and Fritz X “flying” bombs.

Rumors have it that the He177 was secretly being readied in Czechoslovakia to carry the planned German Atomic bomb. If it weren’t for a few brave Norwegian saboteurs, Adolf Hitler would have had a prepared Atomic bomb towards the war’s end.


Crew: 5
Length: 22 m (72 ft 2 in)
Wingspan: 31.44 m (103 ft 1 in)
Height: 6.7 m (21 ft)
Wing area: 101.5 m² (1,092 ft²)
Empty weight: 16,800 kg (37,000 lb)
Loaded weight: 31,000 kg (68,340 lb)
Engine: 2x Daimler-Benz DB 610 (twin DB 605) 24-cylinder liquid-cooled inline engines, 2,950 hp (2,170 kW) each
Maximum speed: 565 km/h (350 mph) at 6,100 m (21,000 ft)
Service ceiling: 9,400 m (30,800 ft)
Guns: 2 x 20 mm MG 151 cannon
3 x MG 131 machine gun
3 x MG 81 machine gun
Bombs: up to 7,200 kg (15,873 lb) of bombs or 3 guided missiles (Henschel Hs 293 or Fritz X)