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The Junkers Ju 322 Mammut (Mammoth) was a massive all-wooden glider built to the same specifications as the more successful Messerschmitt Me 321.
Work on the Ju 322 began late in 1940. Junkers had no experience of working in wood, but they still had a design ready by October 1940. Their proposal was for a glider that was almost entirely made up of a single huge wing, carrying most of its cargo in the centre section of the wing, and lacking anything resembling a normal fuselage. A tail boom led back to a tall angular fin and rudder and a braced tail plane.
The leading edge of the centre section of the wing contained a large curved loading door that opened upwards, and the glider's crew were located in a gondola mounted above the left side of the centre section. The glider took off using a large trolley with eight pairs of wheels, and landed on four separate sprung landing skids. Production aircraft were to be armed with three turrets, each carrying a single MG 15 7.9mm machine gun. One was to be located above the forward section of the tail boom, the other two above the leading edge of the wing centre section.
The Ju 322 was designed to carry a load of 44,000lb, enough for 100 fully loaded troops or a tank. As work progressed the load had to be reduced, first to 35,280lb and then to 24,255lb. This was partly because the wings weren't as strong as expected and partly because the cargo floor had to be strengthened after a Panzer III fell straight through it.
The Ju 322 made its maiden flight in April 1941, being towed into the air by the Ju 90 V7. The flight was a disaster. The take-off trolley almost bounced back into the glider, and was destroyed. The glider suffered from severe spiral instability while it was on the tow line, making it very difficult to control. It took too long to leave the ground, and then when it did take off nearly forced the Ju 90 into the ground. Things went a little better once the tow rope had been released. The Ju 322 made a smooth landing, but it hadn't been possible to steer it back to the airfield, and it proved to be very difficult to move the massive glider back home.
Although the V1 made several more flights the project was officially cancelled in May 1941. A second aircraft, the V2, was built but never flew, and work had become on another thirty aircraft from an original order for one hundred. Eventually all of the air frames were cut up and the wood used for fuel.
Wing span: 203ft 5in (62m)
Length: 99ft 3in (30.25m)
Payload: 24,255lb (11,000kg)
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