Henschel P.76

The Henschel P.76 was a design for a larger version of the Hs 129A that would have solved some of that aircraft's main problems. The Hs 129A-0 had been inspected by pilots from Erprobungskommando 129 (a special unit formed to bring the aircraft into service) in November 1940, and they had not been impressed. The Argus engines didn't provide enough power for the increasingly heavy aircraft, and the armoured cockpit had tiny windows with very limited visibility. The pilot's reports on the new aircraft was almost universally poor, and early in 1941 the Luftwaffe made it clear that it was not going to accept the Hs 129A-1 production aircraft that were then approaching completion.

The Henschel design team, lead by Dipl Ing Friedrich Nicolaus, had seen this problem coming, and soon had a new design ready. The P.76 would have been a larger version of the Hs 123, with a wing span of 50ft 10 N in, four feet wider than on the Hs 123, and a length of 33ft 2in, up by just over a foot. The P.76 would have been powered by two 700hp Gnome & Rhône 14M 04/05 radial engines, a large number of which had been captured after the fall of France.

Although the new design was clearly superior to the cramped Hs 129, it would have delayed the production of an anti-tank aircraft by at least a year, and this was unacceptable to the Luftwaffe. Instead Nicolaus was ordered to fit the Gnome & Rhône engines to the existing Hs 129A-1s, to produce the pre-production B-0. This was a partial success, and the Hs 129B was used in reasonable numbers on the Eastern Front.

Hs 129 Panzerjäger!, Martin Pegg. The definitive history of the Henschel Hs 129, with good a good section on its development and early history, and an impressive level of detail on its front line career. Supported by some useful appendices, including one with a complete list of Hs 129 loses, with their date, aircraft number, pilot and cause of loss when known.
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (9 December 2009), Henschel P.76 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_henschel_P_76.html

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