He 177 file photo [3784]

He 177 Greif

ManufacturerHeinkel Flugzeugwerke
Primary RoleHeavy Bomber
Maiden Flight19 November 1939


ww2dbaseThe He 177 Greif ("Griffin") were long-range heavy bombers of the German Luftwaffe. An unusual feature in the design called for two engines in each nacelle driving a single propeller, which was a result of the German Air Ministry's demand that He 177 bombers should be capable of dive bombing, which was impossible with four propellers. This unique engine configuration, unfortunately, increased the chance of accidental fire as any oil leakage would drip onto the hot exhaust manifolds on the two middle cylinder banks. The frequent fires with earlier variants of the He 177 design led to the nickname Reichsfeuerzeug, "the lighter of the Reich"; the problem with fires was never totally resolved in later variants. Because of the dive bombing requirement, the wing and structure were strengthened beyond a typical bomber design called for, therefore He 177 bombers' speed and bomb load to suffer. In the end, they were only able to achieve shallow dive attacks, so most were used as a heavy bomber only. When production ended due to the Fighter Emergency Program of 1944 which called for a halt in all bomber production in favor of fighters, 1,184 aircraft were built.

ww2dbaseA small number of true four-engined variants were built under the designation He 277, but because they were not officially sanctioned by the Luftwaffe, the variant never entered production.

ww2dbaseSource: Wikipedia.

Last Major Revision: Jun 2007

He 177 Greif Timeline

19 Nov 1939 The Heinkel He 177, the German Luftwaffe's only real heavy bomber of the war, took its first flight.


MachineryTwo Daimler-Benz DB 610 (twin DB 605) 24-cylinder liquid-cooled engines, rated at 2,950hp each
Armament1x7.92mm nose MG 81J, 1x20mm ventral MG 151, 2x13mm forward dorsal MG 131, 1x13mm aft MG 131, 1x20mm tail MG 151, up to 7,200kg of bombs or two mines, missiles, or torpedoes
Span31.44 m
Length22.00 m
Height6.70 m
Wing Area100.00 m²
Weight, Empty16,800 kg
Weight, Loaded31,000 kg
Speed, Maximum472 km/h
Service Ceiling7,080 m
Range, Normal1,540 km
Range, Maximum5,600 km


He 177 A-3 bomber resting at an airfield, circa 1942-1945He 177 bomber in flight, circa 1942-1945A captured He 177 A-5 with British markings in flight, circa Sep 1944 or later

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Anonymous says:
16 Apr 2010 02:30:30 PM

sound like a good book.
2. Anonymous says:
24 Jun 2010 03:52:15 AM

I disagree with Peter Chen about the He-277 never being placed in Production. It was developed privately by Heinkel at Vienna as the He-177B but at a meeting with Hitler in March 1944 Hitler was so pleased with it that he ordered immediate production and the designation changed to He-277. Production was by means of converting early He-177 A-O airframes. In the He-277 B-5 not only was there a new wing, but also an "H" style tail. Sixteen airframes were converted before the Emergency Fighter Production program in July 1944 halted He-277 work. At least eight examples are believed to have flown.
3. Anonymous says:
29 Jun 2010 03:14:07 AM

Both are wrong. The He-177 B-0 was an RLM designation from late 1938. The He-277 B-5 was known as the He-177 A-8 until Hitler approved the He-277 designation in August 1943.
4. Commenter identity confirmed Alan Chanter says:
28 Jul 2015 03:34:30 AM

After the war Professor Ernst Heinkel wrote his memoires. He traced the chequered development of the He 177 and described how some of the delays and complications arose over the German Air Ministry insistence, for some of its gestation period, that the big machine should be able to dive bomb, which in turn led to the insistence on the retention of the coupled engines, He told Hitler about the dive bombing requirement (by then abandoned) at a conference at Obersalzberg on May 23, 1943. Hitler sprang to his feet and cried 'But this is madness. I've heard nothing if this until today. Is it possible there could be so many idiots?'.
5. Baba Gaga says:
11 Jun 2019 08:46:39 PM

I like planes.

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He 177 A-3 bomber resting at an airfield, circa 1942-1945
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