Messerschmitt Me 264
          In 1937, the Messerschmitt development department started work on Projekt 1062 (which later became the Me 261), a long range aircraft used for record distance attempts and eventually reconnaissance duties. Simultaneously, another long range aircraft was in the development stage, Projekt 1061, which was to be powered by four individual engines, and have a range of 20000 km (12428 miles). Due to more important projects in development at the time (mainly the Bf 109 and 110), Projekt 1061 was only sporadically worked on until late in 1940.  The German Naval Warfare Department wrote to Reichsmarschall Göring on August 10, 1940 that long range aircraft with a range of at least 6000 km (3728 miles) would be needed to reach the planned German Colonial Reich in central Africa. Also, about this time the RLM issued a requirement for long range aircraft with a range of at least 12000 km (7457 miles), to reach from French bases to the United States, in anticipation of the coming war with the U.S. Therefore, the work on Projekt 1061 was stepped up, with Willy Messerschmitt on December 20, 1940 informing designers Wolfgang Degel, Paul Konrad and Waldemar Voigt of the requirements for this long range aircraft. The initial requirements were for a 20000 km (12428 miles) range, capability for military and civilian roles, at least a 5000 kg (11023 lbs) bomb load to be carried in an internal bomb bay, smaller bombs to be carried externally on under-wing pylons and to have a very clean airframe. In early 1941, Messerschmitt  received an order to build six prototype Projekt 1061 aircraft, which were given the designation of  Me 264. If the aircraft proved capable, a further 24 aircraft were to be built for "harassing attacks against  the United States".  At the same time, Messerschmitt continued to work on a six engined version of the Me 264, Projekt 1075. Since the Messerschmitt design offices were running at full capacity, part of the design work was delegated to the Fokker Works in Amsterdam.
          On January 22, 1941, the General Staff of the Luftwaffe demanded a long range aircraft for the submarine war. The Focke-Wulf Fw 200, Heinkel He 177, Blohm & Voss BV 222 and Messerschmitt Me 261/264 were to all be compared to find the best aircraft for this purpose. Because of its overoptimistic performance and weights data, the RLM chose the Me 264 as the best choice.  Several schemes were proposed by the Messerschmitt design bureau to extend the range of the Me 264, including towing one Me 264 by another to altitude, in flight refueling by a second Me 264, adding two more engines bringing the total to six and using take-off rocket pods for overload takeoff conditions. With these recommendations, it was felt that a range of 18100 km (11247 miles)  and a bomb load of 5000 kg (11023 lbs) could be achieved, and a range of 26400 km (16405 miles) without any bombload. Armament for both versions would have consisted of remote controlled turrets with either MG 131 or MG 151. In early 1942, GFM Milch canceled or reduced numerous development projects, including reducing the number of Me 264 prototypes from six to three, due to the worsening war situation. On February 28, 1942, the Me 264 development was to be temporarily turned over to the Dornier works, but they too were operating above their capacity. The Wesser Aircraft Works in southern Germany were also considered, but nothing came of this idea either. A commission headed by Lt. Col. Petersen arrived at the Messerschmitt-Augsburg complex on April 24, 1942 (at the orders of Milch) to check the actual performances of the Me 264, where it was found that the performances were about 90% of what Messerschmitt had been stating. Strangely enough, the very same day Willy Messerschmitt was cleverly presenting the RLM with the idea of using the Me 264 in "Atlantic Missions", and harassing attacks on the American east coast. Shortly afterwards, on May 7, 1942, another detailed report was yet again submitted stating that the Me 264 with a takeoff weight of 45000 kg (99207 lbs) and powered by four Jumo 211J engines could attain a range of 13000 km (8078 miles), and with four BMW 801 engines a range of 14000 km (8700 miles) could be reached. To add to the confusion again, on May 16, 1942 a meeting was held concerning all long range aircraft. It was decided that any flights over 13500 km (8389 miles) would need in flight refueling, and General Jeschonnek had already turned down this option in February 1942 (even though initial in flight refueling tests with a Fw 58 and a Ju 90 had been successful). This ended (at this time) all discussions of harassing attacks against American targets, also reconnaissance missions over the Trans-Siberian railroad and even Equatorial Africa.
           By mid-July of 1942, three Me 264 prototypes were being constructed. It was hoped that the Me 264 V1 could be ready for flight testing by October 10, 1942, but again this was optimistic due to delayed and sometimes missing component deliveries. By the end of August 1942 it was obvious that the October maiden flight could not be attained because of the excessive delay in the main landing gear delivery from VDM and the promised Junkers engines were also late. A general skepticism was creeping in concerning the numerous delays in getting the first Me 264 in the air, and again the consensus from the RLM and General Staff of the Luftwaffe was leaning towards the Junkers Ju 290 and the six engined Ju 390.
           Meanwhile, the construction of the first prototype V1 was progressing very slowly at Augsburg. At last, on December 23, 1942, the Me 264 V1 was ready for its first test flight (please see the table below for all test flight dates and results), which lasted 22 minutes. The landing gear was left down due to safety concerns. The test flights were later made at Lechfeld, because it had a sufficiently long concrete runway to accommodate the large Me 264, but could test only the first prototype due to the fact that the airfield facilities only had one hanger large enough to house the Me 264 V1.
          The Me 264 V1 had a very "clean", all metal fuselage with a circular cross section throughout. Just behind the extensively glazed nose and cockpit was a galley, crew rest area and walkway to the rear of the plane above the lower, enclosed bomb bay. The wings were shoulder mounted, slightly swept back and tapered. They contained a single main spar and one auxiliary spar, with the wing loads being transferred through the main spar and two auxiliary bulkheads into the fuselage. The entire fuel supply was stored in the large wings. All control surfaces were conventional, including split flaps on the inner wing. The tailplane, with its twin fins and rudders, was electrically adjustable during flight. A tricycle landing gear system was designed, which was unusual for such a large aircraft at this time. A single nose wheel was used, although testing had been done for a twin nose wheel configuration using a converted Bf 109 (work number 5603). The test showed a loss of maneuverability, but no shimmying. Because of the ever increasing weight demands, the main landing gear was also to be strengthened, and even a droppable auxiliary main gear was considered. The exterior of the Me 264 V1 was puttied and sanded all over, to give the smoothest possible finish. The engines used on the first prototype were the 12 cylinder, liquid cooled Junkers Jumo 211J-1 . These were the same engines used on the Junkers Ju 88A-4 models, and to save time even the Ju 88 nacelles and radiators were utilized.  The Me 264 V2 was to have extended wing tips and 1000 kg (2200 lbs) of armor added around the more vital parts of the aircraft. It was reportedly being readied for preflight ground tests when it, too, was destroyed in an air raid.
          During the flight testing in 1943, the fate of the Me 264 still hung in the balance. Admiral Dönitz and the Supreme Naval War Staff favored the Focke-Wulf Ta 400. However, since this aircraft wasn't supposed to be ready before 1946, it was decided that the Ju 290, He 177 and the Ju 390 should be produced in the interim to provide maritime reconnaissance. A teletype message reached Messerschmitt in May 1943, stating that the Me 264 should be abandoned. This caused some astonishment, because just a week earlier the RLM had insisted upon the completion of the Me 264 prototypes. In June 1943, Messerschmitt contacted Hitler to inform him on how well the Me 264 development was progressing, hoping that Hitler would intervene in his behalf. On July 8, 1943, at a meeting in the Supreme Headquarters, Hitler promised his support for the continued production of the Me 264 to Messerschmitt, but only for maritime uses. At the same time he dropped his decision to bomb the east coast of the U.S., because "the few aircraft that could get through would only provoke the populace to resistance". Only one day later, GFM Milch agreed to continue the construction of the three Me 264 prototypes for the purpose of studies only. Göring, Milch, Friebel and Messerschmitt met on October 14, 1943 to discuss further development possibilities. According to Messerschmitt, the components for the first five prototypes were completed, but he lacked the necessary space and facilities in which to construct them. To get the space for the Me 410 production, all the Me 264 final assembly building jigs were moved from the Augsburg plant and stored at Gersthofen. Later that day, GFM Milch wanted to stop the Me 264 completely, in order to concentrate on the Me 262 jet fighter, to which Göering agreed. One day later, the production orders for the Focke-Wulf Ta 400 was canceled, mainly because the Focke-Wulf resources were needed for the Fw 190D-9 and Ta 152 production.
          On June 29, 1944, the Trial Establishments Headquarters definitely stated that the Me 264, as well as the Ju 390, would be unsuitable for operational deployment since its fitting with the entire military equipment and payload would excessively increase the takeoff weight and the wing load. Then on July 18, 1944 the only Me 264 prototype was destroyed in an air raid along with the assembled components of the following two prototype and 80% of the production facilities. Although numerous attempts were made to save the Me 264 program, Admiral Dönitz got Hitler to agree on September 23, 1944 that all work on the Me 264 project should be stopped. Less than a month later, on October 18, 1944 an unmistakable directive was received. The "Reichsmarschall Technical Order Nr. 2" stated: "The production of the Me 264 is herewith canceled". This confirmed the end of the eight year development program that led to only one test aircraft that was far from being operationally ready.
          Even before the first prototype had flown, further developments of the Me 264 were being proposed.  Beginning with the V4 model, it was planned to use four high performance BMW 801 E engines with turbochargers and GM-1 boost system. Another idea was a provision as a long range transporter, which would carry 12 to 17 paratroopers and be armed with one FLH 151Z remote controlled turret. It was considered that two additional drop tanks could extend the Me 264's range to 13600 km (8451 miles) and a top speed of 580 km (361 mph) at an altitude of 6300 meters (20700 feet), with an estimated flight time of 41 hours. Another version was to add two Jumo 004 jet engines outboard of the four radial BMW engines, and was submitted to the Luftwaffe for evaluation. It was even considered to include a towed Me 328 pulsejet powered fighter for protection.
          A variety of engines were considered for the Me 264, including a four Jumo 004C jet engined version, a two or four BMW 028 turboprop engined version and a twin BMW 018 turbojet powered version. Another project was to have used Ritz heat exchangers to greatly increase range. Perhaps the most unusual powerplant idea was for a steam turbine that was to develop over 6000 horsepower and drive a 5.334 meter (17' 6") diameter airscrew. Fuel would have been in a mixture of powdered coal and petroleum. the main advantages to this engine would be constant power at all altitudes and simple maintenance.
          An armed long distance reconnaissance version (Me 264A) would have been equipped with three Rb 50/30 cameras, and armed with one MG 130/2, one DHL 151Z, one MG 151 and perhaps two MG 131 for the lateral positions. According to a study dated April 27, 1942, the long distance aircraft should be able to fly reconnaissance missions as far as Baku, Grosnyj, Magnitogorsk, Swerdlowsk, Tiffis or Tshejabinsk in the USSR, and flights to Dakar, Bathurst, Lagos, Aden and southern Iran were also reachable. Not only were New Jersey and New York in the U.S. within range, but also targets in Ohio, Pennsylvania and even Indiana; in addition, there were plans to station some Me 264s on Japanese bases on islands northeast of the Philippines, to fly reconnaissance missions as far as Australia, India and much of the Pacific area. The updated version of the Me 264 was to use the Jumo 222 engines with the GM-1 boost system, which was under development at the time.
          The long range bomber version (Me 264B) was supposed to be fitted with four BMW 801E radial engines and an additional two Jumo 004C jet engines. The armament was similar to the above reconnaissance model, except the single MG 151 would be replaced with one MG 131.  Its total weight would be 48100 kg (106041 lbs), or 49900 kg (110010 lbs) with the two Jumo 004C jet engines. The range would have been, with a 3000 kg (6614 lbs) bomb load, 11600 km (7208 miles) without the Jumo jet engines and 8500 km (5282 miles) with the jets. With the jet engines installed, the aircraft should have been able to reach a top speed of 655 km/h (407 mph) at 6700 meters (21981 feet). A top ceiling of 14500 meters (47572 feet) could be reached due to the pressurized cockpit. A naval version would be equipped with four Jumo 222E/F high altitude engines, plus the two Jumo 004C turbojets. the maximum offensive load was calculated to be 6000 kg (13228 lbs). It was also recommended at this point that the fully glazed cockpit should be replaced with a stepped cockpit, also, the defensive armament was being continually revised until all the turrets were remotely controlled, and revolved through 360 degrees. A new turret was even developed, armed with two MG 213 revolver cannon, then under development.
          There was also a high altitude bomber version being designed, which would have been equipped with four BMW 801 E/F radial engines with superchargers. The cockpit was planned to be pressurized from the beginning.  Since the rest of the plane would not be pressurized, remote controlled defensive armament would have to be installed. According to factory documents of July 9, 1943, this version was based on a 39000 kg (85979 lbs) takeoff weight, which included a 3000 kg (6614 lbs) bomb load, and was to utilize the jettisonable additional landing gear. The minimum penetration distance would have been 3500 km (2175 miles) at an altitude of 12000 meters (39370 feet), at a cruising speed of 640 km/h (398 mph). It would have required a climbing time of 70 minutes to reach this altitude. Again, the Jumo 222 E/F would have been the most efficient engines for high altitude operations, and it was planned to re-equip this aircraft when these engines became available.
          5100 kg (11243 lbs) drop tanks were designed in September 1944, and were ready to be manufactured when the cancellation order arrived. Even after the cancellation order was received, work continued by many Messerschmitt engineers and designers in December 1944 on a courier version of the Me 264, with a range of 12000 km (7457 miles) and a load of 4000 kg (8818 lbs). At this point in time, the work done was merely a way to protect the Messerschmitt employees from being conscripted into the army.
Messerschmitt Me 264 V1 Flight Tests
Date Test Pilot Airfield Results
December 23, 1942 Karl Baur Augsburg After extensive taxiing trials, the Me 264 made its maiden flight. The duration of this first flight was 22 minutes, and for safety reasons the landing gear was left down. On landing, the airframe was damaged in the area of the flap mounts when the aircraft rolled over the end of the runway due to the failure of the brake system.
January 20, 1943 Karl Baur Augsburg The second test flight was made. Karl Baur complained that the forces on the controls were too high, about the poor placement of the instruments and of exhaust fumes penetrating into the cockpit.
January 22, 1943 Karl Baur Augsburg The Me 264 was transferred to Lechfeld.
January -  
February, 1943
Karl Baur Lechfeld On the fifth test flight, the underside of the fuselage was damaged when it accidentally contacted the ground. Also, the hydraulic system of the landing gear failed, making it impossible to retract the gear.
February, 1943 Karl Baur Lechfeld Baur reported some problems with the inner flaps and a defective nose wheel. Despite some changes to the control surfaces, the forces against them were still too high and the changes had displaced the center of gravity. The nose wheel problems were fixed, and now the retraction functioned properly. Also, some minor defects were found in the electrical cables of the intercom system.
February, 1943 Gerhard Caroli Lechfeld Caroli also found that the forces against the control surfaces were still too high, especially at high speed. Small defects were still present in the radio system and landing gear.
February, 1943 Karl Baur Lechfeld During two flights by Baur, a speed of 600 km/h (373 mph) was reached. The faulty trimming and controls revealed that an eventual change in the entire control system would be inevitably needed. Flights with two or three engines were found to be satisfactory, but in flights with the automatic controls it was found that the servos were too low powered to control such a heavy aircraft.
March 2, 1943 Karl Baur Lechfeld Stability tests were continued.
March 4, 1943 Karl Baur Lechfeld A test of the polare system was cut short when after 15 minutes of flying time, the third engine began to smoke and had to be cut out. At this time, 11 test flights had been made totaling 12 hours flight time.
March 23, 1943 Karl Baur Lechfeld After the faulty engine was changed, the critical altitude tests were made. Several other test flights were made this day, mainly to check the longitudinal stability. Also, the first measures to improve the rudder effect was made.
March 23, 1943 Karl Baur Lechfeld During landing, the left oleo leg broke, which was probably not fully locked down, causing some damage.
March 23 -   
May 21, 1943
  Lechfeld During repairs, a new steering column, a reinforced wing skin, a modified nosewheel drive and a complete radio were added. Also, a new emergency tail  skid was  added, a changed tailplane and four new Jumo 211J engines were installed.
May 22 -  
June 5, 1943
Karl Baur Lechfeld Continued high forces against the ailerons and rudder surfaces were found. Six flights were made totaling 12 hour 16 minutes.
June 2, 1943 Flight Capt. Wendel Lechfeld Serious problems arose when the nosewheel jammed during retraction.
June 10, 1943 FBM Böttcher Lechfeld Reported that the cockpit excessively heated up in the summer sun.
August 11, 1943   Lechfeld The Me 264 V1 was taken out of service, and re-equipped with BMW 801 twin row radial engines.
March 18, 1944   Lechfeld The Me 264 V1 was slightly damaged in an air raid, and was quickly repaired.
April 14, 1944   Lechfeld During the first test roll with the new engines, the brake shoes tore off.
April 16, 1944   Lechfeld The Me 264 V1 was transferred to Memmingen.
April, 1944   Memmingen During the 38th test flight, the emergency skid was torn out after a rough landing. When the rudders were fitted with balances, the excessive vibrations almost ceased.
late April, 1944 FBM Scheibe Lechfeld Scheibe, from the Rechlin Trial Establishment, complained about the canopy reflections during his test flight. He also indicated that the excessive airframe vibrations were the number one problem to fix. 
late April, 1944 Colonel Barsewich Memmingen Barsewich, from the Chief Reconnaissance Department, judged the Me 264 V1 too slow for combat missions, even though the aircraft was about 10% faster than with the Jumo 211J engines.
early May, 1944 Lt. Colonel Knemeyer Memmingen After an uneventful flight, Knemeyer was completely enthusiastic about the Me 264, in his opinion all problems could be overcome in the further testing and refinement of the aircraft.
April 17 - 
May 17, 1944
Karl Baur Memmingen Flight testing was performed for tailplane flutter and the emergency tail skid. The rear of the plane was found to be too heavy.
April 26 - 
May 3, 1944
Captain Nebel Memmingen Three test flights were made by Capt. Nebel of the Rechlin Test Establishment to finally redress the tail vibrations. To avoid building an entire new tail, balance weights were added to get the vibration problems under control. Since the problem was not solved, a larger tail plane seemed inevitable.
June 5, 1944 Karl Baur Memmingen More stability tests were made, with a small improvement. However, the flights were complicated by the continuous problems with the Patin system.
June 6, 1944 Karl Baur Memmingen Extreme rudder fluttering was found in the 380 - 450 km/h (236 - 280 mph) range. Also criticized were the too soft automatic controls, which had to be adjusted again. 
June 26, 1944 Karl Patin Memmingen A climb flight with combat performances was prematurely cut short when the fuel pressure of both inner engines fell to zero. After checking the fuel pumps, several defects were found. Also, the failure of the Patin, radio and electrical systems caused intensive repairs.
July 18, 1944   Memmingen The Me 264 (RE+EN, work number 264000001) was damaged during an air raid. The extent of the damages was too severe for the damage to be repaired.
     Test pilot Karl Baur (1913-1963), who flew every Messerschmitt development aircraft.
Messerschmitt Me 264 V3 (V1) Dimensions
  Span    Length  Height Wing Area   Fuselage Diameter 
43 m 
141' 1" 
(38.9 m) 
(127' 7")
20.115 m 
4.3 m 
14' 1"
127.7 m² 
1374.56 ft²
2.2 m 
7' 3"
Messerschmitt Me 264 V3 Weights
Crew (6) Fuel Oil Nitrous 
Max. Auxiliary 
Fuel & Tanks
Takeoff Equipment
23360 kg 
51500 lbs
540 kg 
1191 lbs
19700 kg 
43438 lbs
1260 kg 
2778 lbs
680 kg 
1500 lbs
45540 kg 
100416 lbs
10500 kg 
23152 lbs
56040 kg 
123568 lbs
4300 kg 
9481 lbs
Messerschmitt Me 264 V3 Performances
Climb Rate 
Takeoff Run 
(Normal Load w/ RATO)
350 km/h 
218 mph
545 km/h 
339 mph
8000 m 
15000 km 
9315 miles
45 hours 120 m/min. 
393 ft/min.
160 km/h 
99 mph
1500 m 
Messerschmitt Me 264 Models
Manufacturer Scale Material Notes
Airmodel  #AM-022 1/72 Vacuform All vacuform kit. Contains parts for the V1-V3 versions. 
Vacuform parts include: wheels, drop tanks, engines (both 
Jumo 211 and BMW 801), rudimentary cockpit parts and 
a wing spar.

Messerschmitt Me 264 V1 Photo Collection
Windtunnel models of the planned production Me 264
Messerschmitt Me 264 Nosewheel 
The nose wheel with and without its fairing. The 
nosewheel retracted to the rear and rotated 90 
degrees to lie flat beneath the cockpit. 

The size 935 x 345 nosewheel was not equipped with brakes.

                                                                      Messerschmitt Me 264 Main Landing Gear
Top right: A view into the main landing gear bay. 

Bottom right: A view of the inner side of the landing gear door. 

Far right: The port main landing gear leg and wheel of the Me 264 V1.

Auxiliary main wheels for over load takeoffs


  The Messerschmitt Me 264 V1 cockpit....


     A penetration depth chart of the Me 264 from May 12, 1944   Note: penetration depth equals half range....


   Target New York!  Original document of 1943 showing the differing range of degrees of destruction on Manhattan after an attack by German long ranged bombers....

                                                   Me 264 with four BMW 028 Turboprops

Me 264/6m or Me 364 (unofficial designation) with six engines

                    Four Jumo 004C turbojet powered version of the Me 264, with T-tail
Messerschmitt Me P.1075 with four piston powered engines and two jet engines in the wing roots

   Me P.1085 with four pusher engines and two jet engines in the wing roots
Above color images from Geheimprojekte der Luftwaffe Band II: Strategische Bomber 1935-1945