The existence of a new GAF transport, the Me-323, has recently been confirmed. This high-wing
monoplane appears to be a development of the "Gigant" glider, originally identified as
the "Merseburg." In view of take-off difficulties believed to have been experienced with the
latter, it is probable that the powered aircraft will supplant the glider version. The dimensions
of the Me-323 tally exactly with those of the "Gigant," so far as known.
The Me-323 is of metal and plywood construction and has a welded-tube fuselage of
the "two-deck" type, the upper deck being detachable for the transport of freight. The wing
has a span of 178 feet, a length of 88 feet, a root chord of 27 to 28 feet, and a gross
area of 3,200 square feet. It has plywood ribs, every other one of which is reinforced by
metal profile welded to a single spar. Both fuselage and wing are fabric covered, plywood
being used for the leading edge and extending over surfaces about three feet aft. Camber-changing
flaps are employed.
The aircraft has a single fin and rudder. The tailplane, which has a span of about 50 feet, is
fitted with an adjustable stabilizer. The landing gear is thought to have 10 wheels, 5 in
tandem on each side of the forward part of the fuselage.
Six twin-row, radial, air-cooled engines, believed to be Gnome-Rhone 14 M, are
estimated to deliver a maximum horsepower of about 4,920, or 820 each, at an altitude
of 10,000 feet. The maximum speed of the aircraft is estimated to be about 160 mph
at 10,000 feet altitude, and 140 mph at sea level.
The Me-323 has a useful load of from 20,000 to 25,000 pounds. It eventually may be re-engined with
a Gnome-Rhone 14 M model capable of developing 1,085 hp at take-off. It is
believed that this would permit a further increase in load and make the aircraft capable
of independent operation. At the present time, it is thought that some form of assisted take-off, such
as a tug, may be employed for a full military load of 22,000 pounds.
The Me-323 can carry 120 fully equipped men, or an alternative load of small tanks or motor
vehicles, when the upper deck is detached. Freight is loaded through the double doors that
form the curved nose of the airplane; this is accomplished by a jacking system enabling the
nose to be lowered to a convenient height.
The aircraft is fitted with six machine guns, which fire through apertures in the sides of the
fuselage, a plywood frame being provided for each aperture. Fore and aft armament has not as
yet been reported.