Scale of Model:
Rules on how to use this piece in HBG's Global War Game.
The Me-321 was a massive glider, capable
of carrying 130 fully armed troops. This
heavy glider required specialized aircraft to tow it, which lead to the
development of the He-111Z, an unusual joining of two He-111 bomber frames that
could provide the thrust needed to tow this 75,000LB monstrosity. In the end the He-321 proved too large and
unwieldy for effective operation.
Gliders must be placed at a factory when produced
Gliders move with their base unit, which must be either a strategic bomber
(unless stated otherwise) or an air transport.
Such an aircraft has its range reduced by 2 when towing a glider. A glider can otherwise move “1” in
non-combat movement. A glider remains
in the zone it attacks and does not return with the towing unit.
A glider can transport 1 infantry in
combat movement. That infantry need not be an airborne but may not be a
Gliders must be delivered to their destination and have no combat move of their
own. Upon reaching their destination
they and their towing aircraft are subject to AA fire. After AA fire, Gliders land in the zone and
units from them can participate in the attack.
Units attacking from a glider may not retreat. Gliders are destroyed if the territory is not
captured by the attacking units.
Gliders may never be launched from a carrier.
As base unit
Heavy Glider: The Me-321 may only be delivered by a strategic bomber, air transport or an
He-111Z tactical bomber. The Me-321
reduces the range of the towing aircraft by 2. The Me-321 carries 1 artillery or 2
The Messerschmitt Me 321 Gigant was a large German cargo glider developed and used during World War II. It was developed into the six-engined Messerschmitt Me 323 Gigant.
During the preparations for a possible invasion of Britain during World War II (Operation Sea Lion) it became obvious to the Luftwaffe's Transport Command that there was a need for a larger capacity cargo- and troop-carrying aircraft than its mainstay, the Junkers Ju 52
When the plans for Operation Sea Lion were shelved in December 1940, and planning began for the invasion of Russia (Operation Barbarossa), it was decided that the most cost-effective solution to the need for transport aircraft was to use gliders. Accordingly, the Technical Bureau of the Luftwaffe issued a tender for rapid development of a Grossraumlastensegler ("large-capacity transport glider") to the aircraft manufacturers Junkers and Messerschmitt. The specification called for the glider to be capable of carrying either an 88 mm gun plus its tractor, or a medium tank. The codename Projekt Warschau ("Project Warsaw") was used, with Junkers being given the codename Warschau-Ost and Messerschmitt Warschau-Süd.
However, the Junkers design, the Ju 322 Mammut was unsuccessful due to the company opting to use all-wood construction. Messerschmitt's design, the Me 263 (later reused for a second generation rocket fighter in 1945), consequently secured the contract for the company.
The first Me 321 A-1 production aircraft entered service in May 1941 with Grossraumlastensegler 321 at Leipheim, initially towed by Ju 90s and later by the He 111Z and the Troikaschlepp arrangement of three Bf 110s. The later Me 321 B-1 variant had a crew of three and was armed with four 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 15 machine guns.
The Me 321 was less than successful on the Eastern Front for various reasons:
- As a glider, the Me 321 lacked the ability to make a second or third approach to a crowded landing strip.
- It was impossible to move on the ground without specialized vehicles.
- Before the introduction of the He 111 Zwilling, the dangerous Troikaschlepp arrangement gave a one-way range of only 400 km (250 mi) which was insufficient for a safe operating zone.
In spring 1942, the remaining Me 321s were withdrawn from service in Russia in anticipation of the planned Operation Herkules, the invasion of Malta, in which a fleet of the gliders hauled by He 111Zs were to be used. The plan was abandoned due to a lack of towing aircraft.
In 1943, the Me 321s were returned to Russia to be used in a projected operation to relieve General Friedrich Paulus’ besieged army at Stalingrad, but by the time they reached the front line, no suitable airfields remained and they were sent back to Germany.
Following the cancellation of the Stalingrad operation, the Me 321 gliders were either mothballed or scrapped, though some were converted into the powered variant, the Me 323 with six 895 kW (1,200 hp) engines. This was the biggest land-based cargo aircraft of World War II. A further proposed operation — in which the remaining Me 321s would have landed troops on Sicily — was also abandoned, due to a lack of suitable landing sites.
Ultimately, 200 Me 321s were produced
- Me 321 A-1 : single pilot version, 100 built.
- Me 321 B-1 : had a crew of three (including co-pilot) and was armed with four 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 15 machine guns, 100 built.
Data from German Aircraft of the Second World War
- Crew: three
- Capacity: 130 troops
- Length: 28.15 m (92 ft 4 in)
- Wingspan: 55 m (180 ft 5 in)
- Height: 10.15 m (33 ft 4 in)
- Wing area: 300 m² (3,228 sq ft)
- Empty weight: 12,400 kg (27,300 lb)
- Loaded weight: 34,400 kg (75,800 lb)