As the air war of World War 2 evolved, so too did wartime requirements. Eventually the German concept of the Schnellbomber - or 'fast bomber' - emerged with the primary goal of attacking ground targets through conventional drop loads and evading air defenses through sheer speed. This required a well-streamlined form with enough power to both carry the war load and outpace any inbound interceptors.
The Henschel concern of Germany developed the Hs P.87 along these lines. A unique design form was drawn up in which the tail surfaces were fitted ahead of the wing mainplanes to enhance controlling. A rounded fuselage, housing a multi-person crew, was used as the center point. The crew would be stationed at the forward end with the powerplant, avionics and fuel stores towards the rear. The engine would drive one or two propeller units at the tail in 'pusher' fashion. The wing mainplanes, exhibiting sweep along both its leading and trailing edges, was to carry the vertical fins at its tips. Armament would be fitted to the nose as well and a wheeled, retractable tricycle undercarriage fitted.
The crew compartment would be jettisoned as a whole in the event of an emergency so as to have all personnel clear the trailing props.
The proposed engine fit was a single Daimler-Benz DB610 developing 2,200 horsepower and this would be used to drive a multi-bladed propeller unit or a pair of propeller units in contra-rotating fashion. The DB610 was nothing more than a pairing of two DB605 series engines driving a single shaft - which would be the case in the P.87.
The P.87 appeared impressive on paper but there were concerns of wing inefficiency due to the tail-first approach - inducing drag to promote lift, but drag worked against the concept of a high speed bomber. As such a considerable amount of development time would be required to prove a design sound (and there was little experience on the part of German pilots with piloting a pusher aircraft) so the P.87 was abandoned as there were higher priorities for war torn Germany to deal with in the conflict by this point. As such, the P.87 project was ended with little having been accomplished for it.
Some estimated specifications survived including an overall length of 39.9 feet and a maximum speed of 466 miles per hour. Armament would most likely have centered on cannons and bombs would be carried under the wings or within a modest fuselage bomb bay.
- Ground Attack
- X-Plane / Developmental
39.86 ft (12.15 m)
45.93 ft (14 m)
9.19 ft (2.8 m)
15,432 lb (7,000 kg)
19,842 lb (9,000 kg)
466 mph (750 kph; 405 kts)
32,808 feet (10,000 m; 6.21 miles)
497 miles (800 km; 432 nm)
2,200 ft/min (671 m/min)
2 OR 4 x 30mm MK 108 automatic cannons in nose section (lower front fuselage sides).
Conventional drop bombs carried underwing (or perhaps a small internal bay).
P.87 - Base Project Designation