The ME 323 Giant – The biggest transport Aircraft of WWII in Pictures

Joris Nieuwint
 
 
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The Messerschmitt Me 323 Giant, Gigant in German, was a Massive German military transport aircraft of World War II. It was a powered variant of the Messerschmitt Me 321 glider and was the largest transport aircraft of the war. A total of 213 were built with a number having being converted from the Me 321 glider.

The Me 323 had a crew of 5 and could carry 130 troops or 10 to 12 tons of equipment.

The Airplane

Let’s walk around the airplane first so you will see how big it actually is!

Reichsgebiet, Flugzeug Me 323 Gigant
Standing on the wing of the Giant, looking toward the other wing, what a beast! – By Bundesarchiv – CC BY-SA 3.0 de – By Bundesarchiv – CC BY-SA 3.0 de
Russland-Mitte, Flugzeug Me 323 Gigant
A Giant in says Russia 1944 – By Bundesarchiv – CC BY-SA 3.0 de
Reichsgebiet, Flugzeuge Ju 53 und Me 323 Gigant
The ME 323 next to a Junkers JU 52, not small plane by itself as that could carry 17 paratroopers! – By Bundesarchiv – CC BY-SA 3.0 de
Reichsgebiet, Flugzeugwerft mit Me 323, Fw 58
In front of the Giant is a Focke-Wulf Fw 58 “Weihe”, on the right a Focke-Wulf Fw 190. – By Bundesarchiv – CC BY-SA 3.0 de
Russland, Me 323
ME323 in Russia – By Bundesarchiv – CC BY-SA 3.0 de
389px-Bundesarchiv_Bild_101I-331-3026-38,_Russland,_Me_323
Working on the engine of a Giant, Russia, 1943 – By Bundesarchiv – CC BY-SA 3.0 de
Grosseto, Flugzeug Me 323, Motoren
A Giant in Italy, March 1932. In the background two Junkers Ju 290. – By Bundesarchiv – CC BY-SA 3.0 de
Italien, bei Pisa, Me 323 Gigant auf Flugplatz
Luftwaffe mechanics observe the engines of a Giant in Pisa, Italy, 1943 – By Bundesarchiv – CC BY-SA 3.0 de
Russland-Mitte, Flugzeug Me 323 Gigant
Soldiers sleeping in the shade of the wing of a Giant, note the 3 Gnôme-Rhône engines – By Bundesarchiv – CC BY-SA 3.0 de
Reichsgebiet, LKW, Flugzeug Me 323 Gigant
A Faun ZR 567 in front of a Giant – By Bundesarchiv – CC BY-SA 3.0 de
Tunesien, Flugzeug Me 323 Gigant
And the nose which is also the doors to load and unload the Giant – By Bundesarchiv – CC BY-SA 3.0 de

Inside the Giant

Tunesien, Flugzeug Me 323 Gigant, Innenraum
In the nose of the Giant, note the machine-gunner on the right. – By Bundesarchiv – CC BY-SA 3.0 de
Tunesien, Flugzeug Me 323 Gigant, Innenraum
Inside the cargo space of the Giant looking forward, the crew is wearing a lifejacket. December 1942 – By Bundesarchiv – CC BY-SA 3.0 de
Reichsgebiet, Flugzeug Me 323 Gigant, Cockpit
The cockpit of the Giant – By Bundesarchiv – CC BY-SA 3.0 de

Cargo

The Giant could carry massive cargo, almost 20.000kg, here are some examples of what it could carry.

Italien, Flugzeug Me 323 Gigant, Opel "Maultier"
An ME323 in Italy unloads an Open “Maultier” which is towing an artillery piece. – By Bundesarchiv – CC BY-SA 3.0 de
Italien, Flugzeug Me 323 Gigant, Kanone
Unloading a Giant, an Opel Maultier half track towing an artillery piece is driven out of the cargo bay. – By Bundesarchiv – CC BY-SA 3.0 de
Russland-Mitte, Flugzeug Me 323 Gigant
An Opel Blitz inside the Giant. – By Bundesarchiv – CC BY-SA 3.0 de
Grosseto, Flugzeug Me 323, Verwundetentransport
On the way in it carried supplies or vehicles, on the way back wounded soldiers. Italy, March 1943. – By Bundesarchiv – CC BY-SA 3.0 de
Tunesien, Zugmachinen und Me 323 Gigant
Two big German Vehicles, Zgkw. 12t and a Praga T6-SS are pulling a loaded Giant on an airfield in Tunisia 1942 – By Bundesarchiv – CC BY-SA 3.0 de