The Luftwaffe Balkenkreuz
(balk cross) was carried on the upper and lower wings and the fuselages of practically all German military aircraft between 1935 and 1945. It was essentially the national marking used by the German Air Service in the last year of World War I
The German Luftwaffe
was one of the strongest, doctrinally advanced, and battle-experienced air forces in the world when World War II
started in Europe
in September 1939. Officially unveiled in 1935, in violation of the Treaty of Versailles
, its purpose was to support Hitler's Blitzkrieg
across Europe. The aircraft that were to serve in the Luftwaffe were of a new age and far superior to that of most other nations in the 1930s. Types like the Junkers Ju 87 Stuka
and Messerschmitt Bf 109
came to symbolize German aerial might.
The Luftwaffe became an essential component in the "Blitzkrieg" battle plan. Operating as a tactical close support air force, it helped the German armies to conquer the bulk of the European continent in a series of short and decisive campaigns in the first nine months of the war, experiencing its first defeat during the Battle of Britain in 1940 as it could not adapt into a strategic role, lacking heavy bombers with which to conduct a strategic bombing campaign against the British Isles.
Despite this setback the Luftwaffe remained formidable and in June 1941 embarked on Adolf Hitler's quest for an empire in eastern Europe by invading the USSR, with much initial success. However, the Luftwaffe's striking victories in the Soviet Union were brought to a halt in the Russian winter of 1942-1943. From then on, it was forced onto the strategic defensive contesting the ever increasing numbers of Soviet aircraft, whilst defending the German homeland and German occupied Europe from the growing Allied air forces pounding all aspects of German industry.
Having failed to achieve victory in the Soviet Union in 1941 or 1942, the Luftwaffe was drawn into a war of attrition which extended to North Africa and the Channel Front. The entry of the United States into the war and the resurgence of the Royal Air Force's (RAF) offensive power created the Home Front, known as Defense of the Reich operations. The Luftwaffe's strength was slowly eroded and by mid 1944 had virtually disappeared from the skies of Western Europe leaving the German Army to fight without air support. It continued to fight into the last days of the war with revolutionary new aircraft, such as the Messerschmitt Me 262, Messerschmitt Me 163 and the Heinkel He 162, even though the war was already hopelessly lost. (Full article...)
The Airbus A340 is a long-range four-engined widebody commercial passenger airplane manufactured by Airbus. The latest variants (-600 & A340E) now compete with Boeing's 777 series of aircraft on long-haul and ultra long-haul routes.
The A340-600 flies 380 passengers in a three-class cabin layout (419 in 2 class) over 7,500 nautical miles (13,900 km). It provides similar passenger capacity to a 747 but with twice the cargo volume, and at lower trip and seat costs.
The A340-600 is more than 10 m longer than a basic -300, making it the second longest airliner in the world, more than four meters longer than a Boeing 747-400.
- Span: 63.45 m (208 ft 2 in)
- Length: 75.30 m n(246 ft 11 in)
- Height: 17.30 m (56 ft 9 in)
- Engines: four 56,000 lbf (249 kN) thrust Rolls-Royce Trent 556 turbofans
- Cruising Speed: Mach 0.83 (885 km/h, 550 mph)
- First Flight: October 25, 1991