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Published on Oct 8, 2007
GREIF An unusual feature of the airplane was the use of twin engines in each nacelle driving a single propeller. The insistence of this engine configuration by the Reichsluftfahrtministerium, (the German Air Ministry) stemmed directly from their determination that the aircraft should be capable of dive-bombing, a manoeuvre that is impossible in aircraft with four propellers, and also emblematic of the "Stuka mentality" pervasive in the Luftwaffe in the very late 1930s, which also influenced later bomber development programs, such as the ill-fated Bomber B program.
The paired engines had first been introduced on the single-propeller equipped Heinkel He 119 prototype reconnaissance bomber aircraft, to reduce drag where they worked well, but their tight installation in the He 177 led to considerable problems because of the poor packaging of the engine installations that caused oil leakage onto the hot exhaust manifolds on the two middle cylinder banks.
Starting with He 177 A-3, a slightly lengthened engine nacelle with a new choice of coupled-engine "system", the Daimler-Benz DB 610, was used to attempt to eliminate tendency for the engines to catch fire. This achieved only partial success and there were also problems with the transfer gearbox between the two engines and their shared propeller.