Πέμπτη, 14 Απριλίου 2016

Officially sanctioned by Adolf Hitler – the amazing Mercedes-Benz T80




 Mercedes-Benz Museum, Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. source
Mercedes-Benz Museum, Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. source
Mercedes, has quite the history time line. From ties with the Nazis, to engineering some of the craziest cars of all times. Hitler was a huge fan of automotive racing and wanted Germany to have the best of anything.
World-renowned German auto racer Hans Stuck’s pet project was to take the world land speed record and he convinced Mercedes-Benz to build a special racing car for the attempt. In the decade just before World War II broke out, two German car manufacturers were having their own private wars against each other. We’re talking about Mercedes-Benz and Auto Union, which, in part thanks to a load of cash and a couple of direct orders coming from none other than Adolf Hitler himself, were set to become the most prodigious car manufacturers in the world.
The Mercedes-Benz T80 was a six-wheeled vehicle built by Mercedes-Benz, developed and designed by Ferdinand Porsche. It was intended to break the world land speed record, but never made the attempt, having been over-taken by the outbreak of WWII.

World-renowned German auto racer Hans Stuck’s pet project was to take the world land speed record and he convinced Mercedes-Benz to build a special racing car for the attempt. Officially sanctioned by Adolf Hitler (a race car fan influenced by Stuck), the project was started in 1937, while the Nazi Third Reich was at the height of its powers. Automotive designer Dr.Ferdinand Porsche first targeted a speed of  342 mph, but after George Eyston’s and John Cobb’s successful LSR runs of 1938 and 1939 the target speed was raised to 373 mph.
When the T80 was first imagined, it was intended to run out on the Bonneville Salt Flats of Utah. By 1940, when it was supposed to run, young men from Utah were getting ready to shoot Germans like Hans Stuck in a battle for Europe, so the attempt was instead planned for, of course, the Autobahn. source
When the T80 was first imagined, it was intended to run out on the Bonneville Salt Flats of Utah. By 1940, when it was supposed to run, young men from Utah were getting ready to shoot Germans like Hans Stuck in a battle for Europe, so the attempt was instead planned for, of course, the Autobahn. source
By late 1939, when the project was finished, the target speed was a much higher 470 mph. This would also be the first attempt at the absolute land speed record on German soil, Hitler envisioned the T80 as another propaganda triumph of German technological superiority to be witnessed by all the world, courtesy of German television. The same Autobahn course had already been proven ideal for record-breaking in smaller capacity classes, Britain’s Goldie Gardner having exceeded 200 mph there in a 1,500 cc MG.
The Daimler DB 603 which powered it was a true monster. A 44.5-liter V12 straight out of use in bomber aircraft like the Messerschmitt Bf 109. source
The Daimler DB 603 which powered it was a true monster. A 44.5-liter V12 straight out of use in bomber aircraft like the Messerschmitt Bf 109. source
The massive 44.5 litre Daimler-Benz DB 603 inverted V12 was selected to power the record-setting car. The engine was an increased displacement derivative of the famous DB-601 aircraft engine that powered the Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighter in production at the time, with the DB 603 ending up as the largest displacement inverted V12 aviation engine in production for Germany during the World War II years. The DB-603 fitted was just the third prototype (V3) engine of this variant and tuned up to 3,000 hp, roughly twice the power of the Bf 109 or the Supermarine Spitfire. The engine ran on a special mixture of methyl alcohol (63%), benzene (16%), ethanol (12%), acetone (4.4%), nitrobenzene (2.2%), avgas (2%), and ether (0.4%) with MW (methanol-water) injection for charge cooling and as an anti-detonant.

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This whole automotive 'race' started in 1933, when Adolf Hitler became the chancellor of Germany and announced that his country would compete and win on the world’s racetracks in order to demonstrate their technological supremacy. For this to happen he also announced a hefty government subsidy for a racing program to be put in place by the best German manufacturer at the time. source
This whole automotive ‘race’ started in 1933, when Adolf Hitler became the chancellor of Germany and announced that his country would compete and win on the world’s racetracks in order to demonstrate their technological supremacy. For this to happen he also announced a hefty government subsidy for a racing program to be put in place by the best German manufacturer at the time. source
The difficulty of the challenge was met with money and engineering genius. By 1939, the T80 was fully completed at a cost of RM 600,000. The car was over 27 ft, had three axles with two of them driven, weighed over 2.7 metric tons and produced 3,000 hp together with the aerodynamics of specialist Josef Mickl to attain a projected speed of 470 mph. Aerodynamically, the T80 incorporated a Porsche-designed enclosed cockpit, low sloping hood, rounded fenders, and elongated tail booms. Mid-way down the body were two small wings to provide downforce and ensure stability – these wings were inspired by the wings of Opel’s famous rocket cars from 1928. The heavily streamlined twin-tailed body (forming the fairings for each pair of tandem rear wheels) achieved a drag coefficient of 0.18, an astonishingly low figure for any vehicle.

Projections for the 1940 land speed record attempt

As ambitiously planned, Hans Stuck would have driven the T80 over a special stretch of the  Reichsautobahn Berlin — Halle/Leipzig, which passed south of Dessau (now part of the modern A9 Autobahn) between the modern A9 freeway’s exits 11 and 12, which was 25 metres (82 ft) wide and almost 10-kilometre (6.2 mi) long with the median paved over as the Dessauer Rennstrecke (Dessau racetrack).
The T80 was originally intended to only target a top speed of around 340 miles per hour, which sounds like a lot, until competing British land speed records forced the target speed up to over 465 miles per hour by 1939. source
The T80 was originally intended to only target a top speed of around 340 miles per hour, which sounds like a lot, until competing British land speed records forced the target speed up to over 465 miles per hour by 1939. source
The date was set for the January 1940 “RekordWoche” (Record Week), but the war begun on September 1, 1939 prevented the T80 run. In 1939, the vehicle had been unofficially nicknamed Schwarzer Vogel (Black Bird) by Hitler and was to be painted in German nationalistic colors, complete with German Adler (Eagle) and Hakenkreuz (Swastika), but the event was cancelled and the T80 garaged.
The DB 603 aircraft engine was subsequently removed during the war while the vehicle was moved to safety and storage in Kärnten, Austria. The T80 survived the war and was eventually moved into the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart for permanent display.
Even though the car was completed in 1939, even Stuck's personal connections couldn't keep the car intact for its big day. Shortly before its intended run, the huge V12 that lay inside was yanked out, so that it could be used in a bomber for the war effort.source
Even though the car was completed in 1939, even Stuck’s personal connections couldn’t keep the car intact for its big day. Shortly before its intended run, the huge V12 that lay inside was yanked out, so that it could be used in a bomber for the war effort.source
After the war, John Cobb drove the Railton Mobil Special to a land speed record of 394 mph in 1947, a speed which was 72 mph slower than the 470 mph projected for the T80 in 1940. It took until 1964 for Art Arfons to hit 544 mph in the turbojet-powered “Green Monster” to attain and surpass the T80’s speed target, purely on the jet thrust for the Arfons vehicle, and the wheel-driven record of 409 mph set by the four-Chrysler Hemi-engined Goldenrod American land speed record car in 1965, which is still the piston-engined land speed record for non-supercharged, wheel-driven cars — as the T80’s DB 603 engine possessed a mechanically-driven centrifugal supercharger in its normal form (and as used in the T80), the T80 would been classed differently from the Goldenrod. No wheel-driven land speed record vehicle exceeded the T80’s maximum design velocity until 2001, when Don Vesco’s turboshaft-powered “Turbinator” attained 458.440 mph at Bonneville.
The T80 is currently on display at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt. Many people over the decades have urged Mercedes-Benz to fully restore the T80 and test run it to see if it would have reached 470 mph.

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