He 162

Discussion in 'Stories' started by Twitch, Feb 11, 2006.

  1. Twitch

    Twitch Member

    Feb 4, 2006
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    historical combat aviation writer
    City of the Angels California
    Much has been written about the eleventh hour combat of the Me 262 jet fighter. We know the Arado Ar 234 saw service as well. There was another jet that made it to operational service in the last days of World War II. While it is probable that it never saw combat the fact cannot be confirmed either way.

    In 1944 the Volksjaeger specification was issued to Heinkel, Blohm Voss, Messerschmitt, Junker, Arado, and Focke Wulf. The criteria was that it be constructed of non-critical materials; it must be designed around the 1,764 lb. thrust BMW 003 turbojet; and it had to be ready to go into production on January 1, 1945. Other specified performance was that it have a speed of no less that 466 MPH; that it be armed with two Mk 108 30mm cannons; loaded weight was to be 4,410 lbs; it needed 30-minute endurance; it should use 1,640 feet or less to take off.

    Heinkel, Arado, Blohm Voss, Focke Wulf, Messerschmitt and Junkers were presented with these specs- on the 8th of September 1944 and proposals were required by the 20th!

    The Volksjaeger (People’s Fighter) concept entranced Reichsmarshall Göring and neither General Adolph Galland, nor Willy Messerschmitt, nor Kurt Tank could dissuade him. Galland had always been a proponent of emphasis on the Me 262 which had already proven itself. Messerschmitt wanted nothing to do with the project. Tank stayed to gather information. The Blohm Voss design was initially chosen over Heinkel’s. Dipl.-Ing. Franke of Heinkel was told that his model 1073 was too slow, mounted 20mm instead of 30mm cannons and had too long of a takeoff run. The B V P.211 mounted the BMW 003 internally instead of in a pod above the fuselage. The RLM preferred it though the decision was not final.

    But Heinkel had built a mock-up he called the He.500 and RLM officials from Berlin inspected it on September 23rd. It was accepted and renamed the He 162 with the provision that it be ready to fly on January 1, 1945. The project cover name was “Salamander.” It was never the name of the plane. Ernst Heinkel called it the Spatz (Sparrow) and Luftwaffe pilots I know call it the ‘one-six, two.’ Volksjaeger was the public propaganda name. At any rate, the Heinkel team must have had an intense time of it because they actually had the first prototype He 162V1 flight on December 6, 1944!

    The monocoque fuselage was made of aluminum alloy but the nose, wings, gear door and parts of the tail were molded plywood. 4,000 per month were planned for from three main plants and the sub-contractor cottage industry dispersed about. 1,000 would have been more realistic if all went well.

    On December 10, 1944 Heinkel pilot Flugkapitan Peter again flew the plane in tests. He came across the field in a high speed pass and inferior bonding in the starboard wing allowed the leading edge to peel away subsequently ripping off the wing and killing Peter.

    A further nine pre-production evaluation aircraft were built with modifications incorporated into the He 162A-0 service machines. The He 162 V2 tested the 30mm Mk 108 cannons but airframe stress proved too high when fired and 20mm MG 151s were installed as Heinkel had originally proposed.

    By January 1945 planes were coming off assembly lines and being evaluated by Luftwaffe pilots. Semi-skilled workers built the planes in mines and caves. He 162 A-1s were powered by the BMW 003A-1 or A-2 and the He 162 A-2 designation was for machines powered with the BMW 003E-1 or E-2. Both were 1,760 lb. thrust engines rated for short burst of 2,000+ lbs. thrust.

    Alternative engines such as the soon-to-come Heinkel-Hirth HeS 11A were positively foreseen as well as a hybrid of convoluted mixes with rocket boosters and pulse-jets.

    Göring degenerated into pure drug fantasy with the idea that kids from the Hitler Jugend and the National Socialist Flyer’s Corps could go from gliders directly to jet fighters! This meant operational training would take place in actual combat. Even over-aged members of the Volksstrum home defense corps were proposed to fly the He 162s! Did Göring envision an old-timer with his grandson as wingman adeptly fending off P-51s as they thumped away at the heavy bombers?

    Oberstleutnant Heinz Bär, who ultimately scored 220 victories-sixteen in Me262s- was handed the job of evaluation for the Luftwaffe. In January 1945 at Muenchen-Roggenthin he and his men wrung out the 162 for combat worthiness for three months. That was all the involvement Bär had.

    The initial group, I/JG1, moved to Parchim as III/JG1 under Oberst Herbert Ihlefield, near a Heinkel plant in Marienehe for conversion training in February taking He 162s direct from the assembly lines. In April they were based at Luwigslust. After a move to Leck there were too many planes cluttering the field from withdrawals at the fronts to even use the 162s at first.

    Only one actual group appears to have been operational, III/JG 1. Allied pilots did report seeing jets falling somewhere between the Me 163 and Me 262 in size, but didn’t know the 162 as such. 16 victory ace Oberleutnant Karl-Emil Demuth’s machine probably scored a victory in April but further details have been lost to history.

    136 victory ace Adolf Dickfeld officially attached to JG 11 at that time claims a kill in the He 162 also. Leutant Rudolf Schmitt claimed a kill and post flight photos do show muzzle blast residue on the gun ports. Another JG 1 pilot, Feldwebel Günther Kirchner, was KIA after downing an enemy A/C. The captured British pilot described the He 162 and the combat convincingly enough for the Luftwaffe to award the kill as Kirchner’s 5th making him an ace.

    All the Luftwaffe pilots were experienced and in brand new jet aircraft of superior performance to their foes’ so the possibility of success was high with the probability being favorable since the ratio of targets to hunters was high also.

    Even in its short life the He 162 had future variants and models proposed, as was the case with many late war German aircraft. There was no lack of future designs for a large number of aircraft. A Mistel version was drawn up with a 162 attached over a powered, winged bomb

    With the BMW 003 A-1, A-2 or E-1, E-2 with 1,760 lbs. thrust the tiny craft could hit 562 MPH at 19,700 ft. and 553 MPH at sea level in 30-second over-boosts with 2,028 lbs. of thrust. At normal thrust speeds were 522 and 490 MPH respectively. Initial climb was 4,615 FPM. At of 36,000 ft. a maximum range of 606 miles could be attained. The loaded weight measured 5,480 lbs. Span was 23.65’ and length was 29.75’. With two 20mm MG 151s it carried 120 RPG and with the two 30mm Mk 108s it was 50 RPG.

    The proposed BMW 003R combined jet/rocket booster could have propelled the 162 to 628 MPH at sea level. The definitive power plant was to have been the forthcoming all jet Heinkel HeS11 of 2,860 lb. thrust with a V-type tail and wings swept back or forward.

    In a post war evaluation by RAF pilot Commander William Benson test flew the He 162 having already checked out in the Gloster Meteor and the Me 262. He mentioned that it had a cockpit the size of the Vampire and had the feel and layout of familiar German fighters. “The 162 had an ejector seat fired by a 30mm shell. Instrumentation was sparse- Revi gun sight, gyro-compass, airspeed indicator, engine temperature, altimeter, fuel and flow gauges and radio. There was small window in the floor to see that the front wheel was down. Hydraulics lifted the landing gear but tension springs popped it down.”

    He continued, “I liked the visibility but the aileron control movement was unfelt through the stick. I mentioned that it was about as noisy as sitting in the last row of Boeing 727 airliner seats. It was quieter than a Mosquito or Spitfire and he could hear himself speak in the cabin. The 162s he flew had either 153 or 170 Imperial gallon main tanks but both had 40 gallons in the wet wings.”

    “It needed no warm up and lifted off at 120 KPH but didn’t give a “good push” like the twin-engine Meteor. He climbed to 28,000 feet and effortlessly cruised at 500 MPH. He kept in mind the Heinkel factory pilot’s demise from wing stress as he flew the splinter box.” (All MPH and other performance figures were later calculated from the metric instruments’ read outs)

    His crew chief was quoted as saying, “If you’re barmy enough to want to fly this carpenter’s nightmare, Sir, I feel I should point out that this ‘er glorified bloody blow torch you’re ‘anging under is only ‘anging on by two **^@#^* Bolts!”

    Thinking quickly, Benson retorted, “Well Sarge, if the bloody blow torch comes off I’ll just have to glide the jolly thing back won’t I?”

    “I felt the plane snaking gently left to right but tried a gentle low G loop with a 3,000-foot diameter at 28,000 feet and some other gentle maneuvers with no problems. I actually enjoyed flying it. The plane had no vices thus far and he pondered if Hitler youth may have been able to fly it after all,” he said.

    “But upon landing I noticed poor lateral control even though he was about 15 MPH over the advised 110 MPH approach speed. With 30-degrees flaps at 130 MPH I let down the gear. The nose gear’s close proximity springing down made a tremendous noise,” he concluded.

    He synopsized the plane’s handling thusly: “Low speed very tricky, lateral and longitudinal stability poor due to high mount of engine, control movements at all speeds had to be smooth-no sudden input.

    “Maximum altitude attained 42,200 ft. at 470 MPH, range at sea level 240 miles, 385 miles at 20,000 ft., 610 miles at 38,000 feet, 4,700 FPM at takeoff and 3,200 FPM at 20,000 ft. Maximum level speed seen- 562 MPH at 18,400 ft. Maximum dive speed 585 MPH at 25,000 ft. begun at 35,000 ft. Control snatch and buffet severe at those speeds requiring slow movements to level out. Lowest safe speed 120 MPH with some flaps. Treated smoothly with an experienced pilot, say, 2,600 hours flight time, it was very good. No way you could haul it around in maneuvers like a Spit or FW 190. Hitler Youth would have never stood a chance. Good visibility ahead and up but poor behind and back laterally.”

    A total of 150 planes were officially given to the Luftwaffe with about fifty more hurriedly taken without paperwork. 800 more were in advanced stages of final assembly.

    Henschel produced a near clone of the He 162 in their jet HS 132A dive-bomber with its positive dihedral twin rudder tail.. This design proceeded the He 162’s seemingly being finalized in May of 1944. The construction of wood and metal was identical in usage to the 162.

    The pilot was to fly the craft in the prone position allowing higher Gs and less frontal area. The design was stressed to 12g believing 10-11g could be withstood by a prone pilot.

    A BMW 003A-1 of 1,760 lbs. thrust was the initial power plant with the Heinkel-Hirth 011A-1 of 2,866 lbs. thrust to replace it on the HS 132C model. It was in a pod atop the fuselage just like the He 162’s. With the BMW a top speed of 485 MPH at 19,685 ft. without and 435 MPH with a bomb of 1,102 lbs. was calculated. A maximum range of 696 miles was foreseen and a ceiling of 34,450 ft. was planned. Dimensions were identical to the 162 as well with a span of 23.65’ and a length of 29.2’ though weight was more at 7,496 lbs. loaded.

    The “C” was to have been armed with two 30mm Mk 103 with 60 RPG and two 20mm MG 151 with 250 RPG plus the bomb. Without the 30mms a larger 2,205 lb. bomb could have been toted. By the spring of 1945 prototype V1 was readying for flight trials with V2 and V3 80-percent finished. Soviet forces overran the factory before flight tests could commence.


    Green, William
    Bombers Reconnaissance Aircraft Vol. 10
    Doubleday Co. NY 1968

    Green, William
    Fighters Vol. 1
    Doubleday Co., 1960

    Green, William
    Jets Aircraft of the World
    Macdonald, London, 1955

    Green, Wm.
    The Complete Book of Fighters
    Smithmark Publishers, NY, 1994

    Trimble, Robert
    Air Combat September 1975

    Written by "Twitch" and published a few years ago
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