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Heinkel He 162

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Originally scheduled for production in September, 1944, the Heinkel 162 was test flown for the first time just three months later. In such a desperate period it took just sixty nine days from the start of design work to its first flight.
The brief for the concept underlying the He 162 came from the Reichskriegsministerium (Ministry of War) who wanted fast, quantity production of a simple and effective jet interceptor as a last-ditch air defence of the German homeland. Who originated the idea for what became known as the Volksjager (people's fighter) is not clear. Albert Speer, the armament minister, is alleged to have been one of the promoters of the project, but Speer himself has said, that a proposal to establish an underground plant for the production of jet aircraft came from Fritz Sauckel, the gauleiter of Thuringen.
On September 8, 1944, the brief for the Volksjager was issued to the Arado, Blohm und Voss, Fieseler, Focke-Wulf, Heinkel, Messerschmitt and Junkers companies. Strong opposition to the project was voiced by aircraft designers Willi Messerschmitt and Kurt Tank and General der Jagdflieger (general of fighters) Adolf Galland. In the opinion of these critics the construction specifica-tions and conditions were unrealistic, but despite the protests the submission date for the draft projects was brought forward by approximately a week.
The specification stated that the design “had to make use of existing aircraft components, only the barest essentials to be carried in the way of equipment. The power to be supplied by a BMW 003 turbojet rated at 800 kg (1760 lb) st. Top speed to be 750 km/h (466 mph). Endurance of not less than 20 minutes at sea level. Gross weight not more than 2000 kg (4410 lb). Wing loading not more than 200 kg/sq m (41 lb/sq ft)”. These requirements were to be fulfilled with the use of readily-available and, if possible, non-essential materials. Unskilled and semiskilled labour was to be used on the production line. It is some indication of the desperation felt at this stage of the war that Hermann Goring, as commander-in-chief of the Luftwaffe, considered using Hitlerjugend (Hitler youth) members as pilots for the aircraft. Their initial flying training was to have been carried out on gliders before they converted to the jets.

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A conference was held on September 15 to evaluate the submissions made by the aircraft manufacturers. Messerschmitt had refused to make a proposal, and of the others Arado's was rejected, Focke-Wulf's was considered unrealistic (their participation had been for information purposes only), but the Blohm und Voss project was considered one of the best put forward. The Heinkel proposal was found deficient in five respects: it offered a sea-level flight endurance of only 20 minutes; the unusual positioning of the engine would result in maintenance problems; the stipulated takeoff requirement had not been met; dismantling of the aircraft prior to rail transportation would take too long; and the 30-mm (1.18-in) armament specified in the brief had been changed to a 20-mm (0.79-in) cannon. After further conferences and discussions, one of which ended in a fierce quarrel between two of the participants, Heinkel were eventually authorized to produce the Volksjager and received the backing of Otto Saur, head of the war ministry's Jagerstab (fighter staff), and Hermann Goring.
Since the early summer of 1944, Siegfried Gunter and Karl Schwarzler of Heinkel had been working on a project similar to the Volksjdger - a small and simple jet fighter nicknamed Spatz (sparrow). Heinkel's qualifications for producing the He 162, or Projekt 1073 as it was initially called, were further reinforced by their work in 1939 on the He 178 experimental jet and, a little later, on the He 280.
 
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He-162


While some of the other companies barely had time to perform basic calculations for their designs, Heinkel had been working roughly along the same lines during the summer of 1944 and had test performance data on the BMW-003, along with a full scale mock-up of their concept.
There are allegations that Dr. Karl Frydag, head of the commission for airframe production and also a Heinkel company official, had not only sold the concept to Karl Saur, head of the Fighter Staff, but also may have let Heinkel know ahead of time of the upcoming specification.
A curious light is thrown on the situation by a document detailing a POW interview with a Flugbaumeister Halz of the Fl.-E-2 section of the Air Ministry that purports that when the decisive report on the Volksjäger concept was being sold to Göring, certain technical documents required to support their case were lacking and Halz was ordered to have faked photos of the He-162 with the help of a cinema expert, showing an He-162 prototype executing a roll above the clouds before a prototype was even built.

Construction of the He 162 began on September 24, 1944, with parallel work on the detailed drawings taking place. By September 30, Projekt 1073 had been ordered into quantity production with a proposed monthly output of 500 to the Luftwaffe during the first thirty days of production, and eventually 1000 aircraft every month. When the drawings were completed on October 29, the first prototypes had already reached the advanced assembly stage. For the first time in aviation history, development, pre-production and series production of an aircraft occurred simultaneously.
The He 162 fuselage was of light metal flush-riveted monocoque construction, and was fitted with a moulded plywood nose cap. The single-piece wing was made of wood and had a plywood skin, with detachable metal wing tips. The space between the wooden spars accommodated 40-gallon fuel cells. Four bolts held the wing to the fuselage mainframes. The metal flaps, which extend along the tapered trailing edge from the fuselage to the ailerons, have a maximum depression of 45 degrees with hydraulic motivation. Tailplanes, elevators and rudder were of light metal, but the fins were wooden. The narrow-track tricycle landing gear was retracted hydraulically and lowered by springs. The aircraft was powered by a BMW 003 Sturm turbojet which was attached directly to the top of the fuselage immediately behind the cockpit by two vertical bolts at the forward end, and one horizontal bolt at the rear. The cockpit was equipped with an ejection seat designed by Heinkel.
The fuselage permits stowage of 168 gallons of fuel in the tail cone.
After October 30, 1944, all development and factory testing had to stop and effort was concentrated on full-scale production. The first flight of the prototype took place on December 6, 1944. Although a main-wheel door was torn off by the slipstream, the flight was in other respects considered successful. However, at an official demonstration four days later, the pilot was killed after the starboard wing broke up in mid-air. Defective bonding of the wooden components was revealed as the cause. Nevertheless, pressure was put on the company for work to continue, and up to ten prototypes (He 162A-0s) and about 20 production aircraft were tested during December 1944-February 1945. The new aircraft, which was continually com-pared with the Me 262, was found deficient in many respects, including bad lateral stability, sluggish controls and a high roll-to-yaw ratio. Enlarging the fin area alleviated the first and third problems, and although the He 162 continued to suffer from a tendency to stall, this was eventually cured by applying a pronounced anhedral to the wingtips.
The facilities available for He 162 produc-tion were extraordinary, to say the least, varying from small carpentry workshops and chalk and salt mines to the renowned Sea Grotto near Vienna. There was only one main variant of the original design: the He 162A-2, armed with two 20-mm (0.79-in) MG 151 cannon positioned one on each side of the nosewheel well. The He 162A-3, like the A-1, mounted the heavier 30-mm (1.18-in) Mk 108 cannon originally specified, but this had to be abandoned since it caused too much vibra-tion. Many other schemes included multibar-rel projectile launch systems in the SG-series.

Despite the enormous numbers originally ordered, total production did not amount to more than about 275 aircraft and, so far as is known, I/JG1 was the only group to be fully equipped with the He 162 by the time Germany surrendered in 1945. During two weeks of flying ops, JG 1 (the main user of the He-162) were losing an average of one aircraft every two days due to flying accidents, pilot error, mechanical and structural failures. Operational testing had been carried out by Erprobungskornmando (test detachment) 162 based at Rechlin, which after amalgamation with Adolf Galland's famous Me 262 unit JV 44 in April 1945 was transferred to Salzburg/Maxglarn, where it was captured by the Americans on May 3. Other groups were partially equipped with the He 162 but because of lack of fuel and supplies it is unlikely that they saw any combat.
The production rate for the He 162 was to be 135 per day; Rostock-Marienehe and Bernburg were each to deliver 1,000 per month and the vast underground Nordhausen Mittelwerke a further 2,000. Giant salt-mines were tooled up to make the BMW 003A turbojet, which was bolted above the light-alloy fuselage of streamline profile, while the woodworking industry was harnessed to make the very small high-mounted wing, only the down-turned tips being metal. Armament was to be two 30-mm MK 108 cannon, but because of vibration these were replaced in production by two 20-mm MG 151s.
Development of the Heinkel He 162 led to the He 162C, with wing swept at 38 degrees and a butterfly tail. The He 162D was similar but featured a swept-forward wing. Neither version was built, but a model was found under construction with interchangeable wings when Schwechat was occupied by the Allies.
Many variants with different powerplants and equipment were tested by Heinkel in a desperate and futile effort to produce aircraft for the defence of the Third Reich in its last days. One of the most interesting was the Mistel 5 system in which the He 162 mother-craft was to carry a jettisonable Arado -powered bomb beneath the fuselage but this, like the others, did not come to fruition.
Only 140 had been completed by the end of the war.
Only two victories were claimed for the type during its short service life and both were unconfirmed.
After the end of the Second World War, He 162s were taken to Britain for study and evaluation, in the course of which another pilot lost his life in a crash-landing at Farnborough. Three went to the US, and one to France where it is on display at the Musee de l'Air in Paris.

 

Gallery


He 162 Salamander
Engine: One 1,760 lb. (800 kg.) thrust BMW 003A turbojet.
Wing span: 23 ft 7.75 in (7.2 m)
Length: 29 ft 8.5 in (9 m)
Height: 8 ft 4.5 in (2.55 m)
Max TO wt: 5953 lb (2700 kg)
Max level speed: 522 mph (835 kph) at 19,700 ft
Ceiling 39,500 ft. (12,000 m.)
Climb rate 4,200 fpm at sea level
Fully loaded Range 410 miles (660 km.)
Armament 2 x 30 mm MK-108 or MG-151 cannon.
Take off distance 875 yards
Take off distance JATO 415 yards

He 162A-2
Engine: one 800-kg (1,764-1b) thrust BMW 109-003E-1 or E-2  turbojet.
Max speed: 835 km/h (519 mph) at 6000 m (19,685 ft)
Initial climb rate 1290 m (4,230 ft) per minute
Service ceiling about 11000m (36,090ft)
Max range 1000 km (621 miles)
Empty wt: 1750kg (3,8581b)
MTOW: 2700 kg (6, 952 lb)
Wing span 7.20 m (23 ft 7.5 in)
Length 9,05 m (29 ft 8.5 in)
Height 2.55 m (8 ft 43/8 in)
Wing area 11.15sq.m (120.0 sq.ft)
Armament: two 30-mm MK 108 or two 20-mm MG 151 cannon in nose.

He 162 A-2 Salamander / Volksjäger
Engine : BMW 003 E-1, 7848 N
Length : 29.659 ft / 9.04 m
Height : 8.497 ft / 2.59 m
Wingspan : 23.622 ft / 7.2 m
Wing area : 120.557 sq.ft / 11.2 sq.m
Max take off weight : 5931.5 lb / 2690.0 kg
Weight empty : 4520.3 lb / 2050.0 kg
Max. speed : 452 kt / 838 km/h
Service ceiling : 39370 ft / 12000 m
Wing load : 49.2 lb/sq.ft / 240.0 kg/sq.m
Range : 526 nm / 975 km
Endurance : 1 h
Crew : 1
Armament : 2 MG 151 20mm

 

 

 


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