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Heinkel He 219 Uhu

Letov LB-79


He 219A-0


The Heinkel Projekt 1060 private venture received little response from the Reichs­luftfahrtministerium (air ministry) when it was first shown to them in mid‑1940.It was a multi-purpose aircraft suitable for use as a long-range fighter, dive or horizontal bomber, torpedo plane, or reconnaissance aircraft. The He 219 featured tricycle landing gear, ejector seats, and dual wheels. It was equipped with a crew dingy, cockpit heating, retractable crew access ladder, armoured radiatios, armoured curved windshields with wipers, cleaing spray, hot air defrosting, and armoured fuel tanks. It had a complete wing, fuselage, and tail de-icing system, was well as elaborate radio and radar equipment including a directional gyroscope. Originally the Luftwaffe did not consider a craft of this type necessary and buried the project.
By late 1941 they were in desperate need of a good night fighter for intercepting Allied bombing attacks. In January 1942 the design was revised for adaptation as a night fighter but then was delayed by RAF bombing which destroyed all of the engineering drawings in the Heinkel factory at Rostock-Marienehe.
An all-metal shoulder-wing monoplane, the He 219 seated the pilot and navigator back-to-back, was the first operational aircraft in the world to introduce ejection seats, and was also the Luftwaffe's first operational aircraft with tricycle landing gear. The first prototype, the He 219 V 1, powered by two 1305kW / 1750‑hp DB 603A engines, made its first flight on November 15, 1942. The second prototype, flown in December 1942, had a different armament installation.
They proved fast and manoeuvrable, and had provision for a range of armament including two 20‑mm (0.79‑in) MG 151 cannon in the wings; two 30‑mm (1.18‑in) MK 108 cannon in a ventral tray; two oblique upward‑firing and fixed 30‑mm (1.18‑in) cannon, nicknamed 'Schrage Musik' (jazz music), in the rear fuselage; and a 2000­kg (4410‑lb) bombload carried internally. The He 219 Uhu (owl) was a midwing monoplane and carried a crew of two.
Tests were so successful that the German Ministry ordered 130 pre-production machines in lieu of the usual ten.
General Milch, in charge of Luftwaffe procurement, was unimpressed with the He 219 and favoured converting existing types such as the Junkers 88 into night fighters. To determine the most suitable machine for nocturnal interception, comparative tests were set up for 25 March 1943 between the Heinkel He 219 and the Junkers Ju 88S. During a series of mock combats between a He 219 with Werner Streib at the controls and a Ju 88S with Oberst Lossberg in its cockpit, and a Dornier Do 217N, the 219 proved superior in every way. Heinkel soon received an order for 100 aircraft, and following evaluation of one of the prototypes in mock combat, an 'off the drawing board' order for 100 aircraft was increased to 300 by April 1943. Twenty pre-pro­duction He 219A‑0s had been delivered by that time. These had slightly differing arma­ments, two MG 151s in the wings, with various weapons in the central position and only one MG 131 in the rear‑upper position.
The V4‑V10 prototypes were also fitted with FuG 212 Lichtenstein C‑1 radar systems.

Heinkel soon received an order for 100 aircraft, and following evaluation of one of the prototypes in mock combat against a Dornier Do 217N and a Junkers Ju 88S, an 'off the drawing board' order for 100 aircraft was increased to 300 by April 1943. Twenty pre-production He 219A-0s had been delivered by that time. These had slightly differing armaments, two MG 151s in the wings, with various weapons in the central position and only one MG 131 in the rear-upper position.

The He 219A-0/R1 to /R6 were similar apart from modifications by Rustsatze (field conversion kits) which provided various ventral gun packs or MK 103 or MK 108 Schrage Musik cannon installations.

From April 1943 a small number of He 219A-0 pre-production aircraft flew with 1.NJG 1 at Venlo in the Netherlands, and on the night of 11 June 1943 Major Werner Streib shot down five Avro Lancasters in a single sortie. The first six operational sorties flown by the unit resulted in claims for 20 RAF aircraft, including six de Havilland Mosquitoes. Despite cancellation of the programme in May 1944, production deliveries of a number of versions were made, principally to 1./NJG 1 and NJGr 10.

The main potential of the aircraft lay in the fact that it could compete on equal terms with the RAF Mosquito intruders. In late 1943 the He 219A-1 appeared, fitted with DB 603A or E engines plus GM1 power boost. Although it was proposed as a production model, only a few were built. The next main production model was the He 219A-2 with DB 603A engines and retaining the two MG 151s in the wings and the two Schrage Musik MK 108s; two MG 151s (A-2/R1) or MK 103s (A-2/R2) were mounted in the ventral tray. Forty of these were built. A proposed A-3 (three-seat fighter-bomber) and A-4 (Jumo-engined high-altitude reconnaissance-bomber) did not get beyond the drawing board.


The calibre and number of cannon varied according to the armament available when each Heinkel left the production line. As a rule four 20mm or 30mm rapid fire cannon were located under the fuselage in a ventral tray and one 30mm cannon was installed in each wing root. In addition, two 30mm cannon were utilised mid-fuselage as upward-firing Schrage Musik. About one thousand rounds of ammunition were carried. All guns were located behind the pilot so that their muzzle flash would not disturb his vision at night.

Production continued in early 1944 with the A-5 which was characterized by a modified cockpit canopy. For this too there were various Rustsatze, RI to R3 denoting alterna-tive ventral gun selections, and R4 providing a rearward-firing gun operated by a third crew member. The A-5 series were powered by DB 603E, G or Aa engines. The A-6 was similar, but was re-engined with GM 1 boosted DB 603Ls of 2100 hp to increase its value as a Mosquito intercepter. The weight was reduced by retention of the wing and ventral armament installations only. Comparatively few A-6s were delivered.

The major service variant was the He 219A-7, a high-altitude type powered by 1900-hp DB 603Gs, with increased armour plating and incorporating FuG 220 Lichten-stein SN-2 and FuG 218 Neptun radar equip-ment. More sophisticated radio systems were also installed. Alternative powerplants were used in the A-7/R5 (Junkers Jumo 213Es) and A-7/R6 (Junkers Jumo 222s). Armament of the A-7 series remained similar to that described and interchangeable, according to availability, using Rustadtze R1 to R4.

Yet another projected high-altitude model, the He 219B-1 appeared in prototype form only. Based on an A-5 airframe, it had a longer fuselage, increased wing area and modified canopy, and carried a three-man crew. A few B-2 anti-Mosquito intercepters did serve with the Luftwaffe - they were modified A-6s - and a B-3 development was begun but not completed. Prototypes were also built of the He 219C-1 and C-2 night fighter and fighter-bomber respectively. They had a redesigned fuselage to carry a four-man crew, and with the ventral gun tray removed the C-2 could carry three 500-kg (1100-lb) bombs in its place.


Based on the success of the 219 during June 1943, General Kammhuber demanded the production of 1200 He.219 but General Milch fought the request which further delayed mass delivery. Finally Albert Speer took over the control of aircraft procurement and the Heinkel design was given priority status in early 1944.
A Fighter Emergency Program was announced in the Autumn of 1944. For reasons of economy all twin-engine fighter production was ordered halted, except for the jet powered Messerschmitt 262 and Dornier 335.
Heinkel ignored the directive and continued to produce 219 until his factories in Poland and Austria were overrun by the Russian Armies.
Six final aircraft were built from spare parts by staffel maintenance crews. These were secretly operated and their existence concealed from Luftwaffe headquarters.

Total overall production of the series was 294 aircraft. Early models were fitted with Daimler-Benz 603A engines of 1750 hp but the majority were powered by the more powerful Daimler-Benz 603-Gs of 1900 hp. There is no doubt that the He 219 was one of the best‑armed and most effective night fighters of the Second World War. Although the 219s did remain in service with the Nachtjagdgeschwadern (night fighter groups) until the end of the war, develop­ment of the type was discontinued in favour of two other designs‑both failures.




The first use of an ejection seat in combat came on 11 April 1944 when the two crew ejected from a Heinkel He219.


Letov LB-79 - Czech Air Force designation for two Heinkel He 219A-5 (lehký bombardér) built from recovered components, 1951, 1 ("34") used as jet engine testbed.


He 219
Engine: Daimler-Benz 603-G, 1900 hp
Weight: 33,730 lb
Fuel capacity: 293 gal
Maximum speed: 416 mph at 22,965 ft
Range econ cruise: 1243 miles at 335 mph
Climb to 32,810 ft: 18.8 min
Maximum ceiling: 41,660 ft

He 219A-0
Wingspan: 18.5 m (60 ft 8.5 in)
Length: 15.33 m (50 ft 11.75 in)
Height: 4.1 m (13 ft 5.5 in)
Weight empty: 11,200 kg (24,692 lb)
Max speed: 416 mph at 22,965 ft
Ceiling: 41,660 ft
Range: 960 miles
Armament: 2 x 30mm cannon, 2 x 20mm cannon, 2 x 30mm Schräge Musik cannon

He 219A-5/R2
Span: 18.5 m (60 ft 10.25 in)
Length: 15.54 m (50 ft 11.75in)
Gross weight: 13150 kg (28 990 lb)
Maximum speed: 630 km/h (391 mph).

Engine: 2 x Daimler-Benz DB 603G, 1417kW / 1874 hp
Max take-off weight: 15300 kg / 33731 lb
Empty weight: 11200 kg / 24692 lb
Wing loading: 70.52 lb/sq.ft / 344.0 kg/sq.m
Wingspan: 18.5 m / 60 ft 8 in
Length: 15.54 m / 50 ft 11 in
Height: 4.1 m / 13 ft 5 in
Wing area: 44.5 sq.m / 478.99 sq ft
Max. speed: 362 kts / 670 km/h / 416 mph
Cruise speed: 340 kts / 630 km/h / 391 mph
Ceiling: 12200 m / 40050 ft
Range: 1080 nm / 2000 km / 1243 miles
Armament: 4x MK 108 30mm, 2x MG151 20mm, 2x MK 103 30mm
Crew: 2









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