ACCOMMODATION: None. Pilot only in Heinkel He 162 A-1
POWER PLANT: Two BMW 003A-1 turbojet engines, rated at 800 kp each
PERFORMANCE: No data available
COMMENT: This “Mistel 5” project was designed as a simple glide bomb that would be powered by two turbojet engines (version B) and carried in pick-a-pack combination beneath a Heinkel He 162 “Spatz” interceptor. Since the single turbojet engine of the He 162 would not have been powerful enough to carry the heavy “Mistel 5” composition two BMW turbojet engines were mounted under the wings of the Arado Ar E. 377. This version was known as Arado Ar E.377B and was similar in all other aspects to the unpowered glide bomb Arado Ar E.377A.
Take-off of the “Mistel 5” composition was accomplished by means of a releasable trolley, sometimes additionally boosted by two Walter HWK 109-500 take-off rockets. The trolley was similar to the one that Rheinmetall-Borsig had designed for the Arado Ar 234A “Blitz” bomber and reconnaissance versions. Since the “Mistel 5” composition was heavier an extra set of wheels were added to the new trolley. Once the composition reached take-off speed the trolley was released and slowed-down by means of one to five parachutes.
A piloted version was also planned as suicide weapon but not realized. The Arado Ar E.377, neither version A nor version B, ever reached prototype status (Ref.: 17).
POWER PLANT: Two Nakajima “Homare 21” radial engines, rated at 1,990 hp each
PERFORMANCE: 371 mph at 19,685 ft
COMMENT: The Nakajima J5N was a Japanese fighter aircraft of WW II. The J5N was developed as twin-engine interceptor for countering attacks by Boeing B-29 “Superfortress” bombers.
During the spring of 1943, the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Force (IJNAF) issued an 18-Shi specification for a single-seat twin-engine interceptor capable of reaching a top speed of 414 mph at 19,690 ft. Nakajima submitted a proposal based on the earlier Nakajima N1N1 “Gekko” three-seat night fighter, although this new aircraft – designated Nakajima J5N1 – was slightly smaller. The layout of the J5N was similar to the J1N: a low set wing on which were mounted the two power plants, 1,990 hp Nakajima “Homare 21” air-cooled radial engines, with a long fuselage ending in a conventional tail arrangement. For maximum utilization of the power from the twin engines, large four-blade propellers were fitted which also featured large spinners (as fitted to the J1N). The main wheels retracted rearwards into the engine nacelles, and the tailwheel was fixed. The cockpit was set above the wing, and featured a starboard-opening canopy. The nose was streamlined to offer the pilot an excellent forward view during landing, takeoff and taxiing.
Impressed with the design, the JNAF authorized the development of the J5N1, assigned the name “Tenrai” (“Heavenly Thunder”), and six prototypes were requested to be built. Progress was impeded by the failure of the engines to produce their promised power, and by a steady increase in the weight of the airframe as the need to reverse the long-standing policy of giving low priority to armor protection led to a buildup of weight and a drop in performance. The first prototype – shown here – lacking its armament – made its first flight July 13, 1944, and was something of a disappointment. The top speed attained was only 371 mph – far below the specified 414 mph of the requirement. Despite the other five prototypes also having flown with numerous enhancements, the aircraft never achieved its design speed, and the project was abandoned soon after in February 1945. Four of the six experimental aircraft were lost to accidents (Ref.: 24).
POWER PLANT: One Pratt & Whitney R-1830-56 radial engine, rated at 1,350 hp
PERFORMANCE: 320 mph
COMMENT: Grumman’s F4F “Wildcat” production ceased in early 1943 to make way for the newer F6F “Hellcat”, but General Motors/Eastern Aircraft continued producing “Wildcats” for both U.S. Navy and (British) Fleet Air Arm use. At first, General Motors produced the FM-1 (identical to the F4F-4, but with four guns). Production later switched to the improved FM-2 (based on Grumman’s XF4F-8 prototype, informally known as the “Wilder Wildcat”) optimized for small-carrier operations, with a more powerful engine, and a taller tail to cope with the increased torque.
From 1943 onward, “Wildcats” equipped with bomb racks were primarily assigned to escort carriers for use against submarines and attacking ground targets, though they would also continue to score kills against Japanese fighters, bombers and kamikaze aircraft. Larger fighters such as the “Hellcat” and the Vought F4U “Corsair” and dedicated dive bombers were needed aboard fleet carriers, and the “Wildcat’s” slower landing speed and its size made it more suitable for shorter flight decks of escort carriers.
General Motors / Eastern Aircraft produced 5,280 FM-1 and FM-2 variants out of total production of 7,860 “Wildcats” (Ref.: 24).