Dornier Do 335A-12 “Ameisenbär” (Anteater”), (Dragon)

TYPE: Trainer aircraft

ACCOMMODATION: Pilot and Instructor

POWER PLANT: Two Daimler-Benz DB 603A-2, rated at 1,726 hp each

PERFORMANCE: 430 mph at 17,400 ft

COMMENT: The Dornier Do 335 “Pfeil” (“Arrow”) was a WW II heavy fighter built by the Dornier company. The two-seater trainer version was unofficially called “Ameisenbär (“Anteater”). The Do 335s performance was much better than other twin-engine designs due to its unique push-pull configuration and the lower aerodynamic drag of the in-line alignment of the two engines. It was Germany’s Luftwaffe fastest piston-engine aircraft of World War II. The Luftwaffe was desperate to get the design into operational use, but delays in engine deliveries meant that only a handful were delivered before the war ended.
The Dornier Do 335 V1 first prototype flew for the first time on October 1943. However, several problems during the initial flight of the Do 335 would continue to plague the aircraft through most of its short history. Issues were found with the weak landing gear and with the main gear’s wheel well doors, resulting in them being removed for the remainder of the V1’s test flights. The Do 335 V1 made 27 flights, flown by three different pilots. During these test flights the second prototype Do 335 V2 was completed and made its first flight on end December 1943. New to the V2 were upgraded DB 603A-2 engines, and several refinements learned from the test flights of the V1 as well as further wind tunnel testing.
In early 1944 the Do 335 was scheduled to begin mass construction, with the initial order of 120 preproduction aircraft to be manufactured by DWF (Dornier-Werke Friedrichshafen) to be completed no later than March 1946. This number included a number of bombers, destroyers (heavy fighters), and several yet to be developed variants. At the same time, DWM (Dornier-Werke München) was scheduled to build over 2000 Do 335s in various models, due for delivery in March 1946 as well.
The first preproduction Dornier Do 335A-0s were delivered in July 1944 to the “Erprobungskommando 335” (“Proving detachment 335”) formed for service evaluation purposes.
On May 1944, Hitler, as part of the developing “Jägernotprogramm” (Emergency Fighter Program) directive, which took effect on July that year, ordered maximum priority to be given to Do 335 production. The main production line was intended to be at Manzell, but bombing raids in March destroyed the tooling and forced Dornier to set up a new line at Oberpfaffenhofen.
Among the different variants of the Do 335 under construction were two further two-seat prototypes, the Do 335 V11 and V12, these being respectively prototypes for the Daimler-Benz DB 603A-2-powered Do 335A-10 and DB 603E-1-powered Do 335A-12 dual-control conversion trainer. Having a similar raised second cockpit inserted aft and above the normal cockpit, the Do 335A-10 was equipped with full instrumentation and controls and was occupied by the instructor. The first aircraft were delivered without armament, but similar armament to that of the Do 335A-1 was specified for production models which were interspersed on the Do 335A-1 assembly line, and the genuine production aircraft was, in fact, a Do 335A-12 trainer.
At least 16 prototype Do 335s were known to have flown (V1–V12, and Muster-series prototypes M13–M17) on a number of DB603 engine subtypes including the DB 603A, A-2, G-0, E and E-1. The first preproduction Do 335A-0s were delivered in July 1944. Approximately 22 preproduction aircraft were thought to have been completed and flown before the end of the war including approximately 11 A-0s converted to A-11s for training purposes.
When U.S. forces overran Dornier’s Oberpfaffenhofen factory only 11 Do 335A-1 single-seat fighter bombers and two Do 335A-12 conversion trainers had been completed, but a further nine A-1s, four A-4s and two A-12s were in final assembly, and components and assemblies for nearly 70 additional aircraft had been completed. Production of the Do 335A-6 night and all-weather fighter had been transferred to the Heinkel factory at Vienna, but despite high priority allocated to the program, circumstances prevented the necessary jigs and tools being assembled (Ref: 7, 12).

Lavochkin La-7 (Italeri)

TYPE: Fighter aircraft

ACCOMMODATION: Pilot only

POWER PLANT: One Shvetsov Ash-82FN air-cooled radial engine, rated at 1,850 hp

PERFORMANCE: 411 mph at 19,685 ft

COMMENT: The Lavochkin La-7 was a piston-engine single-seat Soviet fighter aircraft developed during WW II by the Lavochkin Design Bureau. It was a development and refinement of the Lavochkin La-5, and the last in a family of aircraft that had begun with the Lavochkin-Gorbunov-Gudkov LaGG-3 in 1938. Its first flight was in early 1944 and it entered service with the Soviet Air Forces later in the year. The La-7 was felt by its pilots to be at least the equal of any German piston-engined fighter. It was phased out in 1947 by the Soviet Air Force.
By 1943, the La-5 had become a mainstay of the Soviet Air Forces, yet both its head designer, Semyon Lavochkin, as well as the engineers at the TsAGI (Central Aerohydronamics Institute), felt that it could be improved upon. TsAGI refined earlier studies of aerodynamic improvements to the La-5 airframe in mid-1943 and modified Lavochkin La-5FN to evaluate the changes. These included complete sealing of the engine cowling, rearrangement of the wing center section to accommodate the oil cooler and the relocation of the engine air intake from the top of the cowling to the bottom to improve the pilot’s view.
The aircraft was evaluated between December 1943 and February 1944 and proved to have exceptional performance. Using the same engine as the standard La-5FN had a top speed of 425 mph at a height of 20,180 ft, some 40 mph faster than the production La-5FN. It took 5.2 minutes to climb to 16,404 ft. It was faster at low to medium altitudes than the La-5 that used the more powerful prototype Shvetsov M-71 engine.
Lavochkin had been monitoring TsAGI’s improvements and began construction in January 1944 of an improved version of the La-5 that incorporated them as well as lighter, but stronger, metal wing spars to save weight. The La-5, as well as its predecessors, had been built mostly of wood to conserve strategic materials such as aircraft alloys. With Soviet strategists now confident that supplies of these alloys were unlikely to become a problem, Lavochkin was now able to replace some wooden parts with alloy components. In addition Lavochkin made a number of other changes that differed from La-5FN. The engine air intake was moved from the bottom of the engine cowling to the wing roots, the wing/fuselage fillets were streamlined, each engine cylinder was provided with its own exhaust pipe, the engine cowling covers were reduced in number, a rollbar was added to the cockpit, longer shock struts were fitted for the main landing gear while that for the tail wheel was shortened, an improved gunsight was installed, and a new propeller was fitted. Three prototype 20 mm Berezin B-20 autocannon were mounted in the engine cowling, firing through the propeller, arming the 1944 standard-setter.
The prototype only made nine test flights in February and March 1944 before testing had to be suspended after two engine failures, but quickly proved itself to be the near-equal of the La-5FN. It was 180 kilograms lighter than the earlier aircraft, which allowed the La-7 to outclimb the other aircraft. However it was 20.5 mph slower at sea level, but only 2.5 mph slower at 19,685 ft. The flight tests validated Lavochkin’s modifications and it was ordered into production under the designation of La-7, although the B-20 cannon were not yet ready for production and the production La-7 retained the two 20-mm ShVAK cannon armament of the La-5.
Five La-7s were built in March by Factory Nr. 381 in Moscow and three of these were accepted by the Air Force that same month. The Moscow factory was the fastest to complete transition over to La-7 production and the last La-5FN was built there in May 1944. Factory Nr. 21 in Gorky was considerably slower to make the change as it did not exhaust its stock of wooden La-5 wings until October. The quality of the early production aircraft was significantly less than the prototype.
Combat trials began in mid-September 1944 and were generally very positive. However four aircraft were lost to engine failures and the engines suffered from numerous lesser problems, despite its satisfactory service in the La-5FN. One cause was the lower position of the engine air intakes in the wing roots of the La-7 which caused the engine to ingest sand and dust. One batch of flawed wings was built and caused six accidents, four of them fatal, in October which caused the fighter to be grounded until the cause was determined to be a defect in the wing spar.
Production of the first aircraft fitted with three B-20 cannon began in January 1945 when 74 were delivered. These aircraft were 65 kilograms heavier than those aircraft with the two ShVAK guns, but the level speed was slightly improved over the original aircraft. However, the time to climb to 16,404 ft increased by two-tenths of a second over the older model. More than 2000 aircraft were delivered before the war’s end, most by Zavod Nr. 21.
Production of the Lavochkin La-7 amounted to 5,753 aircraft, plus 584 La-7UTI trainers. The follow-up model, the Lavochkin La-9, despite its outward similarity, was a completely new design (Ref.: 24).

Messerschmitt Me 209 V1 (Huma Models)

TYPE: Racing aircraft

ACCOMMODATION: Pilot only

POWER PLANT: One Daimler-Benz DB 601 ARJ liquid-cooled engine, rated at 1,775 hp

PERFORMANCE: 469 mph

COMMENT: The Messerschmitt Me 209 V1 was a single-engine racing aircraft which was designed for and succeeded at breaking speed records.
The designation Me 209 was used for two separate projects during World War II. The first was a record-setting, single-engined race aircraft, for which little or no consideration was given to adaptation for combat. The second Me 209  V4 was a proposal for a follow-up to the highly successful Messerschmitt Bf 109 which served as the Luftwaffe’s primary fighter throughout World War II.
Designed in 1937, the Me 209 V1 was a completely separate aircraft from the Messerschmitt Bf 109, solely designed to break speed records. It shared only its Daimler-Benz DB 601 engine with the Bf 109, which in the Me 209 was equipped with steam cooling. Willy Messerschmitt designed the small aircraft with a cockpit placed far back along the fuselage just in front of its unique cross-shaped tail section. Unlike the Bf 109, the Me 209 featured a wide track, inwardly-retracting undercarriage mounted in the wing section.
The aircraft achieved its purpose when test pilot Fritz Wendel flew it to a new world speed record of almost 469 mph on 26 April 1939, bearing the German civil registration D-INJR. This record was not officially broken by another piston-engined aircraft until 16 August 1969 by Darry Greenamyer’s highly modified Conquest F8F “Bearcat”.
The Me 209 V1’s speed record was itself shattered in terms of absolute speed, eighteen months later by Heini Dittmar, flying another Messerschmitt aircraft design, the Messerschmitt Me 163A V4 rocket fighter prototype to a 624 mph record in October 1941.
The idea of adapting the Messerschmitt Me 209 racer to the fighter role gained momentum when, during the Battle of Britain, the Messerschmitt Bf (Me)109 failed to gain superiority over the Royal Air Force’s Supermarine “Spitfire”. The little record-setter, however, was not up to the task of air combat. Its wings were almost completely occupied by the engine’s liquid cooling system and therefore prohibited conventional installation of armament. The aircraft also proved difficult to fly and extremely hard to control on the ground. Nevertheless, the Messerschmitt team made several attempts to improve the aircraft’s performance by giving it longer wings, a taller vertical stabilizer, and installing two synchronized 7.92 mm MG 17 in the engine cowling. Several modifications on the aircraft, designated Messerschmitt Me 209 V4, however, added so much weight that the aircraft ended up slower than the contemporary Bf 109E. As a result the complete Messerschmitt Me 209 project was soon cancelled, but was revived later in form of the Messerschmitt Me 209 V5. (Ref.: 24).

Kokukyoko “Syusuishiki Kayaku ”, (“Autumn Water”), Unicraft Models, Resin

TYPE: Rammer aircraft

ACCOMMODATION: Pilot only

POWER PLANT: Four Type 4 Mk. 1 Model 20 solid fuel rockets with a combined 1,102 kp thrust

PERFORMANCE: 699 mph (estimated)

COMMENT: The practice of ramming, in Japanese “tai-atari”, which literally means “body crashing”, was not unique to Japan. During WW II the deliberate ramming of one aircraft by another aircraft was performed by the Russians, Germans as well as Japanese and all made ramming a part of their war doctrine.
The Japanese would use aircraft already in operational service for ramming attacks such as that Kawasaki Ki-45 and even stripped down Kawasaki Ki-61 “Hein” fighters. It was long thought that Japan never developed a dedicated rammer aircraft of its own but this is no longer the case. Recently discovered in the archives of the Japanese National Institute for Defense Studies is just such a project.
The aircraft was a joint venture between the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) and the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN), something that occurred with more regularity towards the closing stage of WW II. The design was based on the “Syusuishiki Kayaku” Rocketto (“Autumn Water”-type ram attack rocket), a project started in March 1945 for an unmanned, remote controlled anti-bomber missile. The plan was to ground launch the missile, guide it remotely towards the target, engage the target via ramming, and then recover the missile (if it survived the collision) for reuse.
Design work was carried out by the Kokukyoko (the Aeronautical Bureau) and, although a mockup was completed, the war ended before finalized production plans could be completed, let alone the missile ever being tested.
The piloted version used much the same design as the missile and was a small, tailless aircraft featuring low mounted 45′ swept wings. The fuselage was bullet shaped with a large vertical stabilizer into which the cockpit was blended. Located in the back of the fuselage were four Type 4 Mark 1 Model 20 rockets, the same as those used on the Kugisho MXYT “Oka” which on such a small aircraft pushed the maximum speed to an estimated 699 mph or just over Mach 0.91. lt is unknown if the design had swept wings because the designers  understood the principles in relation to overcoming compressibility problem at transonic speeds, or if the shape was chosen as a means to provide an angled cutting surface to facilitate ramming attacks, or as a drag reducing planform. The wings were strengthened to withstand the high impact forces experienced when striking the enemy bomber. Even though the rammer could rely on speed as a defense when under power, it still had to contend with the defensive armament of the B-29 and thought the pilot had some measure of armor plating and bulletproof glass to protect him. The aircraft was certainly capable of gliding back to base to be refueled and relaunched once it had conducted its attacks. Given the small size of the plane, no landing gear was fitted. As such, it is likely the underside of the fuselage was reinforced or had a skid installed. How it was to be launched is unknown – it could have been towed aloft, catapult launched or perhaps even vertically launched.
In a ram attack, typically the tail would be targeted because the loss of the tail assembly would send the bomber out of control. Striking the wings and engines was another focus of ramming attacks. Finally, the aircraft fuselage was the other key area to strike. The probable mission profile of the rammer flying from a ground base would include being positioned within very close proximity of likely bombing targets. With the short burn time of the rockets (8-10 seconds) the aircraft’s operational radius would have been very limited. After launching, as bombers came into range the pilot would attempt to ram into either the tail or wing of the target with the objective of severing it from the fuselage. If enough speed momentum remained after the initial hit, another ram attack would be made. Should the aircraft remain in flying condition and if the pilot did not elect to ram his entire plane into a target, he would return to base where the rockets would be replaced. If the bombers were still close by, he could fly another sortie. If the rammer was towed into the air, the rockets would most likely have been fired on approach and again after hitting a target. This would provide enough power to grant a second pass with sufficient speed to allow for significant damage to be inflicted on the bomber when it struck.
However, the Kokukyoko “Syusuishiki Kayaku” would remain a paper project only. It is unclear if the design was to be the definitive rammer model or simply a proposed concept (Ref.: Dyer III, Edwin M.: Japanese Secret Projects, Experimental Aircraft of the IJA and IJN 1939-1945, Midland Publishing, Hersham, U.K., 2010).