Lockheed P-38M “Night Lightning”, (Revell)

TYPE: Night and bad weather fighter

ACCOMMODATION: Crew of two, pilot and radar operator

POWER PLANT: Two Allison V-1710-111/113 liquid-cooled turbo-supercharged engines, rated at 1,600 hp each

PERFORMANCE: 410 mph at 25,000 ft

COMMENT: The Lockheed P-38 „Lightning“ is a World War II–era American piston-engined fighter aircraft. Developed for the United Stated Army Air Corps, the P-38 had distinctive twin booms and a central nacelle containing the cockpit and armament. Allied propaganda claimed it had been nicknamed the fork-tailed devil (German:„Gabelschwanz-Teufel“) by the Luftwaffe and „two planes, one pilot” by the Japanese. The Lockheed P-38 Lightning was used for aerial combat of every sort including interception, dive bombing, level bombing, ground attack, night fighting, photo reconnaissance, radar and visual pathfinding for bombers and evacuation missions, and extensively as a long-range escort fighter when equipped with drop tanks under its wings.
Adaption oft he Lightning as a night fighter, to fill the gap in the USAAF inventory caused by late delivery oft he Northrop P-61 „Black Widow“, accounted fort the last-designated variant oft he Lockheed twin, the P-38M, although the use of Lightnings in nocturnal role actually originated at squadron level rather than as a factory-designed innovation. Detachments oft he 6th Fighter Squadron flying Douglas P-70s in New Guinea and at Guadalcanal, both operated P-38Gs in this role, and the New Guinea detachment actually converted two Lightnings to two-seatres, carrying SCR-540 radar in a drop tank; the unit was, however, disbanded before these aircraft could be tested in combat. Unmodified P-38Gs and P-38Js were used as night fighters in New Guinea and on Guadalcanal with a few successful interceptions recorded.Two single seat P-38Js fitted with APS-4 radar were used with a degeree of sucess by the 547th Night Fighter Squadron operating in the Philippines in late 1944/early 1945.
While these operational innovations had been going on, a P-38J had been adapted at Wright Field to serve as a test-bed for AN/APS-4 radar, installed in the first instance in a pod under the fuselage behind the nose wheel. As it was struck by cartridges ejected when the nose gund were fired, this pod was later moved to an underwing position, outboard oft the starboard engine. Several similar radar conversions of P-38Js, including „piggy back“ two seaters were than made fort the 481st NF Operational Training group, which conducted field trials, and when the USAAF then contracted with Lockheed, in late 1944, to convert a P-38L as a night fighter, carrying a radar operator in a second cockpit behind and above the pilot, and an AN/APS-6 radar in a long pod under the nose ahead oft he nosewheel doors. The headroom in the rear cockpit was limited, requiring radar operators who were preferably short in stature.
The first flight with all modifications in place was made on February 1945, and although only six flights were made before this aircraft was destroyed, the USAAF then ordered 75 similar P-38L conversions, to be redisignated Lockheed P-38M „Night Lightning“. Testing oft he first P-38M began in July 1945, and five of these aircraft arrived at a training establishment at Hammer Field, Ca, in the same month. Found to have a better overall performance than the Northrop P-61B „Black Widow“ but to suffer some operational limitations, the P-38M saw some combat duty in the Pacific towards the end of WW II but none engaged in combat (Ref.: 9, 24).

Heinkel He 162S (A+V Models, Resin)

TYPE: Trainer glider for Heinkel He 162 turbojet aircraft

ACCOMMODATION: Crew of two, Pilot and student

POWER PLANT: None

PERFORMANCE: No data available

COMMENT: The Heinkel He 162 „Volksjäger“ (“People’s Fighter”), the name of a project of the „Jägernotprogramm“ (Emergency Fighter Program) design competition, was a German single-engine, jet-powered fighter aircraft fielded by the Luftwaffe in WW II. It was designed and built quickly and made primarily of wood as metals were in very short supply and prioritised for other aircraft. „Volksjäger“ was the RLM’s (Reich Air Ministry’s) official name for the government design program competition won by the He 162 design. Other names given to the plane include „Salamander“, which was the codename of its construction program, and „Spatz“ (“Sparrow”), which was the name given to the plane by Heinkel.
The „Volksjäger“ needed to be easy to fly. Some suggested even glider or student pilots should be able to fly the jet effectively in combat, and indeed had the Heinkel He 162 gone into full production, that is precisely what would have happened. After the war, Ernst Heinkel would say, “[The] unrealistic notion that this plane should be a ‘people’s fighter,’ in which the „Hitler Jugend“ (Hitler Youth), after a short training regimen with clipped-wing two-seater gliders like the DFS „Stummel Habicht“, could fly for the defense of Germany, displayed the unbalanced fanaticism of those days.”
The clipped-wingspan DFS „Habicht“ (Goshawk) models had varying wingspans of both 8 m or 6 m, and were used to prepare more experienced Luftwaffe pilots for the dangerous Messerschmitt Me 163B „Komet“ rocket fighter – the same sort of training approach would also be used for the „Hitler Youth“ aviators chosen to fly the jet-powered „Volksjäger“ design competition’s winning airframe design.
Besides the „Stummelhabicht“ a standard-fuselage length, unarmed BMW 003E-powered two-seat version (with the rear pilot’s seat planned to have a ventral access hatch to access the cockpit) and an unpowered two-seat glider version, designated the Heinkel He 162S („S“ for Schulen, Training establishment), were developed for training purposes. Only a small number were built, and even fewer delivered to the sole He 162 „Hitler Youth“ training unit to be activated in March 1945 at an airbase at Sagan (now Poland). The unit was in the process of formation when the war ended, and did not begin any training; it is doubtful that more than one or two He 162S gliders ever took to the air (Ref.: 24).

Yakolev Yak-7V, Normandie-Niemen Fighter Regiment (Valom)

TYPE: Fighter, Fighterbomber, Trainer

ACCOMMODATION: Crew of one or two, pilot or trainer and student

POWER PLANT: One Klimov M-105PA V-12 liquid-cooled engine, rated at 1,050 hp

PERFORMANCE: 355 mph at 16,000 ft

COMMENT: The Yakovlev Yak-7 was developed from the earlier Yakolev Yak-1 fighter, initially as a trainer but converted into a fighter. As both a fighter and later reverting to its original training role, the Yak-7 proved to be a capable aircraft and was well liked by air crews. The Yak-7 was simpler, tougher and generally better than the Yak-1.
In 1939, A. Yakolev designed a tandem-seat advanced trainer, originally designated “I-27” and then “UTI-26”, offered along with the original I-26 proposal that became the Yak-1. The “UTI” (Uchebno Trenirovochnyi Istrebitel, Training fighter) was intended to give pilots-in-training experience on a high-performance aircraft before transitioning to a fighter. With development work started in 1940, the UTI-26 differed from its predecessor in its larger span wing being placed farther back for balance as well as having two cockpits with dual controls and a rudimentary communication system. It was armed with a single 7.62 mm ShKAS machine gun in the cowling, mainly for use in training, but Yakovlev envisioned a multi-purpose aircraft that could also undertake courier and light transport duties at the front.
The first production aircraft known as Yak-7UTIs retained a retractable main landing gear, but beginning in the summer of 1941, a fixed landing gear variant, the Yak-7V (Vyvozoni = Familiarization) was substituted. The factory reasoned that production would be simplified and that reduced performance would not be detrimental for a trainer. Yak-7UTIs and Yak-7Vs were also equipped with skis for winter operations.
The Yak-7 proved to be an effective close support fighter although the first two-seaters were considered nose-heavy. Consequently, the factory introduced a rear cockpit fuel tank. Pilots complained about the fuel tank’s vulnerability since it was unarmored, and it was usually removed in the field. There were constant changes to the design based on combat observations including a definitive single-seat variant, the Yak-7B, which was produced in large numbers.
Generally, the Yakolev Yak-7 pleased its pilots. They reported that it was easy to fly at all altitudes, stable and easy to maintain and although it did not climb as quickly as a Messerschmitt Bf 109, it was as maneuverable and fast, except in the vertical plane. But defects were also noted: there was too much drag from the radiators, the canopy glass was of bad quality; the pilot was not protected enough, taking-off and landing distances were too long and, above all, it was underpowered.
Yakovlev suggested to Klimov, the engine builder, some modifications that resulted in the M-105PF which was 130 hp more powerful. With this modified engine, the Yak-7B top speed was of 372 mph, it climbed much faster up to 16,404 ft and it was more maneuverable both in the horizontal and the vertical planes. But because the rear tank was removed, its range was reduced and the center of gravity was moved too forward, while M-105 defects (glycol and oil overheating, oil leaks etc.) persisted.
In total 510 two-seat trainer were built, 87 were converted from Yak-7B (Ref.: 24).

Messerschmitt “Projekt Wespe II” (Project Wasp II), (Unicraft Models, Resin)

TYPE: Short-range fighter, fighter bomber

ACCOMMODATION: Pilot only

POWER PLANT: One Heinkel/Hirth HeS 011 turbojet engine, rated at 1,300 kp thrust

PERFORMANCE: No data available

COMMENT: This late WW II Messerschmitt „Projekt Wespe” (Wasp) is mostly unknown, and information on it is incomplete. Two seperate fuselages were designed for the „Wespe”:
Design I had the cockpit located midway along the fuselage, and the single He S 011 jet engine was located at the rear and was fed by a long air duct. A long tapering single fin and rudder was chosen, with the tail planes located about halfway up.
Design II had the cockpit located far forward on the fuselage, and the single He S 011 turbojet was mounted mid fuselage. It was fed by an air duct which wrapped under the forward fuselage, and exhausted below a tail boom with a V- Tail unit.
Both designs used a tricycle landing gear arrangement, with the main gear retracting inwards from the wing and the front gear retracting forwards. No armament was specified, but at this stage in the war two MK 108 30mm cannon would probably have been fitted. Priority for both designs was the use of non-strategic material as much as possible, reduction of time for maintenance and adequate flying characteristics (Ref.: 17).