ACCOMMODATION: Crew of two, pilot and navigator/radar-operator
POWER PLANT: Two Junkers Jumo 004B-3 turbojet engines, rates at 950 kp thrust each
PERFORMANCE: 540 mph at 19,685 ft
COMMENT: The Messerschmitt Me 262, nicknamed Schwalbe (German: “Swallow”) in fighter versions, or Sturmvogel (German: “Storm Bird”) in fighter-bomber versions, was the world’s first operational turbojet-powered fighter aircraft. Design work started before WW II began, but problems with engines, metallurgy and top-level interference kept the aircraft from operational status with the German Luftwaffe until mid-1944. The Me 262 was faster and more heavily armed than any Allied fighter, including the British turbojet-powered Gloster Meteor. One of the most advanced aviation designs in operational use during World War II, the Me 262’s roles included light bomber, reconnaissance and experimenat night fighter versions.
While the Messerschmitt Me 262 was not a difficult aircraft to fly, it possessed its share of idiosyncrasies, and some problems arose in the conversion of inexperienced pilots who had just completed their fighter training on piston-engined types. So it was obvious that traing would be simplified by the availability of a dual-control two-seater, and, accordingly, Messerscmitt evolved a suitable conversion trainer, the Messerschmitt Me 262B-1a.
Only some 15 examples of this trainer were delivered as the importance attached to the introduction of the Me 262 as a nocturnal interceptor resulted in additional trainers on the assemblxy line being converted as night fighters under the designation Messerschmitt Me 262B-1a/U1.
Whereas the Me 2626B1a/U was a hurried adaption of the training model, the Messerschmitt Me 262B-2a was considered as the definitive night-fighting sub-type for service from mid-1945. Structurally, the principal change consisted of the insertion of additional fuselage section fore and aft the tandem cockpits, increasing overall length more than 3.5 ft. This provided the necessary space to restore the 900 ltr resp. 600 ltr fuel tanks.
The first Me 262B-2a possessed similar radar to that of the Me262B-1a/U2, and the aircraft commenced flight trials in March 1945, but the drag of the „Hirschgeweih“ array, with its eight 7-mm-diameter dipoles, was such that it reduced maximum speed by 30 mph. Various attempts had been made to streamline the antennae, resulting in the „Morgenstern“ aerial system in which the short antennae protruded through the pointed nose cone, and it was calculated that this would restore 30 mph of the speed loss. In the event, it was decided to standardize on the centrimetric wavelength FuG 240 „Berlin“ radar with a disc scanner housed in a plastic radome above the nose-mounted cannon, this affording little or no drag. The second example of the Me 262B-2a, which was to have flown with „Berlin“ radar, was in the final stages of assembly at the time of Germany’s collaps. The Me 262B-2a retained the standard forward firing battery of four 30 mm MK 108 cannon, and, in addition, provision was made for two similar weapons in a „Schräge Musik“ arrangement immediately aft of the rear cockpit (Ref.: 7).
ACCOMMODATION: Crew of four plus 11 passengers or equivalent load
POWER PLANT: Two Mitsubishi Ha-l02 radial engines, rated at 1,080 hp each
PERFORMANCE: 292 mph at 19,000 ft
COMMENT: In 1938, when the Mitsubishi Ki-21 heavy bomber began to enter service with the Imperial Japanese Army, its capability attracted the attention of the Imperial Japanese Airways. In consequence a civil version was developed and this, generally similar to the Ki-21-I and retaining its power plant of two 950 hp Nakajima Ha-5 KAI radial engines, differed primarily by having the same wings transferred from a mid to low-wing configuration and the incorporation of a new fuselage to provide accommodation for up to 11 passengers.
Completed in July 1940 the prototype made its first flight in August, and by the end of the year, despite the loss of the fourth aircraft during test flight, quantity production was authorized for both commercial and military use. A total of 101 aircraft of the first production model were built by Mitsubishi between 1940 and 1942 and designated Army Type 100 Transport Model1 (Ki-57-I) by the Army and MC-20-I by civil authorities. A small number of Ki-57-I were transferred to the Japanese Navy and designated Navy Type 0 Transport Model 11 or L4M1 by that service.
Operated by the Army and Navy as a paratroop transport, communication and logistic support aircraft and by Dai Nippon Koku K.K. as a passenger transport on scheduled services as well as on military contract operations, the aircraft, named “Topsy” by the Allies, was met in all theatres of operation. Although most of the time the type performed unspectacular but necessary tasks, it earned its share of fame on February 1942, during a Japanese paratroop attack on the aerodrome and oil refineries around Palembang.
In May 1942 an improved version of the aircraft, powered by two 1,080 hp Mitsubishi Ha-102 radials housed in redesigned nacelles and incorporating minor equipment changes, replaced the Ki-57-I on the assembly lines. A total of 406 aircraft were built for use by Dai Nippon Koku K.K. as MC-20-II and by the Japanese Army as Ki-57-II, Army Type 100 Transport Model 2. Plans to have the aircraft manufactured by Nippon Kokusai Kogyo K.K. failed to materialize and the last Ki-57-II was delivered by Mitsubishi in January 1945.
After seeing active service throughout the war a few MC-20/Ki-57 aircraft survived and were operated under strict Allied control by Dai Nippon Koku K.K. until October 1945, when all Japanese air activities were prohibited (Ref.: 1, 24).
ACCOMMODATION: Crew of two (Pilot and radiooperator/navigator)
POWER PLANT: Two Heinkel-Hirth HeS 011 turbojet engines, rated at 1.300 kp thrust each
PERFORMANCE: 565 mph
COMMENT: This project study of 11. April 1945 (Little note: less than four weeks before the total collaps of the “Third Reich”!!!!) for a two seat “Schnellbomber” (fast bomber) and “Zerstörer” (destroyer) constituted a further development of the Messerschmitt Me P.1099, Me P.1100 and Me P.1101 series of proposals of 1944 on the basis of the original in service Messerschmitt Me 262.
Whereas the basic fuselage, spacious cockpit and tail surfaces of the mentioned follow-up proposals were retained, the two Heinkel-Hirth HeS 011 turbojets were relocated into the wing root to which the new wings having a leading edge sweep of almost 40 degrees were attached. An interesting feature of the design was that the mainwheels were to retract inwards to rest vertically in the fuselage between the fore and aft fuel tanks. Exactly how this was to be accomplished with the turbojets in the way is not clear from the documents. Although the final form of the fuselage nose portion had not been decided, the end of the war brought an early end of the project (Ref.: 16).
POWER PLANT: One Mitsubishi “Kinsai 62” radial engine, rated at 1,560 hp
PERFORMANCE: 292 mph
COMMENT: The Yokosuka D3Y “Myojo” (“Venus”) was a Japanese two-seat dive bomber/trainer designed and built by the Yokosuka Naval Air Technical Arsenal derived from the Aichi D3A. It was made nearly entirely of wood in an attempt to conserve valuable resources. Upon Japan’s surrender, the project came to a halt with only a few aircraft delivered.
The D3Y was a two-seat bomber trainer constructed of wood, so as not to use more valuable materials. It was based on the successful Aichi D3A, with design starting in late 1942. Like the D3A, it was a two-seat low-winged monoplane with a fixed tailwheel undercarriage. To allow construction by unskilled workers, the elliptical wing and rounded tail of the D3A were replaced by straight tapered alternatives, while the fuselage was lengthened to improve stability. Two prototypes were built during 1944, but these proved heavier than expected. Three production aircraft, which were redesigned to save weight, were completed for the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Force (IJNAF) before the end of the war, and officially designated the Navy Type 99 Bomber Trainer Myojo Model 22.
In Yokosuka’s design bureau two different variants of the basic design were on the drawing board.
The D3Y1-K “Myojo” (Navy Type 99 Bomber Trainer Myojo Model 22) was a two seat wooden dive-bomber trainer. Powered by a 1,300 hp Mitsubishi Kinsei 54 radial engine, based on the Aichi D3A2-K, the aircraft featured some significant changes to allow production in wood. Two prototypes and three production aircraft were completed before the final collaps.
The second design, a single-seat D3Y2-K Special Attacker Myojo Kai (“Venus Modified”) for suicide missions was initiated early in 1945. Powered by a 1,560 hp Mitsubishi Kinsei 62 and fitted with a jettisonable undercarriage on take-off since the aircraft was not expected to return. This version was to have been armed with two 20mm Type 99 MK1 cannon in the engine cowling was to carry a single bomb up to 800 kg. The prototype had not been completed when the war ended, and the planned monthly production of thirty D5Y-1s, as the aircraft had been redesignated, was never undertaken (Ref.: 1, 24).
POWER PLANT: One Walter HWK 109-509C-3 dual-chamber liquid-propellant rocket engine,main chamber rated up to 2,000 kp thrust, auxiliary chamber 400 kp thrust
PERFORMANCE: 590 mph
COMMENT: The Messerschmitt Me 263 „Scholle“ (Plaice) was a rocket-powered fighter aircraft developed from the Messerschmitt Me 163 „Komet“ (Comet) towards the end of WW II. Three prototypes were built but never flown under their own power as the rapidly deteriorating military situation in Germany prevented the completion of the test program.
Although the Messerschmitt Me 163 had very short endurance, it had originally been even shorter. In the original design, the engine had only one throttle setting, “full on”, and burned through its fuel in a few minutes. Not only did this further limit endurance, in flight testing, pilots found the aircraft quickly exhibited compressibility effects as soon as they levelled off from the climb and speeds picked up. This led the Reichsluftfahrtministerium (RLM) to demand the addition of a throttle, leading to lengthy delays and a dramatic decrease in fuel economy when throttled.
This problem was addressed in the slightly updated Messerschmitt Me 163C. This featured the same Walter HWK 109-509B or C dual chamber rocket engine already trialled on the Me 163B V6 and V18 prototypes; the main upper chamber („Hauptkammer“) was tuned for high thrust while the lower „Marschofen“ auxiliary combustion chamber was designed for a much lower thrust output (about 400 kgf maximum) for economic cruise. In operation, throttling was accomplished by starting or stopping the main engine, which was about four times as powerful as the smaller one. This change greatly simplified the engine, while also retaining much higher efficiency during cruise. Along with slightly increased fuel tankage, the powered endurance rose to about 12 minutes, a 50% improvement. As the aircraft spent only a short time climbing, this meant the time at combat altitude would be more than doubled.
Throughout development the RLM proved unhappy with the progress on the Me 263 project, and eventually decided to transfer development to Heinrich Hertel at Junkers company. Alexander Lippisch remained at Messerschmitt and retained the support of Waldemar Voigt, continuing development of the Me 163C.
At Junkers, the basic plan of the Me 163C was followed to produce an even larger design, the Junkers Ju 248. It retained the new pressurized cockpit and bubble canopy of the Me 163C, with even more fuel tankage, and adding a new retractable landing gear design. On September 1944 a wooden mock-up was shown to officials. The production version was intended to be powered by the more powerful BMW 109-708 rocket engine in place of the Walter power plant.
Prior to the actual building of the Ju 248, two Me 163Bs, prototype V13 and V18, were slated to be rebuilt. V13 had deteriorated due to weather exposure, so only V18 was rebuilt, but had been flown by test pilot Heini Dittmar at a record-setting 702 mph velocity on July , 1944 and suffered near-total destruction of its rudder surface as a result of high-speed induced compressibility. It is this aircraft that is often identified as the Me 163D, but this aircraft was built after the Ju 248 project had started.
Hertel had hoped to install Lorin ramjet engines, but this technology was still far ahead of its time. As a stopgap measure, they decided to build the aircraft with a „Sondergeräte“ (special equipment) in the form of a „Zusatztreibstoffbehälter“ (auxiliary fuel tank): two 160 l external T-Stoff oxidizer tanks were to be installed under the wings. This would lead to a 10% speed decrease but no negative flight characteristics. Although Junkers claimed the Ju 248 used a standard Me 163B wing, they decided to modify the wing to hold more C-Stoff fuel. This modification was carried out by the Puklitsch firm.
In November 1944, the aircraft was again redesignated as the Messerschmitt Me 263 to show its connection with the Me 163. The two projects also got names – the Ju 248 „Flunder“ (Flounder)) and the Me 263 „Scholle“ (Plaice)). In early 1945, Junkers proposed its own project, the EF 127 „Walli“ rocket fighter, as a competitor to the Me 163C and Me 263.
The first unpowered flight of the Messerschmitt Me 263 V1 was in February 1945. Several more unpowered flights took place that month. The biggest problem had to do with the center of gravity which was restored with the addition of counterweights. Eventually, the production aircraft would have repositioned the engine or the landing gear installation to solve this problem. The landing gear was still non-retractable. The results of those first flights were pricipally satisfying.
Test flights were later stopped because of fuel shortages for the Messerschmitt Bf 110 towplanes. As the Me 263 was not a part of the „Jägernotprogramm“ (Emergency Fighter Programm), it was difficult to get the resources it needed. For the time being the plane was not expected to enter production but further development was allowed. The V2 and V3 were not yet ready. The V2 was to get the retractable landing gear and the V3 would have the armament built in. The next month both the V1 and the V2 had the two-chambered HWK 109-509C installed, correcting the center-of-gravity problems. They flew only as gliders.
In April, American troops occupied the Messerschmitt plant and captured the three prototypes and the mock-up. The V2 was destroyed but another prototype ended up in the US. The rest was handed over to the Russians, who then created their own Mikoyan.Gurewitsch I-270 interceptor (Ref.: 24).
POWER PLANT: One Allison J-33-A-35 turbojet engine, rated at 2,100 kp thrust
PERFORMANCE: 492 mph at 40,000 ft
COMMENT: The Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star was the first jet fighter used operationally by the USAAF. Designed and built by Lockheed Aircraft Company in 1943 and delivered just 143 days from the start of the design process, production models were flying but not ready for service by the end of WW II. Designed with straight wings, the type saw extensive combat in Korea with the United States Air Force (USAF) as the Lockeed F-80.
The prototype XP-80 had a conventional all-metal airframe, with a slim low wing and tricycle landing gear. Like most early jets designed during World War II – and before the Allies captured German research data that confirmed the speed advantages of swept-wings – the XP-80 had straight wings, similar to previous propeller-driven fighters. It was the first operational jet fighter to have its engine in the fuselage, a format previously used in the pioneering German Heinkel He 178 V1 of 1939, and the later British Gloster E.28/39 Pioneer demonstrator of 1941. Other early jets generally had two engines because of their limited power, these being mounted in external necelles for easier maintenance. With the advent of more powerful British jet engines, fuselage mounting was more effective, and it was used by nearly all subsequent fighter aircraft.
Concept work on the XP-80 began in 1943 with a design being built around the blueprint dimensions of a British Halford H-1 B turbojet (later called the de Havilland Goblin), a powerplant to which the design team did not have actual access. Lockheed’s team, consisting of 28 engineers, was led by the legendary C. L. „Kelly“ Johnson. This teaming was an early product of Lockheed’s Skunk Works, which surfaced again in the next decade to produce a line of high-performance aircraft.
The impetus for development of the P-80 was the discovery by Allied intelligence of the Messerschmitt Me 262 ‘Schwalbe’ (‘Swallow’) in spring 1943, which had made only test flights of its own first quartet (the V1 through V4 airframes) of design prototypes at that time, all fitted with retracting tailwheel landing gear. After receiving documents and blueprints comprising years of British jet aircraft research, the commanding General of the Army Air Forces, Henry H. Arnold, believed an airframe could be developed to accept the British-made jet engine, and the Materiel Command’s Wright Field research and development division tasked Lockheed to design the aircraft. With the Germans and British clearly far ahead in development, Lockheed was pressed to develop a comparable jet in as short a time as possible. Kelly Johnson submitted a design proposal in mid-June and promised that the prototype would be ready for testing in 180 days. The Skunk Works team, beginning 26 June 1943, produced the airframe in 143 days, delivering it to Muroc Army Airfield on 16 November.
The project was so secret that only five of the more than 130 people working on it knew that they were developing a jet aircraft, and the British engineer who delivered the Goblin engine was detained by the police because Lockheed officials could not vouch for him. After the engine had been mated to the airframe, foreign object damage during the first run-up destroyed the engine, which delayed the first flight until a second engine (the only other existing) could be delivered from Britain.
The first prototype was nicknamed „Lulu-Belle“ (also known as „the Green Hornet” because of its paint scheme). Powered by the replacement Halford H1 taken from the prototype de Havilland Vampire jet fighter, it first flew on 8 January 1944.The donated British jet program data had no doubt proved invaluable. In test flights, the XP-80 eventually reached a top speed of 502 mph at 20,480 ft, making it the first turbojet-powered USAAF aircraft to exceed 500 mph in level flight, following the August 1944 record flight of 502 mph by a special high-speed variant of the Republic P-47J Thunderbolt. Contemporary pilots, when transitioning to pioneering jets like the Shooting Star, were unused to flying at high speed without a loud reciprocating engine and had to learn to rely on the airspeed indicator.
The second prototype, designated XP-80A, was designed for the larger General Electric I-40 engine (an improved J31, later produced by Allison as the J33). Two aircraft were built. one was nicknamed the Gray Ghost after its “pearl gray” paint scheme, while the second aircraft was left unpainted for comparison of flight characteristics, became known as the Silver Ghost. The XP-80A’s first test flight was unimpressive, but most of the problems with the design were soon addressed and corrected in the test program. Initial opinions of the XP-80A were not positive and the aircraft were primarily testbeds for larger, more powerful engines and air intake design, and consequently were larger and 25% heavier than the XP-80.
The Shooting Star began to enter service in late 1944 with 12 pre-production YP-80As. A 13th YP-80A was modified to the sole F-14 photo reconnaissance model and lost in a December crash.
The initial production order was for 344 P-80As after USAAF acceptance in February 1945. A total of 83 P-80s had been delivered by the end of July 1945 and 45 assigned to the 412th Fighter Group (later redesignated the 1st Fighter Group) at Muroc Arma Air Field. Four were sent to Europe for operational testing (demonstration, familiarization, and possible interception roles), two to England and two to Italy, but after two accidents, one in England and one in Italy, the YP-80A was temporarily grounded. So the Lockheed Shooting Star saw no actual combat during the conflict.
After the war, the USAAF compared the P-80 and Messerschmitt Me 262 concluding, “Despite a difference in gross weight of nearly 900 kg, the Me 262 was superior to the P-80 in acceleration, speed and approximately the same in climb performance. The Me 262 apparently has a higher critical Mach number, from a drag standpoint, than any current Army Air Force fighter”.
Production oft he Shooting Star continued after the war, although wartime plans for 5,000 were quickly reduced to 2,000. A total of 1,714 single-seat F-80A, F-80B, F-80C, and RF-80s were manufactured by the end of production in 1950, of which 927 were F-80Cs (including 129 operational F-80As upgraded to F-80C-11-LO standards). However, the two-seat TF-80C, first flown on 22 March 1948, became the basis for the T-33 trainer, of which 6,557 were produced (Ref.: 24).
POWER PLANT: Two Daimler-Benz DB 603E-1 liquid-cooled engines, rated at 1,900 hp at 5,905 ft each
PERFORMANCE: 474 mph at 22,000 ft
COMMENT: The Dornier Do 335 „Pfeil“ (Arrow) was a German World-War II heavy fighter built by the Dornier company. The Pfeil’s 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 fastest piston-engined 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 first 10 Do 335A-0s were delivered for testing in May 1944. By late this year, the Do 335A-1 was on the production line. It was similar to the A-0 but with the uprated DB 603E-1 engines of some 1,800 hp take-off power rating apiece and two underwing hardpoints for additional bombs, drop tanks or guns. It had a maximum speed of 474 mph at 21 300 ft with MW 50 boost, or 426 mph without boost, and climbed to 26, 250 ft in under 15 minutes. Even with one engine out, it reached about 350 mph.
With the worsening of war situation development emphasis in the „Pfeil“ programme switched from the A-series fighter-bomber to the more heavily armed B-series „Zerstörer“ (Destroyer), and during the winter 1944-45 the first Do 335B prototypes were completetd at Oberpfaffenhofen. The initial B-series „Zerstörer“ were essentially similar to the Do 335A-1 apart from armament and the deletion of internal weapon bay, its space being utilized by a supplement fuel tank. The Do 335 V13 had a 15-mm MG 151 cannon in the forward fuselage replaced by 20-mm MG 151s, and was intended to serve as a prototype fort he Do 335B-1, and the Do 335 V14 had this armament supplemented by two 30-mm MK 103 cannon mounted just inboard oft he main undercarriage attachment points, this being the prototype fort he Do 335B-2.
These were destined to be the only B-series prototypes actually completed and flown, although six additional aircraft were under construction at Oberpfaffenhofen when further development was terminated. These were the Do 335 V15 and V16, respectively the second prototype oft he B-1 and B-2 models, the Do 335 V17 which was intended as a prototype oft he B-6 two-seat night and bad weather fighter similar to the Do 335 A-6 but posessing the same armament as that oft he B-1; The Do 335 V18 which was to have been the second prototype fort he Do 335B-6, and the Do 335 V19 and V20 which would have been respectively prototypes for the Do 335B-3 and B-7 powered by DB 603LA engines with two stage superchargers, the former being a single-seater similar to the B-2 and the latter being a two-seater similar tot he B-6 (Ref.: 7, 24).
POWER PLANT: Two Wright R-2600-23 Twin Cyclone radial engines, rated at 1,600 hp each
PERFORMANCE: 329 mph at 14,500 ft
COMMENT: The Douglas A-20 Havoc (company designation DB-7) is an American medium bomber, attack aircraft, night intruder, night fighter, and reconnaissance aircraft of WW II.
Designed to meet an Army Air Corps requirement for a bomber, it was ordered by France for their air force before the USAAC decided it would also meet their requirements. French DB-7s were the first to see combat; after the fall of France the bomber, under the servce name Boston continued with the Royal Air Force. From 1941, night fighter and intruder versions were given the service name Havoc. In 1942 USAAF A-20s saw combat in North Africa.
It served with several Allied air forces, principally the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF), the Soviet Air Forces (VVS), Soviet Naval Aviation (AVMF), and the Royal Air Forces (RAF). A total of 7,478 aircraft were built, of which more than a third served with Soviet units.
In most British Commonwealth air forces, the bomber variants were known as Boston, while the night fighter and intruder variants were named Havoc. The exception was the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), which used the name Boston for all variants.
The USAAF used the P-70 designation to refer to the night fighter variants.
In October 1940, the USAAC felt a need for long-range fighters more than attack bombers. As a result, sixty of the production run of A-20s were converted to P-70 night fighters, all delivered by September 1942. They were equipped with SCR-540 radar (a copy of the British AI Mk. IV), the glazed nose often being painted black to reduce glare and hide the details of the radar set, and had four 20 mm forward-firing cannon, each provided with 120 rounds, in a tray in the lower part of the bomb bay, while the upper part held an additional fuel tank with a capacity of 250 US gallons . In 1943, 13 A-20Cs and 51 A-20Gs were converted to Douglas P-70A. Differences were to be found in the armament, with the 20mm cannon package replaced by an A-20G gun nose with six .50 caliber guns installed, the SCR-540 radar installation being carried in the bomb bay with the vertical-plane, twin-dipole “arrowhead” transceiving antenna protruding between the nose guns. Further P-70 variants were produced from A-20G and J variants. The singular airframe P-70B-1 (converted from an A-20G) and subsequent P-70B-2s (converted from A-20Gs and Js) had American centimetric radar (SCR-720 or SCR-729) fitted.
The P-70s and P-70As saw combat only in the Pacific during World War II and only with the USAAF. The P-70B-1 and P-70B-2 aircraft never saw combat but served as night fighter aircrew trainers in the US in Florida and later in California. All P-70s were retired from service by 1945 (Ref.: 24).
POWER PLANT: One Daimler-Benz DB 606A-2, twenty-four-cylinder liquid-cooled coupled engine, rated at 2,350 hp
PERFORMANCE: 367 mph at 14,755 ft
COMMENT: The Heinkel He 119 was an experimental single-propeller monoplane with two coupled engines, developed in Germany. A private venture by Heinkel to test radical ideas by the Günter brothers, the He 119 was originally intended to act as an unarmed reconnaissance bomber capable of eluding all fighters due to its high performance.
Design was begun in the late summer of 1936. A notable feature of the aircraft was the streamlined fuselage, most likely as an evolutionary descendant of the 1932-vintage Heinkel H 70 record-setting single-engined mailplane design, but without the He 70’s protruding canopy-enclosed crew accommodation existing anywhere along the exterior. Instead, the He 119’s forward fuselage featured an extensively glazed cockpit forming the nose itself, heavily framed with many diagonally braced windows immediately behind the propeller spinner’s rear edge. Two of the three-man crew sat on either side of the driveshaft, which ran aft to a “power system”, a coupled pair of Daimler-Benz DB 601 engines mounted above the wing center-section within the fuselage, mounted together within a common mount (the starboard component engine having a “mirror-image” centrifugal supercharger) with a common gear reduction unit fitted to the front ends of each component engine, forming a drive unit known as the Daimler-Benz DB 606, the first German aircraft to use the “high-power” power plant system meant to provide German aircraft with an aviation power plant design of over 2,000 PS output capability.
The DB 606 engine was installed just behind the aft cockpit wall, near the center of gravity, with an enclosed extension shaft passing through the centerline of the extensively glazed cockpit to drive a large four-blade variable-pitch airscrew in the nose. An evaporative cooling system was used on the first aircraft (V1), with the remaining prototypes receiving a semi-retractable radiator directly below the engine to augment cooling during take-off and climb.
Only eight prototypes were completed and the aircraft did not see production, mainly because of the shortages of DB 601 “component” engines to construct the 1,500 kg “power systems” they formed. The first two prototypes were built as land planes, with retractable landing gear. The third prototype (V3) was constructed as a seaplane with twin floats. This was tested at the “Erprobungsstelle Travemünde” military seaplane test facility on the Baltic coast, and was scrapped in 1942 at Heinkel’s factory airfield in the coastal Rostock-Schmarl community, then known as Marienehe.
On November 1937, the fourth prototype (V4) made a world class-record flight in which it recorded an airspeed of 314 mph, with a payload of 1,000 kg, over a distance of 1,000 km. The four remaining prototypes were completed during the spring and early summer of 1938, the V5 and V6 being A-series production prototypes for the reconnaissance model, and the V7 and V8 being B-series production prototypes for the bomber model.
These four aircraft were three-seaters with a defensive armament of one 7.92 mm MG 15 machine gun in a dorsal position, V7 and V8 having provision for a normal bombload of three 250 kg bombs or maximum bombload of 1,000 kg. V7 and V8 were sold to Japan in May 1940, and extensively studied; the insights thus gained were used in the design of the Yokosuka R2Y1 “Keiun” The remaining prototypes served as engine test-beds, flying with various prototype versions of the DB 606 and DB 610 (twinned Daimler-Benz DB 605) and the experimental DB 613 (twinned Daimler-Benz DB 603).
In 1944, a high-speed bomber development, designed as a private venture by Heinkel to test radical ideas by the Günter brothers, was the Heinkel He 519. It was designed to use the 24-cylinder Daimler-Benz DB 613, but the aircraft remained a concept and was abandoned at the end of the war. (Ref.: 24).
POWER PLANT: One Mikulin AM-38F liquid-cooled engine, rated at 1,720 hp
COMMENT: The Ilyushin Il-2 „Shturmovik“ was a ground attack aircraft produced by the Soviet Union in large numbers during WW II. To Il-2 pilots, the aircraft was simply the diminutive “Ilyusha”, to the soldiers on the ground, it was the “Hunchback”, the “Flying Tank” or the “Flying Infantryman”. With 36,183 units produced during the war it was the most built aircraft forever.
The idea for a Soviet armored ground-attack aircraft dates to the early 1930s. The Il-2 was designed by Sergey Ilyushin and his team at the Central Design Bureau in 1938. Designated TsKB-55 it was a two-seat aircraft with an armoured shell weighing 700 kg, protecting crew, engine, radiators, and the fuel tank. Standing loaded, the Ilyushin weighed more than 4,700 kg making the armoured shell about 15% of the aircraft’s gross weight. Uniquely for a World War II attack aircraft, and similarly to the forward fuselage design of the World War I-era Imperial German Junkers J.I armored, all-metal biplane, the Il-2’s armor was designed as a load-bearing part of the Ilyushin’s monocoque structure, thus saving considerable weight. The prototype TsKB-55, which first flew on 2 October 1939, won the government competition against the Sukhoi Su-6 and received the VVS (Soviet Air Forces) designation BSh-2 (the BSh stood for “Bronirovani Shturmovik” or armoured ground attack). The prototypes – TsKB-55 and TskB-57 – were built at Moscow plant No 39, at that time the Ilyushin design bureau’s base.
The production aircraft passed State Acceptance Trials in March 1941, and was redesignated Il-2 in April. Deliveries to operational units commenced in May 1941.
The Il-2 was a single-engine, propeller-driven, low-wing monoplane of mixed construction with a crew of two (one in early versions), specially designed for assault operations. Its most notable feature was the inclusion of armor in an airframe load-bearing scheme. Armor plates replaced the frame and paneling throughout the nacelle and middle part of the fuselage, and an armored hull made of riveted homogeneous armor steel secured the aircraft’s engine, cockpit, water and oil radiators, and fuel tanks.
In early 1941, the Il-2 was ordered into production at four factories, but by the time Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941, only State Aviation Factory 18 at Voronezh and Factory 381 at Leningrad had commenced production, with 249 having been built by the time of the German attack.
Production early in the war was slow because after the German invasion the aircraft factories near Moscow and other major cities in western Russia had to be moved east of the Ural Mountains. Ilyushin and his engineers had time to reconsider production methods, and two months after the move Il-2s were again being produced.
As a result, “the production of Shturmoviks rapidly gained speed. Stalin’s notion of the Il-2 being ‘like bread’ to the Red Army took hold in Ilyushin’s aircraft plants and the army soon had their Shturmoviks available in quantity.”
The first use in action of the Il-2 was with the 4th ShAP (Ground Attack Regiment) over the Berezina River days after German invasion began. The aircraft was so new that the pilots had no training in flight characteristics or tactics, and the ground crew no training in servicing or re-arming. The training received enabled the pilots only to take-off and land; none of the pilots had fired the armament, let alone learned tactics. There were 249 Il-2s available on 22 June 1941. In the first three days, 4th ShAP had lost 10 Il-2s to enemy action, a further 19 were lost to other causes, and 20 pilots were killed. By 10 July, 4th ShAP was down to 10 aircraft from a strength of 65.
Tactics improved as Soviet aircrews became used to the Il-2’s strengths. Instead of a low horizontal straight approach at 50 metres altitude, the target was usually kept to the pilot’s left and a turn and shallow dive of 30 degrees was used, using an echeloned assault by four to twelve aircraft at a time. Although the Il-2’s RS-82 and RS-132 rockets could destroy armored vehicles with a single hit, they were so inaccurate that experienced Il-2 pilots mainly used the cannon.
The main problem with the Il-2 was the inaccuracy of its attacks. Towards the end of war, the Soviets were able to concentrate large numbers of Shturmoviks to support their main offensives. The effect, however, was often more psychological than actual physical destruction of targets, particularly against dug-in and armored targets. The heavy armor of the Il-2 also meant that it would typically carry only comparatively light bomb-loads, which together with the poor accuracy of its attacks made it a far less deadly attack aircraft than contemporary Allied fighter-bombers such as the Republic P-47 „Thunderbolt“ and Hawker „Typhoon“. The rocket projectiles especially were not effective, even the larger RS-132 (of which four were carried) having a warhead with only 0.9 kg of explosives, which compared poorly with the P-47’s typical load of ten 13 cm HVAR‘s, each having a 21 kg warhead, or the 8 to 12 27 kg warheads of the Hawker „Typhoon’s“ RP-3 rockets.
Heavy losses to enemy fighters forced the reintroduction of a rear gunner; early Il-2s were field modified by cutting a hole in the fuselage behind the cockpit for a gunner sitting on a canvas sling armed with a 12.7 mm UBT machine gun in an improvised mounting. The semi-turret gun mount allowed the machine gun to be fired at angles of up to 35° upwards, 35° to starboard and 15° to port. Tests showed that maximum speed decreased by between 10 and 20 km/h and that the two-seater was more difficult to handle because the center of gravity was shifted backwards. At the beginning of March 1942, a production two-seat Il-2 with the new gunner’s cockpit began manufacturer tests. The second cockpit and armament increased all-up weight by 170 kg so the flaps were allowed to be deployed at an angle of 17° to avoid an over-long takeoff run. The new variant had a lengthened fuselage compartment with an extended canopy offering some protection from the elements. Unlike the well-armoured cockpit of the pilot compartment with steel plating up to 12 mm thick behind, beneath and on both sides as well as up to 65 mm thick glass sections, the rear gunner was provided with 6 mm thick armour, effective only against rifle-calibre rounds.
While the Il-2 was a deadly air-to-ground weapon, and even a fairly effective interceptor against slow bombers and transport aircraft, heavy losses resulted from its vulnerability to fighter attack. Losses were very high, the highest of all types of Soviet aircraft, though given the numbers in service this is only to be expected. „Shturmovik“ losses (including Il-10 type), in 1941–1945, were of 10,762 aircraft. The main defensive tactic was flying low and power down as the fighters closed in to let the fighter overshoot and fly into the Il-2’s firing range (Ref.: 24).
Scale 1:72 aircraft models of World War II
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