Category Archives: Fighter


Messerschmitt Projekt “Schwalbe” I (Unicraft, Resin)

TYPE: Interceptor, fighter, fighter bomber. Project


 POWER PLANT: Two Junkers Jumo 003B turbojet engines, rated at 900 kp each

 PERFORMANCE: 580 mph, estimated

COMMENT: The Messerschmitt “Schwalbe” (Swallow), not to confuse so to the  Messerschmitt Me 262 “Schwalbe”, was a late-war design that did not receive a project number designation. The wings were swept back at 31.5 degrees, and contained the majority of the fuel supply. The wings seem to have been based on the Messerschmitt Me 163 or Me 263 (Ju 248) wing design, as there is more than a superficial resemblance. Two turbojets were proposed, one was located above the fuselage and one below. A tricycle-type landing gear design was chosen, with the nose wheel retracting to the rear and the two main gear retracting forward and inboard. The cockpit was located in front of and between the upper air intakes. An especially curious feature is the device at the fuselage rear; this is thought to be dive brakes or some sort of thrust reversal mechanism (Ref.: 16).

Heinkel He 178 V1 (AML)

TYPE: Experimental aircraft


POWER PLANT: Heinkel HeS 3B turbojet engine, rated at 550 kp


COMMENT: The Heinkel He 178 was the world’s first aircraft to fly under turbojet power, and the first practical turbojet aircraft. It was a private venture by the German Heinkel company in accordance with director Ernst Heinkel‘s’s emphasis on developing technology for high-speed flight. It first flew on 27 August 1939. This flight had been preceded by a short hop three days earlier.
In 1936, a young engineer named Hans von Ohain had taken out a patent on using the exhaust from a gas turbine as a means of propulsion. He presented his idea to Ernst Heinkel, who agreed to help develop the concept. von Ohain successfully demonstrated his first engine, the Heinkel HeS 1 (HeS = Heinkel Strahltriebwerke, Heinkel jet engines) in 1937, and plans were quickly made to test a similar engine in an aircraft. The Heinkel He 178 was designed around von Ohain’s third engine design, the HeS 3, which burned diesel fuel. The result was a small aircraft with a metal fuselage of conventional configuration and construction. The high-mounted wooden wings had the Heinkel-characteristic elliptical trailing edge. The jet intake was in the nose, and the aircraft was fitted with tailwheel undercarriage. The main landing gear was intended to be retractable, but remained fixed in “down” position throughout the flight trials.
The aircraft made its maiden flight on 27 August 1939, only days before Germany invaded Poland. The test pilot was Erich Warsitz, who had also flown the world’s first rocket powered aircraft, the Heinkel He 176, on its maiden flight in June 1939.
Heinkel had developed the turbojet engine and the testbed aircraft, the Heinkel He 178 V1, in great secrecy. They were kept secret even from the German air force, and on 1 November 1939, after the German victory in Poland, Heinkel arranged a demonstration of the jet for officials, which Hermann Göring, commander in chief of the Luftwaffe, did not attend. Ernst Udet and Erhard Milch, Minister of Aircraft Production and Supply watched the aircraft perform, but were unimpressed. While a technical success, speeds were limited to 372 mph even when fitted with more powerful HeS 6 580kp thrust engines and combat endurance was only 10 minutes.
Undeterred, Heinkel decided to embark on the development of a twin-engine jet fighter, the Heinkel He 280 as a private venture using what had been learned from the He 178 prototype. The He 178 V1 airframe was placed on display at the Berlin Aviation Museum, where it was destroyed in an air raid in 1943 (Ref. 24).

Heinkel He 176 (Jach)

TYPE: Experimental plane


POWER PLANT: Walter HWK R1-203 liquid fuelled rocket engine, rated at 500 kp


COMMENT: The Heinkel He 176 was a German rocket-powered aircraft. It was the world’s first aircraft to be propelled solely by a liquid-fuelled rocket, making its first powered flight on 20 June 1939. It was a private venture by the Heinkel Company in accordance with director Ernst Heinkel’s emphasis on developing technology for high-speed flight. The performance of the He 176 was not spectacular, but it did provide “proof of concept” for rocket propulsion.
During the 1920s, German daredevils had experimented with using solid-fuel rockets to propel cars, motorcycles, railway carriages, snow sleds, and, by 1929, aircraft such as Alexander Lippisch’s “Ente” and Fritz von Opel’s “RAK.1.
Solid-fuel rockets, however, have major disadvantages when used for aircraft propulsion, as their thrust cannot be regulated, and the engines cannot be shut down once fired.
In the late 1930s, Werner von Braun’s rocketry team working at Peenemünde investigated installing liquid-fuelled rockets in aircraft. Heinkel enthusiastically supported their efforts, supplying a Heinkel He 72 and later two Heinkel He 112 for flight tests. In early 1937, one of these latter aircraft was flown with its piston engine shut down during flight, at which time it was propelled by rocket power alone. At the same time, Hellmuth Walter’s experiments into Hydrogen peroxyd monopropellant-based rockets were leading towards light and simple rockets that appeared well-suited for aircraft installation.
The He 176 was built to utilise one of the new Walter engines. It was a tiny, simple aircraft, built almost entirely out of wood, but did possess an open cockpit with a little windshield  and a frameless single-piece clear nose, through which the pilot’s rudder pedal mounts were visible. The landing gear was a combination of conventional and tricycle gear designs, with the main gear’s struts intended to retract rearwards into the fuselage, with a fixed, aerodynamically faired nose wheel and strut, and a retractable tail wheel. A unique feature of the He 176 was its jettisonable nose escape system. Compressed air was used to separate the nose from the aircraft. A drogue chute was used to reduce the opening force required. After the drogue was deployed, the flush-fitting cockpit canopy was released and a conventional pilot/parachute bailout occurred.
Heinkel demonstrated the aircraft to the RLM (Reichsluftfahrtministerium, Ministry of aviation), but official lack of interest led to the abandonment of the company’s rocket propulsion programme. Testing of the He 176 ended with only one aircraft being built. It was put on display at the Berlin Air Museum and was destroyed by an Allied bombing raid in 1943.
Prior to the cancellation of the programme, plans had been drawn up for a more sophisticated rocket-plane, still designated He 176. This was never constructed, but because it bore the same designation as the aircraft that was actually flown, many books and websites mistakenly publish pictures of it to illustrate its earlier namesake.
Germany did eventually fly an operational rocket-propelled fighter, the Alexander Lippisch-designed Messerschmitt Me 163 “Komet” (Comet), but this was made by the competing Messerschmitt firm, using an engine that was a further development of the one that powered the He 176 (Ref.: 24).

Blohm & Voss Bv P.211.01 (Unicraft, Resin)

TYPE: Interceptor fighter. Project


POWER PLANT: BMW 003A-1 turbojet, rated at 800 kp

PERFORMANCE: 536 mph at 26,250 ft (estimated)

COMMENT: Design of an interceptor fighter from mid 1944, forerunner of the Bv P.211.02, that was submitted for the “Volksjäger” (Peoples fighter) competition. Winner was the Heinkel He 162 “Spatz”.