Heinkel He 162 Volksjäger

The Heinkel He 162 Volksjäger (People's Fighter) was a German single-engine, jet-powered fighter aircraft fielded by the Luftwaffe in World War II. Designed and built quickly, and made primarily of wood as metals were in very short supply and prioritised for other aircraft, the He 162 was nevertheless the fastest of the first generation of Axis and Allied jets. Volksjäger was the Reich Air Ministry's official name for the He 162. 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.

Heinkel had designed a little aircraft, with a sleek, streamlined fuselage. The BMW 003 axial-flow turbojet was mounted in a pod nacelle uniquely situated atop the fuselage directly aft of the cockpit. Twin vertical tailfins were mounted at the ends of highly dihedralled horizontal tailplanes to clear the jet exhaust, a high-mounted straight wing with a forward-swept trailing edge and shallow dihedral, an ejection seat was provided for the pilot, and tricycle landing gear that retracted into the fuselage. The prototype flew within an astoundingly short period of time: the design was chosen on 25 September and first flew on 6 December, less than 90 days later. This was despite the fact that the factory in Wuppertal making Tego film plywood glue used in a substantial number of late-war German aviation designs that were meant to be constructed from wood had been bombed by the Royal Air Force and a replacement had to be quickly substituted.

The first flight of the He 162 V1, by Flugkapitän Gotthard Peter, was fairly successful, but during a high-speed run at 840 km/h (520 mph), the highly acidic replacement glue holding the nose gear cover on failed and the pilot was forced to land. Other problems were noted as well, notably a pitch instability and problems with slideslip due to the rudder design. Neither was considered important enough to hold up the production schedule for even a day. On a second flight on 10 December, again with Peter at the controls, in front of various Nazi officials, the glue again caused a structural failure. This allowed the aileron to separate from the wing, causing the plane to roll over and crash,

The He 162 was originally built with the intention of being flown by the Hitler Youth, as the Luftwaffe was fast running out of pilots. However, the aircraft was far too complicated for any but a highly experienced pilot. An unpowered two-seat glider version, designated the He 162S (Schulen), was 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. The unit was in the process of formation when the war ended, did not begin any training, and it is doubtful that more than one or two He 162S gliders ever took to the air.

General characteristics
  • Crew: 1, pilot
  • Length: 9.05 m (29 ft 8 in)
  • Wingspan: 7.2 m (23 ft 7 in)
  • Height: 2.6 m (8 ft 6 in)
  • Wing area: 14.5 m² (156 ft²)
  • Empty weight: 1,660 kg (3,660 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 2,800 kg (6,180 lb)
  • Powerplant: 1 × BMW 003E-1 axial flow turbojet, 7.85 kN (1,760 lbf)

  • Maximum speed: 905 km/h at 6000 m. (562 mph)
  • Range: 975 km (606 mi)
  • Service ceiling: 12,000 m (39,400 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 1,405 m/min (4,615 ft/min)

  • 2 × 20 mm MG 151 cannons with 120 rpg (He 162 A-2) or
  • 2 × 30 mm MK 108 cannons with 50 rpg (He 162 A-0, A-1)

** Heinkel He 162 Volksjäger - Warbird Fare

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