Heinkel He 162A

Heinkel He 162A

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Throughout the Second World War both the Royal Air Force and the Luftwaffe attempted to produce an effective jet aeroplane. Hans Ohain, who was employed by the Ernst Heinkel company, developed the HE 178, but it was not a successful aircraft.

The jet fighter Messerschmitt Me 262 made its first test flight on 25th March, 1942. The following year, the jet bomber, the Arado Ar 234B appeared and first flew on 15th June, 1943.

The Heinkel He 162A did not make its first flight until 6th December, 1944. It was not a success as an under-carriage door came off. Four days later on another test flight it crashed when one of its wings disintegrated. Changes were made and 300 were built but very few saw action before the end of the Second World War.

Heinkel He 162 Volksjaeger

* Hitler's Reich achieved notoriety for the advanced weapons created by German researchers, such as missiles, guided bombs, and jet fighters. While these weapons were in most cases too little and too late to affect the course of the war, they remain a subject of interest. One of these interesting weapons was the Heinkel "He 162 Volksjaeger (People's Fighter)", a lightweight jet fighter designed to be produced cheaply in large quantity. This document provides a history and description of the Volksjaeger, and the broadly similar Henschel "Hs 132" jet dive bomber.

Heinkel He 162 A-2 Spatz (Sparrow)

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Heinkel He 162 A-2 Spatz (Sparrow)

Single engine, single seat, jet fighter, green and silver, BMW OO3E Turbojet engine, ca. 1945

The German jet fighter that is now synonymous with the project that inspired it, the Volksjäger or People's Fighter program, first flew on December 6, 1944. The Reich Air Ministry issued specifications for the program on September 10, 1944, challenging manufacturer's to design, build, and fly, as quickly as possible, an "emergency, lightweight fighter" powered by a single BMW 003 engine. The specifications also spelled out these key requirements: the new design must be easily mass-produced with the least amount of strategic materials such as steel and aluminum, and flight performance must exceed that of piston-engined fighters. National Socialist ideology profoundly influenced another design criteria. The jet had to be so simple to operate that teenage Hitler Youth pilots could fly into combat after rudimentary training. The Nazis considered the Volksjäger squadrons the airborne equivalent of the Volkssturm (People's Guard) home defense squads that the Nazis formed to save the regime from imminent military defeat. (note: the He 162 has often been erroneously referred to as the Salmander. The term is a codename for the wing structure, not the aircraft.)

Heinkel designed and built the first prototype of the He 162 in record time. Just 74 days passed between the day Heinkel received the contract on September 23 and first flight on December 6. Numerous technical and design problems were apparent and the prototype crashed four days later. Pilots mastered some of the Spatz's nasty habits but the jet would always be a difficult, even dangerous, aircraft to fly, even for experienced pilots. Had the Luftwaffe fielded Hitler Youth squadrons flying the He 162, takeoff and landing would have killed as many pilots as combat. One of the central concepts of the program thus proved illusory.

The original armament, two 30 mm MK 108 cannons, was also too heavy for the small airframe, so Heinkel substituted two 20 mm MG 151/20 cannon, creating the He 162 A-2 variant. Heinkel started production before completing the initial testing and modification phase. Reequipment of JG 1 (Jagdgeschwader or Fighter Wing 1) began in February 1945. On March 31, the Luftwaffe transferred two Gruppen of JG 1 to Leck airbase, in Schleswig-Holstein near the border with Denmark, to begin operational training. In addition, an Erprobungskommando 162 (Test Command 162), also known as Erprobungskommando Bär after its commander, was formed in southern Germany. Because the aircraft was never certified ready for combat, He 162 pilots had only very limited encounters with Allied aircraft.

The NASM aircraft (Werknummer 120230) was one of the thirty-one JG 1 aircraft manufactured by Heinkel at Rostock-Marienehe and captured by the British at Leck on May 8, 1945. It was painted with the number "white 23" and its red-white-black nose bands were in reverse order from the usual paint scheme, which may indicate that the wing commander and high-scoring ace, Col. Herbert Ihlefeld, flew this particular aircraft. After transfer to Britain, the U. S. Army Air Forces accepted the airplane and shipped it to Wright Field, Ohio, for evaluation. It received the foreign equipment number FE-504 (later T2-504), and was later moved to Freeman Field, Indiana. For unknown reasons, mechanics replaced the tail unit at Wright Field with the tail unit of aircraft 120222. Although another He 162, T2-489, was tested at Muroc Field, California (later Edwards Air Force Base), FE/T2-504 was apparently never flown. Its flying days ended permanently when someone at Freeman Field neatly sawed through the outer wing panels sometime before September 1946. The wings were reattached with door hinges and the jet was shipped to air shows and military displays around the country. The U. S. Air Force transferred the aircraft to the Smithsonian Institution in 1949 but it remained in stored at Park Ridge, Illinois, until transfer to the Garber Facility in January 1955.

Heinkel He 162A - History

The He-162 was developed in the desperate final hours of the German Reich. Originally conceived to be flown by Hitler Youth, the tiny metal and wood airplane was a handful even for the experienced pilots of JG1. From conception to first flight took just over three months, the He-162 was a bunch of compromises to get an adequate jet airplane in the air. Incorporating many innovative features such as the hunchback jet engine on the fuselage and the necessitated use of an ejection seat, the He-162 was a marvel of German engineering. The He-162 was built by unskilled slave laborers in underground factories, free from allied bombing. Equipping only one Group of JG1, there is speculation that one He-162 actually shot down a Typhoon, which resulted in the types only victory in WWII. Just as fast as it was designed it was relegated to obscurity with the end of the war.

The Kit
Tamiya's kit is a welcome sight to those who have built the Trimaster/Dragon version. Molded in light gray plastic the main parts feature fine recessed panel lines with very few mold marks. The clear parts are cleverly engineered to allow you to cut them from the sprue without any damage to them. There is a large metal ball included to keep the aircraft from sitting on its tail. Decals are provided for three airplanes. While the decals are a little on the thick side they are still quite useable.

The features of the kit include an engine pod that is either open or closed. A separate engine is included, complete with engine stand, which can be built on the stand or in the open engine pod on top of the fuselage. Can't decide? Don't, the engine is easily removed from one to the other. A canopy that fits so well that it can be posed either open or closed.

Beginning Construction
Unlike other kits, the Tamiya He-162 starts by building the engine stand just in case you want to display your aircraft without the engine. There is no problem with the fit or the construction of this part. It is a nice feature for diorama possibilities. I elected not to use it, but I did build it up and it was fine.

OK the cockpit is next. This is a beautiful bunch of parts. The instrument panel has a decal for the gauges. I know you're saying that thing will never look good over the raised portions of the panel. WRONG! Paint the panel with a gloss black and then put the decal in place. Once you are happy with the alignment of the major instruments, add a coat of Solvaset and set it aside. You will be amazed at how nice it looks when done. All you will need to do is paint it flat and then add a little bit of Future in the gauges and the look is impressive. The rest of the cockpit goes together great. You can leave the seat out until a later time, as it is removable. I preshaded my cockpit with flat black and then sprayed Model Master RLM 66. I followed this up with a dry brush of RLM 02 and some silver pencil chips. Don't forget to add the decals throughout the cockpit and on the seat. A very nice touch. There is a clear piece to add to the wheel well cover in the cockpit, make sure you don't paint it. I attached mine with Future. While you have this piece out don't forget to paint the inside RLM 02. This is part of the wheel well.

Landing Gear
The landing gear is a really nice assembly. A word of caution: I recommend not attaching the landing gear legs until after painting the fuselage. The legs (Parts E4 & E5) and support springs (Part B18) can be added later without any problem. If you do add them now you will risk breaking off the landing gear door retraction struts, which are mounted on the landing gear legs. I broke both of mine. The entire wheel well is painted RLM 02, but there is a little room for either RLM 66 or aluminum struts. The struts were supposed to be the same struts used by the Bf-109 and as such could have any of the three colors. Check your references. Most appear to be RL 02 though.

The same goes for the wheel covers, RLM 22 Black looks to be the norm but there are clear photos of the covers being unpainted magnesium.

The part of this kit that surprised me was the landing gear doors. You have to carefully cut them off the center section. This is very reminiscent of the Trimaster way of doing it. If you want to display the model flying then you are golden. If not, then you will have to separate the doors from the panel. It is easy if you take your time and follow the instructions. A little sanding and voila, you have doors and the bottom of the fuselage.

Assembly of the fuselage is easy. There is a cross shaped support for the wings that will have to be added, as well as, the round weight. I glued my weight in place to prevent it from rolling around slightly. Part A3 holds the weight relatively still but I could just see me dropping it and the weight being loose in there. Add the wheel well and the cockpit assembly and your ready to close it up. This presented no particular problem. The only seam to clean up is on the fuselage spine where the engine exhaust will be. Everything else fit perfectly with just some Mr. Surfacer to hide the seam.

The fit of the canopy is so good it is a good time to add it now. Tamiya solved the whole fit of the front canopy by making the window and the surrounding panel clear. This will need to be masked and painted RLM 66 whenever you have it out.

Wings and tail
The tail is a three-piece assembly that requires you to align the horizontal portion, as the join was not as clean as I would have liked. This is not a dig, just which they don't "snap" in place and have to be aligned. Oh my God, you mean I have to actually build this model? Yes it is true. The tail itself fits so nice that mine weren't glued on until after painting. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus and he is named Tamiya. There has been some talk about the Tamiya tails being too small when compared to the Trimaster ones. My take on that is who cares? This baby builds up into a beautiful model. Maybe someone more knowledgeable will chime in but I don't really care.

The wings are easy to build and are just a top and a bottom each. The wings fit on the supports so well that I did not even glue mine on. This eases painting later.

I elected to not build the separate engine as I think it spoils the lines of this airplane. So it was just a matter of building up the engine nacelle. Another word of caution based on experience don't add the poly caps to the engine nacelle. The holes that are in the mount (Part B20) are good enough to use. It will be loose but I think it is easier to change and will help it sit better.

If you do choose to open the nacelle there are some pesky mold marks on the inside. Some may say that there is some sink marks on the nacelles themselves but I think these look great as a distressed skin as they are only vertical. I liked them and left them alone.

Some parts, like the wings and tail, where left off as I painted. These really did fit so well that there was no need to put them together and this aided in being able to do the camouflage scheme.

You are presented with three distinct paint schemes in the kit. All of them are colorful and make great markings but I can't leave well enough alone. I wanted to do a natural metal airplane, especially after doing the new Master Class Model Building Video, so I searched my decals and came up with a Trimaster sheet for the He-162 that had exactly what I was looking for. "White 6" was a typical airplane with the front of the fuselage unpainted with puttied joints and a nose panel painted in some color. The wings and tail assembly were painted prior to assembly on the real airplane so building it the way I did it was the way the real one was.

I actually built two of these kits (hey it's Tamiya, so you know it will be easy) so I needed another scheme. I decided to use one of the kit markings for Oblt. Demuth with the kill markings on the tail, "Yellow 11". This had the red, black and white marking around the nose.

I know what the German painting instructions call for but every color photo I've seen from the period on the He-162 showed them to be painted in dark colors. So despite what Tamiya called for I elected to use Brown Violet and Dark Green. I'm not going to call them 82 or 83. There is confusion with that method and I'm just a model builder so from here on out BV will be Brown Violet and DG will be Dark Green. Tamiya recommends a Light Green, hereafter not mentioned as LG. Simple and understandable.

Prior to painting, I had to fill the proper panel lines so that the putty would be correct. The real airplane had its panel lines filled so I filled them on the NMF machine. I left them alone on the camouflage machine. I used Tamiya putty and filled the panel lines, not all of them just the ones that weren't used for servicing. Both models were washed with Dawn dish detergent and left to dry.

Both airplanes received a coat of ALCLAD gray primer, which is my primer of choice.

NMF aircraft- The whole aircraft was painted with ALCLAD II Aluminum. Once that was dry, I masked over the panels that needed to be and sprayed Model Master RLM 76 on the lower surfaces. BV and DG were masked in time. The nose was a darker color and I thought it might be primer red. If it isn't, prove me wrong as the tonal qualities of the red arrow and the primer looks really close to me. The whole model was sprayed with Mr. Hobby GREY can, NOTE GREY CAN, Clear Gloss to seal everything. Next I painted Gunze Mr. Surfacer 1000 onto the panel lines. Once dried, I used Micromesh and lightly sanded the surfacer to "smooth" it in like real putty was.

"Yellow 11"- Preshading with Model Master RLM 66, the model was ready for the camouflage. I purposely thinned my paint extremely thin and sprayed it on so that I could see the preshading. This replicated the thin application of the real thing. RLM 76 was sprayed first. I used hard masks with Tamiya tape and then sprayed the BV and DG. I masked off the red, black and white nosebands even though Tamiya gives them to you as decals. Once everything was dried, I sprayed Mr. Hobby GREY can, NOTE GREY CAN, clear gloss. This will become important in a little bit.

The old Trimaster decals fit worked like they were suppose to and snuggled down perfectly with Solvaset.

The Tamiya decals were a little thicker but they reacted well with setting solution and there was no problem to be seen. The decals were sealed with a coat of Mr. Hobby GREY can, Gloss Coat.

So far, so good. I was on a roll and would be finished shortly, or so I thought.

Disaster and nasty words
After letting the decals dry for about a day I sprayed Mr. Hobby BLUE can Flat Coat. Now if my history lessons were correct the blue and gray fought the American Civil War. Well the BLUE and the GREY fought the civil war on my paint jobs as well. The blue separated, (I thought it was the gray in the civil war), and did not work at all. At first I thought no problem another coat and it will be fine. No it did not help. Sand with micromesh another coat of flat and still not much better.

Swearing in every language I knew and some I didn't, I sat down dejected in my model room and thought how could this happen to me. Well I'm just a Joe Smuck and if I could read Japanese I would have seen that you couldn't mix the blue and gray overcoats. What was I thinking? It is plainly written there on the label, in Japanese, but there nonetheless. With thoughts of seeing how well the model would fly I elected to strip the model. Luckily I was barely able to save the NMF fuselage. I did not spray over the aluminum so it didn't go to hell. I was able to save the tail and with micromesh, most of the fuselage.

Using Polly-S Paint and decal remover, I removed all the decals and paint back to bare plastic.

Now what? I am almost out of kit decals. I ended up using some Aeromaster decals for the stencils. I also ran across a color picture on the Internet of a machine captured by the British at Leck. It was an unassuming machine with just a tail number. Feeling beaten down I elected to not put the kill markings on, not to put the red, black and white nose bands, just a plain jane run of the mill He-162.

The photo clearly shows the front of the airplane with an RLM 70 Dark Green with the panel behind the pilot as DG and the rest of the fuselage BV. The right wing was RLM 70 as well so I went to town with that and was finally able to see a nice model that represented the chaos of the final months of war.

Both kits were then airbrushed with Model Master Acrylic Flat. I tested a wing first of course. Little gun shy you can understand.

Final touches
Adding the wings, tail assembly, pitot tube, the engine pods, and gear doors and the model was completed. Weathering was kept to a minimum of a burnt umber wash to the panel lines.

Like the real airplane there are compromises in the kit. Some things are plug and play (wings and tail) and others require you to cut things (the wheel well covers). However, this kit is leaps and bounds better than the Trimaster/Dragon kits for easy of construction and precise fit. Despite my self-induced paint error, the kit was a lot of fun. I've since bought another one to build again. Yes it is a small airplane and ugly, but as far as a model goes, it is hard to find a better engineered one.

Heinkel He 162 Volksjäger

Nazi Germany (1944)
Jet Fighter – 116

The Volksjäger Fighter colorized by Michael Jucan

The combined American, British and Soviet Air Forces began to take over the skies above Europe in the later part of the war. Germans were desperate to find a way to fight the combined Allied bomber raids that were slowly destroying German industry which was necessary for continuation of the war. A cheap and easy to build jet fighter was believed to be the solution to the Allied bombing raids. From these aspirations the Volksjäger, “The People’s Fighter,” project was born.

Emergence of the Volksjäger Concept

The men responsible for the creation of the Volksjäger idea and concept were civil engineers Hauptdienstleiter Dipl-Ing Karlo Otto Saur, who was also a member of the Nazi party, and Generaloberst Alfred Keller.

Otto Saur was quick to realize that by 1944 the Luftwaffe was a shadow of its former glory. This was most obvious for the fighter force, which was engaged in a desperate struggle with a more numerous and better equipped enemy. Otto Saur’s conclusion was that a cheap and easy to build jet fighter could tip the balance of power in Germany’s favor again. He was quick to present his idea to Hermann Göring, Reichsluftfahrtminister, the Reich’s Minister of Aviation, who immediately supported it.

Generaloberst Alfred Keller, who was in charge of the flying, training and sports association (Nationalsozialistisches Fliegerkorps – NSFK) also supported the Volksjäger idea. The NSFK organization was also involved in offering several courses, The Flying Hitler Youth (Flieger Hitlerjugend) on how to build model aircraft and glider flying training for schoolboys. In support of Otto Saur’s proposal, Alfred Keller came with his own proposal to use these young boys, with ages between 15 to 17, as pilots for the mass produced Volksjäger. In Keller’s opinion, all that was needed was some short training with gliders which would be supplemented with more training on the Volksjäger.

Many in the Luftwaffe command opposed this project and the idea of using young boys as fighter pilots against the numerous and well-equipped and trained Allied air forces. The greatest advocate against this project was Generalleutnant Adolf Galland, being supported by Willy Messerschmitt, chief designer of the famous Messerschmitt company, and Kurt Tank, the most well-known designer at Focke-Wulf. The most important reason behind this opposition was the fact that, towards the end of the war, Germany was lacking fuel, materials, pilots, production capacity and many other elements. They argued that all available resources should be directed to the development and production of the already existing Me 262 jet fighter.

In the years prior to the collapse of the Luftwaffe, such a concept would most likely never have gained any support from Luftwaffe officials. However, by 1944, the Germans were in a desperate need for a wonder weapon to turn the tides. As Hermann Göring was no longer in Hitler’s good graces, he was desperate to find a way to appease Hitler. The best way to do this was to somehow find a miraculous solution to salvage the Luftwaffe, stop the incessant Allied bombardment of Germany, and provide much-needed support to the beleaguered Wehrmacht. Through these psychological lens, Otto Saur’s and Alfred Keller’s proposals looked like an ideal solution. Despite the great opposition, Hermann Göring kept insisting that the Volksjäger development should begin as soon as possible. The Volksjäger would later be supported by Adolf Hitler and Albert Speer (the Minister of Armaments and War Production).

First Steps

In the search for a new low-altitude fighter, Oberst Siegfried Knemeyer was named responsible for the Volksjäger’s initial requirements. He was in charge of the Technical Equipment Office for flight development of the Ministry of Aviation (Reichsluftfahrtministerium, RLM). Siegfried Knemeyer was an experienced military pilot and engineer who participated in the test flights of many different experimental aircraft designs. From 1943 onward, he was part of Hermann Göring’s cabinet from where he actively supported the development of the new Me 262.

While the Me 262 jet fighter was superior to piston powered Allied planes, it was far from perfect. The most significant problem with the Me 262 was the poor performance at low altitude, where it was an easy prey for Allied fighters. This is also where Allied fighters and close support aircraft were very active and often attacked German airfields, supply trains and ground troops. The already existing Me 109 and Fw 190 were becoming outdated and insufficient by late 1944 standards. In order to effectively counter enemy planes at low altitude, a new design was needed according to Siegfried Knemeyer, who noted (Source: Robert F. He 162 Volksäger Units):

“… It became absolutely essential to develop a high-speed, single-seater fighter that had a sufficiently good performance which would enable it to take off when enemy aircraft were actually sighted. In addition, due to the bombing of our large airfields with long runways, these new fighters had to be able to take off in a very short distance and thus enable small landing grounds to be used. The mass production of such an aircraft had to be on such a scale as would enable the enemy to be engaged at any point and during the entire duration of their flight …… By limiting the endurance and the armament requirement for this new aircraft, the existing jet fighter (the Me 262) would have fulfilled the requirements. However, this aircraft had to be ruled out since it was not possible to produce the numbers that would have been required for combating these low-flying attacks and, in particular, because the provision of two power units per airframe was quite beyond the capacity of industry… “. Based on this, Siegfried Knemeyer gave a list of specifications which the new low-altitude fighter had to conform with:

  • This plane should be able to take off from runways less than 1970 ft (600 m) long.
  • It should be powered by a single jet engine, in order to lower the costs.
  • As the Jumo 004 engine could not be produced in sufficient numbers, another engine was needed. The new BMW 003 was recommended.
  • Maximum speed at sea level should be at least 465 mph (750 km/h).
  • The production process had to be as simple as possible without disturbing the production of the Me 262 and Ar 234.
  • The main building material should be wood. A larger number of furniture manufacturers and carpenters should be included in the production as they had the skill and experience in working with wood that would be needed.

Based on these requirements, the RLM placed an initial order for the new Volksjäger low-altitude jet fighter in July 1944. The first mockup needed to be ready by 1st October, 1944, and a fully operational prototype should have been ready by early December the same year. The main production was planned to begin in early 1945.

The Race for the Volksjäger

The first prototype, V1, built in late 1944. [] For some time, the Volksjäger seemed like it would remain only a paper proposal, as little progress was made until September 1944. On 7th September, a high priority teleprint message arrived at the Heinkel company. This message was sent by Dipl-ing Karl Frydag, Heinkel’s General Director at the Ministry, but also the leader of the Main Committee for Aircraft Construction and an acquaintance of Otto Saur. The high priority message was addressed to Prof. Ernst Heinkel and his main engineer team. This illicit message contained information including not-yet-published RLM tender requirements for the new Volksjäger jet fighter.

As the official tender request was to be issued by RLM in only a few days, Ernst Heinkel and his team moved quickly to use the small time advantage they had over other possible competitors. The first thing Ernst Heinkel did was to give instructions to reuse the P 1073 paper project that was intended for an RLM request from July. P 1073 was, according to the original plans, to be powered by two HeS 011 or Jumo 004C turbojet engines. One engine was to be mounted on top of the fuselage behind the cockpit and the second one below, right under the cockpit. The maximum speed using the HeS 011 engines was estimated to be around 630 mph (1010 km/h) at 19700 ft (6000 m). P 1073’s wing was swept back at 35° with a “V” shaped rear tailplane. The armament would include two 1.18 in (30 mm) MK 108 and two MG 151/20 0.78in (20 mm) cannons.

Later, due to the new specifications for the Volksjäger, P 1073 was modified to be powered by a single BMW 003 engine. Other changes, such as increasing the dimensions, a new straight wing design and adding new rear twin tail fins. The name was changed to P 1073-15. Further modifications were conducted at the Rostock-Marienehe plant. These included a high unswept wing design, the engine mounted above the fuselage, an armament of only two MG 151/20 0.78 in (20 mm) cannons, a tricycle undercarriage and a weight around 2.5 t. The maximum speed at ground level was 500 mph (810 km/h). It was possible to increase the offensive armament with bombs and 1.18 in/30 mm cannons. The name was again changed to P 1073-18.

By 9th (or 8th, depending on the source) September 1944, other German aircraft manufacturers received the RLM requirements for the new Volksjäger project. According to these, the Volksjäger fighter had to be able to take off in less than 1640 ft (500 m). It had to be powered by one BMW 003 jet engine and the total weight must not must not exceed 4410 lbs (2000 kg). The maximum speed at sea level had to be at least 460 mph (750 km/h). The flight endurance at full thrust had to be at least 30 min. The main armament had to consist of either two MK 108 (with 80 to 100 rounds per gun) or two MG 151/20 (with 200-250 rounds per gun) cannons.

The main construction material would be wood with a smaller amount of steel used. Protection for the pilot, fuel tanks and the main gun ammunition was to be provided. However, since great attention was dedicated to the short take off distance, the manufacturers were allowed to reduce the armor and ammunition load if needed. First proposals from all interested aircraft manufacturers were to be ready in only a few days, as a draconically unrealistic deadline was set for the 14th (or 20th depending on the source) September.

Despite being planned to be put into mass production, only limited numbers of the A-1 version were ever built. [] Besides Heinkel, which was “unofficially” familiar with the details of this tender a few days before its publication, others aircraft manufacturers participated and submitted their own proposal. The competitors included Arado (E 580), Blohm und Voss (P 211.02), Junkers (marked either as EF 123 or EF 124) and Focke-Wulf. Focke-Wulf actually presented two different proposals (Volksflitzer and Volksflugzeug). Others, like Fieseler and Siebel, lacked the manpower and production capacity to successfully participate in this tender. Messerschmitt did not participate in this competition as Willy Messerschmitt was against the Volksjäger concept from the beginning. He was a great opponent of this project, arguing that increasing the production rate of the Me 262 should have a greater priority and that the Volksjäger was a waste of time and materials which Germany was sorely lacking.

By the end of the competition period, all proposals were submitted to the RLM. After two days, a conference was held in Berlin with the representatives of all five companies, together with officials from the Luftwaffe and RLM. The Arado, Focke-Wulf and Junkers projects were immediately rejected. Even Heinkel’s original proposal came close to being rejected, as it would be complicated to build. It was judged that the best proposal was the Blohm und Voss P 221-02 project, as it was (at least on paper) easier to build and used a smaller quantity of duralumin. At this point, Heinkel representatives were trying to win the competition by arguing that, due to the cancelation of the He 177 and the He 219 programmes, they would have enough production capacity to manufacture the Volksjäger in great numbers. They also proposed to make the entire design far simpler for mass production.

In the following days, there were many difficult and exhausting discussions around the Heinkel and Blohm und Voss projects. There was a sharp debate between Heinkel Dipl-Ing. Francke and the RLM Generaldirektor Frydag which supported the Blohm und Voss project. These discussions caused some delays in making the final decision for the implementation of the Volksjäger project. At the same time, at the Heinkel factory at Schwechat near Vienna (EHAG – Ernst Heinkel AG), work began on calculations and drawings in preparation for the production of the first models of the Volksjäger, marked as the He 500.

The final discussion regarding the competition was held at Hitler residence in Rastenberg, in East Prussia. Hermann Göring enthusiastically and actively supported the He 500 without even considering the Blohm und Voss P 221-02 project. He also gained the support of Adolf Hitler and Albert Speer. Thus, in the end, the Heinkel project was chosen. This decision was also based on the experience that Heinkel had accumulated with the construction and development of jet technology (with the He 178 and He 280) but also due to the significant lobby that this company had.

Although Heinkel’s design won, there were requests for some alterations. For easier production and construction, the design of the tail, fuselage and the landing gear had to be simplified. As was originally planned, the first mockup was ready by 1st October 1944 and the first prototype was to be built by 10th December of the same year. The main production was to begin in January 1945 with 1000 planes per month, which would be increased to 2000 per month. These dates and numbers were, taking Germany’s economic and military situation into consideration, unrealistic and understandably never achieved.

According to Ernst Heinkel, the final designation for the new Volksjäger was meant to be He 500. However, the RLM officials, in the hope of somehow hiding its original purpose from Allied intelligence, gave it the designation “8-162”. In some sources, it is also called “Salamander”. This was actually a code name given for wooden component production companies. The He 162 is also sometimes called “Spatz” (Sparrow), but this name is, according to some sources, related to the He 162S training glider prototype.

Construction of the First Prototypes

The work on the final design was given to the engineers Siegfried Günter and Karl Schwärzler. A large design staff of some 370 men was at their disposal. The design work was carried out at the Heinkel workshop (at Schwechat Air Base) near Vienna. By 15th October, the first sketches and production tools were ready.

The Heinkel factory (in Vienna) was responsible for beginning the serial production of the He 162. In the hope of speeding up production, other factories were included along with many smaller companies. Each of these were to be responsible for producing certain parts and components of the He 162. When all necessary parts for the construction of the first prototype were built, they were to be transported to Vienna for the final assembly. Due to a lack of transport capability and insufficient quality of wooden parts (especially the wings), there were some delays.

Side view of the He 162. The cannon compartment’s wooden door is removed. [] Despite the fact that wood was easier to work with, there were huge issues with the quality of the delivered parts. Some of the problems encountered were that the production procedures were often not carried out according to regulations, the glue used was of poor quality, sometimes parts would not fit together. There were situations in which large numbers of wooden parts were returned to the suppliers simply because they could not be used. There were also problems with the first prototype’s engine as it was damaged during the transport and had to be repaired. All the necessary parts arrived by 24th November and the assembly of the first He 162 prototype could begin.

The He 162 V1 prototype (serial number Wk-Nr 200001) was ready for testing by 1st December, 1944. The first series of prototypes had the “V” (Versuchmuster) designation. Later, starting from V3 and V4, the designation was changed to “M” (Muster – model). If it is taken into account that, from the first drawing to the first operational prototype, no more than two months had passed, this was an impressive feat. The V1 prototype was to be tested at Heidfeld but, due to some stability problems with the undercarriage, only limited ground test trials were held.

These problems were addressed by 6th December, when the He 162 made its first test flight piloted by Heinkel’s main test pilot, Flugkapitän Dipl-ing Gotthold Peter. The flight lasted around 20 minutes at speeds of 186 mph (300 km/h). During this flight, probably due to the poor quality of production, one of the three landing gear doors simply broke free and the pilot was forced to land. Beside that, the whole flight was considered successful, there were no other problems and the engine performed excellently.

At the same time, three more prototypes (V2, M3 and M4) were under construction to be used for future tests. The second prototype was transported to Heidfeld (arrived 7th December). During the production of the first series of prototypes, a problem with the wing construction was noted. The main issue was the use of poor quality glue, but at that time this problem was largely ignored.

The moment when a V1 prototype was lost, when the right aileron failed. Unfortunately, the pilot did not survive. [] On 10th December, another flight was performed for the Luftwaffe military officials at Schwechat. Like in the previous flights, the pilot was Gotthold Peter. In the hope of impressing the gathered crowd, the pilot made a low pass (at 330 ft/100 m) at 456 mph (735 km/h). This flight was going well until the moment when a part of the wing and ailerons were torn off, which caused the pilot to lose control and crash to the ground. Despite having an onboard ejection seat, Peter failed to activate it (possibly due to high G-forces) and was killed in this accident.

The whole flight was captured on a film camera by one of the Luftwaffe officers. The film and the wreck were thoroughly examined by Heinkel engineers who immediately noticed a few things the wing parts were joined by using low quality glue, the poor aerodynamics of the wing design and the instability of the prototype lateral axis led to the tear off of the wing parts. As a result of this accident, the wing design was strengthened and the maximum flight speed was restricted to only 310 mph (500 km/h). Also, the size of the horizontal stabilizer was increased, the main fuel tanks were reduced in size and the wings’ connection to the main fuselage was reinforced. This accident did not have any negative impact on the continued development on this project which proceeded without interruption.

After this accident, other pilots were reluctant to fly on the He 162. Due to this, Ernst Heinkel was forced to offer a sum of 80,000 Reichsmarks for any pilots who were willing to test fly the He 162. A pilot who agreed to fly was Dipl.-Ing. Carl Francke, who was the technical director of EHAG. He made the first test flight with V2 (serial number Wk-Nr 200002) on 22nd December, 1944. Later that day, a second pilot, Fliegerstabsingineur Paul Bader, made more test flights. Flight trials with the second prototype were carried out without much problems. The V2 prototype was used for testing different wing designs and different weapon installations (two 1.18 in/30 mm Mk 108 cannons). After this, V2 would be used mostly for ground examinations, conversions, equipment testing and for attempts to simplify the overall design in order to ease production.

The third prototype was ready by 20th December, when it was tested by Paul Bader at Heidfeld. While the flight went on without many problems, the pilot noted the poor front ground visibility and vibrations during takeoff and landing. In order to improve the He 162’s wing design, the experienced Dr Alexander Lippisch (who worked on the Me 163) was contacted and included in the project. His proposal for improving the He 162’s stability was to fit small “Ohren” (ears) to the wingtips. As these were later implemented on all produced He 162, they were generally known as the ‘Lippisch ears’.

The M3 and M4 prototypes were the first fighters to be equipped with these wingtips. These two models had strengthened and redesigned wing construction with thicker plywood covering, also to shift the centre of gravity, extra weight was added to the plane’s nose. These modifications improved the He 162’s overall performance and stability significantly. The M3 improved prototype was tested in late February 1945 when it managed to reach an incredible speed of 546 mph (880 km/h). The M4 prototype was ready by the end of 1944 but, due to some engine problems, the first flight was only possible at the beginning of 1945. The first flight tests were carried by Dipl-Ing Schuck on 16th January, 1945. As the M3 and M4 wing design and shape proved satisfactory, they were chosen to be used for the upcoming production of the first He 162A combat operational variant.

The M5 prototype was built but it was never used operationally nor did it ever fly. The M6 prototype, which was intended to be used as base for the He 162A-1 production model, made its first test flight on 23rd January, 1945. The M7 (the base for the He 162A-2) was used for vibration tests and trialing the braking parachute. The M8 was the first to be equipped with two MG 151/20 cannons (120 rounds of ammunition per gun). The M9 and M10 were intended as two seat trainer aircraft versions but none were built. The M11 and M12 were powered by the much stronger Jumo 004D Orkan turbojet engine. These were to be used as base for the He 162A-8. The M13 moniker was never assigned to any prototype due to the belief that this number was unlucky. The prototype models M14 to M17 were never built. The M18 and M19 were powered by the new BMW 003E-1 jet engine which was intended to be used for the He 162A-2 production model. The M20 was used for testing different and simpler undercarriage designs. The M21 and M22 were used for main weapon testing. The M23 and M24 were used for installation of new wing root filters and for handling flight tests.

These prototypes were extensively tested and examined in detail from 22nd January to 12th February. In this period, over 200 test flights were carried out. Not all test flights were successful and without accidents. On 24th February, M20 was damaged during landing due to undercarriage malfunction. The next day, while testing the M3, there was a malfunction that led the pilot losing control of the aircraft. He managed to get out but his parachute did not fully extend, leading to his demise. At the beginning of May, one more prototype was lost in an accident. In total, there were more than 30 prototypes built. It is interesting that, even before the testing of the prototypes was completed, preparations for production of the He 162 were already underway.

He 162 A-1 and A-2

Despite the original plans requiring the start of the production in early 1945, this was never achieved. Due to the chaos in Germany at that time, there were many delays with the arrival of the necessary parts. There were shortages of nose wheels, rudders, interior equipment, weapons parts, poor quality glue and many others. For example, at Rostock, there were more than 139 partly built fuselages which could not be completed due to a lack of parts. There was also a problem with the large number of wings and tails built that were defectuous and unusable. A generalized lack of fuel, transport vehicles and electricity, Allied bombing raids and the use of slave labour also negatively influenced the overall production. Around ten pre-series He 162A-0 (with different prototype numbers) were built and stationed at Schwechat to be used for more testing needed in order to eliminate more problems.

The Soviets flight tested some captured examples of the He 162, but their overall performance proved to be poor. [] The production of the first series of operational aircraft was delayed and began only at the end of March 1945. The first production series were marked He 162 A-1 and A-2. There are few visual differences between these two models. The only major difference was the armament. The A-1 was equipped with two 1.18 in (30 mm) cannons and the A-2 with two 0.78 in (20 mm) cannons. As the production of 1.18 in (30 mm) cannons was halted due to Allied bombing and the Soviets capturing the production factories, the few remaining cannons were to be allocated to the Me 262. The production of the A-1 was stopped and the exact number of manufactured aircraft is unknown. Due the lack of 1.18 in (30 mm) cannons, the He 162 manufacturers were forced to use the lighter and weaker 0.78 in (20 mm) caliber weapons.

A number of serially produced A-2 aircraft were not used for troop trials, but were instead sent to test centres for future modifications and testing. A small number would eventually reach the German troops in April. While the production of the A-2 would go on until the war’s end, the total number of produced aircraft is unknown.

The He 162 Design

He 162 top view [] The He 162 was designed as a high-wing jet fighter with a simple fuselage with clean lines, tricycle retracting landing gear and built using mixed construction. The simple fuselage was built by using a cheap and light metal alloy (duralumin – a combination of aluminium and copper) with a plywood nose and (one-piece) wooden wings.

The fuselage was a semi-monocoque design covered with duralumin. The front part of the fuselage was egg-shaped and had good aerodynamic properties. The nose was made of plywood and was fixed to the fuselage by using bolts. The middle top part of the fuselage was flat and the engine was connected to it. The wood was also used for the undercarriage doors.

The wings were made out of wood and connected to the central fuselage by using four bolts. In order to ease production, the wings were built in one piece. The flaps and ailerons were built using a wood frame which was covered with plywood. The flaps were controlled by using a hydraulic system while the rods were controlled with wire. To help with the stability at the end of the wing, two wingtips (one on each side) were added. These were angled at 55° downwards and made of duralumin. The two-part rear tail was made of metal and was connected to the end cone of the fuselage. The tail rudders were controlled using wires and rods.

The He 162 used a tricycle landing gear design, with one wheel at the front and two more located in the centre of the fuselage. The landing gear was hydraulically lowered and raised. The dimensions of the front nose wheel were 500𴡩 mm and no brake system was provided for it. Interesting to note is that the front nose wheel, when retracting, partly reached into the lower part of the front cockpit. A small window was provided for the pilot so that he could see if it was fully operational. The two central landing wheels were larger, 600𴢠 mm. Both the front and the rear landing wheels retracted to the rear. To help with landings, hydro-pneumatic dampers were provided.

The plexi-glass cockpit was made of two parts, the front windshield and the rear hinging canopy which were screwed into the inner bar frame. In order to make the whole construction simple as possible the cockpit was not pressurized. For better ventilation on the left side a small round ventilation window was installed. The pilot cockpit was more or less a standard German design but much simpler. It provided the pilot with good all-around view of the surroundings, but there were some complaints by some pilots for poor front ground view.

The control panel was made of wood, on which the necessary instruments were placed. Only a few were provided for the pilot and these included the speed indicator, panel lights, turn and bank indicator, rate of climb, FK 38 magnetic compass, temperature indicator, AFN-2 display, oil and fuel pressure gauge, fuel level gauge, chronometer, ammunition counters and engine tachometer. The fighter controls were placed as standard in front of the pilot. On the pilot’s left-side, the fuel valve, flap controls, landing gear control, throttle lever and trimming control were located. On the opposite side was placed the radio system (FuG 25A). The pilot seat was of a simple design but equipped with Heinkel’s ejection system with a parachute. The He 162 was one of the first German aircraft to be equipped with an ejection seat as standard equipment. The cockpit was separated from the rest of the plane by a sloped metal plate. This plate was installed in order to provide the pilot some protection in case of emergency (like fuel tank fire etc.). Behind this plate were the oxygen supply tanks with a 3 l capacity.

The engine chosen for the He 162 A-2 was the BMW 003E-1/2 turbojet (in some sources the A version was used). The engine was fixed in a nacelle placed above the central fuselage. The engine consisted of a seven-stage axial compressor, injection nozzle, annular combustion chamber and one single-stage axial turbine equipped with sheet metal heat-resistant blades which were air-cooled. The exhaust nozzle was controlled by an adjustable needle which could be mechanically moved into four positions: Position A for idle, S for start, F for flying at altitudes lower than 26.200 ft (8.000 m) and M for flying at altitudes above 26.200 ft (8.000 m). The BMW 003E-1/2 turbojet could achieve maximum thrust of 1.800 lbs (800 kg).

One He 162 was put on display in London after the war. It still had German markings on it. [] When flying at a speed of 500 mph (800 km/h) at 36.100 ft (11.000 m), the maximum thrust would fall down to only 740 lbs/340 kg. To start the engine, a small Riedel piston engine (9.86 hp) was used. This engine could be started either by using an electric starter motor or manually with a ring-pull. The He 162 engine was 11 ft (3.6 m) long with a diameter of 2.3 ft (69 cm) and a weight of 1.375 lbs (624 kg). The estimated life cycle of the engine was only 50 hours. As the engine was positioned above the fuselage, in order to avoid any damage caused by exhaust gasses, a steel plate was placed under the jet nozzle. The position of the engine also means it was easier to mount and repair. It was also easier to replace it with a new one.

The fuel tank was positioned in the middle of the fuselage. In order to save weight and to ease the production, a rubber fuel tank was used. The main fuel tank had a capacity of 695 l and there were also two smaller 175 l tanks located in the wings. For takeoff, up to two smaller auxiliary Ri 502 rocket engines could be installed. They would be located in the lower rear part of the fuselage.

The He 162’s original weapon system consisted of two MK 108 cannons, but the most built version was equipped with weaker MG 151/20 cannons. The two cannons were placed in the lower front part of the fuselage. The main gun’s ammunition was stored behind the pilot, with 120 rounds for each gun. In order for the ground support crews to have access to the gun and ammunition, wooden door panels were provided. For the gunsight, the Revi 16G or 16B models were used. There was also a gyroscopic EZ 42 gunsight tested on one He 162, but this was never adopted for service.

Other Versions and Prototypes

Despite the improvements done to the main production versions, there were still room for enhancements and modifications of the He 162. Most efforts were devoted to the installation of stronger engines and various aerodynamic improvements in order to achieve the highest speed possible. There were also plans to make the He 162 much cheaper and easier to produce. Different armament loads were also tested or proposed. Most of these proposals remained on paper only, but some received limited testing.

The first in line of the intended improved He 162 was the A-3 version. This was meant to be armed with 1.18 in (30 mm) MK 103 or MK 108 cannons (depending on the source) located in a redesigned front nose, but it is unclear if any were ever built. Later, an identically armed version (A-6) with a redesigned and longer fuselage (30 ft/9.2 m) was proposed but, like the previous version, none were probably built.

In order to increase the He 162’s maximum speed, it was intended to install the Jumo 004D “Orkan” (2.866 lbs/1.050 kg of thrust) engine to replace the standard jet engine used. The new engines were to be transported to Schwechat and tested there on fully operational prototypes. The whole process was too slow, and only as late as March 1945 were the few prototypes almost finished, but due to the war’s end, none were ever fully completed or tested. This modification is known under the name He 162 A-8. The A-9 (in some sources marked as He 162E) was to be powered by one BMW 003R engine, supported by a second BMW 718 rocket engine for extra power. The engines were tested but they were never installed on any He 162. While Heinkel conceived up to 14 different proposals for the “A” version, beyond those mentioned above, almost nothing is known about the others.

Note that the following designations (B, C and D) were never found in any EHAG official documentation and are not known to have been used by the Germans. This article will use them for the sake of simplicity only. (Source: Miroslav B. and Bily B.)

Despite the fact that the He 162 was designed to be simple and easy to build, the engine was still relatively difficult to produce in great numbers. In hope to increase the number of engines being built, the Germans began testing the less demanding technology of pulse jet engines (used on the V-1 flying bomb). The first proposed pulse jet engine to be mounted on the He 162 (generally known as He 162B) was the Argus As 004 (with 1,102 lbs/500 kg of thrust). This was followed by a second proposal to mount two Argus As 014 (each with 739 lbs/335 kg of thrust) pulse jet engines. The single engine version is named, in some modern sources, as B-2 and the two engine version as B-1. None were ever built and tested, possibly because the pulse jet was considered inferior to jet engines.

Two different wing configurations proposed, often incorrectly marked as the “D” and ”C” versions. [] There were many experiments with different wing designs and shapes in order to improve the flying performance and ease production. Two similar designs were based on all-metal swept wings. The first (today called the He 162C) had a back swept wing design with the second half of the wings bent down at a sharp angle. The second (often nowadays referred to as the He 162D) had an unusual forward swept wing design. Both of these models were to be powered by one Heinkel-Hirth 011A turbojet engine (2,866 lbs/1,300 kg of thrust). Both models also had different rear tail designs. The maximum estimated top speed with this engine was up to 620 mph (1000 km/h). There were also other proposed wing designs but, beside these two, none seem to have been tested. Only a few incomplete prototypes were built and they were captured by the advancing Allied forces by the end of the war.

In autumn of 1944, it was suggested to use the He 162 for the German “Mistel 5” weapon projects. This configuration would consisted on one unmanned Arado E 337a glide bomb that would be guided by an He 162 connected on top of it. As the Arado E 337a was never built, this project remain on paper only.

At the end of January, there was a proposal to modify a few He 162 to be used as “Behelfs-Aufklarer”, in essence improvised reconnaissance planes, but this was never implemented.

The Volksjäger Training Versions

As the Volksjäger project got a green light for its implementation and orders of planned production in the thousands, a solution on how to train such large numbers of new pilots was needed. One proposal was to begin training with gliders (including a glider version of the He 162) and, after a short period of time, the pilot (usually from the Hitler Youth) would learn to fly on the training versions of the He 162. The glider version was named He 162 S “Spatz” (Sparrow). According to other sources (M.Balous and M.Bily), the “S” stands for Segelflugzeug (glider).

These gliders had to be designed and built to emulate the He 162’s takeoff and landing properties as much as possible. In order to stay in the air, the gliders were to be connected to a 1 km long cable which was attached to a 150 hp motorized winch. The gliders were to have two seats, one for the future pilot and one for the instructor. One prototype was flight tested in late March 1945 by Ing Hasse. Even the famous German woman test pilot Hanna Reitsch made at least one flight in it. The He 162 S was very similar to the original He 162, with some modifications like larger wings and fixed landing gears. The choice for using gliders as replacement for training planes was based on the general lack of fuel. Around ten of these gliders were ordered and, if testing showed good results, some 200 were meant to be built. But, due to the bad economical situation in Germany at the time, only a few were ever built at Schönhage (Hannover).

The second training aircraft was a fully powered two seat trainer version. There is no official military marking or name for this version, but today it is often known as the He 162 Doppelsitzer (two seater). This version was to be powered by a BMW 003E-1 or E-2 engine. It was to have a second seat for the instructor placed behind the main cockpit. In order to make more room in the unmodified He 162 fuselage, the gun, ammunition and oxygen tanks had to be removed. The production of this version was planned to begin by the end of 1944 and was to be built by DLH (Deutsche Lufthansa) at Oranienburg. Only one incomplete prototype may have ever been constructed.

To help the training of new pilots at the Luftwaffe test center (Rechlin), a simulator model was built. It had the exact same cockpit like an operational He 162 with all instruments. Its primary purpose was to be used for combat and fire simulator training.

Main Armament Proposal

As already stated, the 0.78 in (20 mm) cannons were, by 1944/45 war standards, simply inadequate and the lack of stronger 1.18 in (30 mm) cannons forced the Germans to search for different (somewhat unconventional) weapons for the He 162.

To increase the offensive armament, the 2.2 in (55 mm) R4M air-to-air rocket was proposed to be installed under the He 162’s wings. Another proposal was to arm the He 162 with the SG 118 Rohrblocktrommel weapon system which consisted of three 1.18 in (30 mm) barrels (connected in a circle), each armed with 7 rounds. The last proposal was to use the 3.14 in (8 cm) Panzerblitz missiles. There were planned to use the EZ 42 gyroscopic gun sight on the He 162, but the single prototype was destroyed in an Allied bombing raid. If any of these proposals were ever been implemented or allocated a version name is unknown but very unlikely.


The Germans were forced to relocate some production facilities deep underground. The Volksjäger was produced in one such underground production base at Hinterbrühl, Austria. Colorized by Michael Jucan [] It was hoped by the Luftwaffe military officials that the He 162 would be built in great numbers. They counted on the fact that, by using cheap materials (mostly wood) and by employing many smaller subcontractors (woodworkers and furniture manufactures), the overall costs and time necessary for the production would be reduced.

Several factories were responsible for the production of the He 162 at Heinkel-Nord in Rostock-Marienehe, Heinkel-Sud, Hinterbühl (underground factory), Vienna-Schwechat (prototype production) and Mittelwerke (Nordhausen). In order to increase the production, Heinkel and Junkers made an agreement to use the vast Junkers production capacities. Junkers would be responsible for the production of the majority of the new He 162 planes at Bernburg. Also, a large number of smaller subcontractors were to be included, like EHAG Walldwerk or Pütnitz. The main engine suppliers were Spandau and Zühlsdorf. The armament was to be provided by Deutsche Waffen und Munitionsfabrik at Posnan. The wooden elements would be made at Erfurt, Orla and Stuttgart-Esslingen (these were also building components for the Me 163 and Ta 154). Some 750 man-hours were needed for the He 162, together with 300 man-hours for the engine production. Due to slow production, Hitler gave an order on 27th March, 1945 for the SS to take over the whole Volksjäger project. However, this had only limited (if any) effect on the speed of production.

As it was only built during the last month of the war, when confusion and chaos were ever-present in almost all spheres of political or military life in Nazi Germany, exact information about how many aircraft of this type were built is impossible to find. Depending on the sources, the total production was in the range of 116 to more than 200. According to different Authors: C. Chan (240), D. Mondey (116), F. Crosby (200), A. Ludeke (270), D. Nešić (120). According to the German General Staff Department 6 (Generalstab Abteilung 6), the total number of He 162 built was 116 aircraft. After the war, around many airfields, some 100 He 162 in different conditions were found. Additional 800 aircraft were found in different stages of factory assembly, which also complicates determining the exact number of produced He 162.

On 7th April, 1945 Hitler gave orders to stop any further development and production of the He 162 in favor of the Me 262 and Arado 234. It is hard to say for sure, but as the He 162 was produced until the end of the war, this order seems to never have been fully implemented.

Operational Service

Lineup of Volksjäger captured by the British at Leck in May 1945 [] The delivery of He 162 fighters to Luftwaffe front units was limited due to many reasons, including slow production, lack of fuel and spare parts and the Allied advance, but eventually, a few units equipped with this aircraft would be formed.

The first operational unit to be equipped with the new He 162 was Erprobungskommando 162 located at Rechlin-Roggenthin. In April, due to the rapid Allied advance, the unit had to reposition near Munich. This was actually a test unit and, for this purpose, a number of the most experienced German pilots (some of them having experience in flying jet aircraft) were allocated to this unit. Once these pilots had gained enough experience flying the He 162, they were to be used as base for forming the first operational unit, 1./JG 80. Immediately after the start of production, a large training process at the NSFK gliding school began. As there was only one He 162 S glider aircraft available, other simpler gliders (like the DFS SG 38 Schulgleiter) had to be used as a temporary solution. The training process did not go the way the Luftwaffe Officials hoped it would go. It was too slow and, when the first group of new pilots was tested on the Arado Ar 96B (trainer version), the results were disappointing. At this point, the plan to use Hitlerjugend members as He 162 pilots was discarded, which was somewhat expected. The experiment with the young and inexperienced pilots proves that only the most experienced pilots could successfully fly the He 162. Beside pilot training, at the same time, the training of ground support staff was carried out at Fliegertechische-Schule 6 in Neumarkt and Wiedenberg.

In order to form the first operational combat unit with the He 162, an already-experienced unit would be needed. For this purpose, Jagdgeschwader 1 “Oseau” (JG 1) was chosen. It was commanded by Oberst Herbert Ihlefeld and it was equipped mostly with Fw 190 aircraft. On 8th February, 1945, the first orders were given by General der Jagdflieger (General of Fighters) Oberst Gordon Gollob to the 2nd and 3rd Staffels (first Gruppe JG 1) commanders to prepare their pilots to be moved to the Parchim Airbase near Rostock. Once there, the first flight training with the new He 162 was to be carried out. In late February, a group of 10 pilots (from 2nd Staffel) was moved to Vienna for more training. For pilot training, two prototype aircraft were used, as the production of operational “A” variant was slow. Despite being experienced pilots, there were some accidents caused either by pilot errors or due to some mechanical faults. The He 162 M8 was lost due to engine failure on 12th March, but the pilot survived. Only two days later, one pilot was killed when he made a mistake during landing. As there were no other He 162 aircraft available, this group was forced to return to Parchim Airfield. In late March 1945, around 10 pilots of the I./JG 1 (first Gruppe) were moved to the Marienehe factory (near Rostock). They were supplied with a number of He 162 that where previously used by the mechanics and test pilots of this factory. Once the handover was completed, the group with the He 162 returned to its original base of operation.

The RLM’s next plan was to begin re-equipping II./JG 1 with the He 162 as soon as possible. The unit was moved to Rostock at the end of March 1945, where the training should have begun. Other units were expected to be formed (I and II./JG 400, III./JG 1, JG 27 and JG 77), but nothing came of this. In May 1945, a Volksstume Jagdeschwader (in essence, an improvised militia unit) was to be formed at the Sagan-Küpper airfield by using mostly volunteer pilots. However, Allied occupation of this airfield prevented the implementation of this proposal. The only unit beside JG 1 to be supplied (in limited numbers) with He 162 was I.EJG 2 (Ergänzungsjagdgeschwader, auxiliary fighter training unit), but these were probably never used operationally.

By the end of March, JG 1 was supplied with around 58 operational He 162A-2 aircraft with some 25 more on the way. At the same time, I./JG1 was moved to Ludwigslust, where it was supposed to be supplied with new He 162 aircraft. Due to the rapid Allied advance, the unit was moved in April to the Schleswig-Holstein region (Leck airfield), near the Danish border. This unit had orders to defend Berlin from Allied bombers coming from over the North Sea. The I./JG1 was to be ready for operational service by 20th April. The first combat loss happened on 19th April, when one He 162 was shot down after a take-off by an American P-47 Thunderbolt. By the end of April, II./JG 1 was moved quickly to the Leck airfield to join the first Gruppe.

He 162 side view [] The first operational combat mission of I./JG1 was to attack an RAF front airfield on 20th April. While on their way, the He 162’s were intercepted by a group of Hawker Tempests (3 Sqn. RAF). In this engagement, only one He 162 was shot down and the pilot managed to survive without any injuries. At the same time, one P-51 Mustang scout pilot (12th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron) reported to have shot down one He 162, but this was never officially confirmed.

The He 162’s first allegedly air victory (and possibly the only one) was achieved by Lt. Rudolf Schmitt from I./JG 1, when he shot down a British fighter. However, this fighter was later claimed to have been shot down by German ground AA fire. While Lt. Rudolf Schmitt may not have made the first air victory, he did successfully manage to use the ejection seat in a combat zone. Due to the Allied advance, on 5th May, 1945, JG 1 received orders to stop any further action and to destroy all operational aircraft. For some reason, the order was later recalled. The Leck airfield would be captured by British forces on the 8th, which ended the He 162’s short operational combat story.

Precise information on the He 162’s combat or deployment is hard to find mostly due the chaotic state in Germany at that time. According to some authors, like Francus G., none were ever used in combat.

Japan’s military attache, in early 1945, was interested in acquiring the license production of the He 162. After a short negotiation, the Germans gave permission for license production. But there was a problem of how to transport or send the necessary documents and sketches from Germany to distant Japan. The only solution was to use radio by converting the sketches into numerical code. Unsurprisingly, this did not work well and only limited information was send before the end of the war in Europe. Due to this reason, Japan never received the complete He 162 sketches.

In Allied Hands

As the British forces captured Leck airfield, they acquired a number of fully operational He 162s. Some 11 planes were selected by the British Technical Intelligence Team to be transported to the UK. Once there, all were sent to the Farnborough airfield, which was the headquarters of the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE). The He 162 aircraft were thoroughly examined and divided into groups either for part analysis or for flight testing. On 9th November, 1945, while flying an He 162 (AM61) at the Exhibition of German Aircraft at Farnborough, the pilot Robert A.M. lost his life in an accident.

One of the tested He 162 (marked AM 59 by the British) would be donated to the Canadian Museum in Ottawa together with another one received later that year. Later, two were given to British museums, one to the Imperial War Museum and the second to the RAF Hendon Museum. One would be given to France, possibly either AM 63 or AM 66.

The British also supplied the American with some He 162 captured at the Leck airfield. The Americans also managed to capture some abandoned He 162s across Germany. Some would be tested at the Wright and Freeman Field research centre. One He 162 was even kept in good flight condition up to 1946. This aircraft is today privately owned by the Planes of Fame Museum in California.

The French received or captured (it is not known precisely) five He 162, of which two were airworthy. These two were tested, but one was damaged during landing and the second was lost in May 1948 with the loss of the pilot’s life. One He 162 is preserved and can be seen at the Paris Aviation Museum.

During their advance through Germany, the Soviets managed to capture about seven planes, two of which were airworthy. These would be tested and and analyzed in great details. As the Soviets lacked any advanced jet technology at that time, adopting German captured technology looked like a logical step. Most interesting for the Soviets were the Jumo 004 and the BMW 003 jet engines that would be, in later years, copied and produced in some numbers. There were also some consideration from the Soviet military to copy and produce some of the German jet aircraft, including the He 162. One He 162, with the fuselage marking 02, was tested by the Soviet Flight Research Institute (near Moscow). The second, marked 01, was tested at the Central Aero-hydrodynamics Institute. He 162 02 would be flight tested on several flights in 1946. The results of these tests were disappointing for the Soviets and a decision was made not to further consider them for service, and they did not have any influence on the later Soviet aviation development.


The idea for the He 162 was born out of a mix of desperation, chaos and hope for some miraculous wonder weapons that could turn the air war’s tide to the German side again. It was designed to be cheap and built in great numbers. The impressive fact is that it was designed and built in only a few months, but, on the other hand, it was built in too small numbers, the engines used were often of poor quality and there was a lack of trained pilots, which, along with other problems, meant that the He 162 did not have any major impact on the war itself or on post war jet aircraft development. In the end, it was not the ‘Wunderwaffe’ that the designers hoped for, but it was still impressive, at least because of the speed with which it was designed and built.


As only a small number of He 162 were built, there were very few operational versions. Beside the prototype series, only the “A” version was built in some numbers.

  • He 162 V– Prototype series
  • He 162 A-0– Around 10 pre-production aircraft built used for testing

Main production version

  • He 162A-1 – Version equipped with two MK 108 cannons, a few were possibly built
  • He 162A-2 – The main production variant armed with two MG 151/20 cannons

Training versions

  • He 162S – Two seat glider trainer version, a few built
  • He 162 Doppelsitzer – Two seat powered trainer version, only one incomplete aircraft built

Experimental prototypes based on “A” versions

  • He 162A-3 – Proposed version armed with two MK 103 or 108 cannons
  • He 162A-6 – Proposed version with redesigned and longer fuselage armed with two MK 108 cannons
  • He 162A-8 – Version equipped with the Jumo 004D jet engine, only a few incomplete prototypes built
  • He 162A-9 – The A-9 was to be powered by one BMW 003R engine and supported by a second BMW 718 rocket engine. None built
  • He 162A Mistel 5 – Paper project, a combination of an He 162 and one Arado E 337 glide bomb.
  • He 162 “Behelfs-Aufklarer” – Proposed version to be built in limited numbers as reconnaissance planes. It was never implemented and remained a proposal only.

Note that the B, C and D designations were not official and are used in this article only for the sake of simplicity.

  • He 162B – Proposed version equipped with a pulsejet engine (similar to the V-1 flying bomb engine)
    • He 162B-1 – two engine version
    • He 162B-2 – single engine version


    • Nazi Germany – A few hundred built, but only small numbers were allocated to front units and saw limited combat action.
    • United Kingdom – Captured a number of operational He 162, 11 would be transported and tested in the UK.
    • United States – Received a small number of He 162 from the British but also captured some in Germany.
    • France – Received or captured at least five He 162 aircraft.
    • USSR – Captured seven completed He 162 which were tested after the war.
    • Japan – Military officials tried to acquire the license for production of the He 162 but the war’s end prevented this.

    Specifications (Heinkel He 162 A-2)


    Illustrations by Ed Jackson

    Heinkel He 162 Volksjäger – 20222 Heinkel He 162 A-1 Volksjäger – 120235 Heinkel He 162 A-2 Volksjäger – 120077 “Nervenklau” Heinkel He 162 A-2 Volksjäger – wearing Soviet colors as it undergoes testing after capture – Spring 1946

    After the turning point called Stalingrad, the Luftwaffe became well aware that air supremacy was not on its side anymore. The classical piston-engined aircraft like Focke Wulf Fw 190 and the famous Messerschmitt BF 109 , albeit brilliant fighters both of them, became less than enough to bear all the fighting effort. Something had to be done. The short supplies of complex materials, like aluminum, and the limited production capabilities seemed to put out of the question the high volume strategy, as the Soviets used it. A feasible option for Germany to restore the balance on her side was to design more complex, faster and deadlier aircraft. So was born the Messerschmitt Me 262 – the first jet used in the Second World War. The Heinkel He 162 followed, which was supposed to be a cheap (wood and other cheap materials) easy to produce (using unqualified forced labor) jet aircraft to be flown by young and very young boys from the Hitler Jugend (The Hitler Youth).

    Launched in September 1944 by the RLM (Reichsluftfahrt Ministerium) under the name “Volksjäger” (The People’s Hunter), the He 162 (called He 500 initially) faced intense criticism from the very beginning. Both the pilots, like the well-known ace Adolf Galland, and the manufacturers, such as the famous aeronautical engineers and designers Willy Messerschmitt and Kurt Tank outlined the flaws of the project. However, it jumped quickly to the mass production, due to the firm intervention of Goering and Albert Speer, which allowed a first 1,000 piece order to be made, despite the fact that no test flight had been executed previously.

    Designers chose the BMW 003A-1 engine for the early prototype, but eventually, they settled on the 003E-1 version to power the aircraft. The production of the little jet fighter was distributed among multiple production centers, scattered all over Germany, a common strategy for Germany at that time. The first pieces left the assembly lines of a Heinkel’s subsidiary in Schwechat, Vienna (EHAG – Ernst Heinkel AG), but the main large-scale production was shared among several other facilities – Rostock Marienehe (known today as Rostock-Schmarl), Hinterbrühl in Austria, and the gigantic plant from Mittelwerke int Harz mountains, near Nordhausen. Several components were made even in Czechoslovakia, at Letov, near Prague.

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    First Tests – First Victims

    The first prototype – the He 162 V1 took off for the first time on December 6th, 1944, with Flugkapitän Gotthold Peter at controls, and reached a speed of 522 mph (840 km/h) at 19,685 ft (6000 m) altitude. The airplane proved to be an excellent fighting tool, but only if used by the experts, meaning seasoned aces. This reality was the exact opposite of the idea supported by the general Alfred Keller, the chief of the National-Sozialistische Fliegekorps. General Keller intended to assign the future jet aircraft to the Hitler Jugend, totally inexperienced pilots, with only poor training on gliders, far from enough to allow them to venture out on an aircraft like the Volksjäger. Ater this initial maiden flight, the He 162 received the name Spatz “Sparrow”. It was also named Salamander, but it was just a codename used during the production of some wings and wooden body elements.

    On December 10th, 4 days later, captain Gotthold Peter made a second demonstrative flight at Schwechat, but now it was in front of a large audience consisting of Luftwaffe, RLM and Nazi party officials. Unfortunately, during this flight, the aircraft crashed, killing Flugkapitän Peter, the same test pilot who had tested the jet successfully four days ago. Despite this tragic event, the Erprobungskommando 162 (a Luftwaffe special-purpose unit), was formed at Rechlin-Roggenthin. Commanded by Oblt Heinz Bär (an ace with more than 200 victories), they had the mission to assess the operational capability of the new jet. Twelve days later, on December 22nd, the Heinke’s Director, Dipl. Ing. Carl Franke took off with the second prototype (He 162 V2), to display his confidence in that project.

    The following year, on February 28th, 1945, the He 162M3 (the aircraft letter switched from V – “Versuchs”, the experimental model, to M from “Muster”, meaning Model) managed to reach a speed of 546 mph (880 km/h) (level flight). The speed was greater than the 459 mph (740 km/h) specified by the RLM.

    At that time, four prototypes and two ready to fly production models were already built, along with another ten pre-series He 162A-0, and several more aircraft coming directly from the assembly lines. All of them were supposed to cover the rather big needs of the flight testing campaign. The M3 was lost in an accident, on February 25th, killing the pilot – the Flugbaumeister Full – who managed to bail out from 200 meters height, but unfortunately, not enough for the parachute to fully extend. On March 2nd, M25, a version with a longer body, was also destroyed.

    Operational Activity – The Enemy from Within

    The aircraft was already intended to supply one of the most famous German units – the JG1, who had just retreated from the Eastern Front, led by the Leftenant Colonel Herbert Ihlefeld. The new jet aircraft was to replace the old propeller driven Focke Wulf Fw 190 fighters.

    Underground Heinkel He 162 production facility, photo courtesy of Bundesarchiv, Bild 141-2737 / CC-BY-SA 3.0

    During the first week of February 1945, the pilots from the I./JG1, mainly the 2nd and 3rd squadrons, commanded by Oblt. August Hachtel and Emil Demuth, received the pre-series jets and two prototypes (the M8 and M19). The group was quickly detached to Parchim, not very far from the Heinkel factory at Marienehe, where the pilots were supposed to pick up the airplanes just off the tail end of the assembly line, starting on March 27th, 1944.

    The Heinkel He 162 was going to prove it was a deadly machine not only for the enemy but for its pilots as well: on March 12th, pilot Wunke jumped from his He 162, opening his parachute and landing alive and healthy after the engine had failed. Unfortunately, the fate was not that generous with another pilot, Tautz, who didn’t manage to save himself and died at the controls of his �” two days later. In fact, most of the pilots weren’t killed in combat, but due to numerous accidents caused by the poor production quality, and the improper use of materials. It was noticed that some substances used for gluing were extremely corrosive to the wooden parts.

    2. Staffeln arrived at Parchim from Vienna, but no aircraft were ready for combat. It was only after the second half of March when 12 pilots from the 2. Staffeln brought the jets from Marienehe. On April 7th, a formation of 134 B-71 bombers hit Parchim. After the attack, on April 9th, the JG1 reinstalled on terrain near Ludwiglust. A week later, it moved again, this time to Leck, in the Schleswig-Holstein province, right on the border with Demark. At Marienehe was the only II./JG1 that switched from the Fw 190 to some brand new He 162.

    On April 1st, EHAG was forced at its turn to leave Vienna to settle at Jenbach, near Salzburg, while the flight tests of the Spatz’s were carrying on at Klagenfurt. The production became increasingly difficult and complicated because of various shortages, affecting almost every construction element, combined with the chaotic transport that made the things even worse.

    The advance of the Allied troops, who captured the factory from Mittlewerke, brought things to even a more obvious conclusion. At that time, He 162 production was as follows: 10 jets made at EHAG from Schwechat, 20 at Hinterbrühl, 55 produced at the one from Rostock-Mariehne and 20 at Rostock-Theresienfeld, 15 in the Junker factories from Bernburg, 5 at Mittlewerk-Nordhausen and 1 to 5 at Heinkel itself in Oranienburg.

    According to the Generalstab Abteilung 6 recordings, a total of 116 aircraft were delivered, and 31 of them to the flying base from Leck. On April 7th, however, Hitler decided to halt the He 162 production and to focus on Messerschmitt Me 262 and Arado Ar 234 that used same engines.

    All the attempts to put young and inexperienced Hitler Jugned pilots in command of these sophisticated jet aircraft failed. The Luftwaffe had a great shortage of skilled pilots so needed both for intercepting and fighting against the Allied bombers and for test flights.

    The Heinkel He 162 received the baptism of fire on April 19th, when Lt. Stiemmer and Fw Günther Kirchner took off in their He 162s to intercept some P-47s. Both He 162s and their pilots were shot down, by the Fl. O. Wilkington, from Sq. 222, piloting a Tempest.

    On April 20th, the German archives record the first successful ejection, when Lt. Schmitt managed to eject safely from his plane, the reason being unknown. The same day, most of the aircraft belonging to I./JG1 took off to attack an area occupied by the RAF but the Squad 3 Tempests intercepted the German jets. The He 162 piloted by the Uffz Reichenberg was shot down, but he managed to escape without a scratch. Four days later, Hptm Paul-Heinrich Dahne died in an accident near Warnemunde. Major Werner Zober replaced him at the command of II./JG1, and the whole command staff was reorganized.

    JG 1 suffered heavy losses since the beginning of the operations, both in men and aircraft. In more than two months of activity, the group lost 13 jets and nine pilots, along with another five wounded in various accidents. Only one pilot was actually shot by the enemy.

    On 4th May, Lt. Rudolf Schmitt, from 1. Staffel (the same pilot who had previously managed to eject) claimed the only victory of the group – a Typhoon belonging to the RAF intercepted at low altitude and shot down near Rostock. However, the victory would later be credited to a Flack unit.

    The next day, as British troops occupied Leck, all the jets were destroyed by the technical staff.

    Heinkel He 162 and pilot, Photo courtesy of WW2Gallery, CC BY-NC 2.0

    Final Thoughts on the Heinkel He 162 Volksjäger

    Despite being a project created in a hurry (it was designed and built in only 90 days!) and the countless problems that appeared along the way, the Heinkel He 162 was a promising fighter, with many features quite modern in today’s terms it was an interesting aircraft, that came in a wrong place and at the wrong time.

    Featured Image: Heinkel He 162, courtesy of the San Diego Air and Space Museum Archive, Public Domain

    Design Characteristics for the Heinkel He 162 A

    Crew : 1 pilot, with an ejection seat

    Wingspan : 7.2 m (23 ft 7 in)

    Empty weight : 1,660 kg (3,660 lb)

    Max. takeoff weight : 2,800 kg (6,180 lb)

    Fuel capacity : 695 liters (183 US gallons), allowing maximum 30-minute mission profile

    Powerplant : 1 × BMW 003E-1 or E-2 (meant for dorsal fuselage attachment) axial flow turbojet, 7.85 kN (1,760 lbf)

    Performance and Specs

    Maximum speed at normal thrust : 790 km/h (491 mph) at sea level 840 km/h (522 mph) at 6000 m (19,680 ft)

    Maximum speed using short burst extra thrust : 890 km/h (553 mph) at sea level 905 km/h (562 mph) at 6000 m (19,680 ft)

    Service ceiling : 12,000 m (39,400 ft)

    Rate of climb : 1,405 m/min (4,615 ft/min)


    Guns : 2 × 20 mm MG 151/20 autocannons with 120 rpg (He 162 A-2) OR 2 × 30 mm MK 108 cannons with 50 rpg (He 162 A-0, A-1)


    Balous, Miroslav and Bílý, Miroslav. Heinkel He 162 Spatz (Volksjäger) (bilingual Czech/English). Prague, Czech Republic: MBI, 2004.

    Donald, David. Warplanes of the Luftwaffe. Barnes and Noble 1St Edition edition, 1994

    Smith, J. Richard and Creek, Eddie J. Monogram Close-Up 11: Heinkel He 162 Volksjager. Monogram Aviation Publications, 1986.

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    Last-Gasp Jet Fighter Heinkel He 162

    While easy to disregard as just another of the last-minute jet projects undertaken by the Nazis as the Allies closed in, the Heinkel He-162 “Salamander” was no jury-rigged disaster like some of the other Utopian German projects. It was quite capable and a brilliant feat of engineering.

    The Germans had the inspiration, the technology, the materials and, most importantly, the desperate need to crank out a capable jet fighter the capable ME-262 just couldn’t do it alone. What the Germans lacked was pilots, time and fuel.

    Envisaged as a “People’s Fighter” which could be flown by just about anyone, the Salamander instead was a high-performance, cutting-edge piece of hardware that stood a good chance of turning the tide of the air war if the Heer had been able to hold the Luftwaffe’s airfields and oil supplies.

    The He 162 basically was a jet engine with a plane attached. It was all about the engine in the 1940s, the aerodynamics were completely understood.

    The need for better fighter defense had been clear to the Germans since at least August 1943, when Luftwaffe Chief of Staff Generaloberst Hans Jeschonnek committed suicide due to massive Allied air raids. The western Allies were flattening German cities one by one, and the Luftwaffe was unable to prevent it – though it did impose a punishing cost on the attackers. Piston-jet fighters were capable, but insufficient against the 1000-bomber raids that began in July 1943. The Me-262 fighter was progressing nicely, but Hitler was interfering in its progress, diverting its development to make it capable of bombing. In addition, the Me-262’s jet engines were troublesome and in short supply. Some diversification of effort was warranted.

    Cockpit of the Salamander

    What was needed was a less complicated project that could be slapped together without any rigamarole and put in the hands of Hitler Youth who would destroy the enemy bombers as they had destroyed the British tankers at Caen.

    Another view of the cockpit

    Air defense was becoming critical because the Allies were destroying the life’s blood of any modern army, the Reich’s oil supplies.

    Heinkel HE162 jet in British markings

    Luftwaffe Minister Hermann Goering and Albert Speer, the armaments chief who knew what the failing industrial base could and could not still achieve, came up with the idea of a “throwaway fighter,” one made out of wood and other non-critical materials.

    BMW.003 E-1 Jet engine of the Heinkel He 162 Volksjager (People’s Fighter) aircraft.

    Specifications were issued on September 10, 1944. This was very late in the war, after France had fallen to the western Allies and the Russians already were sitting on the Vistula. By any rational calculation, the war was long since lost and the Germans should have sued for peace rather than embarking on fanciful high-technology projects. But they didn’t, because they had high hopes for various panacea ideas such as the Salamander.

    On the bright side for the Germans, it was the start of a relatively stable period on all fronts as the Allies digested their vast territorial gains of the summer. The enabled the Germans to assemble a small army reserve with new heavy tanks and Volksturm units, insufficient to do more than temporarily stave off defeat.

    Fancy fighters were useless without highly capable men to fly them. Pilots, not planes, were the biggest bottleneck for the Germans during the closing months of the war aside from fuel.

    However, this brief reprieve was enough to give the Nazis hopes of prolonging the war long enough for fantastic projects such as the Salamander to bear fruit. It was a forlorn hope, but it kept the men at their guns, which some would say was the real impetus behind crash programs with little likelihood of success such as the Salamander.

    An Emergency Fighter Program was set up. Heinkel already had designs in the works – all aircraft designers have contingency designs ready to be worked up in short order should someone want to pay for them – and won the contract. The great advantages of the design were that it only required one jet engine, as opposed to the Me-262’s two, and that it was made primarily of wood. This design thus was crafted to accomodate the realistic economic situation of Germany in the fall of 1944.

    Heinkel cranked out the prototype in the incredibly short time of six weeks, reflecting the extreme desperation being felt by higher-ups who probably shot anyone who delayed development.

    The first Salamander flight on December 6, 1944 succeeded, but the second flight a few days later killed the pilot and revealed glue problems that had to be worked around. Small changes were made to compensate for the structural problems without correcting them, desperate measures which never would have been attempted in normal times with adequate materials.

    Luftwaffe Oberleutnant Emil Demuth standing beside his Heinekl He-162. The 16 victory bars painted on the fin referred to the number of aircraft that he shot down during his career, not in the Salamander. The top aces were given jets at the end of the war after having established themselves in piston-engine craft such as the Fw 190 and Me 109.

    The changes kind of worked, but the craft was plagued with problems throughout its short lifespan. Still, that the craft could be produced at all under conditions in Germany during late 1944 was little short of a miracle.

    A captured He-162. From conception in September 1944 to operations in early 1945 – an incredible industrial achievement using slave labor and all exigencies of a police state

    Production proceeded immediately despite the problems – there was a war on! I./JG 1 had the honor of training in the brand new fighter at Parchim, which was a convenient 80 km south-southwest of the Heinkel factory. The Allies were on to the German plans and promptly bombed Parchim, sending the unit scrambling to other airfields, winding up near the Danish border.

    Both the planes and the pilots were in great need by 1945

    There simply wasn’t enough time to get the unit ready in normal fashion, but in desperation some of the planes were flown on missions during the last month of the war anyway – the pilots knew it was a death-trap, but the survival of their country was at stake.

    Luftwaffe Heinkel He 162A-1 Volksjager

    Some kills were achieved – how many will never be known, but there were several – at the cost of about the same number of planes lost primarily to mechanical problems. Armament was two 20mm MG 151 cannon, while top speed was variable depending on height but reached a maximum of an incredible 562 mph for short durations at 20,000 feet.

    A Salamander and an antiaircraft gun on display at Freeman Army Air Base in Indiana.

    It was the fastest jet in existence, though the rocket-powered ME-163 was faster. Flight duration was a measly 30 minutes, which caused some fatalities as pilots couldn’t make it back to the runway.

    The captured He 162 in British markings

    Rather than destroying their surviving aircraft at the surrender as many other units were doing, JG 1 kept the advanced fighters intact and turned them over to the Allies.

    Line up of Heinkel He 162 Volksjager (People’s Fighter) aircraft at Leck during the surrender, WWII. There were 120 He 162s at the time of Germany’s surrender during WWI.

    Testing showed that they were fine, responsive aircraft with issues. Nobody disputed that, properly developed, the Salamanders could have been devastating weapons. Production ramped up early in 1945 and began cranking out these high-performance jet fighters.

    Apparently a post-war test

    The Allies knew all about the Nazi jet fighters and rightly worried that planes such as the Salamander could turn the air war against them if the war lasted long enough.

    Another angle on the 120 He 162s at Leck when Germany surrendered

    Of all the last-minute projects of the Luftwaffe, the little-known Salamander may have held the most real promise. With sufficient fuel and time for pilot training, they could have made a difference. However, time had run out. Several examples survive.

    Heinkel He 162 'Volksjäger' (People's Fighter)

    The Heinkel He 162 Spatz, better known as the Volksjäger, or People's Fighter, was a single-engined jet fighter went from a basic design to its maiden flight in three months at the end of 1944, but that had barely entered service before the end of the Second World War.


    The concept of the Volksjäger, or people's fighter, emerged after a major reorganisation of the German Air Ministry on 1 August 1944. On that date control of all departments that were connected with the design and production of aircraft was transferred to Albert Speer and the Ministry for Armament and Ammunition (R.f.Ruk.). This included the technical department, under the command of Karl Otto Saur.

    By the summer of 1944 the German war economy was running desperately short of many crucial building materials. At the same time low flying Allied fighter bombers were beginning to roam across Germany, and the beleaguered Luftwaffe was struggling to find a solution. It was suggested that the answer would be to produce a light-weight jet fighter that would use as few strategic materials as possible, but still be easy to mass produce. The original idea may have come from General-Oberst Keller, head of the National Socialist Flying Corps, Generaldirektor Frydag, head of the main commission for airframes (this claim was made after the war by Saur but denied by Fryday), or from Saur himself. Saur certainly supported the idea, although other senior figures, amongst them Adolf Galland, were firmed opposed to it as a waste of effort.

    The formal specification for the new aircraft called for an aircraft weighing 4,400lb, powered by a BMW 003 turbojet, with a top speed of 750kph (457mph) at sea level, a takeoff distance of under 1,604ft, an endurance of 30 minutes and an armament of two cannons - either the 20mm MG 151/20 or 30mm MK 108. This specification was issued to Arado, Blohm und Voss, Fieseler, Focke Wulf, Junkers and Messerschmitt on 10 September, and to Heinkel on 7 September. The companies were given three to five days to produce their basic designs.

    Right from the start Heinkel had two advantages - they were the only company that accepted the challenge to have produced a jet powered aircraft, having been responsible for the world's first jet aircraft, the He 178, and the first jet aircraft to be designed as an operational fighter, the twin-engined He 280. They had then moved onto the Heinkel P.1072, a design for a high speed jet fighter, and many elements from this later aircraft would be used on the He 162.

    Arado, Blohm und Voss, Focke-Wulf, Heinkel and Junkers were all able to respond within the timeline (Focke-Wulf even produced two designs). On 15 September the six designs were examined at the Air Ministry, and all but the Heinkel and Blohm und Voss projects were dismissed. After two more conferences, on 23 September Heinkel were awarded the contract (although work on the Blohm und Voss project continued until the end of the month).

    The original design for the Heinkel P.1073 was for a low-wing monoplane, with conventional straight wings and a twin fin and rudder tail. The turbojet was to be carried in a nacelle mounted above the fuselage, partly to simplify construction and partly to avoid damage to the engine in a belly landing.

    The design team, led by Siegfried Günther and Karl Schwärzler, worked non-stop, and detailed drawings were ready by 5 November. The V1 prototype was on the stocks by 17 November, and it was ready for its maiden flight on 6 December.

    This first flight was a success. Heinkel's chief test pilot, Flugkapitän Gotthold Peter, reported that the engine worked beautifully. The aircraft had a tendency to turn to port, and defective glue caused the undercarriage door to break away, but these were minor problems.

    Four days later the He 162 was show to a group of senior German Air Ministry, Luftwaffe and Nazi figures. This time a far more serious flaw was discovered. During a high speed run over the airfield the leading edge of the starboard wing broke away. The aircraft went into a roll, the aileron was ripped away, and the aircraft crashed beyond the airfield boundary, killing Peter.

    This disaster wasn't allowed to slow down work on the aircraft. A speed limit of 311mph was imposed, and new stronger wings were designed. In the meantime the V2 made its maiden flight, on 22 December, with Carl Francke, a director of Heinkel, at the controls. It was followed by the M3 and M4 (M numbers having replaced V numbers late in 1944). These aircraft had a small downward hanging tip added to the wings, in a successful attempt to improve lateral stability. They were followed by a large number of prototypes, which were developed alongside the production aircraft..

    Heinkel originally wanted to call the aircraft the He 500, but in 1944 the German Air Ministry wanted to reuse lower numbers that had either never been allocated, or that had been given to abandoned projects, in an attempt to confuse Allied intelligence. The code 8-162 had originally been given to the Messerschmitt Bf 162 'Jaguar', but this project had been abandoned in 1937, and so the number was given to the new Heinkel aircraft.


    The production version of the He 162 was a high wing monoplane with a well streamlined fuselage. The wings had a slight dihedral (rising up towards the ends), with 'Lippish ears' on the ends. These were small downward hanging tips that were designed to improve lateral stability. The wings had a straight leading edge, and tapered trailing edge. The tail carried twin rudders. The aircraft used tricycle landing gear, with the nose wheel retracting backwards and the main wheels retracting inwards. The cockpit had a recognisably modern canopy, with a fixed windshield at the front, and a hinged rear section that opened up and to the back. The He 162 was the first production combat aircraft to be equipped with an ejector seat.

    A total of four prototypes and thirty-one A-0 pre-production aircraft were built. The pre-production aircraft were also given Versuchs numbers, starting with V5, and going up to V36/ A-031 (V13 wasn't given an A-0 number). Most of the aircraft also had production numbers. At the end of December 1944 the V numbers were replaced with Muster, or model numbers, so the V5 became M5. In the following list we give V number, M number, production number and A-0 number.

    Many Heinkel records were destroyed towards the end of the war, and as a result there is much confusion as to the details of the various prototype aircraft. Here we will record every alternative that we have found.

    V1/ M1/ 200001

    The V1 was the first prototype. It made its maiden flight on 6 December 1944, and was then destroyed during an official showing of the aircraft on 10 December, killing the test pilot.

    V2/ M2/ 200002

    The second prototype made its maiden flight on 22 December 1944, and was used for test flights before becoming a static test bed during 1945.

    V3/ M3/ 200003

    The V3 was given larger tail surfaces and anhedral wing tips (sloping downwards), as part of attempts to improve the stability of the design. It made its maiden flight on 16 January 1945, and was last mentioned a month later, on 18 February.

    V4/ M4/ 200004

    V4 was similar to V3. It made its maiden flight on 16 January 1945, and was also used for stability tests, before crashing on 9 February.

    V5/ M5/ 200005/ A-01

    V5 was the first of the pre-production series. It was completed by the end of December 1944, but never flew and was used as a static test bed.

    V6/ M6/ 200006/ A-02

    V6 made its maiden flight on 23 January 1945. It was used for armament trials, before crashing on 3 February.

    V7/ M7/ 200007/ A-03

    V7 was the prototype for the A-1 series. It was unarmed, and made its maiden flight on 25 January 1945. It was later used to test the parachute brake, before being damaged on 2 March.

    V8/ M8/ 200008/ A-04

    The V8 was given an improved undercarriage, and was the first aircraft to be armed with two MG 151/20 cannon. It made its maiden flight in February 1945, and crashed on 12 March.

    V9/ M9/ 200009/ A-05

    V9 was either similar to V8, or was the prototype for the two-seat trainer.

    V10/ M10/ 200010/ A-06

    V11/ M11/ 220017/ A-07

    The V11 was used to test the Junkers Jumo 004B turbojet. It was also used for tests with the MK 108 cannon. It was one of a number of aircraft destroyed on 1 April 1945.

    V12/ M12/ 220018/ A-08

    V12 used the Jumo 00B engine but was armed with the MG 151.

    Some sources state that the designation V13 was never allocated. Others state that it was given to an airframe that was to have been used with the Heinkel He S11 engine, but that was never completed because of a lack of engines.

    V14/ M14/ A-09

    The V14 was used as a test airframe, possibly because it too was to be powered by the S11 engine.

    V15/ M15/ A-010

    V16/ M16/ 220019/ A-011

    The V16 and V17 were either prototypes for the two seat He 162S trainer, or prototypes powered by the Heinkel He S11 that were not completed until April 1945. Other sources consider V9 and V10 to have been the two-seat trainer prototypes.

    V17/ M17/ 220020/ A-012

    See V16. Some sources allocate the same production number to the V32.

    V18/ M18/ 220001/ A-013

    The V18 was the first aircraft to be produced in the 'Languste' factory at Hinterbrühl. It made its maiden flight on 24 January 1945, and was used for endurance flight trials. It may have been the first aircraft to be given the BMW 003E-1 engine, making it the prototype for the A-2 series.

    V19/ M19/ 220002/ A-014

    V19 made its maiden flight on 28 January 1945. It was used for flight trials, before crashing on 14 March 1945.

    V20/ M20/ 220003/ A-015

    V20 was given a new experimental undercarriage. It made its maiden flight on 10 February 1945, and survived the war. It was at Munich on 1 May 1945.

    V21/ M21/ 220004/ A-016

    V21 was used for firing trials with the MG 151/20 machine gun. It made its maiden flight on 22 February 1945 and was damaged on 7 March.

    V22/ M22/ 220005/ A-017

    V22 was given a modified wing root in an attempt to prevent tip-stalling (where the wing tips lose lift before the rest of the wing, making the aircraft difficult to control). On the standard He 162 there was a sharp angle between the wing and the fuselage, which caused part of the problem. On the V22 a smooth fairing was used to cover this gap. The aircraft made its maiden flight on 25 February 1945, and was damaged on 4 March.

    V23/ M23/ 220006/ A-018

    The V23 was similar to the V22. It made its maiden flight either on 27 February or 19 March 1945, and survived the war.

    V24/ M24/ 220007/ A-019

    V24 made its maiden flight on 20 March 1945. It was used for flight trials, before possibly being destroyed by enemy action later in the month.

    V25/M25/ 220008/ A-020

    V25 had a longer fuselage, and may have been a prototype for an A-6 production version. It made its maiden flight on 17 February, and crashed on 2 March.

    V26/ M26/ 220009/ A-021

    V26 had the same long fuselage as V25. It made its maiden flight on 17 February 1945, and was damaged on 12 March.

    V27/ M27/ 220010/ A-022

    V27 was similar to V26. It made its maiden flight on 1 February 1945.

    V28/ M28/ 220011/ A-023

    Some sources describe V28 as having been similar to V26, and having made its maiden flight on 18 February 1945. Others state that it was a reserve aircraft that never flew.

    V29/ M29/ 220012/ A-024

    All sources agree that one of V29, V30 and V31 was a weapons test aircraft and another was used to test a new gun sight. However they don't agree on which two. In some sources V29 was similar to V26, and made its maiden flight on 19 February 1945. In others it was an armaments test aircraft.

    V30/ M30/ 220013/ A-025

    V29 was either a weapons test bed or was used the test the EZ 42 gun sight. In either case it made its maiden flight on 24 February 1945.

    V31/ M31/ 220014/ A-026

    Those sources that see V29 as a weapons test bed allocate the EZ 42 trials to V31, with a maiden flight on 24 February 1945.

    V32/ M32/ 220020/ A-027 to V36/ M36/ 220024/ A-031

    No specific details have been found for these aircraft.

    Sources differ on the details of the production versions of the He 162. All agree that the He 162A-2 was armed with two 20mm MG 151 cannon, and that one version was to be armed with two 30mm MK 108 cannon, but while most sources state that this was the A-3, others give it the designation A-1. Here we will follow the first suggestion

    The He 162A-1 was powered by the BMW 003A-1 engine, and was the earliest production version of the aircraft. It was soon superseded by the A-2.

    The A-2 became the standard production version of the aircraft. It was powered by the BMW 003A-3 engine, and armed with two 20mm MG 151 cannon each with 120 rounds.

    The A-3 was a design for a version of the He 162 that would have been armed with two 30mm Mk 108 cannon, each with 50 rounds. This cannon put an unacceptable strain on the standard He 162 fuselage, and the A-3 may have been a design with a stronger fuselage designed to counter this.

    The He 162S was a tandem two-seat training aircraft. Two prototypes were produced, and a third aircraft may have been produced. The first was ready to fly on 28 March 1945, but a few days later the training programme was scrapped and the aircraft were destroyed.

    Proposed Versions

    The destruction of many Heinkel records towards the end of the war means that many details of the He 162 programme are now obscure. The following list includes all proposed versions that we have found mentioned.

    The A-6 was to have a stronger fuselage, extended from 29ft 8in to 30ft 1in. V25-V28 were built with the longer fuselage, possibly as prototypes for this series.

    The A-8 was to have been powered by the Junkers Jumo 004D-4 turboket, and given larger fuel tanks to increase its endurance. It had an estimated maximum speed of 551mph.

    The A-9 was to have been a version of the A-2 with a butterfly tail assembly, as tested on the He 280 V7 and V8. The butterfly tail replaced the horizontal surface and twin rudders of the standard He 162 with two small wings, mounted in a 'vee' shape, and with control surfaces on the trailing edge.

    The A-14 was probably a test-bed for the planned C-1 and D-1 versions. A partially completed prototype was captured by the Allies, and could have taken either swept back or swept forward wings.

    In November 1944 the German Air Ministry issued a specification for an even simpler fighter, to be powered by the Argus impulse duct engine, as used on the V-1. Heinkel responded with two designs - the B-1, which would have been powered by one Argus As 014 engine and the B-2, with one As 044 engine. The Argus engine couldn't provide any power until the aircraft was moving at speed, and so the He 162B would have had to be launched either by catapults or rockets. The project was soon abandoned.

    The C-1 would have used swept-forward wings and the butterfly tail, and would have been powered by the HeS 011 engine. It was suggested in December 1944, and work may have begun on a test bed, the A-14.

    The D-1 was proposed at the same time as the C-1, and would have been given swept back wings, the butterfly tail and the HeS 011 engine. The outer panels of the wings may have been angled downwards. As with the C-1 the A-14 may have been a test bed for this design.

    The production programme, with the codename 'Salamander', was managed by the Baugruppe Schlempp, led by Heinrich Lübke. The He 162 was written into a series of German fighter programmes, starting with programme 226 of 23 September 1944. This called for 1,000 aircraft to be complete by the end of April 1945, and for production to rise to 2,000 per month by the end of May. This was soon replaced by programme 227, of 15 December, which ended or scaled down production of many night fighter and bomber types, and of the Me 163, and focused efforts on the Me 262 and He 162. During 1945 this was replaced by a series of new programmes, each of which scaled down plans.

    Completed aircraft were to be built at four main plants. Heinkel controlled two - Heinkel North at Rostock and the 'Languste' plant at Hinterbrühl near Vienna. Junkers were also to produce the aircraft at Bernberg, but the largest plant was to be part of the Mittelwerk GmbH complex at Nordhausen. Both the Languste and Mittelwerk plants relied heavily on slave labour.

    A huge number of smaller factories were to produce components for the He 162. Wooden components were to be produced by small firms combined into three larger groups - Wätcher at Neustadt/ Orla Reparaturwerk Erfurt at Erfurt and Organization Mai at Stuttgart. Quality control was poor, and many of the parts produced by these organisations had to be discarded.

    Heinkel South, Vienna-Schwechat (production block 200, aircraft 200001-200010)

    The first ten prototype aircraft were produced at Heinkel's Schwechat plant, near Vienna. Work then moved to the new 'Languste' plant at Hinterbrühl, near the city.

    'Languste' at Hinterbrühl near Vienna (production block 220, aircraft 220001-220086)

    Heinkel's second plant was built into a former chalk mine at Hinterbrühl near Vienna. This was an underground factory using slave labour, and conditions were brutal. About twenty prototypes and forty production aircraft were produced in the factory, which had a target of 1,000 aircraft per month. Production came to an end in April as the Allies approached Vienna.

    Heinkel North, Rostock (production block 120, aircraft 120001-120100 and 120221-120240)

    The most production factory was Heinkel North, at Rostock. This plant was expected to produce 1,000 aircraft per month, but by the time production stopped on 2 May had only completed around 120.

    Junkers at Bernburg (production block 300, aircraft 300001-300027)

    Junkers at Bernburg near Dessau were also expected to produce 1,000 He 162s per month (alongside the Me 163 and Ju 248). The first Junkers built A-2 made its maiden flight on 24 March 1945, but work stopped soon after this, and less than thirty aircraft were completed.

    Mittelwerk GmbH complex at Nordhausen (production block 310, aircraft 310001-310018)

    The giant Mittelwerk plant at Nordhausen was a key centre of the German military production towards the end of the war. Like 'Languste' it relied on slave labour, and was to have been a centre of V-1, V-2, He 162 and BMW engine production. The Mittelwerk plant was expected to produce 2,000 aircraft per month, but by the time production ended on 10 April only eighteen had been built.

    Combat Record

    The first unit to be equipped with the He 162 was Erprobungskommando 162, commanded by the fighter ace Oblt Heinz Bär (220 victories). This unit was formed in January 1945 at Rechlin to conduct service tests with the new aircraft. By May this unit moved to Salzburg, where it joined Adolf Galland's JV 44, an elite fighter unit equipped with the Me 262, but even after this move the unit doesn't appear to have gone operational. The combined units surrendered on 3 May.

    The first regular combat unit to receive the aircraft was I/JG 1, which began to convert to the He 162 at Ludwigslust on 8 April. By the end of the month it had moved to Leck. II/JG 1 moved to Marienehe to convert to the He 162 on 8 April, but within a month the advancing Russians forced the unit to move to Leck, arriving on 3 May. On the following day I and II/JG 1, with 50 aircraft, were merged into I (Einsatzgruppe)/ JG 1. Four days the combined unit surrendered to the Allies.

    As an operational aircraft the He 162 was a complete and utter failure. After all of the effort involved in its design and production only a handful of aircraft were ever used in combat, and only one combat victory was recorded, on 4 May, when Lt. Schmitt claimed a Typhoon. More He 162s were lost in accidents, and at one or possibly two were shot down - one by a Hawker Tempest of No.3 Squadron on 21 April, and a possible second by a F-6 (P-51 reconnaissance aircraft). Even if the He 162 had come into service earlier and in large numbers, it needed careful handling, and would only have been really effective in the hands of an expert pilot. Given that it was designed to be flown by partially trained novices this can only be seen as a serious failure. In the end all of those voices in Germany that have believed that the entire He 162 programme was a waste of effort were proved correct.

    He 162A-2
    Engine: BMW 003E-1 axial-flow turbojet
    Power: 1,763lb thrust at take-off, 2,028lb for 30 second bursts
    Crew: 1
    Wing span: 23.6ft
    Length: 29ft 8in
    Height: 8ft 6in
    Empty weight: 3,666lb
    Loaded weight: 6,184lb
    Max Speed (normal): 490mph at sea level, 520mph at 19,685ft
    Max Speed (full thrust): 553mph at sea level, 562mph at 19,685ft
    Cruising Speed:
    Climb rate: 3,780ft per minute or 4,613ft per minute with maximum power
    Service Ceiling: 39,400ft
    Range: 385 miles at full throttle, 369 miles with six 30-second bursts
    Armament: Two 20mm MG 151 cannon each with 120 rounds

    Aircraft of the Luftwaffe 1935-1945, Jean-Denis G.G. Lepage. Combines a good background history of the Luftwaffe with a comprehensive examination of its aircraft, from the biplanes of the mid 1930s to the main wartime aircraft and on to the seemingly unending range of experimental designs that wasted so much effort towards the end of the war. A useful general guide that provides an impressively wide range of information on almost every element of the Luftwaffe (Read Full Review)

    Heinkel He 162A - History

    1:32 Revell He-162A-2 Salamander

    Revell 1/32 He 162A-2 Salamander (04723)

    After-market Parts

    Aires Detail Set (2033) Cockpit, Wheel wells, Wheels and Gun bay

    CMK BMW 003 Engine Set (5013), CMK Flaps and Tail surfaces

    Xtracrylix Hellgrun RLM82, Lichtblau RLM 76, Grau RLM 02, Braunviolett RLM 81

    ,Silber RLM 01, Schwarzgrau RLM 66

    Tamiya Black XF-1, Semi Gloss Black X-18, White XF-2

    Revell 1/32 He 162A-2 Salamander (04723)

    After-market Parts

    Aires Detail Set (2033) Cockpit, Wheel wells, Wheels and Gun bay

    CMK BMW 003 Engine Set (5013), CMK Flaps and Tail surfaces

    Xtracrylix Hellgrun RLM82, Lichtblau RLM 76, Grau RLM 02, Braunviolett RLM 81

    ,Silber RLM 01, Schwarzgrau RLM 66

    Tamiya Black XF-1, Semi Gloss Black X-18, White XF-2

    At the beginning of the September 1944 the RLM announced a competition for a new single seat jet fighter with the code name 'Volksjager' (people ' s fighter). The Volksjager was designed to replace the Bf 109 and the Fw 190 to counter the air superiority of allied fighters. Five companies took part in the competition: (Arado, Blohm und Voss, Focke-Wulf , Heinkel, and Junkers.) The final winner was the company of Ernst Heinkel. The intensive work of Heinkel ' s and partners team lead to the project 1073 Spatz , later known as Salamander. This was the fastest programmed fighter development in the history of aviation, within only y 3 months the prototype was ready for its first test flight.

    It was a small in dimension but of extremely elegant looking design with the BMW 003 engine in the upper part of the fuselage. The construction of t he fuselage and the tail's was in aluminium ex except for the cone and the access panels which were made from w wood. The same material used for the constructions of t he wings, a dangerous decision especially for a high performance jet air plane. That decision was made to simplify the construction and the l lack of appropriate materials in the chaos during the last months of the war.

    The cockpit design included many features of post war aircraft including an ejection seat similar to those found on the H e 219 and Do 335. The He-162 carried and armament two 20 mm canons.

    On December 6th in 1944 the first test flight of the prototyp e was accomplished with total success. The aircraft was capable of 900km up in the 6 , 000 m altitude and showed good flying characteristics. Four days later a disastrous accident came up when a part of the wing fell off killing the pilot and destroying the plane. The lack of strong glue wa s found to be the reason behind the crash. The Volkjager's program carried on in underground facilities in an attempt to protect it from allied bombing. Parallel to the production Ernest Heinkel proceeded to further 26 variation of the aircraft including v tails, stronger engines and new wings. None of these ever flew.

    The first He 162A-2 was sent into combat with squadrons of JG/l (the only unit ever use it) in the early April 45 when all were lost for the Germans. The lack of fuel and experienced pilots lead the majority of the 200 He 162 grounded for most of the time. No more than 10 aerial kill being confirmed by the type in combat.

    After the end of the war a large number of 162 were transported to the USA, U nit e d Kingdom, France and Russia for technical evaluation for future projects.

    The Aircraft Modelled

    Heinkel 162, W.Nr. 120077 originated at Heinkel North (Roststock-Marienehe) production line and was probably completed in April 1945. Colour photos from the same production run show a green fuselage (RLM 82) and a brownish (RLM 81) engine cowling. The lower fuselage, the under wing surfaces as well as the tail plane were painted RLM 76. Upper wings were probably painted RLM 81/82.

    According to Gerhard Hanf the turbine front cowling was red. Colour photos that verify this do not exist. Red are also the arrows on the fuselage as well as the "1". The former "2" was painted over. On both sides of the fuselage the emblem III. /JG 77 is painted on. On the left fuselage side the word "Nervenklau" (Nerve Stealer) is neatly painted. The ground crews were responsible for that. On April 29th 1945, Lieutenant Hanf flew his 18th and last time with the He 162. W.Nr. 120077 survived and is part of the collection of the "Planes of Fame" collection in Chino, USA.

    Revell He 162A-2 Salamander (04723)

    After-market Parts

    Aires Detail Set (2033) Cockpit, Wheel wells, Wheels and Gun bay

    CMK BMW 003 Engine Set (5013)

    Xtracrylix Hellgrun RLM82, Lichtblau RLM 76, Grau RLM 02, Braunviolett RLM 81

    ,Silber RLM 01, Schwarzgrau RLM 66

    Tamiya Black XF-1, Semi Gloss Black X-18, White XF-2

    Heinkel He-162 Spatz - Volksjager by Miroslav & Bily, Miroslav Balous

    Advanced Aircraft Modeling - Heinkel He-162 Volksjager Tolis Athanasopoulos

    Some of the molded detail on the walls of the cockpit, this needs to be removed and thinned ready for the replacement resin cockpit.

    Below the detail has been removed and the plastic thinned, I used a Dremel to remove the bulk of it followed by varying grades of sanding sticks.

    Next job was to remove the a small rectangle where the chutes for the expelled shells should be.

    I masked this with electricians tape to stop me slipping and scoring the plastic. I used the Trumpeter scriber to start followed by the Tamiya one.

    The back of the resin cockpit would have blocked the walls of the chute and was cut away.

    The chute walls were made with some plastic card to give some depth when looking directly down them.


    Below is the completed chute.

    I decided to removed the nose, this area is very detailed in the resin set so it seemed a shame to hide it.

    The almost completed cockpit, I got so involved in painting and building I forgot to take pictures of each stage. doh!

    The instrument panel painted up, might use a light wash to difine this better.

    The resin replacement wheel bay also painted ready for installation. This is a really nice moulding can the details came up well.

    The bay installed in the fuselage, not too shabby.

    I did have a wee problem joining the two halves, I split it and used super glue with talc to get a nice joint.

    This arrived in the post, resin replacements for the tail and flaps. Actually there's not much of the original kit being used.

    The next two images show the surgery on the wings.

    Resin replacement tail in place.

    The next major part of the build will be the resin replacement BMW 003 engine

    The resin parts were given an undercoat of Tamiya matt black.

    The front part of the intake was painted with Alclad matt aluminum, the front body steel, the next section Tamiya gunmetal, Alclad exhaust for the next section, and matt aluminum.

    This is the completed engine, however reference photographs show that the majority of the plumbing is missing.

    The intake was then covered with maskol flicked on by a very dry brush, then spray with Tamiya flat red. The maskol was then removed to reveal the chipping effect.

    The valve below is missing a connector to attach some of the plumbing, I'd this from some punch out discs and styrene rod

    The main pipe, made from fuse wire, to the oil tank is added

    Some more plumbing being threaded under the existing resin pipes

    Running some more cables that were very obvious from reference pictures. The thin masking tape will be painted to look like connectors.

    The almost completed article, I'm leaving it to dry overnight before touching up the paint work.

    The Heinkel He-162 Volksjaeger

    * Hitler's Reich achieved notoriety for the advanced weapons created by German researchers, such as missiles, guided bombs, and jet fighters. While these weapons were in most cases too little and too late to affect the course of the war, they remain an interesting subject.

    One of these interesting weapons was the Heinkel "He-162 Volksjaeger (People's Fighter)", a lightweight jet fighter designed to be produced cheaply and in large quantity. This document provides a short history of the Volksjaeger.

    * In September 1944, with the Nazi empire under extreme pressure on all fronts on land and in the air, the German Air Ministry ("ReichsLuftsfahrtMinisterium" or "RLM") acknowledged Germany's desperate circumstances by issuing a requirement for a new jet fighter that would be simple, cheap, and easy to build in large quantity.

    The aircraft would be built in such quantities that little maintenance would be required, as a defective aircraft could simply be discarded and replaced with a new one. The Air Ministry called this aircraft the "Volksjaeger", or "People's Fighter".

    Such a measure made some sense under the circumstances, but there were those in the Nazi leadership, including Reichsmarshall Hermann Goering, who went further, believing that this new fighter would be piloted by Hitler Youth. These adolescents would be given elementary pilot training by flying gliders based on the Volksjaeger, and then would immediately be put behind the controls of the fighter itself to sink or swim in flight operations and air combat.

    The idea of putting hardly-trained kids into the cockpit of a high performance fighter, particularly one designed in haste and manufactured as cheaply as possible, was of course lunacy, and Goering, an excellent pilot himself, should have known better.

    Generalleutnant Adolf Galland, in command of the Luftwaffe's fighter force, bitterly opposed the Volksjaeger, as he felt it would divert resources from existing aircraft programs, particular the Messerschmitt 262 jet fighter. He was supported in his objections by Willi Messerschmitt and Focke-Wulf's Kurt Tank. As the Volksjaeger proposal was backed by Reichsmarshall Goering and Armaments Minister Albert Speer, the objections were overruled.

    The Air Ministry requirement specified a single-seat fighter, powered by a single "BMW-003" turbojet engine with 800 kilograms (1,760 pounds) thrust. The aircraft was to weigh no more than two tonnes (4,400 pounds), making it a featherweight in the air combat environment. Maximum speed was specified as 750 KPH (466 MPH) at sea level operational endurance was to be at least a half hour and the takeoff run was to be no more than 500 meters (1,640 feet). Armament was specified as either two 20 millimeter cannon with 100 rounds per gun, or two 30 millimeter cannon with 50 rounds per gun.

    The Air Ministry issued the requirement on 10 September 1944, and specified that proposals were to be submitted no later than 20 September. The Volksjaeger was to be ready to go into full production by New Year's Day, 1945.

    All major German aircraft manufacturers were sent the requirement, and all were interested. However, Heinkel had been working on a similar concept for several months, and was able to respond quickly with a proposal with the company designation "P.1073". Blohm und Voss submitted a competing proposal, the "P.211", which was a much more advanced design that looked forward to the next generation of swept-winged jet fighters, such as the F-86 Sabre and the MiG-15.

    Heinkel lobbied harder and won the competition at the end of September. The company was awarded an order for 1,000 Volksjaegers to be delivered by April 1945, with production ramping up to 2,000 fighters a month in May. The program was named "Salamander", though Heinkel gave the aircraft itself the name of "Spatz (Sparrow)". The Blohm und Voss proposal was filed away.

    The Heinkel design was developed by a team lead by Siegfried Guenther and Karl Schwaerzler. Their Volksjaeger concept was a neat, sporty-looking little aircraft, with a sleek streamlined fuselage, the BMW-003 engine carried in a nacelle on the back of the aircraft, twin tailfins to allow the vertical tailplanes to clear the jet exhaust, a high-mounted straight wing with a shallow dihedral, and tricycle landing gear that retracted into the fuselage.

    Controls were hydraulically operated. A two-stroke piston engine was used to start the BMW-003. Baling out of an aircraft with a high wing and a jet engine directly behind the cockpit was clearly hazardous, so the aircraft was to be fitted with a simple ejection seat, fired by an explosive cartridge. The aircraft was to be built mostly of metal, but with wings and vertical tailplanes made mostly of wood.

    The new aircraft was originally assigned the designation "He-500", but in order to misdirect Allied intelligence, the designation was changed to "He-162". The lower number hopefully would suggest that the type had been in development for a number of years. Two variants were to be produced, the "He-162A-1" bomber destroyer with two MK-108 30 millimeter cannon and 50 rounds per gun, and the "He-162A-2" air superiority fighter with two MG-151 20 millimeter cannon and 120 rounds per gun.

    Work began immediately at the Heinkel factory in Vienna on a first batch of 31 aircraft. In the meantime, an enormous effort was begun to set up a network of suppliers of parts and subassemblies, dispersed all over the Reich. Final assembly was to be at the Heinkel plant in Marienhe, the Junkers plant at Bernberg, and in the infamous underground slave-labor factory near Nordhausen in the Harz Mountains, known as "Mittelwerk (Central Works)".

    In essence, the He-162 was being put into mass production even before the first example had flown. There wasn't any time to do anything else.

    * The first prototype of the He-162 was rolled out at the beginning of December 1944. It made its first flight on 6 December from the airfield at Schwechat near Vienna, with test pilot Gotthold Peter at the controls.

    The flight lasted 20 minutes until one of the wooden gear doors fell off, a victim of a faulty glue bond. Peter landed the aircraft immediately. The flight had otherwise gone well, with the little jet reaching a top speed of 840 KPH (522 MPH) at an altitude of 6 kilometers (19,700 feet), although some fore-and-aft instability and directional snaking was noted.

    On 10 December, Peter took the prototype into the air from Schwechat to show it off to Nazi Party officials. He was making a fast run over the airfield when one of the wings came partly unglued and shed an aileron. The prototype rolled into the ground and Peter was killed.

    There was little time to mourn the loss of either plane or pilot, and after a thorough checkover, the second prototype took to the air on 22 December, with Heinkel director Carl Francke at the controls. Diagnosis of the accident that had destroyed the first prototype showed that the wing needed to be redesigned for greater strength, but the second prototype still had the original wing design, and so Francke kept his top speed under 500 KPH (310 MPH), although he was able to perform aggressive maneuvers.

    The second prototype was for the He-162A-1 variant and was fitted with the twin MK-108 30 millimeter cannon. While these were low-velocity weapons, just somewhat more potent than a grenade launcher, their recoil was still too much for the lightweight airframe to absorb. As a result, production plans shifted towards manufacture of the He-162A-2 variant, while design efforts began on a "He-162A-3" variant with a reinforced nose to allow carriage of the MK-108 cannon.

    The third and fourth prototypes both took to the air on 16 January 1945. They had the new, stronger wing and a number of other changes, the most visible being turned-down wingtip extensions. The wingtip extensions were intended to reduce the He-162's directional instability. The proper solution would have been to reduce the dihedral of the wings, but with manufacturing already ramping up, Guenther had to choose a "band-aid" fix for the problem.

    The various changes resulted in an aircraft that weighed substantially more than the 2 tonne limit called for in the original specification. The He-162A-2 weighed a total of 2.8 tonnes (6,180 pounds) fully loaded. However, performance was excellent, much better than had been specified. The He-162 was capable of 890 KPH (553 MPH) at low altitude and 905 KPH (562 MPH) at 5,950 meters (19,500 feet). The RLM was not inclined to complain about the increased weight. By the end of January, four prototype He-162s and two production aircraft were flying. The He-162 was as ready as it was going to be to take the next step: introduction to operations and combat.

    * The first Luftwaffe unit to fly the He-162 was an evaluation unit named "Erprobungskommando 162", formed at the Luftwaffe test center at Rechlin under the command of Oberstleutnant Heinz Baer, a respected combat pilot who was credited with 200 kills.

    46 He-162s were delivered to the Luftwaffe in February, allowing Baer's unit to acquire familiarity with the type. That month also saw deliveries of the He-162 to its first operational unit, the "Ist Gruppe of Jagdgeschwader 1 (I/JG-1)", which had previously flown Focke-Wulf 190s.

    I/JG-1 was pulled back to Parchim, not far from the Heinkel factory at Marienhe, where the Luftwaffe pilots could pick up their new jets. They began intensive training on the type in March, but by that time the Third Reich was obviously on the threshold of collapse, and transportation and fuel supply was grinding to a halt under the pressure of Allied air attacks.

    On 7 April, the USAAF bombed the field at Parchim with 134 B-17 Flying Fortresses. Two days later, I/JG-1 left their demolished facilities to move to a nearby airfield at Ludwigslust. Less than a week later they moved again, flying north to an airfield at Leck, in Schleswig-Holstein, near the Danish border. In the meantime, II Gruppe of JG-1 had moved to the Heinkel airfield at Marienhe to begin trading their FW-190s for He-162s.

    * The He-162 finally began to see combat in mid-April. On 19 April, the pilot of a British Royal Air Force (RAF) fighter who had been captured by the Germans informed his interrogators that he had been shot down by a jet fighter, whose description was clearly that of a He-162. The Heinkel and its pilot were lost as well, shot down by an RAF Tempest fighter on the way back to base.

    On 20 April, a Luftwaffe pilot successfully ejected from a He-162, though the reason for the hasty exit from his aircraft was not recorded. One possibility is that he simply ran out of fuel. The He-162's half-hour endurance was simply not enough, and at least two of JG-1's pilots were killed making "dead-stick" landings after exhausting their fuel.

    On 4 May, all of JG-1's surviving He-162s were formed into a special consolidated "Einsatzgruppen (Special Action Group)", but this action amounted to little more than "rearranging the deck chairs on the TITANIC". On 5 May, the Germans agreed to a cease-fire and the He-162s were all grounded.

    From mid-April, I/JG-1 had scored a number of kills, but had also lost thirteen He-162s and ten pilots. Most of the losses were from flying accidents, due to problems such as engine flame-outs and occasional structural failures. The difficulties with the type seem to have been due to the fact that it was rushed into production, not that it was an inherently bad design. One experienced Luftwaffe pilot who flew it called it a "first-class combat aircraft".

    Erprobungskommando 162 fighters, which had been passed on to an operational unit under Adolf Galland a few weeks earlier, were all destroyed by their crews to keep the jets from falling into Allied hands. However, JG-1 cooperatively turned their He-162s over to the Allies, and examples of the fighter were then flown in the US, Britain, France, and the USSR.

    One British pilot who evaluated the He-162 also praised it, though a second British pilot was killed in November 1945 during an air display at Farnborough when one of the tailplanes broke off, sending the fighter into the ground.

    * The design had some clear weaknesses, of course, such as its short endurance and the fact that the position of the engine left the pilot almost completely blind to the vital rear "six" position. Some sources also state that the back-mounted engine made the aircraft logitudinally unstable, rendering any maneuvers that "threw the aircraft around" unsafe.

    However, in one sense the He-162 was remarkable: it was designed and flown in three months, and in the five months following several hundred were built under the most difficult conditions.

    It was fortunate for the Allies that the He-162 was much too late to be anything more than a footnote to the history of the air war over Europe, but a certain curiosity remains over what it might have been able to do had events been more favorable to it.

    A handful of Volksjaegers still exist as static displays in museums around the world. None remain flying. Given that the lack of hardened alloys meant that German jet engines sometimes had to be scrapped after as little as ten hours of flight operations, it is unlikely one of the original He-162s will ever fly again.

    * Heinkel also built two He-162 prototypes fitted with the larger "Jumo-004D-4" engine, which was planned to lead to a "He-162A-8" version with higher performance and greater endurance.

    Heinkel also built two prototypes of the "He-162S" tandem-seat training glider, in accordance with the lunatic scheme to provide pilots for the fighter using Hitler Youth. No He-162A-3s, with the reinforced nose mounting twin MK-108 30 millimeter cannon, were ever produced.

    * A number of advanced follow-ons to the He-162A were considered. An "He-162B-1" was slated to go into production in early 1946, with a more powerful Heinkel-Hirth 011A turbojet providing 1,300 kilograms (2,870 pounds) thrust, along with a fuselage stretch to provide more fuel and endurance and increased wingspan, with proper dihedral and discarding the turned-down wingtip extensions.

    The He-162B-1 was to be armed with twin MK-108 30 millimeter cannon. In reality, only nine Heinkel-Hirth 011A turbojets were ever completed, and the He-162B-1 never happened.

    The He-162B airframe was also used as the basis for possible designs powered by pulsejet engines, one concept using a single Argus As-044 engine with 500 kilograms (1,100 pounds) thrust and the other using twin Argus As-014 engines with 332 kilograms (734 pounds) thrust each.

    Although pulsejets, unlike ramjets, can produce static thrust, the Argus pulsejets didn't produce enough power at low speed for takeoff, and so various launch schemes were considered, ranging from towplanes to catapults to the most intelligent solution, a rocket-assisted takeoff booster unit.

    However, neither the Luftwaffe nor Heinkel engineers were at all enthusiastic about using pulsejets, as they had poor high-altitude performance, bad fuel economy, and high levels of vibration.

    Pulsejets operate with a pulsed combustion scheme that gave them a loud, low, rapid "putt-putt" sound, and a ride in an aircraft with such engines was likely to be rough. Messerschmitt had experimented earlier in the war with a fighter designated the "Me-328" that was powered by twin pulsejets, and engine vibration eventually led to the loss of the aircraft.

    The pulsejet-powered He-162 project was driven from the top, with the aircraft perceived as almost completely expendable. Although three airframes were set aside for testing, they were never fitted with the Argus engines.

    Other He-162 variants under consideration included the "He-162C", with the B-series fuselage, Heinkel-Hirth 011A engine, swept wing, and "vee" or "butterfly" tail assembly and the "He-162D", with a similar configuration but a forward-swept wing. They were to me armed with twin MK-108 30 millimeter cannon, and a scheme was considered in which the cannon could be pivoted upward from the horizontal, allowing the fighter to fire at a bomber while flying under it.

    The He-162C and He-162D got no farther than a half-completed prototype that could be fitted with interchangeable forward-swept or back-swept wings, discovered by the Allies when they occupied the plant at Schwechat.

    In fact, the only advanced variant of the He-162 that was actually flown was the "He-162E", which was an He-162A fitted with the BMW-003R mixed power plant, which was a BMW-003A with an integrated BMW-718 liquid-fuel rocket engine for boost power. At least one prototype was built and flight-tested for a short time.

    * The advanced He-162 variants have proven to be of interest to modelers, particularly the imaginative LUFTWAFFE / 1946 interest groups, which project the aircraft that the Third Reich might have had available had the war lasted longer. Model kits of many of these mystery aircraft are available from specialty model companies.

    * There seems to be a slight amount of controversy over the He-162's actual name. The name "Salamander" applied to the entire project, and it is uncertain if this was used as the aircraft's name. The name "Spatz" given to the aircraft by Heinkel seems appropriate, due to the aircraft's "sparrow" size, but sources give little indication this name was ever used. As the matter is a bit academic, I have used the name "Volksjaeger" in this document, and will leave the debate over the propriety of that decision to others.

    The LUFT '46 website is a fun source of information, though the surprising large of information there necessarily makes it a bit hard to navigate. Nonetheless, I encourage web surfers to look it up.

    Watch the video: The Heinkel He 162 Story. (January 2023).

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