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rec.aviation.military Frequently Asked Questions (part 3 of 5)
Section - E.1. What jet aircraft were the Germans working on during WW2?

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* Arado Ar 234 Blitz (Lightning):  The world's first jet bomber.  First
flight, 15 June 1943; service entry, September 1944.  The two versions to
see service, the Ar 234B-1 unarmed reconnaissance aircraft and B-2 bomber,
were single-seat aircraft powered by two 8.83 kN thrust Jumo 004B
turbojets.  The Ar 234C series, with four 7.85 kN BMW 003A-1 turbojets,
never reached service, although several prototypes flew.  210 Ar 234s were
completed before the end of the war; the Ar 234 was involved in the Battle
of the Bulge, the destruction of the Remagen bridge, and several other
battles.  Plans included the Ar 234C-1 reconnaissance plane, C-2 bomber,
and C-3 in bomber, ground attack, and night fighter subtypes; a C-3 variant
carrying a V-1 cruise missile on its back was also planned.  Other
proposals included the Ar 234D (two Heinkel HeS 011A turbojets), Ar 234E
(fighter based on Ar 234D), Ar 234P (night fighter), and Ar 234R (rocket

Vital statistics (Ar 234B-2):  length 12.65 m, span 14.20 m, empty weight
5200 kg, max weight 8410 kg, max speed 742 km/h, range 1630 km; armament:
two 20mm cannon, 1500 kg bomb load.

* Bachem Ba 349 Natter (Viper):  This was a tiny, extremely short-range
rocket-powered interceptor.  It was designed to be launched vertically,
fire its rocket armament into a bomber formation, and then come apart in
mid-air; the forward section would be thrown away, the rear section would
descend by parachute to be re-used, and the pilot, released from between
the two, would descend on his own parachute.  The initial version, the Ba
349A, was powered by four 11.77 kN Schmidding 109-533 booster rockets and
one 16.67 kN Walter 109-509A-2 sustainer rocket; 20 of this version were
built, of which only one made a single manned flight.  Part of the forward
fuselage broke away prematurely, and the aircraft crashed, killing the
pilot.  There were plans for a Ba 349C with a more powerful rocket and a
larger tail for better control.

Vital statistics (Ba 349B):  length 6.10 m, span 3.60 m, max weight 2200
kg, max speed 800 km/h, range 40 km; armament:  24 Föhn rockets.

* DFS 228:  High-altitude, air-launched reconnaissance aircraft with a
rocket engine, in development during 1945.  Claimed are a ceiling of 20000
m, a speed of 1000 km/h, and a range of 720 km -- but no DFS 228, and few
documents, survived the war.

* DFS 346:  A 1945 design for an aircraft with two 20 kN Walter rocket
engines, swept wings and a prone pilot position.  It had an estimated top
speed of Mach 2.6 at 30500 m.  The incomplete prototype was captured by the
USSR and test flown, with one of the interned B-29s as launch aircraft.

* Fieseler Fi 103R Reichenberg:  Basically a manned version of the Fi 103
("V-1") flying bomb (the first cruise missile).  In theory, this wasn't a
Kamikaze-style suicide weapon, since the pilot was intended to bail out
after aiming the aircraft/missile at its target.  In practice, this would
have presented certain difficulties, since the cockpit was placed directly
underneath the jet intake!  The engine was the same one used on the V-1,
one 2.94 kN As 109-014 pulse-jet.  Versions planned were the Fi 103R-I and
R-II training gliders, R-III powered trainer, and R-IV operational version.
About 175 were built, and a few test flights were made by the R-III, but
none flew operationally.

Vital statistics (for the V-1; the Fi 103R-IV would have been very
similar):  length 7.90 m, span 5.30 m, weight 2180 kg, max speed 645 km/h,
range 240 km; armament:  850 kg warhead.

* Focke-Wulf Ta 183:  Single-seat jet fighter powered by one 12.75 kN
Heinkel HeS 011 turbojet.  Planned versions included the Ta 183A-1 and A-2
fighters, and A-3 photo-reconnaissance version.  It was selected for
production in January 1945 over the Messerschmitt P-1101; it is not known
how far it had progressed by the end of the war, but it is unlikely that
any examples flew.  Drawings and parts were taken by the Russians, and
probably contributed to the design of the MiG-15, which was similar in

Vital statistics (Ta 183A-1):  length 9.20 m, span 10.00 m, max weight 4300
kg, max speed 954 km/h, range 722 km; armament:  four 15mm or 20mm cannon
or two 30mm cannon; 500 kg bomb load.

* Heinkel He 162 Salamander:  A tiny, single-engine fighter, famous for the
speed of the development programme -- the first prototype flew on 6
December 1944, less than three months after the requirement was issued!  It
was intended to be a "Volksjäger" (people's fighter) that could be flown by
Hitler Youth volunteers after minimal training; fortunately for the youths
concerned, the war ended before this plan could be put into action.  280
aircraft were completed before the end of the war (and another 800 were
found in various stages of completion in the factories), but only a handful
actually saw combat, in the hands of expert pilots.  By all accounts the
Salamander had lousy handling characteristics and was difficult for even
experienced pilots to fly.  In addition, the high-tech glue used to make
the wooden laminate wings in the prototypes was replaced with a cheaper
type in the production aircraft, resulting in frequent catastrophic
failures.  Versions built were the He 162A-1 and A-2, both powered by one
7.85 kN BMW 003E-1 or E-2 turbojet (differing only in being armed with two
30mm or two 20mm cannon, respectively); proposals included the He 162B (one
or two pulse-jet engines), He 162C (forward-swept wings), He 162D
(swept-back wings), and various combinations of jet and rocket propulsion.

Vital statistics (He 162A-2):  length 9.00 m, span 7.20 m, empty weight
2180 kg, max weight 2695 kg, max speed 784 km/h, range 695 km; armament:
two 20mm cannon.

* Heinkel He 280:  The first jet fighter to fly, the He 280 was powered by
two 8.24 kN Junkers Jumo 004 turbojets.  Development was delayed, and
eventually abandoned in favour of the superior Me 262.

Vital statistics (He 280 V6):  max speed 817 km/h; armament:  three 20mm

* Henschel Hs 132:  A dive bomber powered by a single 7.85 kN BMW 003A-1
turbojet, the Hs 132 was built along the same general lines as the He 162,
with the engine mounted dorsally on the fuselage.  The unique feature was a
prone pilot position, intended to improve G tolerance.  The factory was
overrun by the Soviet Army shortly before the first flight was planned.

Vital statistics:  Max speed 700 km/h; armament:  one 500 kg bomb.

* Horten Ho IX (also known as Gotha Go 229):  A flying wing fighter of
futuristic and elegant appearance.  It had a flat, tailless design, and was
intended to be constructed mainly of wood, with special glues and lacquers
to minimise radar signature -- in other words, it was the first stealth
fighter!  Only one prototype flew, the Ho IX V2, making its first and only
powered flight in January 1945; unfortunately it crashed on landing.  The
prototype was powered by two 8.73 kN Jumo 004B turbojets (which would also
have powered the production Go 229 versions).  Production of the fighter
was assigned to the Gotha factory; versions planned were the single-seat Go
229A day fighter, and the two-seat, radar-equipped Go 229B night fighter.
A captured prototype rests at Silver Hill, Maryland, USA.

Vital statistics (Go 229A-0):  empty weight 4600 kg, max weight 7507 kg,
max speed 977 km/h, range 1900 km; armament:  four 30mm cannon; 2000 kg
bomb load.

* Horten Ho X:  Single-engined flying wing fighter, basically a slightly
scaled-down Ho IX.  None were built.

* Horten Ho XVIII "Amerika bomber":  Six-engine flying wing bomber.  Apart
from the curved trailing edge, this design bore an amazing resemblance to
the Northrop B-2.  None were built, although the first prototype was under
construction at the end of the war.  Rumour has it this aircraft was
intended to carry the German atomic bomb to America.

Vital statistics:  range 11900 km; armament:  3600 kg bomb load.

* Junkers Ju 287:  A heavy jet bomber, unusual in having forward swept
wings.  A single prototype flew before the end of the war (a second was
completed and flown in Russia after the war).  The prototype was built
largely from salvaged parts, including an He 177 fuselage, and was powered
by four turbojets, one under each wing and one on either side of the nose;
planned versions included several different arrangements of two, four, or
six engines.

* Lippisch P13a:  This one takes the prize (any prize).  It was a
ramjet-powered, sharply swept delta, with the cockpit built into the tail
fin.  It was powered by coal gas generated from solid fuel, and had a
nominal design speed of 1650 km/h.  Yes, you read that right -- a
coal-powered supersonic fighter.  A small rocket engine was provided for
take-off.  Alas, it never flew.  The DM-1 glider, built along the same
general lines and intended to validate the airframe design, was completed
after the war and test-flown in the US; some results were published in
_Lippisch P13a and Experimental DM-1_ by Hans-Peter Dabrowski (Schiffer
Military History; ISBN 0-88740-479-0).  Aerodynamic testing in a
wind-tunnel took place at Langley field, by what was then NACA, in 1946.
Results were "disappointing", but led eventually to the successful delta
wing concept.

Vital statistics:  length 6.7 m, span 6.0 m, max speed 1650 km/h (Mach
1.55; this was the original design speed, although wind tunnel tests went
up to Mach 2.6), range 1240 km; armament:  two cannon.

* Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet:  The only rocket-powered aircraft ever to
enter service.  First flight, early 1941; service entry, May 1944.  Unusual
in appearance as well as propulsion, it had a short fuselage with swept
wings and no horizontal tail; despite the tailless design, it had excellent
flight characteristics and was reportedly very easy to fly.  Landing was a
different matter, though -- the awkward centreline skid arrangement (to
save weight, the wheeled trolley used for take-off was jettisoned once the
plane was airborne), combined with the presence of highly volatile and
explosive rocket fuel, resulted in many Komets living up to their name and
ending their days as fireballs.  In the air, however, the combination of
tremendous speed, small size, and the element of surprise made them
reasonably successful against American bomber formations, on the few
occasions they entered combat.  There was only one service version, the Me
163B-1, powered by one 16.67 kN Walter HWK 509A-2 liquid fuel rocket; about
370 of these saw service.  Plans existed for a greatly improved version,
the Me 263 (also known as the Junkers Ju 248; Junkers did much of the
development work), with a new engine (16.67 kN Walter HWK 109-509C-4, with
separate boost and cruise chambers, giving a 15-minute endurance), more
fuel, and a real landing gear, but none were built by the end of the war.

Vital statistics (Me 163B-1):  length 5.69 m, span 9.30 m, empty weight
1905 kg, max weight 4110 kg, max speed 960 km/h, range 100 km; armament:
two 30mm cannon.

* Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe (Swallow):  The first jet fighter to enter
service with any country.  First flight, 4 April 1941; service entry, 30
June 1944.  The Me 262 was much faster and more heavily armed than the
contemporary Gloster Meteor, and could have had a much greater effect on
the war than it actually did if it had been produced in larger numbers in
time.  The story that delays were caused by Hitler's insistence that the
promising fighter be used only as a bomber appears to be a myth.  The Me
262 was designed as a versatile fighter-bomber from the start; delays were
mainly caused by the difficulty of manufacturing the engines in large
enough quantities in the face of materials shortages caused by Allied
bombing (the service life of an engine was only about 20 hours!).  The Me
262 was also the first aircraft in service with swept wings, although this
came about by accident -- a redesign of the fuselage happened to move the
centre of gravity further back than had originally been intended (an early
design had the engines mounted in the wing roots), and the wings were
angled slightly back to compensate; it was only later that it was
discovered that this had fortuitously improved the aerodynamics.  Not quite
enough, though; transonic aerodynamics were not considered in the design,
and the Me 262 became effectively uncontrollable in a shallow dive, some
pilots having to jettison the canopy to recover from spins!  Variants to
see service were the Me 262A-1a fighter, A-2a fighter-bomber, B-1a two-seat
trainer, and B-1a/U1 radar-equipped night fighter, all powered by two 8.83
kN Junkers Jumo 004B turbojets.  Although 1433 Me 262s had been delivered
by VE day, shortage of fuel (and pilots) meant that only about 100 of them
ever saw active service.  Plans included the Me 262B-2a night fighter with
enlarged fuselage carrying more fuel and Schräge Musik upward-firing
cannon, and Me 262C with rocket boosters (a few prototypes flew before the
war ended).

Vital statistics (Me 262A-1a):  length 10.60 m, span 12.50 m, empty weight
4000 kg, max weight 7045 kg, max speed 870 km/h, range 1050 km; armament:
four 30mm cannon.

* Messerschmitt Me 328:  This was a short-lived design, powered by two 2.94
kN Argus As 014 pulse-jets and intended to be a cheap and quickly-built
ground attack aircraft, with a secondary role as a day fighter.  Only one
prototype flew, sometime in 1944; this was enough to convince even the
desperate Germans that a pulse-jet powered fighter was a Dumb Idea.

Vital statistics (Me 328A-1):  max speed 755 km/h; armament:  two 15mm
machine guns.

* Messerschmitt P-1101:  Jet fighter powered by one Junkers Jumo 004B
turbojet, mounted in the lower forward fuselage and fed by a nose inlet, in
a design similar to the post-war Yak-17 or Saab 29.  The unique feature was
the variable geometry wings, the first time "swing wings" had been tried on
an aircraft.  Only one prototype was completed before the P-1101 was
cancelled in favour of the Focke-Wulf Ta 183; it was never flown during the
war, but was taken back to the US and fitted with an Allison J35 turbojet.
Unfortunately it was damaged in the only attempt to take off.  The Bell X-5
was based on the P-1101's design, and was successfully used to investigate
variable sweep.  The P-1101 prototype (like the X-5) lacked true variable
geometry; the sweep angle could only be adjusted on the ground, and could
not be varied in flight.  The cancelled production version would have had
true variable sweep.

* Mistel 5:  This was an unmanned flying bomb, intended to carry an He 162
fighter piggyback, in the same way as the Me 109 or Fw 190 was coupled with
a warhead-carrying Ju 88 in the original Mistel versions.  The He 162 pilot
would aim the missile at its target, then separate the two aircraft and fly
his fighter back home.  The unmanned component is referred to by different
sources as either the Arado E-377a or the Junkers Ju 268.  Power plant was
two BMW 003 turbojets.  This one never left the drawing board.

Some surviving examples of German jets can be seen at the NASM facility in
Silver Hill, Maryland, USA, where they have a fully restored Ar 234, Ba
349, and He 162.  For those interested in plastic modelling, the Dragon
line of kits includes many of the above types (Ar 234B/C/C+V1, Ba 349, Fi
103, Go 229A/B, He 162, Me 163, Me 262A/B, Mistel 5, P-1101) in 1/48 or
1/72 scale; the Japanese company Mauve produce a 1/48 kit of the Lippisch
P13a; PM Models make a Ta 183 kit.

A few other projects are worthy of note.  The A4b was a winged A4 ("V-2")
rocket, with a gliding trajectory giving it a range of 750 km, compared to
the A4's 33 km.  It was test flown in 1945 but never used in the war.  A
winged rocket was reported to reach 4340 km/h (Mach 4.1), although it isn't
clear whether this was the A4b or A10.

The A9/A10 was a planned two-stage missile; the first stage (A9) was
basically a scaled-up V-2, while the second stage (A10) was a winged
skip-glide re-entry vehicle, based on the A4b, that could have carried a
massive warhead (I don't know exactly how massive) to the United States.
Prototype versions of the two components were tested separately, but not
together.  There were also plans for a manned version.

The Sänger-Bredt "spaceplane" was a design for a manned craft launched by a
captive rocket booster on rails; the booster remained on the ground after
the spaceplane separated (at about Mach 1.5!).  The 100-tonne plane (of
which 90 tonnes was fuel) would not reach orbit, but would attain a maximum
altitude of 185 kilometres in a series of boosts and glides which would
carry it all the way around the world.  It was designed as a bomber, but
could easily have been adapted for other purposes.  An orbital version,
although not officially investigated, must surely have been on the minds of
the designers, Eugen Sänger and Irene Bredt.

[Most of the above is from Bill Gunston's _Encyclopaedia of the World's
Combat Aircraft_ and Kenneth Munson's _German War Birds_; also thanks to
Steve Malikoff for further information on the Lippisch deltas, and Emmanuel
Gustin and Bernd Felsche for much additional information]

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