Heinkel He 162

Heinkel He 162

infobox Aircraft
name =He 162
type =Fighter
manufacturer =Heinkel

caption = He 162 during post-war trials, USA.
designer =
first flight =6 June 1944
introduction =1945
retired =
status = Retired
primary user =Luftwaffe
more users =
produced =
number built =ca 170
unit cost =
variants with their own articles =
The Heinkel He 162 "Volksjäger" ("People's Fighter", named after the Volkssturm) was a German single engined, jet powered fighter aircraft fielded by the Luftwaffe in WWII. Designed and built quickly, and made primarily of wood as metals were in very short supply and prioritised for other aircraft, the He 162 was nevertheless the fastest of the first generation of Axis and Allied jets. "Volksjäger" was the RLM's official name for the He 162. Other names given to the plane include "Salamander", which was the codename of its construction program, and "Spatz" ("Sparrow") which was the name given to the plane by Heinkel.


When the US 8th Air Force re-opened the bombing campaign on Germany in early 1944 with the Big Week offensive, the bombers returned to the skies with the P-51 Mustang in escort. This changed the nature of the war in the air. Earlier in the war, German fighter units could freely attack Allied bombers, and over the previous year the Luftwaffe had been modifying their fleet to improve their capabilities against them. The addition of heavy cannons and armour had the side effect of reducing their performance.

By the end of April the backbone of the "Jagdwaffe" (fighter force) had been broken. With few planes coming up to fight, the US fighters were let loose on the German airbases, railways and truck traffic. Logistics soon became a serious problem, maintaining aircraft in fighting condition almost impossible, and having enough fuel for a complete mission profile was even more difficult. This posed a considerable problem for the Luftwaffe.

Two camps quickly developed, both demanding the immediate introduction of large numbers of jet fighter aircraft.

One group, led by "General der Jäger" (General of Fighters) Adolf Galland, reasoned that superior numbers had to be countered with superior technology, and demanded that all possible effort be put into increasing the production of the Messerschmitt Me 262, even if that meant reducing production of other aircraft in the meantime.

The second group pointed out that this would likely do little to address the problem; the Me 262 had notoriously unreliable powerplants and landing gear, and the existing logistics problems would mean there would merely be more of them on the ground waiting for parts that would never arrive, or for fuel that was not available. Instead, they suggested that a new design be built, one so inexpensive that if it did break it could simply be thrown away.

Galland and other Luftwaffe senior officers expressed vehement opposition to the light fighter idea, while "Reichsmarschall" Herman Göring and Armaments Minister Albert Speer fully supported the idea. Göring and Speer got their way, and a contract tender for a single-engined jet fighter that was suited for cheap and rapid mass production was established under the name "Volksjäger" ("People's Fighter").

The official RLM requirement specified a single-seat fighter, powered by a single BMW 003. The jet was to use cheap and unsophisticated parts made of wood and other non-critical materials and, more importantly, could be assembled by low-skilled and non-skilled labor. Specifications included a weight of no more than two tonnes (4,400 pounds), when most fighters of the era were twice that. Maximum speed was specified as 750 km/h (466 mph) at sea level, operational endurance at least a half hour, and the takeoff run no more than 500 meters (1,640 feet). Armament was specified as either two 20 mm MG 151/20's with 100 rounds per gun, or two 30 mm MK 108 with 50 rounds per gun. The "Volksjäger" needed to be easy to fly. Some suggested that even glider or student pilots should be able to fly the jet effectively in combat.

The requirement was issued 10 September 1944, with basic designs to be returned within 10 days and to start large scale production by 1 January 1945.


Because the winner of the new lightweight fighter design would be building huge numbers of the planes, nearly every German aircraft manufacturer expressed interest in the project. However, Heinkel had already been working on a series of "paper projects" for light single-engine fighters over the last year under the designation P.1073, with most design work being completed by Professor Benz, and had gone so far as to build and test several models and conduct some wind tunnel testing. Although some of the competing designs were technically superior, with Heinkel's headstart the outcome was largely a foregone conclusion. The results of the competition were announced in October 1944, only three weeks after being announced, and to no-one's surprise, the Heinkel entry was selected for production. In order to confuse Allied intelligence, the RLM chose to reuse the 8-162 designation (formerly that of a Messerschmitt fast bomber) rather than the other considered designation He 500.

Heinkel had designed a neat, sporty-looking little aircraft, with a sleek, streamlined fuselage, a BMW 003 engine carried in a nacelle on the back of the aircraft, twin vertical tailfins mounted at the ends of highly dihedralled horizontal tailplanes to clear the jet exhaust, a high-mounted straight wing with a shallow dihedral, an ejection seat for the pilot, and tricycle landing gear that retracted into the fuselage. The plane was in the air within an astoundingly short period of time: the design was chosen on 25 September and first flew on 6 December, less than 90 days later. This was despite the fact that the factory in Wuppertal making the plywood glue, Tego-Film, which was used in a substantial number of late-war German aviation designs that were meant to be constructed from wood, had been bombed by the Royal Air Force and a replacement had to be quickly substituted.

The first flight of the He 162 V1, by "Flugkapitän" Gotthard Peter, was fairly successful, but during a high-speed run at 840 km/h (522 mph), the highly acidic replacement glue holding the nose gear cover on failed and the pilot was forced to land. Other problems were noted as well, notably a pitch instability and problems with slideslip due to the rudder design. Neither was considered important. On a second flight on 10 December, again with Peter at the controls, in front of various Nazi officials, the glue again failed. The glue failure allowed the aileron to separate from the wing, causing the plane to roll over and crash, killing Peter.

An investigation into the failure revealed that the wing structure had to be strengthened and some redesign was needed, as the glue bonding required for the wood parts was in many cases defective. However, the schedule was so tight that testing was forced to continue with the current design. Speeds were limited to 500 km/h when the second prototype flew on 22 December. This time the stability problems proved to be more serious, and were found to be related to Dutch roll which could be solved by reducing the dihedral. However, with the plane supposed to enter production within weeks, there was no time to change the design. A number of small changes were made instead, including adding lead ballast to the nose to move the centre of gravity more to the front of the plane, slightly increasing the size of the tail surfaces.

The third and fourth prototypes, which now used an "M" for "muster" (model) number instead of the older "V-for-Versuchs" (experimental) number, as the He 162 M3 and M4, after being fitted with the strengthened wings, flew in mid-January 1945. These versions also included small aluminium wing tip "droops", reportedly designed by Alexander Lippisch and known in German as "Lippisch-Ohren" (Lippisch Ears), in an attempt to cure the stability problems via decreased dihedral. Both were equipped with two MK 108s in the He 162 A-1 bomber hunter version, but, in testing, the recoil proved to be too much for the lightweight fuselage to handle, and plans for production turned to the A-2 fighter with two MG 151/20s instead while a redesign for added strength started as the A-3.

The He-162 was originally built with the intention of being flown by the Hitler Youth, as the Luftwaffe was fast running out of pilots. However, the aircraft was far too complicated for anything but a highly experienced pilot.

Various changes had raised the weight over the original 2 tonne limit, but even at 2800 kg the aircraft was still the fastest jet aircraft in the air at 890 km/h (553 mph) at sea level, and even faster at 905 km/h (562 mph) at 6,000 metres (20,000 feet).


In January 1945, the "Luftwaffe" formed a "Erprobungskommando" 162" (Test Unit 162) evaluation group to which the first 46 aircraft were delivered. The group was based at the "Luftwaffe" test center at Rechlin and it is frequently stated that this unit was under the command of Heinz Bär. Bär, an experienced combat pilot credited with more than 200 kills gained 16 of his victories with Me 262 as commander of operational training unit III./EJG 2. However Bär's personal documents do not confirm his presence at "Erprobungskommando" 162 or if he ever flew He 162s.

February saw deliveries of the He 162 to its first operational unit, I./JG 1 (1st Group of "Jagdgeschwader 1" {1st Fighter Wing}), which had previously flown the Focke-Wulf Fw 190A. I./JG1 was transferred to Parchim, which, at the time, was also a base for the Me 262-equipped Jagdgeschwader 7, near the Heinkel factory at Marienehe, where the pilots could pick up their new jets and start intensive training beginning in March, all while the transportation network and fuel supply of the Third Reich was collapsing under the pressure of Allied air attacks. On 7 April, the USAAF bombed the field at Parchim with 134 B-17 Flying Fortresses, inflicting serious losses and damage to the infrastructure. Two days later, I./JG1 moved to an airfield at nearby Ludwigslust and, less than a week later, moved again to an airfield at Leck, near the Danish border. In the meantime, on 8 April II./JG1 moved to Marienehe and started converting from Fw 190 As to He 162s. The III./JG1 was also scheduled to convert to the He 162, but the "Group" disbanded on 24 April and its personnel used to fill in the vacancies in other units.

The He 162 finally saw combat in mid-April. On 19 April, a captured Royal Air Force fighter pilot informed his German interrogators that he had been shot down by a jet fighter matching the description of a He 162. The Heinkel and its pilot were lost as well, shot down by a RAF Hawker Tempest while on approach. Though still in training, I./JG 1 had scored a number of kills beginning in mid-April, but had also lost thirteen He 162s and ten pilots. Ten of the aircraft were operational losses, such as flameouts and sporadic structural failures. Only two of the 13 aircraft were actually shot down. The He 162's 30-minute fuel capacity also caused problems, as at least two of JG 1's pilots were killed attempting emergency landings after exhausting their fuel.

In the last days of April, as the Soviet troops approached, II./JG 1 evacuated from Marienhe and on 2 May joined the I./JG 1 at Leck. On 3 May, all of JG 1's surviving He 162s were restructured into two groups, I. "Einsatz" (Combat) and II. "Sammel" (Replacement). All JG 1's aircraft where grounded 5 May when General Admiral von Friedeburg signed the surrender of all German armed forces in the Netherlands, Northwest Germany and Denmark. On 6 May when the British reached their airfields, JG 1 turned their He 162s over to the Allies, and examples were shipped to the U.S., Britain, France, and the USSR for further evaluation. Erprobungskommando 162 fighters, which had been passed on to JV 44, an elite jet unit under Adolf Galland a few weeks earlier, were all destroyed by their crews to keep them from falling into Allied hands. By the time of the German unconditional surrender on 8 May 1945, 120 He 162s had been delivered; a further 200 had been completed and were awaiting collection or flight-testing; about 600 more were in various stages of production.

The difficulties experienced by the He 162 were caused mainly by its rush into production, not by any inherent design flaws. One experienced "Luftwaffe" pilot who flew it called it a "first-class combat aircraft." This opinion was mirrored by Eric "Winkle" Brown of the Fleet Air Arm (FAA), who flew it not only during post-war evaluations, but went on to fly it for fun after testing had completed. He considered it delightful to fly, although the very light controls made it suitable only for experienced pilots. He wrote about his 162 flights in "Wings of the Luftwaffe", a description that has been reprinted in many media over the years. [Brown, Eric. "Mastering Heinkel's Minimus; Air Enthusiast, 2:6, June 1972] Brown had been warned to treat the rudder with suspicion due to a number of in-flight failures, but this warning was apparently not given to another RAF pilot, and one of the tailfins broke off during the Farnborough Air Show, killing the pilot.


*He 162 A-0 - first ten pre-production aircraft.
*He 162 A-1 - armed with 2 × 30 mm MK 108 cannons, 50 rounds each.
*He 162 A-2 - armed with 2 × 20 mm MG 151/20 cannons, 120 rounds each.
*He 162 A-3 - proposed upgrade with reinforced nose mounting twin 30 mm MK 108 cannons.
*He 162 A-8 - proposed upgrade with the more powerful Jumo 004D-4 engine.
*He 162 B-1 - a proposed follow on planned for 1946, to include more powerful Heinkel-Hirth HeS 011A turbojet, a stretched fuselage to provide more fuel and endurance as well as increased wingspan, with proper dihedral and discarding the anhedral wingtip extensions. To be armed with twin 30 mm MK 108 cannon.:The He 162B airframe was also used as the basis for possible designs powered by one or two Argus As 044 pulsejet engines.
*He 162C - proposed upgrade featuring the B-series fuselage, Heinkel-Hirth HeS 011A engine, swept wing, a new V-tail stabilizing surface assembly, and twin MK 108 cannon featuring a Schräge Musik weapons assembly.
*He 162D - proposed upgrade with a configuration similar to C-series but a forward-swept wing.
*He 162E - He 162A fitted with the BMW 003R mixed power plant, a BMW 003A turbojet with an integrated BMW 718 liquid-fuel rocket engine, mounted just above the exhaust orifice of the turbojet, for boost power. At least one prototype was built and flight-tested for a short time.
*He 162S - two-seat training glider.


* A He 162 A-2 (Werk Nummer 120227) of JG 1 is on display at the Royal Air Force Museum, Hendon.
* A He 162 A-2 (Werk Nummer 120077) is currently owned by the Planes of Fame Museum and on static display Chino, California. Rumor has it this aircraft was for sale and was purchased by a German museum. This aircraft was sent to the USA in 1945 where it got the designation FE-489 (Foreign Equipment 489) and later T-2-489 [Maloney 1965] .
* A He 162 A-2 (Werk Nummer 120230), thought to have been flown by "Oberst" Herbert Ihlefeld of 1./JG 1, is currently owned by the U.S. National Air and Space Museum. This He 162 is currently fitted with the tail unit from Werk Nummer 120222
* Two He 162 A-2s (Werk Nummer 120086 and 120076) were owned by Canada Aviation Museum, 120086 is disassembled and only accessible to the public on a limited basis. Werk Nummer 120076 was traded to Aero Vintage in the UK for a Bristol Fighter (G-AANM, D-7889) in December 2006. Investigations are currently being made into the practicality of an airworthy restoration of Werk Nummer 120076. Aircraft in Profile 203 reports both aircraft as having being refurbished in Canada in the 1960s. [Smith & Conway 1972, p. 12.]
* A He 162 A-1 (Werk Nummer 120235) is displayed hanging from the ceiling of The Imperial War Museum in London (shown above).
* A He 162 A-2 (Werk Nummer 120015) formerly of III./JG1, is currently under restoration at the Musée de l'Air et de l'Espace, near Paris, France.
* A He 162 is rumoured to be in storage of the Smithsonian Museum (Werk Nummer 120222, Air Force number T-2-504) [Maloney 1965] .


* He 162, Wings of Eagles Discovery Center, Big Flats, New York, USA, www.wingsofeagles.com

pecifications (He 162)

aircraft specification

plane or copter?=plane
jet or prop?=jet
crew=One, pilot
length main=9.05 m
length alt=29 ft 8 in
span main=7.2 m
span alt=23 ft 7 in
height main=2.6 m
height alt=8 ft 6 in
area main=14.5 m²
area alt=156 ft²
empty weight main=1,660 kg
empty weight alt=3,660 lb
loaded weight main=
loaded weight alt=
max takeoff weight main=2,800 kg
max takeoff weight alt=6,180 lb
more general=
engine (jet)=BMW 003E-1 or E-2
type of jet=turbojet
number of jets=1
thrust main=7.85 kN
thrust alt=1,760 lbf
max speed main=900 km/h
max speed alt=562 mph
range main=975 km
range alt=606 mi
ceiling main=12,000 m
ceiling alt=39,400 ft
climb rate main=1,405 m/min
climb rate alt=4,615 ft/min
loading main=
loading alt=
*2× 30 mm MK 108 cannons, 50 rounds each (He 162 A-0, A-1)
*2× 20 mm MG 151 cannons, 120 rounds each (He 162 A-2)

ee also


similar aircraft=

* List of World War II military aircraft of Germany
* List of World War II jet aircraft
* List of fighter aircraft
see also=




* Balous, Miroslav and Bílý, Miroslav. "'Heinkel He 162 Spatz (Volksjäger)" (bilingual Czech/English). Prague, Czech Republic: MBI, 2004. ISBN 80-86524-06-X.
* Brown, Capt. Eric (CBE, DSC, AFC, RN). "Heinkel He 162" "Wings of the Luftwaffe". Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, INc., 1978. ISBN 0-385-13521-1.
* Couderchon, Philippe. "The Salamander in France Part 1". "Aeroplane Magazine, April 2006".
* Couderchon, Philippe. "The Salamander in France Part 2". "Aeroplane Magazine, May 2006".
* Green, William. "Warplanes of the Third Reich". London: Macdonald and Jane's Publishers Ltd., 1970 (fourth impression 1979). ISBN 0-356-02382-6.
* Griehl, Manfred. "The Luftwaffe Profile Series No.16: Heinkel He 162". Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing, 2007. ISBN 0-7643-1430-0.
* Griehl, Manfred. "Heinkel Strahlflugzeug He 162 "Volksjäger" - Entwicklung, Produktion und Einsatz" (in German). Lemwerder, Germany: Stedinger Verlag, 2007. ISBN 3-927697-50-8.
* Hiller, Alfred. "Heinkel He 162 "Volksjäger" - Entwicklung, Produktion, Einsatz". Wien, Austria: Verlag Alfred Hiller, 1984.
* Ledwoch, Janusz. "He-162 Volksjager (Wydawnictwo Militaria 49)". Warszawa, Poland: Wydawnictwo Militaria, 1998 ISBN ISBN 83-86209-68-2.
* Maloney, Edward T. and the Staff of Aero Publishers, Inc. "Heinkel He 162 Volksjager (Aero Series 4)". Fallbrook, CA: Aero Publishers, Inc., 1965. ISBN 0-81680-512-1.
* Müller, Peter. "Heinkel He 162 "Volksjäger": Letzter Versuch der Luftwaffe" (bilingual German/English). Andelfingen, Germany: Müller History Facts, 2006. ISBN 3-952296-80-5.
* Myhra, David. "X Planes of the Third Reich: Heinkel He 162". Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing, 1999. ISBN 0-7643-0955-2.
* Nowarra, Heinz J. "Heinkel He 162 "Volksjager". Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing, 1993. ISBN 0-88740-478-2.
**(Translation of the German "Der "Volksjäger" He 162". Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas Verlag, 1984. ISBN 3-7909-0216-0.)
* Smith, J.Richard and Conway, William. "The Heinkel He 162 (Aircraft in Profile number 203)". Leatherhead, Surrey, UK: Profile Publications Ltd., 1967 (reprinted 1972).
* Smith, J.Richard and Creek, Eddie J. "Heinkel He 162 Volksjager (Monogram Close-Up 11)". Acton, MA: Monogram Aviation Publications, 1986. ISBN 0-914144-11-1.
* Smith, J.Richard and Kay, Anthony. "German Aircraft of the Second World War". London: Putnam & Company Ltd., 1972 (third impression 1978). ISBN 0-370-00024-2.
* Wood, Tony and Gunston, Bill. "Hitler's Luftwaffe: A pictorial history and technical encyclopedia of Hitler's air power in World War II". London: Salamander Books Ltd., 1977. ISBN 0-86101-005-1.

External links

* [http://www.vectorsite.net/avhe162.html The Heinkel He 162 Volksjaeger at Greg Goebel's AIR VECTORS]
* [http://www.ipmsstockholm.org/magazine/1997/06/stuff_eng_detail_he162.htm Heinkel He 162 Volksjäger in Detail]
*de icon [http://balsi.de/Weltkrieg/Waffen/Flugzeuge/he162.htm Heinkel He 162 "Volksjäger"]
* [http://users.bestweb.net/~kcoyne/he162seat.htm Heinkel 162 Ejection Seat]
*ru icon [http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-7618820344789045220&ei=P_2xSOiIHJGIrgOru_S-DA&q=He162 He 162 Salamander] Russian training film, 9 minutes

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