Heinkel He 176

Heinkel He 176

Infobox Aircraft
name = He 176
type = Experimental
manufacturer = Heinkel
caption = He 176V2, the unbuilt later version
designer =
first flight = 20 July 1939
introduced =
retired =
status = Cancelled
primary user =
more users =
produced =
number built =
unit cost =
variants with their own articles =
The Heinkel He 176 was a German rocket-powered aircraft. It was the world’s first aircraft to be propelled solely by a liquid-fuelled rocket, making its first powered flight on July 20 1939 with Erich Warsitz at the controls. It was a private venture by the Heinkel company in accordance with director Ernst Heinkel's emphasis on developing technology for high-speed flight. The performance of the He 176 was not spectacular, but it did provide "proof of concept" for rocket propulsion.

Design and development

During the 1920s, German daredevils had experimented with using solid-fuel rockets to propel cars, motorcycles, railway carriages, snow sleds, and, by 1929, aircraft such as Alexander Lippisch’s Ente and Fritz von Opel’s RAK.1. Solid-fuel rockets, however, have major disadvantages when used for aircraft propulsion, as their thrust cannot be regulated, and the engines cannot be shut down once fired.

In the late 1930s, Wernher von Braun's rocketry team working at Peenemünde investigated installing liquid-fuelled rockets in aircraft. Heinkel enthusiastically supported their efforts, supplying a Heinkel He 72 and later two Heinkel He 112s for the experiments. In early 1937, one of these latter aircraft was flown with its piston engine shut down during flight, at which time it was propelled by rocket power alone. At the same time, Hellmuth Walter's experiments into Hydrogen peroxide-based rockets were leading towards light and simple rockets that appeared well-suited for aircraft installation.

The He 176 was built to utilise one of the new Walter engines. It was a tiny, simple aircraft, built almost entirely out of wood and lacking even an enclosed canopy. It had a conventional, fixed, tricycle undercarriage, but relied on the weight of the pilot to actually rest on its wheels. Empty, the tail of the plane rested on the ground.

A unique feature of the He 176 was its jettisonable nose escape system. Compressed air was used to separate the nose from the aircraft. A drogue chute was used to reduce the opening force required. After the drogue was deployed, the cockpit canopy was released and a conventional pilot/parachute bailout occurred.Tuttle, Jim. "Eject! The Complete History of U.S. Aircraft Escape Systems". St. Paul, Minnesota: MBI Publishing Company, 2002. ISBN 0-7603-1185-4.]

Heinkel demonstrated the aircraft to the RLM, but official disinterest led to the abandonment of the company's rocket propulsion programme. Testing of the He 176 ended with only one aircraft being built. It was put on display at the Berlin Air Museum and was destroyed by an Allied bombing raid in 1943.

Prior to the cancellation of the programme, plans had been drawn up for a more sophisticated rocket-plane, still designated He 176. This was never constructed, but because it bore the same designation as the aircraft that was actually flown, many books and websites mistakenly publish pictures of it to illustrate its earlier namesake.

Germany did eventually fly an operational rocket-propelled fighter, the Me 163, but this was made by the competing Messerschmitt firm, using an engine that was a further development of the one that powered the He 176.

pecifications (He 176 V1)

aircraft specifications
plane or copter?=plane
jet or prop?=rocket
payload main=
payload alt=
length main= 5.2 m
length alt= 17 ft 1 in
span main= 5.0 m
span alt= 16 ft 5 in
height main= 1.5 m
height alt= 4 ft 11 in
area main= 5.4 m²
area alt= 58 ft²
empty weight main= 900 kg
empty weight alt= 1,980 lb
loaded weight main= 1,620 kg
loaded weight alt= 3,570 lb
useful load main=
useful load alt=
max takeoff weight main=
max takeoff weight alt=
more general=
engine (jet)= HWK RI-203
type of jet= Rocket
number of jets= 1
thrust main= 5.9 kN
thrust alt= 1,300 lbf
thrust original=
afterburning thrust main=
afterburning thrust alt=
max speed main=345 km/h [750 km/h theoretical]
max speed alt= 215 mph [470 mph theoretical]
cruise speed main=
cruise speed alt=
stall speed main=
stall speed alt=
never exceed speed main=
never exceed speed alt=
range main= 95 km [theoretical]
range alt= 60 miles
ceiling main= 9,000 m [theoretical]
ceiling alt= 29,500 ft
climb rate main= 60.6 m/s
climb rate alt= 199 ft/s
loading main=
loading alt=
power/mass main=
power/mass alt=
more performance=
* Endurance 50 s

ee also


similar aircraft=
* GIRD RP-218

* List of military aircraft of Germany

see also=


External links

* [http://www.luft46.com/prototyp/he176.html Luft '46 entry on the He 176 V1 prototype]

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