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Heinkel He 162 Volksjäger in Detail

n by Martin Waligorski


Sometimes referred to as Salamander, the Heinkel He 162 was a rushed attempt to provide a mass-produced fighter that would stem the Allied bombing offensive on Germany. It was submitted by Heinkel to meet an 8 September 1944 requirement for a simple, lightweight jet fighter. The project was completed in only 3 weeks. Hastily developed, the aircraft had still numerous problems at the time of it's service introduction - structural, aerodynamic and technological. Only one version had been produced before the war ended, the He 162 A. It had two sub-variants, the A-1, armed with two 30mm MK108 cannon, and A-2, replacing these with high-velocity MG 151 20mm cannon.

At the beginning of 1945, a gigantic production program for the Volksjäger was getting into it's stride. However, because of the extreme shortage of qualified pilots, only two fighter units, I./JG 1 and II./JG 1 managed to convert to the type before the end of hostilities. Thus the He 162 didn't play any important role in this final stage of the World War II.

German jet aircraft used to be very popular modelling subjects. The best kits available for the He 162 are, I believe, Dragon's He 162 A-2 in 1/72nd and 1/48th scales. These kits are advanced and well-detailed, featuring the complete engine and other goodies.

I took the photos below during my recent visit to London. You can see two examples of the Volksjäger there. One is displayed in Imperial War Museum's main hall, the other resides in the Bomber Hall of the Royal Air Force museum in Hendon. The majority of the pictures here come for Imperial War Museum in London, but I completed the walkaround with the undercarriage photos of the Hendon's Volksjäger, and en engine from Planes of Fame in Chino, California

Heinkel He 162 A in detail

At IWM, the aircraft is hanged from the ceiling, making the walkaround photography rather difficult.

Photo: Martin Waligorski


Another general view, this time from the top-starboard side. The aircraft is finished in the colors of I./JG 1. The camouflage is intended to represent RLM 82 Grün over RLM 76 Hellgrau, but the accuracy of the color shades applied at IWM is doubtful.

Photo: Martin Waligorski


This view from the rear shows the unusual angles of the horisontal and vertical stabilisers.

Of note is also the streamlined engine pylon and the rear turbine visible from this angle.

Photo: Martin Waligorski


The aircraft's tail photographed from below.

Photo: Martin Waligorski


More detail of the control surfaces.

Photo: Martin Waligorski


The aircraft's BMW 003 engine from the rear.

Note the direction-finder loop antenna on the enigne's top.

Photo: Martin Waligorski


Looking under the wing, this is the port flap. Note the peculiarly curved wing root at the trailing edge. Other peculiarity is that the slot between the wing and the flap is of uneven width - widest on the outside. I'm not sure however if this was a feature present on all Volksjägers, or some sort of damage done to this particular example.

Photo: Martin Waligorski


The front part of the engine. The distinctively bulged cowling housed the oil tank and other equipment which was positioned on the engine's top, giving this distinctively bulged outline.

Photo: Martin Waligorski


Fuselage seen from below  reveals the installation of fighter's armament. This is the A-1 variant, featuring two 30mm MK 108 cannon. Their short barrels were entirely enclosed in the fuselage. Shell ejection holes can be seen at the left side of the photo.

Other interesting detail is a poor fit of the front undercarriage door.

Photo: Martin Waligorski


Top get a decent close-up of the cockpit hood, I had to move to RAF Hendon museum.

Photo: Martin Waligorski


Main undercarriage of the Hendon's aircraft.

Photo: Martin Waligorski


...and a front wheel unit, showing also the internal detail of the undercarriage door.

The Hendon's aircraft is the A-2, indicated by the long barrel of the 20mm cannon protruding from the fuselage, as visible here.

Photo: Martin Waligorski


Lastly, a composite photo showing the entire BMW 003 turbojet engine and it's accessories.

Photo: Martin Waligorski



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