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Heinkel He 162 Salamander

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Designed, developed and built in an extraordinarily short time, the Heinkel He 162 was first flown as the pressures of war closed in on Germany. The prototype was in the air just 38 days after detail drawings were issued to the factory.

An attractive and potentially useful fighter, the He 162 was plagued by problems resulting from its over-hasty development. This single-seat, single-engined warplane was supposed to be a 'people's fighter, devoid of frills, inexperience to manufacture and easy to use. In fact it proved to be extremely difficult to fly.

Wartime leaders had hoped that pilots with little or no experience could be recruited and trained quickly to fly the aircraft, but the He 162 could be fatally difficult, even in the hands of experienced fighter aces with hundred of hours in the Messerschmitt Bf 109 or Focke-Wulf Fw 190. One pilot called the He 162 'totally unforgiving,' but spoke of the jet as a pleasure to fly in favourable circumstances.

The programme and not the aircraft was called the Salamander and designer Ernst Heinkel called the jet the 'Swallow'. The He 162 became operational but no reports of actual combat were ever confirmed.

Heinkel rushed the design of the He 162 Salamander in an attempt to develop a mass-produced fighter that would stem the tide of Allied bombers over the Reich. One of the first operational jet aircraft, the He 162 was a sound concept but suffered from structural and aerodynamic problems as a result of its hasty introduction. This was a tricky and difficult aircraft to fly and few saw any combat action before the end of hostilities.


Heinkel He 162 Salamander

Heinkel He 162 Salamander the Luftwaffe's last line of defence Narrow track of the Heinkel He 162 Salamander Post-war testing for Heinkel He 162 Salamander
Photograph during a high-speed pass, this He 162 underwent tests in Britain. One aircraft was destroyed in a fatal crash. A very narrow undercarriage, combined with the heavy, dorsally mounted engine, would have made ground handling tricky. Large numbers of former Luftwaffe aircraft, including He 162s, were captured by the Allies and tested in Britain and the United States.

Heinkel He 162 Salamander (Technical Specification)
Role Single-seat jet fighter
Manufacturer Heinkel
Maximum Speed 890 kmh (490 mph)
Maximum range 620 km (384 miles)
Ceiling 12,010 meters (39,400 feet)
Maximum Takeoff

1,663 kg (3,659 lbs)
2,805 kg (6,171 lbs)
Wing Area

7.20 meters (23 ft 7 in)
9.05 meters (29 ft 8 in)
2.60 meters (8 ft 6 in)
11.20 square meters (121 sq ft)
Engines One BMW 003E-1 axial flow turbojet engine rated at 7.80 kN (1,755 lbs thrust) for take off and 9.02 kN (2,030 lbs thrust) for maximum burst of up to 30 seconds
Armament Two 20 mm (0.79 in) MG 151 cannon in forward fuselage

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