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Heinkel 162 Volkajager
Popularly known as the "Peoples Fighter" (Volksjager) the He 162 was, for its time, an incredibly advanced fighter. Just looking at it today we still tend to think of it as a super moden machine. Its beginning was in 1944, when Nazi Germany ordered a high performance fighter capable of being built by only partially skilled workers. It was to use as little strategic materiel as possible, and be ready for mass production by January 1945. The Heinkel companys response was the He 162 Spatz (Sparrow), and was inspected as a mock up in Sept. 1944. Immediately it was deemed an excellent project and orders for 1000 of them a month were placed. In a mere 69 days a prototype was ready for flight and was first flown on Dec. 6 1944. Four days later, the aircraft was demonstrated to top Nazi officials and during a low level high speed pass the aircraft broke apart and was totally destroyed in the ensuing explosions. This delay set the development back quite a bit, but it continued at top speed. There were no advanced pilots in which to use to fly the He 162, and so Hitler Youth were hastily trained in gliders, then strapped into the jet fighter and were expected to perform as experts would. Accident rates were frightfully high.
Three major factories located underground in old salt mines were capable of putting out about 5000 He 162s a month when mass production began in early 1945. The training of the Hitler Youth and other assorted folk that were to fly the He 162 continued at highly condensed speeds, the new pilots being taught by those who themselves had been taught just days before. In March of 1945, the first operational He 162s were sent to JG 84. They never saw any action against Allied air forces for the lack of jet fuel. As the Reich collapsed and the factories were captured, thousands of He 162s in various stages of construction were found, although only 116 of them were ever completed. If the Reich had lasted just 4 more months, about 6000 He 162s would probably have been completed. The only problem was that there was no pilots to fly them, to petrol to fuel them, and no ammunition to put into the guns.
Specifications for the Heinkel He 162A
Type: Single Seat Jet Interceptor
Engine: One 1,760lbs/thrust BMW oo3-A1 axail flow turbojet
Armament: Two 30-mm Mk 108 cannon with 50 shells per gun
Performance: Max Speed 522mph; 4,260feet/minute climb rate; 57 minutes endurance
The Heinkel He 162 Volksjager