Category Last Days of the Luftwaffe

At the Last Gasp: Development of the He 162 Spatz

The development of this aircraft dated back earlier than 1944 and 1945. From the summer of 1943 Heinkel had begun to design, in concert with other aircraft manufacturers, a light jet fighter with a single turbine above or below the fuselage. For the mass production of a machine simpler than the Me 262 A-la, the main considerations were the least use of materials and the greatest use of substitutes such as wood and steel plating. This would make production possible in underground factories in enormous numbers at the earliest opportunity.

The Heinkel design office, relocated to Vienna from 1943 under the designation Heinkel-Siid, devoted itself increasingly from the spring of 1944 to this task. By 10 July Project He P 1073 ‘Fast Jet’ had been completed on the drawing board. The machine would have two HeS Oil turbines or failing that Jumo 004Cs. As it was evident to Dr Ernst Heinkel that all He 111 and He 177 production would be stopped, he therefore proposed to Goring the production of a powerful fighter with two HeS Oil turbines. The nimble aircraft would be

At the Last Gasp: Development of the He 162 Spatz
armed with three machine guns and make a very difficult opponent. The design was simple to build and the Heinkel development team thought it would be an early success. Time was of the essence. The mock-up was scheduled for completion on 1 October 1944, the first experimental aircraft by 1 December, while mass production could begin simultaneously with the first prototype trials from 1 January.

Heinkels prior work on the design meant that the study was ready within a few days. On 12 July 1944 Obersdeutnant Siegfried Knemeyer of KdE spoke out in its favour and on 8 September the Chief-TLR, Oberst Ulrich Diesing, issued precise guidelines for the T TL-Fighter’, henceforth to be known as the Volksjager. Heinkel-Siid submitted a precise description of the design for the new aircraft which coincided in nearly every respect with the RLM specifications.

The contract was awarded in September 1944 and work commenced ‘with the greatest vigour’. As HeS Oil production at Stuttgart was proceeding haltingly, Chief-TLR decided to fit the original design with the unreliable

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BMW 003. The Jumo 004 turbine would have been better, but these were needed more urgently for the Me 262 A. On 15 September Chief-TLR and RLM rejected the design for lack of flying hours of the BMW 003, weak armament and poor operational range. The problems with the BMW turbines were decisive because the engines had already come under scrutiny for their poor reliability. Brushing aside the violent protests of Heinkel director Karl Franke, Chief-TLR now favoured the Blohm & Voss BV P211.01. In the almost daily conferences subsequently, the BV fighter was well promoted, but the Reichsmarschall was provisionally for the Heinkel machine. Shortly after the conference of 21 September 1944 chaired by Roluf Lucht in which progress at Heinkel-Siid was discussed, an improved full-scale mock-up of the He P1073 (designated He 500 from 25 September) was shown to a commission under the chairmanship of Professor Hertel in the presence of Lucht. The pilot would now have far better visibility than in the former version. Except for minor changes in equipment, the Heinkel design had already been cleared at the RLM. The pendulum swung back to the Heinkel design because of aerodynamic problems that had arisen after revisions to the BV P211.02. These were only reservations but came in useful for Heinkel. On 29 September the Jagerstab ordered ‘an immediate start to the Heinkel design. No other competitor awaiting evaluation had a chance.

The Volksjager was not accepted wholeheartedly by General Galland, nor by the Chief of the Luftwaffe General Staff, General Werner Kreipe. Both considered that the Me 262 A-la offered the only possibility of regaining air supremacy over the Reich, even partially. This view was opposed by the Reichsmarschall and Chief of Staff of the Jagerstab, Saur. Wedded to NSDAP ideals, Saur believed that fanatical young pilots of the future Volksjager squadrons would turn the tide of the air war. In view of the losses to be expected and the lack of raw materials, the change-over to easily obtained replacements such as wood or steel plating was also important.

More conferences sought a consensus. The decisions taken to date seemed hasty. Nobody could estimate exacdy when the fighter would be ready for series production, and not until 30 September was the production department in a position to predict that the first mass-production run with the He 162 A-2 could be expected by February 1945. Despite the simplicity of the design, numerous questions and details remained to be resolved, including the installation of the BMW 003 turbine, the form of the wings and tail, the type of undercarriage and the fuel tank unit, all of which were changed again and again to enhance efficiency. There was also in-fighting between Messerschmitt and Heinkel, the former arguing for the monopoly of the Me 262. By October the design had fathered at least 19 different project studies of which the 18 th and 19th were the direct forerunners of the later He 162 A-1.

Requests for modifications continued to arrive from the Chief-TLR, however. After the final inspection of the 1:1 mock-up of the ‘smallest fighter’ by Major Grasser and Fliegerstabsingeneur Rauchensteiner, both with the Galland’s staff, it was agreed that the design work could be rounded off, at least insofar as the first two versions, A-l and A-2, were concerned. The work at Heinkel-Siid would now begin. To make up for the delays staff were putting in up to 100 hours work per week. They slept at their drawing boards and were close to exhaustion. Meanwhile Heinkel had an order for 1,000 He 162s, and this even before a single prototype had flown. To be reasonably sure that the construction would be successful, wind-tunnel trials were undertaken from September 1944 at AVA Gottingen. This was only possible thanks to the great efforts of research engineers. The deadlines for closing reports were very short. This applied also to the final submission of the documentation by 20 October 1944. Nevertheless only 35 per cent of the BMW 003 drawings for the He 162 had been submitted by then. All involved were aware that the BMW 003 was no more than a temporary solution. Though HeS Oil turbines were favoured from the start, work on them was at a standstill and not until March 1945 did the breakthrough come. Unfortunately this coincided with American teams of specialists preparing their own evaluations from the files found in underground storage locations.

By 1 November the project files for the BMW 003-equipped version were completed, and the entire design was to be concluded by 10 December. The optimists reckoned on having the first prototype by 20 January: a second would follow on 1 February. At the end of October 1944 the advent of the Volksjager was announced under the slogan ‘The Fiihrer Fights Back!’ A groundswell of hope surged up. On 30 October the staff at Heinkel-Siid were told: ‘The Heinkel firm will build the aircraft which is to sweep our skies clear of the flying terrorists!’

The infrastructure to achieve such an aim was still lacking. A transport area was prepared, a field railway to Hinterbriihl at Modling (Languste Works) begun and sufficient space made available for a satellite unit of Mauthausen concentration camp near Hinterbriihl, Vienna. Some 2,400 prisoners were to be shipped into the underground Languste facility. This was built on several levels, with the Volksjager metal fuselages to be produced safe from Allied bombing. The SS-WHA (SS Main Office for Industry) played a major role in the project. The wings would be produced at several factories with massive SS support. Human considerations played no role in the underground factories. The limiting factor was the preparation of the necessary raw materials which at that time – unlike forced labour — were only available in limited quantities. The SS had sufficient people, skilled or unskilled, to realise its ambitious plans.

The output rate for Volksjager production was to be increased from 1,000 to 2,000 monthly once several completion shops started up. The SS-FHA (SS Main Office for Management) put SS-Hauptsturmfiihrer Kurt May in charge of resolving all problems relating to obtaining wood and making the wooden parts. Elsewhere the underground Mittelwerk in the Kohnstein mountain (Harz near Nordhausen) was given orders at the beginning of November 1944 to produce another 1,000 He 162 and 2,000 BMW 003 turbines. At first only fuselages were to be turned out, later whole aircraft. Other sections would be produced in large numbers at Heinkel Rostock and Junkers near Stassfurt (Saxony-Anhalt).

The Manned Rheintochter

At the end of 1944, Rheinmetall-Borsig at Unterliiss made initial drawings for a manned Rheintochter flak rocket. This single-seat jet-and-rocket propelled

projectile would have a ceiling of 12,000 metres (39,000 ft). Two variants were planned. The first design had four equal-sized wings and a pair of BMW turbines integral in two of the wings as horizontal propulsion, the other had three wings and an HeS 011 engine below the fuselage. Armament would have been two MK 108 guns or a honeycomb of 32 R4M rockets or four barrel-block rotary magazines containing air-to-air rockets. The first variant would require a launch assembly, the other a disposable chassis. What became of these plans is unknown.

The Unterliiss report is dated 23 June 1947 and was put together by Dr Klein, head of the C-team for the British occupying power.

The Final Account

At the latest by the summer of 1944 the realists at OKL must have admitted, at least to themselves, that – failing a miracle – the defence of the Reich was entering its final stage. Only by significantly increasing the percentage of enemy bombers shot down was there a possibility of retrieving the situation.

The quality of the Reich (non-flak) air defence was governed by three factors: pilots, aircraft and fuel. A shortage of pilots meant a reduction in the number of machines aloft, but a shortage of fuel meant closing the book no matter how fanatical the pilots or advanced the aircraft. There were other lesser factors, but they all added up to the same thing. Everyone involved in air defence, from

Подпись: The pilots of Gefechtsverband Hogeback flew their last Me 262 missions from Bohemia.
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Goring to the youngest Flieger, had to doubt victory. After several years of a war of attrition, the Allies were no longer faced by the invincible Luftwaffe of 1940. With the exception of the Fw 190 D-9, D-ll to D-13 and above ah the Та 152 H-l, most of the piston-engined aircraft were no longer the worry they had once been for Allied escort fighters and bombers. The Luftwaffe work­horses, the Bf 109 G-6, G-14 and K-4 were still good, but not superior.

The enormous, ever-present Allied air armadas dominated the skies over the Reich. From the end of 1944 they roamed where they wanted, reducing refinery after refinery, aircraft factory after aircraft factory, town after town to ash and rubble. They cut transport routes and thus the supplies of new material to the front, slowly but surely bringing air defences to a stop. Once the Reich railway network was ruined, the beginning of the end was reached. From 1944 there was only one slight hope, and this was the construction of the greatest number of jet fighters possible. By means of Me 262 A-la fighters, relatively cosdy to produce, Allied mastery of the air might perhaps begin to fall away by the summer of 1944. Yet the small production runs of these aircraft resulted initially in relatively few operational units, such as JG 7, receiving the new fighter. Sorties by groups of 30 or more machines therefore remained the exception to the very end. Sections of OKL pinned their hopes on the He 162 Volksjager to turn the tide at the last minute. Using thousands of these small jet fighters, taking off with rocket assists from virtually anywhere, the Luftwaffe could have wounded Allied air supremacy fatally within months. That was the plan, but plans change and He 162 production was overshadowed by the Me 262. Thousands of machines planned by the Riistungsstab were cancelled.

Of greater concern was the supply of fuel for impending operations. The shortage caused a fall in fighter operations from month to month. Attacks on Allied operations towards the war’s end, for example by night fighters, were only possible using veterans and aces, for inexperienced pilots could never have found their way through the defence. The day fighters received the last of the fuel. Since the refineries were wrecked and no more benzine was forthcoming, resort was had to the last reserves. Finally a mix of various grades of benzine was supplied for the most urgent flights. Some J-2 fuel was available for most jet flights, although the modest quantities allowed no operations on a large scale.

New personnel arriving at the fighter units did not have the lengthy training period of former days behind them, and from 1944 they were cannon fodder. The leadership was keener than hitherto on a fanatical commitment to destroying that ‘special target’. Youths, completely without combat experience and ignorant of tactics, were to spring into the breach. They would man new aircraft such as the Natter or Volksjager for what amounted to little more than kamikaze missions. With rocket-driven ‘midget fighters’ and ‘local installation protectors’, OKL would make a final attempt to guard core areas of armaments

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production, above all the fuel industry. But for that, most aircraft were not in the least suitable.

The suicide pilot ushered in a new phase of total war. Veteran, highly decorated men and also raw beginners were to ram their opponents if all else failed during the attack. Operation Elbe was the prime example. German losses were so high that it could not be termed a success despite the toll in enemy aircraft, and the bulk of successes were achieved by veteran pilots in piston – engined fighters and the jet escort.

Even the more senior operational pilots who flew in the last days rarely landed undamaged once enemy fighters had learned to patrol the home airfields waiting to pick off the soft target presented by a landing Me 262. The consequences of too short a period of initial training, or jet-conversion training, often made themselves felt. Most had to make do with a few minutes’ conversion flying in the Me 262 or He 162 for lack of aviation fuel. Learning to handle the new turbines outweighed the basic techniques, which had to be assimilated during operations.

Realists within the General Staff and OKL felt at the beginning of 1945 that the prospects for victory had receded into the far distance, and the main job now
was to bring as many civilians as possible to central Germany from the east and so protect them against the Red Army. Fighting on was the means to that end. That it would not be easy to slow down the advance of enemy ground forces was clear to all. Because of its lack of bombers, the Luftwaffe could promise no miracles. In the spring of 1945 only a few pilots could be sent even on such important missions as destroying major bridges since the necessary aircraft simply did not exist.

Ground successes were achieved mainly by Fw 190 F-8s in the Jabo role and Me 262 Blitzbombers in the face of too little fuel and too few airworthy machines. Sufficient pilots were available, but against massed Soviet tank armies with thousands of T-34s and Stalins, mere Staffeln of aircraft were not enough even when armed with the recendy introduced Panzerblitz or Panzerschreck rockets. Although during the closing phase of the war countless Soviet tanks were destroyed, it hardly changed the overall picture. Now a new dimension became unmistakable, but the ‘total mission would do little more than win the pilot a posthumous decoration or promotion. Operations such as Freiheit, the sacrificial attack on the Oder bridges, or Bienenstock, the small Panzerfaust-armed training machines, were hopeless from the outset, as were the Mistel attacks. Because of tactical problems, particularly the lack of air superiority in the battle area, not to mention the immense groups of Soviet flak batteries, these special aircraft did not obtain the successes predicted of them, and neither did the Hs 293 and other ‘wonder’ weapons.

Despite all setbacks and doubts there persisted through the last six months of World War II an underswell of hope for, or rather a vague belief in, Endsieg – ‘Final Victory’. It received new impetus once the Waffen-SS began to involve itself increasingly in air armaments. Thanks to its vast army of slaves, the SS was a power to be reckoned with. After it had begun to complete the underground factories, it moved in step by step to take over the rocket projects, while SS – Obergruppenfuhrer Jiittner proposed to enlarge the trawl to cover general aircraft production as well. The main aim of the SS, the last trump, was to get the remote – guided ground-to-air flak rocket operational. The necessary technology was not advanced sufficiendy, however, and at the end of 1944 industry was still not in a position to develop and mass-produce reliable systems, while Allied air raids brought the manufacture of synthetic fuels to a standstill. By March 1945 it was clear that the necessary fuels for flak rockets could not be made available in sufficient quantity, and this applied also to high-value materials needed especially for engines and electronic control equipment.

What remained was basically a belief in a miracle, for the desperate situation in which the German Reich now found itself could not be saved by Plenipotentiary Kammler. All his efforts were in vain, especially his pressure to have built the supersonic flying-wing fighter designed by the Horten brothers
towards the end, and for which capacity was lacking. Allied forces broke through to the heart of Germany too rapidly, and industry had no further chance to realise its ambitious plans. At the end, its futuristic prototypes littered the boundaries of airfields, half complete and draped in camouflage netting, awaiting discovery by the victors. For them these would be interesting finds, although the files with the mathematical data were of much higher value.

Подпись: Messerschmitt began manufacturing the Me 262 A-la at Gusen.
After traditional machines failed the Germans, mainly for lack of fuel, there was nothing left except the weapons of mass destruction. The miracle explosive never appeared, and neither did the chemical and nerve gases which Hitler refused to countenance. Thus the Luftwaffe leaders were reduced to planning for the eventuality that for some inexplicable reason the Allied advance might grind to a halt until the autumn of 1945, allowing some of the new weapons below ground to become ready, particularly new jet fighters and synthetic fuel. This would have allowed the war to proceed for a while. The Allies did not oblige, however, and seized all the plans for themselves.

Last Days of the Luftwaffe

Last Days of the Luftwaffe

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ardly any subject in modern history contains as much explosive potential as the end of the Second World War in Europe. It was an epoch of complete social, cultural and technological upheaval. After the fall of National Socialism and its allies a new age began in Western Europe. In the realm of military and aviation history this period was revolutionary. The eclipse of the piston engine and the introduction of electronic detection equipment, rockets and airborne weapons in previously unknown quantities changed the face of air warfare. The tragic course of the wars final months in the aviation sector left its traces not only in Germany. Allied forces thrusting to the heart of Germany were followed closely by scientific units and headhunters, who formed an important part of the team, for it was essential not only to disarm the enemy, to deprive Hitler s Germany of its last chance of resistance, but also to grab as much of its military and technical know­how as possible. The aviation and motor industries had numerous surprises ready. In the final chaotic weeks of the war, lorry-loads of secret files disappeared along the road to the legendary Alpine Redoubt – and specialist firms such as Mauser with its newest revolver-cannons, or the Heinkel development offices in Bavaria, insofar as their whereabouts were known, were well worth locating. Many of the discoveries came as a complete surprise when the excellent camouflage concealing them was unveiled. Now that the fifty-year mark has been passed, the time has arrived to begin the disclosure of the top secret files of the wartime German aviation industry, and many a surprise certainly awaits us.

Night Fighters in the Jabo Role

An almost forgotten chapter of the air war was the enforced use of multi-seater night fighters as Jabos (fighter-bombers). On account of the lack of operational aircraft for night operations at the end of 1944, the gap was bridged by the plentiful night-fighter arm.

Night Fighters in the Jabo Role

The Ju 88 G-7 ‘Mosquito-hunter’was only built as an experimental machine.

During the Ardennes Offensive of December 1944-January 1945 IV./NJG 3 crews had flown operations along the southern flank of the attack near Metz and Nancy to seal off the battlefield. Night low-level attacks on railway targets were of special interest. In addition to IV./NJG 3, I./NJG 4 and I. and IV./NJG 6 were redeployed, enabling 32 machines to attack Bastogne convoy traffic. Between 17 December 1944 and 1 January 1945 the two NJG 6

Night Fighters in the Jabo Role

Numerous varying versions of the He 219 were planned, but only the A-7 was ever built. The high-altitude night fighter with reduced armament shown here was never more than a project study.

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Gruppen flew ten fighter-bomber operations using SD 1,10,15, 50, 500 and SC 500 release containers. During one attack an American Northrop P-60 Black Widow night fighter was shot down. NJG 6 lost nine crews during the nightly low-level missions.

On the night of 1 January, IV./NJG 3 scored some successes during assaults on railways in the west despite repeated encounters with Black Widows. As these were easy to out-manoeuvre, the highly skilled Ju 88 pilots saw them as inoffensive provided they were spotted in time. The Allied medium AA fire, however, continued to exact its toll of Ju 88 G-6 bombers.

After V./NJG 2 completed night-fighter training in January 1945, night Jabo training commenced. For this purpose Ju 88 G-6 night fighters were made available. The radar aerial installation was removed and the machines fitted with bomb-release gear. Training began on 3 January at Neubiberg. From mid – February flight training was cut back for shortage of fuel. In March 1945 flying was only possible on four days. The Reichsbahn provided two decommissioned locomotives for gunnery practice.

On the night of 9 April, five Ju 88 night fighters left Schleissheim to attack ground targets in the Karlsruhe-Mannheim-Oppenheim-Kirn-Landstuhl area. More than 20 heavy lorries were left in flames. These low-level operations were very dangerous because the convoys were well protected by AA. On 10 April five Bf 110 G-4s attached to 7./NJG 6 searched the Mannheim-Strasbourg – Pirmasens area and set afire numerous heavy lorries, little defence being offered. On 11 April night-fighter crews sought targets in the Eisenach-Ohrdruf-Erfurt area. A number of enemy supply transports driving with headlights were bombed and strafed with machine-gun fire. No aircraft were lost. These attacks were little

Drawing of the mixed-propulsion Do 335 B-6 night fighter. Expensive projects of this kind had no prospect of being realised after 1944.

Подпись: ■ Do 350
At the end of 1944 the Do 350 was one of two jet versions being planned as the successor to the planned piston-driven Do 335 night fighter.

more than nuisance raids and no significant interruption of the enemy traffic was to be expected with so few aircraft.

Constant attacks by low-flying Allied aircraft against airfield dispersal areas caused increasing losses of Luftwaffe machines. Although these were well protected by machine guns and light flak, it was risky to be in the open around the airfields. Allied aircraft repeatedly attacked planes parked on the airfield boundaries. On the night of 14 April Thuringia was the main target for the night fighters. Crews of I./NJG 6 for example attacked ground positions in the Augsburg area. On 20 April several night fighters were sent to bomb a small bridge near Rastatt. The result is not recorded. Several attacks were made from Neubiberg against enemy airfields in Alsace. Major Siebel of IV./NJG 6 failed to return from probably the last of these on the night of 30 April. The other crews were made prisoner over the next few days. In view of the losses sustained it is clear that these operations did not inflict any grievous damage on the enemy. The night raids disrupted supply traffic to a minor extent, but this was of such a size in 1945 that it scarcely mattered.

Cannon Fodder

He 177 Mistel – The Monster Mistel

As the operational targets became ever more distant and ever greater payloads were being carried, the Mistel arrangement became more complicated. One idea in August 1944 was to convert 100 He 177 A-З or A-5 to Mistel bombs for dropping on pin-point targets. The order for 98 of the 100 conversions was cancelled, however, in September 1944. In a conference on 20 November 1944 attended by General-Engineer Rudolf Hermann, the future use of the He 177 was discussed and Heinkel asked for a timetable to be set for the two machines. Each conversion required 7,500 man-hours. At the end of November Heinkel stated that, if so instructed, the first He 177 Mistel could be ready for testing in ten days, the second in fifteen. The first machine would be completed on 6 December and the other on 14 December 1944. The only foreseeable problem was the finked guidance system.

For the series conversion of 50 machines, Heinkel-Siid at Eger Werke estimated at first four to eight weeks, then four months ‘provided they were given

He 177 Mistel - The Monster Mistel

Numerous Ju 88s with Fw 190 F-8s as control aircraft were found by Allied troops in central Germany.

the necessary labour’. On 2 December it seemed clear that from the beginning of 1945 only 20 conversions could be started. RLM required only two machines definitely, however, and the first was promised to be ready for transfer to Nordhausen on 8 December. This date was not met.

On 8 January the Technical Directorate at Heinkel set the completion date for the first He 177 Mistel for 1 February, and 15 February for the second, but the two He 177/Fw 190 Misteh were already doubtful in early January. Some of the construction hangars at Zwolfaxing could not be heated for shortage of coal. All energy was being concentrated for He 162 production at Heidfeld to guarantee the night shift would be able to work, although the frequent power cuts made work almost impossible at Heinkel Slid. On 28 January the Mistel project was suspended indefinitely ‘for lack of coal’. The He 162 enjoyed unrestricted priority over all work at Heinkel Vienna. On 12 March the ‘Great Mistel’ was abandoned and the only existing guidance control system for the pairing shipped away. The majority of the Heinkel workers on the Mistel project were reallocated to the Volksjager.

Operations Over the Reich

Once the Luftwaffe staff had evaluated the experience of several test commandos, they decided to introduce the Me 262 and equip whole Geschwader with the aircraft. JG 7 was selected to receive the Me 262 A-la first. Eleven machines had arrived by the end of November 1944 following Kommando Nowotny being disbanded, and most completed aircraft were delivered there. Using previously – gained expertise it was relatively easy to get a Staffel of III./JG 7 operational, but the supply of new aircraft fell short of the numbers wanted by the Geschwader – by 10 January 1945 it had only 19 Me 262s.

During that period the first jets had been delivered to 1. and 3. Staffel of I./JG 7 at Kaltenkirchen. The commander of the incomplete Gruppe was Knight’s Cross holder Oberst Johannes Steinhoff. On 14 January the former

Operations Over the Reich
commander of I./JG 7, Major Theodor Weissenberger, took over from Steinhoff. In January 1945,1. Gruppe took charge of 15 and III. Gruppe of 11 Me 262s, from which it was calculated that JG 7 would not be at hill strength for at least two to three months.

On 8 February OKL redesignated IV./JG 54 as II./JG 7, and shortly afterwards I. Gruppe had 12 new jets while III. Gruppe was close to full strength. A few days later II./JG 7 began re-equipping with the new fighter. Whilst this re-formation of the Gruppen was under way, the possibility of combat had been rather thrust into the background. The immediate necessity was for pilots to undertake more training flights to gain experience with jet aircraft. Even so, some of the more experienced fliers obtained victories against Allied machines, amongst them Hauptmann Georg ‘Schorsch’ Eder, Oberleutnant Gunther Wegmann and Leutnant Rudolf‘Rudi’ Rademacher.

In the first major sortie on 21 February, 15 Me 262s of the Stabsstaffel and III. Gruppe engaged P-51 Mustangs of479th Fighter Group over Potsdam, but none of the various piston-aircraft aces obtained a shooting opportunity. Only gradually did the successes come. Almost daily in addition to the usual technical problems there were serious faults and pilot errors which caused fatalities amongst JG 7 airmen.

Подпись: This Me 262 A-la ofJG 7 flown by Oberfahnrich Mutke landed in Switzerland in April 1945.
In February 1945 JG 7 received a total of 42 Me 262s to replace losses and increase its complement. These were distributed 25 to I./JG 7,10 to II./JG 7 and 7 to III./JG 7. The Geschwader was thus still in the expansion phase at the beginning of March. Although the number of daily flights rose, Allied aircrews were not confronted by large jet formations. However, the new machine was soon carving its reputation amongst B-17 and В-24 bomber crews over Germany. The four 30 mm MK 108 cannon would bring down a heavy bomber with only a few hits, while a single hit from an R4M rocket would do the same. Rockets were carried below the wings in wooden racks. The first Staffel to be equipped with the R4M was 11./JG 7.

The first clash occurred on 18 March. The target was bombers heading for central Germany. In tussles with the escort fighters, the Geschwader lost several of its best pilots including Oak Leaves holder Oberleutnant Hans-Peter Waldmann and Oberleutnant Gunter Wegmann, the latter parachuting to safety although seriously wounded.

In the heavy air raids over Swabia and Bavaria on 22 March 1945,28 Me 262s were lost, a setback in the current war situation which could not be made good
quickly. In subsequent attacks by ‘fast fighters’, as they were termed in War Diary entries, against Eighth Air Force units, five jets were lost on 26 March. Four days later in an engagement over northern Germany, 36 Me 262 fighters from

III. /JG 7, some armed with the R4M rocket, scored successes. Instilled with confidence, on 31 March pilots of I. and III./JG 7 claimed to have destroyed 21 heavy bombers including 12 RAF Lancasters taking part in a daylight raid. In an action against all three divisions of Eighth Air Force on 1 April 1945, 32 Me 262s were involved. For the loss of only four of their own the German aircraft shot down 15 enemy aircraft. Successes were also reported by Me 262 pilots against a 300-strong bomber force heading by day for Hamburg.

Between 1 and 4 April, I./JG 7 was transferred from Kaltenkirchen to central Germany to give better cover over the remaining Reich territory. Although other Gruppen in the process of formation had litde flying training, their pilots hoped for the chance to fly operations soon. During April 1945 the expansion of

IV. Подпись: Me 262s marked with a white ‘S’were used exclusively in the training role and were unsuitable for combat.
/JG 7 had started, but proceeded only slowly and trickled to a halt by the end of the month. Nevertheless the victories obtained by operational pilots did increase. Between 2 and 6 April alone, JG 7 shot down at least 60 enemy aircraft, although at a high price: 146 pilots were either killed, wounded or landed by parachute sustaining injury. These men came principally from I. and III./JG 7.

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Major Heinrich Ehrler of the Stabsstaffel rammed a B-17 after having gunned down two or three others. He claimed 201 victories in all and received the Oak Leaves, but fell in action over the Reich on 6 April 1945.

On 7 April 1945 there occurred the despairing Sonderkommando Elbe operation in the Magdeburg area when American bomber formations were attacked by 183 Rammjciger over the Steinhuder Meer; 77 pilots were lost in the ramming action, and only 50 aircraft returned. JG 7 flew escort and support,

I. /JG 7 shooting down several P-5 Is and B-24s over northern Germany. In all 28 victories were claimed by Me 262 pilots. On 10 April 25 jets scored five victories over the shrinking Reich. Near Magdeburg Oberleutnant Walter Schuck of III./JG 7 shot down three B-17s and rammed a fourth, landing safely by parachute. In this action the Geschwader lost seven pilots dead and two seriously wounded. Other aircraft were disabled but outflew their pursuers and landed safely. Over Saxony on 14 April Oberleutnant Fritz Stehle and Leutnant Rademacher had successes, the latter claiming three B-17s. Hits sustained during combat with the American bomber fleets decreased day by day the number of Me 262s operational. Since there were few replacements, in mid-April the

Geschwader was converted into a mixed fighting unit. On 19 April over Prague and environs it shot down at least six B-17s. Allied fighter groups including the 357th, 364th and 404th were on the scene very quickly and inflicted damage. On 25 April III./JG 7 alone claimed three B-17s as ‘definites’and another four as ‘probables’. Next day IV./JG 7 became IV.(Erg)/JG 7, absorbing important elements of the former EJG 2. Only in this way was the unit able to maintain a viable level of operational machines.

On 28 April most of the surviving Me 262 A-las of JG 7 grouped up with other jet units in the Prague area. Bohemia had meanwhile become one of the last regions outside the Reich still held by the Wehrmacht. The remnants of numerous Luftwaffe units had been driven there by the Allied advance. Amongst the pilots present was Oberleutnant Friedrich Schenk, originally with JG 300, who scored his eighth victory with an Me 262 on 1 May 1945 with III./JG 7. Despite the closeness to the cessation of hostilities, on 3 May JV 44 was redesignated IV./JG 7 and sent via Munich to Salzburg where its career ended in a meadow near Innsbruck.

In the Prague area pilots of the Hogeback battle unit had become embroiled in the ground fighting, using their Me 262 A-las and A-2s in an attempt to put down the Czech resistance movement and the people’s insurgency in Prague itself. These pilots also distinguished themselves on occasion in the air in repeated combats with Russian fighter-bombers such as the 11-2 Shturmovik, when their four MK 108s proved well able to deal with these armour-clads.

The KG( J)s, those bomber units selected for conversion to the fighter role, had also been equipped with the Me 262 A-la. The pilots had formerly flown bomber operations with Ju 88s or He Ills and been reassigned to fighters for shortage of fuel and lack of replacement aircraft. After conversion training with Fw 190 A-8 or Bf 109 G-10 fighters, instruction followed on Me 262s. The first of these KG(J) units was the former KG 54 which had attacked targets in England in early 1944 and then suffered heavy losses in the summer over Normandy. A new chapter in the Geschwader’s history began in early September 1944 when Me 262 A-lAs came in dribs and drabs from the production line. At the beginning of December 1944,1./KG 54 had ten Me 262s plus a few Fw 190 A-8s, F-8s and S-8s for pilot conversion training. Deliveries then began to pick up and numbers at I. Gruppe rose while III./KG 54 also received its first jet aircraft. The Geschwader Kommodore, Oberstleutnant Riedesel Freiherr zu Eisenbach, had his command office with the Geschwaderstab at Giebelstadt aerodrome where I. Gruppe under Major Otfried Sehrt and II. Gruppe were stationed. III./KG 54 was at Neuburg/Danube.

On 9 February 1945 16 Me 262 A-las of I. KG(J) 54 led by the Kommodore took off to intercept inbound Eighth AF bombers. Visibility was very poor with cloud at 1,000 metres (3,300 ft). Interception point was north-east of Frankfurt/

Main. Due to the cloud, the unit began to disperse and within minutes the defensive fire of the heavy bombers and attacks by P-5 ID Mustangs of 55th Fighter Group had claimed seven Me 262s. The Kommodore, I. Gruppe’s technical officer and adjutant failed to return: the Kommandeur of I./KG(J) 54 was seriously wounded. Three pilots baled out at the last moment. Unaccustomed fighter action thus resulted in a tragic end for the former bomber pilots.

Подпись: The successes of KG(J) 54 and similar bomber units with the Me 262 were modest in comparison to those of JG 7.
Conversion training and preparation for the coming battles in early 1945 continued at III./KG(J) 54 (Kommandeur Hauptmann Eduard Brogsitter). On 10 February 1945 the Gruppe could boast over thirty Me 262s as the result of new deliveries. Ground staff reported 90 per cent of these fit for operations. On 16 February 1945 Fifteenth Air Force operating from northern Italy attacked III. Gruppe s airfield at Neuburg/Danube. Several Me 262s were written off, and 16 suffered shrapnel damage. There were only light injuries amongst personnel. New machines were awaited, but by the beginning of March damage to the airfield had still not been repaired.

On 5 March 1945 I./KG(J) 54 concluded its Me 262 A-l training and was declared fully operational, the only Gruppe of the Geschwader to be so. On 18 March OKL ordered I. Gruppe and elements of the incompletely equipped

II. /KG(J) 54 to Zerbst in central Germany. On 19 March 125 Eighth Air Force bombers appeared over Neuburg but their aim this time was not so good, and

III. /KG(J) 54 survived until the attack by 366 B-24s on 21 March. Three days later another 271 Liberators arrived to finish the job. What was left of the infrastructure was transferred to Ganacker aerodrome between Straubing and Landau, the pilots being distributed between I./KG(J) 54, IIIVKG(J) 6 at Prague-Rusin and EKG(J) of IX Fliegerkorps at Pilsen (Plzen). Following another air raid on Neuburg the last airworthy Me 262s were flown to Ending near Munich.

I./KG(J) 54 flew its first operation from Zerbst over central Germany on 28 March 1945.Twenty-five Me 262s from III./JG 7 and KG(J) 54 attacked a 750- strong bomber stream despatched by Eighth Air Force. Ten bombers were shot down, most by JG 7 pilots. On 7 April 1945 I./KG(J) 54 pilots formed part of the fighter escort for the ram-fighters, taking off from airfields at Alt-Lonnewitz, Brandis and Zerbst.

On 9 April the Allies shot down or seriously damaged 17 of 21 Me 262s sent up by KG(J) 54. These losses could not be made good. The supply of new Me 262 jets had dried up, the last Me 262 A-l from the production line having been absorbed by KG(J) 54 on 20 February. Despite numerous losses in the first half of April, an average of 15 missions was being flown daily. During one of these on 10 April in bitter fighting with American aircraft, seven P-5 Is pursued Leutnant Jurgen Rossows Me 262 A-l of III./KG(J) 54: when he reduced speed for landing at Stendal they pounced. The aircraft was destroyed and Rossow seriously wounded. Other attacks on the jets ensued.

On 18 April III. Gruppe at Erding was attacked on the ground: on 1 May – without aircraft – the unit moved to Rinsting/Chiemsee. Four days later American tanks rolled in and took the greater part of the personnel prisoner. A few Me 262s of KG(J) 54 had reached Prague meanwhile and joined up with the Hogeback battle unit. On 8 May the last two airworthy Me 262s broke up while landing on pasture near Innsbruck. The unit, without aircraft, pulled back to Hallstadter See short of its intended destination, the airfield at Zeltweg.

Elements of III./EJG 2 flew fighter missions briefly from Lechfeld. From the autumn of 1944 the squadron served as a training unit for jet pilots under Major Werner Andres. On 17 January the unit had 14 Me 262 A-ls, 3 A-2s and 1 B-l plus 19 Bf 109s and Fw 190s, 20 Bf 110s and 4 He 219s. Between 5 February and 18 April the Gruppe received 27 Me 262 A-las. At the end of March the Kommandeur of III./EJG 2, Horst Geyer, was replaced by Oberstleutnant Heinz Bar, recently returned from the Eastern Front. Up to 19 April he obtained at least 18 victories with the Me 262, his last being on 28 April. Shortly before the war’s end it was proposed to incorporate III./EJG 2 into JG 7, while the ground staff were earmarked for I.(F)/100, a reconnaissance unit stationed within the Alpine Redoubt’.

Led by Generalmajor Adolf Galland, Jagdstaffel Galland was converted into JV 44, officially commissioned on 24 February. It received its first batch of 13 Me 262 A-Is and an Me 262 B-l with dual controls at the beginning of April. On 1 April 1945, JV 44 moved from Brandenburg to Munich-Riem, and a few days later had its first encounter over Bavaria. At that time, OKL was considering operating the unit from northern Italy, and had requested Generalfeldmarschall Kesselring to search out suitable airfields. The choice fell on Gallarate Malpensa and Lonate Possolo south-west of Lake Como, but the plan was dropped in the face of major problems of maintenance and transport from the replacement – engine shops.

On 18 April the first six Me 262 A-Is at Munich-Riem were at readiness for a defensive action over Bavaria: Oberst Steinhoff crashed on take-off and sustained severe burns. Next day JV 44 pilots used R4M rockets against enemy aircraft for the first time. After a lull of a few days, on 24 April the highly decorated fighter ace Oberst Giinther Liitzow failed to return from a mission near Donauworth. On 26 April the unit shot down five В-26 Marauders and a P-47; one Me 262 pilot had to bale out. Adolf Galland himself claimed a medium bomber, but while attacking a second B-26 was lightly wounded and finished the war recovering at Bad Wiessee/Tegernsee in a fighter-pilot convalescent home with one leg in plaster. Heinz Bar took over command and led JV 44 to the end. Meanwhile the tally of operational machines at JV 44 had risen to 40 Me 262s making it one of the strongest Me 262 units of the Luftwaffe in the final phase. IX. Fliegerkorps( J) accordingly ordered JV 44 to Prague. The instruction was then rescinded due to bad weather, and even the order to get the unit at least to Horsching/Linz was not executed.

On 1 May 1945 Major Wilhelm Herget’s Fi 156 landed unexpectedly at Schleissheim aerodrome north of Munich. It was in American hands, and he brought Generalmajor Galland s offer to surrender JV 44 to Brigadier General Menoher, Chief of Staff, US XV Corps. The American general accepted willingly. Herget returned with the unit adjutant – protected by American fighters – to Salzburg. It had been agreed that the 26 Me 262s would be divided into two groups and flown to Darmstadt and Giebelstadt respectively. As alternatives Major Herget nominated Leipheim and Schwabisch Hall, these being airfields held by the Americans. The plan to hand over the unit was delayed by bad weather and the limited fuel reserves at JV 44. On 2 May contact was severed abruptly after Major Herget’s Fi 156 was shot down in error and the Major hospitalised by the Americans, and thus the plan failed. On 3 May JV 44

Подпись: During the final phase of operations numerous Me 262 A-las were grounded for lack of spare parts and J-2 fuel.
(Salzburg) was renamed IV./JG 7 and ordered to Innsbruck provided the airfield could take the aircraft. From there they were to fly to Klagenfurt and Horsching/ Linz. Nothing came of this, for on the morning of 4 May the SS blew up all 25 serviceable Me 262s of JV 44; one which had suffered light damage after a heavy landing at Salzburg was later captured by the Americans.

Searchingfor Superior Ideas

At the end of 1944 it was clear that many promising projects were not yet ready for service. By the harshest work measures, including the construction of ever
more satellite camps and annexes of existing concentration camps, Himmler attempted to bring about a crucial change at the eleventh hour. Intensive efforts were made to produce fighter-bombers in which great hopes had been placed. The later Horten Go-229 A-l design was less a fighter-bomber than a promising cross between a fighter and a Jabo armed with two ETC 503s. The SS believed that this Kampfjager (‘battle fighter’) was in itself a powerful fighter by its speed and manoeuvrability, but the design was problematical for many. The ‘flying­wing’ (.Nurfliigel) was elegant but not easy to fly. The use of jet turbines and rejection of the traditional tailplane did not help the attitude of the Go-229 in flight, and the indifferent BMW and Jumo turbines of early 1945 would have kept the aircraft out of operations.

Подпись: The Horten Но IX V-2 was driven by two Jumo 004 В jet turbines and tested in February 1945 at Oranienburg near Berlin.
At the beginning of the war, Hans Multopp, who was working on the development of the Та 183 at Focke-Wulf, opposed the idea of flying-wing fast bombers because they were not capable of carrying heavy bomb-loads. A further objection to flying-wing fighters was that if one or both turbines failed the aircraft would immediately become uncontrollable. As well as the designs and constructions of the brothers Reimar and Walter Horten at Gotha, Arado, BMW

(Messerschmitt) and Focke-Wulf in particular produced numerous studies for all-weather fighters of this kind. None had any possibility of being realised towards the end because resources were exhausted.

Horten Но IX (Go-229)

The Kampjjager concept fitted the flying-wing designs of the Horten brothers. Their Но IX (Gotha Go 229) was a highly efficient machine intended to complement the Me 262 as the front-line fighter pairing from the beginning of 1945.

Подпись: The last flight of Leutnant Erwin Ziller with the Но IX V-2 on 18 February 1945 ended in tragedy when the machine crashed and he was killed.
During the 1930s the Horten brothers had experimented successfully with the construction of flying-wing type aircraft. The Go 229 was not a pure fighter but a ‘heavy fighter’. Development of the machine under the works specification Но IX proceeded initially at Luftwaffenkommando IX at Gottingen. The first prototype V-l received an RLM number and was reclassified as Ho 229 V-l. The second prototype Но IX V-2 had two Jumo 004B turbines. Test pilot Leutnant Erwin Ziller probably made a few flights with this machine before the ‘official’maiden flight on 2 February 1945. Shortly before landing on 18 February

Подпись:
a turbine failed and in the attempted emergency touchdown the aircraft hit the ground too fast and somersaulted, killing Ziller.

At the beginning of 1945 work began on prototypes V-3 to V-5 at Friedrichsroda near Gotha. As Horten did not have sufficient assembly capacity, the Chief-TLR ordered 20 machines, now designated Go 229 A-l, built at Gotha Waggonfabrik and at Klemm, Boblingen. Because of the shortage of reconnaissance jets, some of these 20 were to be produced as ‘attack reconnaissance’ aircraft (Gewaltaufklarer). The original armament of four MK 108s was reduced to two and two Rb 50/18 cameras installed for overlapping-frame photography. All later aircraft were to have four MK 103 fixed guns to free MK 108 production for the Me 262. When the US 9th Armored Division advanced on Gotha, it captured the almost complete Go 229 V-3 and the early-stage fuselages of the V-4 and V-5 similar to V-2, and V-6. V-3 was dismantled and shipped to the USA for testing.

Go 229 V-6 was the precursor of the series type A-l having a thicker profile with partially armoured cockpit and various weapon combinations. The common assumption that it was a two-seater is incorrect. Go 229 A-l was to be the Gotha series-built aircraft resembling the Но IX outwardly, but modified in nearly all

details by Gotha. On 4 April 1945 the Chief-TLR decided that apart from prototypes V-3 to V-5, prototypes V-6 to V-15 were to be built at Gotha before the series run started. Despite the war situation, it was still intended to turn out a series of 100 Go 229 A-Is, but based on the Gotha project P-60, from which the Chief-TLR expected a better performance, The P-60 was planned as a heavy fighter with two recumbent crew. The design continued into April 1945 because the Go 229 formed part of the Emergency Programme.

Fohn, Taifun and Other Developments

Shortly before the war ended the development of costly flak rockets such as Wasserfall had come to nothing. The last remaining hope was simple projectiles under construction which could be turned out in large numbers in various versions. These included the Fohn and Taifun. The latter was an unguided, arrow – shaped stabilised flak-rocket shell of 10-cm diameter. Easy to produce, it was propelled by either a solid-fuel or liquid-fuel motor and was stabilised by four tail fins. 1.98 metres (variant F) or 2.10 metres (variant P) in length (6 ft 6 in or 6 ft 11 in), the projectile could hit at 10,000 metres (33,000 ft) altitude. Salvoes of up to 48 rounds could be fired at a time from a multiple launcher on an 8.8-cm Flak 36 or 37 mounting. Taifun was an independent development of the Elektro – mechanische Werke (EW).

Development began at the beginning of 1944. On 14 September 1944 80 were ordered from EW and another 420 from Benteler Werke at Bielefeld. In October 1944, in order to speed up the development, the Taifun work-group was established. Problems with materials went hand in hand with a shortage of experienced specialists and technicians. The shortage of expert workers led in December 1944 to a postponement of the desperately needed ballistic testing for a month. The powerplant also caused concerns in the initial phase.

By January 1945 flight testing had shown that the projectile tender to wander about its axis if the start velocity was too slow, and as a remedy longer rails were introduced on the starting launch trailer. Structural changes also stopped Taifun rockets exploding on tests. On 13 January the first examples were fired with live warheads. Although these exploded satisfactorily when the clockwork stopped, the liquid-fuel rockets were widely dispersed. For simplicity of construction solid – fuel rockets seemed preferable, and the first test with a rocket of this kind was not long delayed, the first being fired at Torgelow and – according to visual observations – followed a good flight path. By the end of January, 11 Taifun F had been fired with good results, although in another test 6 of 20 exploded in mid-air without a reason being found. Constant problems hampered progress in the subsequent weeks, and by the end of March 1945 neither had the Taifun P made its test debut at the front nor had series production of the F version begun, even though both F and P were listed on the Fiihrer Emergency Programme.

Подпись: Towards the war’s end the Eberspacher company of Esslingen near Stuttgart manufactured this 48-chamber Fohn rocket launcher to combat low-flying aircraft. Therefore all-last minute efforts to series – produce the Taifun were in vain. By the war’s end only 100 rockets had been completed.

The only flak rocket ever used against enemy bombers was the primitive Fohn, which existed in numerous variations and had been subjected to some practical tests. A spin-stabilised Fohn projectile was tested experimentally in the armaments factory at Brno in October 1943. The intention was that salvoes of between 18 and 48 rockets would be used to bring down low-flying enemy aircraft. One month later the new Flak Emergency Programme foresaw the production of 1,000 Fohn by the end of April 1945, while construction of a multiple launcher, Fla-R-Werfer 44, for use against low-flying aircraft was also begun; 25 of these were scheduled for delivery by late October 1944.

The first projectiles built in November 1944 were used for evaluation purposes by Rheinmetall at the Unterliiss range. It was found that a five-man crew was sufficient. The first salvo of 5.5-cm rockets was fired at Wischau on 26 November 1944. The later series was of 7.3-cm calibre. In operational testing up to the end of 1944, 15,000 had been fire at enemy aircraft, but only one was shot down. In December 1944, 5,000 were fired in 70 salvoes at enemy machines at ranges between one kilometre and 1,500 metres, two hits being reported.

The principal drawback of the Fohn launcher was its short range of only 1,250 metres. At the beginning of 1945 the first of three experimental batteries from Flugabwehrschule (Flak-school) 2 were brought from Rerik on the Baltic to the Western Front. Flak-Lehr und Versuchsabteilung (Flak Instruction and Testing Unit) 900 commanded by Major Ehm was later composed of three batteries: I./900 railway flak on flat wagons, II./900 partially motorised, III./900 fixed localities and operational testing. On 28 February 1945,59 mobile 7.3-cm flak rocket launchers were available for training and operations, together with 24 permanent units mainly for training.

Подпись:At the beginning of February 1945, III./900, consisting of three companies with a total of 120 men under the command of Oberleutnant Karl-Heinz Peters, arrived in the Remagen area on detachment to the local Flakfuhrer for tactical purposes. Over the next few weeks the rocket battery engaged a number of enemy aircraft, particularly single-engined fighter bombers, without success. The unit had 21,000 projectiles and plentiful reserves but only a single 3-tonne lorry. III./900 at Remagen was split into two halves, one stationed on the west bank, the other on the east bank of the Rhine.

On 7 March, Allied units advanced into the area in strength to capture the bridge over the Rhine. That morning the battery crews on the west bank crossed to the east after having destroyed their rockets and the sight mechanism on the launcher. The batteries were abandoned because there were no towing vehicles available. Following this incident, a flying court-martial was set up by Generalfeldmarschall Kesselring on 10 March. Oberleutnant Peters was sentenced to death and executed by firing squad in a wood near Rimbach on the 13th. Generalmajor Adolf Erhard, Commander 7. Flakdivision, committed suicide in protest against the sentence on the 14th. Whether there were any engagements involving the use of the launcher on the east bank is unknown.

Another interesting weapon was the HASAG Fliegerfaust in which the Riistungsstab had set great hopes in the spring of 1945. The Fliegerfaust was a simply produced but powerful weapon which enabled the individual infantryman on the battlefield to defend himself against low-flying aircraft. It was made up of nine 2-cm barrels and could be used against aerial targets at a range of 500

Fohn, Taifun and Other Developments

Fliegerfaust A and В were designed for the protection of ground troops on the battlefield. Trials were begun under operational conditions but not completed.

metres. The first version appeared on 15 December 1944. Almost ready by the end of the year, 10,000 weapons and 4 million rounds were expected in January. A problem preventing the early introduction of the Fliegerfaust was vibration after firing. On 21 January 1945 the first hundred of the pre-series were ready. Problems with ammunition included difficulties in manufacturing machinery to produce porcelain nozzles for the rounds. On 4 February the weapon was designated ‘FF I and IT. According to Oberleutnant Jorg Muller when in US Third Army captivity, in mid-March there was a short test period at Saar – briicken. The large number of FF required could not be met.

The claim attributed to Hermann Goring ‘The technology must obey me!’ showed how litde the Luftwaffe leadership understood the development of new weapons. They designed numerous, basically futuristic, flak rockets and other very good ideas, but the general situation ensured that these were only available at best as examples.

Production Gears Up

The manufacture of fuselages, wings and tailplanes began simultaneously. At the beginning of November 1944 the first frames for the He 162 V-l forward fuselage were on the belt at Languste. The first wing hurriedly completed at Franken was faulty. The tail and components were to be rushed out and delivered from Lower Austria. On 7 December assembly of He 162 V-2 started. Delays in the supplies of tailplanes and wings held back the construction of further prototypes.

On 6 December 1944 Engineer Gotthold Peter, leading test pilot at Heinkel – Siid, flew the He 162 V-l (M-l) for the first time. The second test, an exhibition flight for General Commissioner Kessler and Chief-TLR Oberst Diesing, ended in disaster. Due to defective bonding the starboard wing leading edge was

Подпись: At least twenty pilots of JG 1 lost their lives in tests and while under instruction.
ripped away. The aircraft immediately started rolling, the starboard aileron and wingtip then broke off at 735 km/hr (455 mph) damaging the tailplane and causing the machine to spin out of control and crash just beyond the perimeter of the airfield at Fischamend. The pilot was killed. An immediate enquiry was ordered. An air safety commission investigated and made its recommendations within a few days. He 162 V-3 was subjected immediately to vibration testing to ensure the integrity of the structure. Consideration was given to replacing the wood surfaces with metal.

The next completed prototype was gone over with a fine-tooth comb. As a result, in mid-December the He 162 was grounded for nine defects. Between 16 and 20 December a commission was set up by the Chief-TLR to examine the structural integrity and flight safety of the design. On 22 December director Karl Franke gave the He 162 V-2 a clean bill of health for its maiden flight, and staff engineer Paul Bader flew the aircraft at 500 km/hr (310 mph). He found the rudder and ailerons too weak and criticised the engine, but was otherwise satisfied. By 15 January, pilots Schuck and Kennitz had been trained to fly the Volksjager and made further flights. He 162 M-3 was listed for electronics testing and flew at Heinkel-Siid on 16 January. By the 22nd of the month the machine had completed 13 flights totaling 80 minutes duration. The design was revised to strengthen the wings and tailplane by the end of December, He 162 M-4 being the first of the improved machines. After the Heidfeld controllers examined the fuselage on 28 December, they discovered fifty different defects,

and the maiden flight was therefore delayed until 16 January. Ten flights totalling almost three hours were made in the month. A minor crash occurred on one landing. On 22 January He 162 M-6 and the first pre-series machine, He 162 A-01, were scheduled for pilot training. Next day Pawolka, Bader, Franke, Schuck and Wedemeyer flew the sixth prototype. It was noted that suspension was unnecessary for the nose-wheel and this was eliminated in the series production.

On 4 February He 162 M-6 crashed, killing Oberleutnant Wedemeyer. He 162 M-7 was fitted with a braking parachute as a safety measure for high­speed flights. He 162 M-3, M-4 and the first A-0 were tested in flight for stability in the vertical axis, the Dutch roll moment and the effect of various tailplane combinations.

By 30 January M-2 to M-7 and the first three pre-series aircraft were clear for testing. When this was suspended at the beginning of February because of persistent ground mist, the time was used to repair the damaged nose-wheel of M-6 and exchange the A-02 tail flaps. M-7 was ‘shaken after the braking parachute was fitted and given the all-clear for testing. By 5 March the prototypes had made 63 starts totaling 10 hours 57 minutes: 15 pilots had flown the He 162, some of them only В-2 licence holders and thus relatively inexperienced with high-performance machines.

Shordy afterwards engineer Full achieved a speed of 800 km/hr (Mach 0.65) at 8,000 metres (500 mph at 26,000 ft). Following heavy vibrations the turbine stopped and Full was slightly injured while making a forced landing in snowy terrain. In order to improve stability, the fuselage was lengthened and the dihedral of the wing tip curves lessened. It was decided that an enlarged rudder and modified tailplane were needed. Once the main weaknesses of the aircraft had been identified, from 15 February all existing models underwent modification. The first, He 162 M-3, was flown by Full in mid-February at 880 km/hr (550 mph), the prototype proving fully stable. At the end of February the wing angle was raised by 2 degrees and the fiiselage/wing joint adjusted. In his last flight, Full used the ejector seat to bale out from He 162 M-3 after the turbine caught fire. At 200 metres (650 ft) he was too low for his parachute to deploy in time.

Tests continued and by 25 February Heinkel-Siid had made 166 flights totaling 40.5 hours. The fuel situation was deteriorating almost daily and this, combined with the frequent air raid warnings, held back the tempo of Volksjager development considerably. After He 162 M-25, one of the machines with lengthened fuselage, received 60 per cent damage during a flight on 2 March, works pilot Denzin also lightly damaged another machine. By 11 March the number of He 162 flights had risen to 211 (51 hours 13 minutes). Next day Feldwebel Wanke’s He 162 M-8 hit the runway too early, overturned and caught fire. The pilot survived, injured and badly burned. On 14 March the He 162 of

Unteroffizier Daus of Auffangsstaffel Heidfeld 2./JG 1 collided with barrels near the runway and was killed. He was one of at least 18 He 162 pilots to lose his life in accidents with the aircraft.

The last Heinkel-Siid weekly report is dated 26 March 1945. By then there had been 259 Volksjager flights at Heidfeld alone, totalling 65 hours. Continual modifications in the preceding months had kept most machines grounded. Once the improvements were completed, the last involving the fuel installation, the He 162 was declared operational at the beginning of April 1945.

Подпись: After improvements to the design, production of the final operational versions of the He 162 A-2 began in March 1945.
By now Soviet units were approaching Vienna. To pull back west of the city, or better still into southern Germany or the Harz seemed advisable. On 30 March director Franke went to Saur’s office to plead for a transfer to Bad Gandersheim. This was granted and on 1 April a special train set off for the Harz. After being held three whole days at Eger, the train was re-routed to Jenbach in the Tyrol, arriving there on the night of 5 April. A few hours before, Modling and the underground facility at Languste had been occupied by the Soviets: one day later Schwechat district and the Heidfeld airfield also fell into their hands. The works management had begun to remove some of the instructional documents and installations for the He 162 A-2 to Heinkel Jenbach while the staff went to Lent near Salzburg. The design office was eventually relocated from Jenbach/Tyrol to Landsberg/Lech, arriving there on 14 April,

thirteen days before American forces did so, and thus brought the Volksjager development to its end.