Category Last Days of the Luftwaffe

New Training Projects

In place of the Me 163, and to fill the void until the appearance of the Но IX (later Go 229), the He 162 Volksjagerwzs considered. A telex dated 15 September 1944 from OKL to Generalmajor Galland, General Adolf Dickfeld of Luftwaffe recruitment, the Reich Youth leader Artur Axmann and Oberst von Below, Hitler’s Luftwaffe adjutant, suggested that Hider Youth pilots should fly this single-jet fighter.

On 25 September Hitler became aware that Himmler was proposing to form the first Waffen-SS fighter unit with the Volksjager. Unlike Goring and the RLM experts, Hider had no objection in principle. The situation came to a head when it became known that the Waffen-SS was attempting to recruit Luftwaffe officers and specialists in development and air armaments for the formation of an SS-Luftwaffe. Inducements were being offered in the form of quick promotions. Reich Youth leader Axmann was interested in the plan. On 1 October 1944 he had a long conversation with Generaloberst Alfred Keller, the influential NSFK leader, and Major Werner Baumbach regarding the use of Hitler Youth to fly the He 162 and so give the Reich air defence a new impetus. Keller felt that the NSFK should be involved in the great Gewaltaufgabe 162 (perhaps best translated as the ‘He 162 Extreme Measures Programme’). He was intending to conscript an entire Hider Youth year of entrants immediately after their glider training. There would be no intermediate training with motorised aircraft and aerial gunnery could be practised on the ground, Keller asserted. The fact that these young ‘pilots’would have no tactical knowledge or formation flying experience seemed neither here nor there.

It was in this way that growing fanaticism replaced reality, while vulgar solutions were pursued and postulated as problem-solving based on logic. The NSFK had not only argued for basic aviator training but also for the preparation of fighter pilots for the Me 163. Now came new objectives. The NSFK would not only support the building of the He 162 trainer but also the training of young pilots to man it. This did not seem right to the RLM. High-ranking decision­makers doubted that the youthful qualities of these young aviators stretched as far as handling the He 162, and particularly not in the heat of combat. Saur only accepted this position later and then decided against having Hitler Youth as
fighter pilots at all. But both the NSFK leader and the SS were sufficiently fanatical to argue for underage pilots and finally use them.

In order to prevent worse, the Luftwaffe undertook the training of the applicants. All volunteers were concentrated in Oesau Company for training but they were not told what kind of machines were to be trained for. Aviation training for young pilots would economise on fuel by using gliders which looked like, and to some extent flew like, the He 162. Winches with a pull of 700 hp were made for getting the first ten two-seater gliders up. If the training machines proved their worth, another 200 were to have been produced with a corresponding number of extra winches.

Подпись: Flying the Stummelhabicht glider, young pilots were prepared for the flying characteristics of aircraft like the Me 163 B.
To produce the training aircraft in the shortest possible time, on 25 October 1944 the NSFK asked the management of Heinkel-Siid for three of its most experienced aeronautical designers. Kurt May would order the materials for 10-40 training machines from the SS to ensure there were no delays. Thanks to the increasing involvement of the SS in Luftwaffe affairs, its influence on the NSFK also grew, the purpose in the medium term being to incorporate it eventually into the SS. Goring, apprised of the details, insisted that training in motorised aircraft was essential in the Luftwaffe. Only in that way could later operations be mounted with some prospect of success. The Luftwaffe high command attempted to make up the deficit in the extremely short training period by the use of special equipment. During the OKL conference on 16 November 1944 the main item on the agenda was the conversion training of pilots for the

New Training Projects

The Stummelhabicht was armed with an MP 40 machine-pistol for gunnery training against ground targets.

He 162. This would start with a practice unit using a full-scale cabin simulator with mock-up basic instruments. Next there would be a simulator with working instruments, and then a true He 162 cabin with electrically-driven BMW 003 turbine and a sound unit to provide realistic take-off and in-flight noise. These devices were to be available both to Luftwaffe pilots and Hitler Youth scheduled for the Volksjager. Slow progress had been made by the beginning of 1945, however, and only parts were ever completed and delivered.

In December 1944, OKL produced new plans to use the V-l Reichenberg, a piloted version of the V-l flying bomb, and the Chief-TLR was soon pressing for the early development of the Re 5 version. This had a shorter forward fuselage than the Re 4. There was an option for 250 Re 5s dependent on the flight test results of the first ten prototypes, and then the Re 5, together with the Re 2 for flight instructor training, would be produced as a training machine for the He 162! This new idea came about because no suitable Volksjager-type practice machine was available to provide future pilots with flying experience in a jet. The fifth Reichenberg variant was never completed, however. At the latest by April 1945 OKL had realised that although light and cheap to turn out, it did not match up adequately to the operational demands or the tactical possibilities.

Mistel 5 – Ju268/He 162

In response to an RLM enquiry whether a highly aerodynamic, fast, wooden flying bomb could be made cheaply to replace the Ju 88, in 1944 Junkers prepared various ideas including Mistel combination 5, an He 162 with a BMW 003 E-l turbine as the cheap, manned upper part, a Ju 268 below. This is detailed in files dated 12 May 1945 and compiled for the occupation powers at Dessau. The Mistel 5 was to have been powered by two BMW 003 A-l and one BMW 003 E-l turbine. The Ju 268 was of wooden construction and had a wingspan of 11.5 metres and was 14.5 metres long (37 ft 9 in x 47 ft 7in). Wing area was 22 square metres (237 sq. ft). The undercarriage was not retractable and would have been jettisoned after take-off. The combination weighed 6,030 kg, the Ju 268 4,300 kg. Together with 4,200 kg fuel, a 2-tonne explosive payload plus the He 162 with 1,270 kg fuel atop the fuselage, the take-off weight was 13,500 kg. Supplementary tanks were necessary for the He 162 in the turbo or ramjet variants because the standard He 162 A-2 range did not allow for the return flight. Top speed was estimated at 840 km/hr at 6,000 metres (520 mph at 20,000 ft).The range was 1,000 km at 11,000 metres (620 miles at 36,000 ft).

The lower component would have had nine separate fuel tanks in the fuselage in the basic configuration. An SC 2000 was to be carried in a makeshift bomb –

bay. A variant had room for an SHL 3500. This combination would have needed a lot of fuel and was thus only suitable for shorter range missions. In the third, trainer version the pilot could fly the lower Ju 268 unit from a perspex cockpit in the nose; 400 kg ballast was needed in the nose to fix the centre of gravity if no extra fuel tanks or payload was carried.

According to a document of 18 February 1945, OKL was interested principally in the 3C variant with 2,500 kilometres range, but other suggestions were being investigated by the various aircraft manufacturers. According to the Chief-TLR War Diary, Mistel 5 was at the final drawings stage at the beginning of March 1945, and the new SHL 3500D (a land mine with shrapnel) first tested on 2 March 1945 was included in the later drawings. None of the designs being worked on at Dessau in April 1945 was ever realised and the occupation forces for whom the project had been committed to paper also showed little enthusiasm for it.

A Partner for the Me 262: The 1 TL Fighter

After the war took an even less favourable turn for Germany at the end of 1944, the Riistungsstab made greater efforts to design an aircraft for Reich air defence which could be turned out faster, and in greater numbers. The development of the He 162, based on revised plans for a more costly jet fighter, was seen as the solution. In the medium term better equipped and armed fighters, if possible with an HeS Oil A-l turbine, would take their place alongside the Me 262. All known aircraft manufacturers now became involved in the various attempts to produce stopgap designs for a powerful, single-turbine jet aircraft. As might have been expected the engines could not be supplied. The ambitious project came to grief before the first prototypes were available, and only models and a full-scale mock-up in wood served Chief-TLR and the Riistungsstab for inspection purposes. The 1 TL Fighter was never actually thought of as a replacement for the Me 262 A-la, but rather as a way to stretch the available resources as far as possible. It would consume considerably less fuel than the twin Jumo 004 В engines of the Me 262 A-la, and therefore economise on the
restricted fuel supplies: the same applied to the raw materials required for series production. As there was a limit to aluminium availability, a hard look was taken at easily manufactured steel plating and possibly wooden parts for various sections of the aircraft structure. In submitting their suggestions, firms had to take this into account.

Но XVIII and Ju EF130, America Bombers

Along with Alexander Lippisch, the brothers Reimar and Walter Horten were the most influential proponents of the flying-wing principle in Germany. The various Nurfliigel gliders, and also the later twin-jet Но IX, predestined the development team to create far larger aircraft. The work was headed by engineer Naul, aeronautical designers Bollmann and Briinne designed the wings and Piitzer the undercarriage.

In the autumn of 1944 an RLM conference with Horten, Junkers and Messerschmitt called for far more powerful aircraft able to reach targets on the US East Coast and return to Europe without refuelling. AJ1 design offices became involved. At a three-day conference at RLM subsequently it was admitted that neither the Ju 287 with enlarged range had that radius of action, nor did the aircraft planned by Horten and Messerschmitt, although the Horten design had a 60 per cent greater range than all its competitors. Although no contract had been awarded by November 1944, Horten decided to develop the

Но VIII for preliminary tests. Exact details could not be provided to the RLM without the mathematical data and wind-tunnel tests. As provisional engine plant for the future Но VIII it was planned to integrate into the wing six Argus As 10 motors with long-shaft propellers. Using the development details of earlier designs, Horten believed the work could be finished within six months. With a relatively light wing loading of only 53 kg/sq. m (1,250 lb/sq. ft), Но VIII was to be the training aircraft for the heavier, but almost equal sized ultra-long range bomber. Work began in mid-December 1944 and took shape surprisingly quickly during the next three months.

Подпись: Three-view drawing of the first version of the Me P 1108. Power-plant was to have been four HeS Oils.
On 12 March 1945 Goring instructed Horten and the commander of Kommando IX to build the first long-range flying-wing bomber, but set no firm completion date. However, this was the order for the Но VIII. When US troops arrived in April 1945, the design work was almost 100 per cent complete, the first

Подпись:
fuselages 50 per cent ready. On 12 March 1945, SS-FHA Amt X is said to have ordered the Но XVIII built. By 23 March the Horten Works had drawn up a project outline for presentation in Berlin, and work on the Но VIII developed from the Но XVIII long-range aircraft continued to the end of March 1945. This three-seater would have had a maximum range of 13,000 kilometres (8,000 miles), inclusive of a 1,000 kilometre reserve. With four SC or SD 1000 bombs, Horten considered that an operational range of 4,000 kilometres was possible, with only one bomb considerable more. Six Jumo 004B turbines were planned to be installed in the wings after calculations showed that the alternative of four BMW 003s would be under-powered. Fuel tanks would hold 16 tonnes. It was also considered giving the Но XVIII two efficient propeller-turbines. A payload of 4 tonnes would have provided an all-up weight of 32 tonnes. For an attack on the United States the bomb-load would have been reduced to one tonne or less to provide an operational reserve of fuel. For short-range work the

bombs would have been carried in a central bay below the fuselage and in two others between the engine blocks and outer wing. On long-range operations part of the bomb bay space would have been given over to disposable fuel tanks. The aircraft could have been refuelled by a Ju 290 in flight as originally planned. Top speed in horizontal flight was thought to be 820 km/hr (510 mph), maximum possible speed of the steel skeleton/wood configuration 900 km/hr (560 mph). Since considerable preliminary work remained to be done as Allied ground forces approached, on 1 April 1945 the Chief-TLR transferred the development to the Harz, but when the time came to place the firm order, the Allies had overrun practically all production centres. In the last few days of the war most of those involved in the Но XVIII projects gave their lives in the defence of the Third Reich. The Но XVIII and the smaller Но VIII remained incomplete. Neither Kammler nor the SS had been able to force through either project as the Reich collapsed.

A second gigantic project, the four-jet Development Aircraft (Entwicklungs – flugzeug) EF 130, the competitor to all designs (including the Но XVIII) submitted to the Chief-TLR, had a powerplant of four HeS Oil jet turbines. The estimated 38-tonne aircraft had a 24-metre (78 ft) wingspan and a large wing surface of 120 square metres (1,300 sq. ft). Because of lack of capacity at Junkers at the beginning of 1945, it was transferred at least partially to DFS. In contrast to the Horten development, the EF 130 would have had a metal fuselage and large wooden wings. The bomb bay had capacity for 4 tonnes and several armoured fuel tanks. The three-seater cockpit was designed as a roomy pressure cabin from where the gunner operated the two remote-controlled defensive barbettes in the fuselage. Initially it was planned to fit four HeS 011 turbines. These were not sufficiently reliable at the beginning of 1945 and four BMW 003 C-l engines were considered instead but were scarce. Top speed would have been 950 km/hr (590 mph) but the maximum flight even with only one 1-tonne bomb was only 7,500 kilometres (4,650 miles), not enough to reach the US coast and return. The EF 130 was abandoned in March 1945 by the Chief-TLR in favour of the Horten design.

Exhortations to step up the pace to build a large jet bomber in March 1945 resulted from the dreams of a leadership blind to the unstoppable approach of defeat. Although no high-value construction materials were available, many lives were sacrificed to force through a senseless project. The excavation of ever more galleries and underground production centres in the spring of 1945 led to an until then unimaginable death rate amongst concentration camp prisoners and forced labourers engaged on the work, but the SS held firm. Not until a day or so before Allied forces reached the bombed-out factories or tunnels in which production had been concentrated did the last SS men give up, throwing down their weapons and leaving to their own devices the slaves who had survived.

Operations of the Last Piston-Engined Night Fighters

During the last phase of the war, to the beginning of 1945, the air defence of the Reich fell within the jurisdiction of Luftflotte Reich, under whose umbrella came Jagddivisionen 1 (Doberitz), 2 (Stade), 3 (Wiedenbriick) and 7 (Pfaffenhofen) together with Jagdfiihrer (Jafu) Mittelrhein (Darmstadt) and numerous Luftwaffe signals units. Despite an efficient radio control system, even at night the crews failed to achieve the expected successes. Why?

The Allies had a huge reserve of bomber aircraft. The ability to deploy over a thousand aircraft in a single night raid far exceeded the Luftwaffe defensive capacity. Even raids with far fewer bombers proceeded with impunity and devastating effect. On the night of 29 January 1945, for example, 606 RAF heavy bombers inflicted serious damage on Stuttgart for only eleven losses to night fighters and flak.

Operations of the Last Piston-Engined Night Fighters

These Ju 88 G-l night fighters were attached to NJG 3. They were armed with four fixed 2-cm guns and along with the Ju 88 G-6 were standard aircraft for the night air defence role.

Operations of the Last Piston-Engined Night Fighters

The Allies were able to jam the German Lichtenstein radar (FuG 220) to such an extent that the sets had to be replaced by other types, as for example the FuG 240. The installation is seen here in the nose of a Ju 88 G-7.

At the beginning of 1945 the Wehrmacht was operating with only 28 per cent of the fuel stock it had in January 1944. Ever heavier air raids on the production centres of aviation fuels had cut Luftwaffe supplies to 6 per cent of the previous years figure for January. In late 1944 Luftwaffe operational units were living for a while on their meagre fuel reserves, and night-fighter sorties were only flown if the occasion looked particularly favourable. Night-fighter Gruppen in 1945 might have 30 machines, mainly Bf 110 G-4s and Ju 88 G-6s, at readiness but probably only five, exceptionally ten would be committed. It is therefore not surprising that of 6,600 RAF bombers over the Reich in January 1945, only 1.4 per cent, fewer than 100, came to grief. The Luftwaffe Command Staff could see a greater debacle in the offing for the night fighter arm, and on 3 February 1945 they disbanded the Jafii Groups in East Prussia, Silesia and Hungary once they came under threat as the enemy advanced.

The remorseless RAF Bomber Command operations continued nightly, and British aircrew found it increasingly common to have little or no Luftwaffe opposition. From the beginning of 1945, the Luftwaffe experimented with new groupings and unit interchange apparently in the hope of improving its performance at night. OKL, recognising that supplies of fuel were limited and the level of operations could not be raised by dipping into the fuel reserves, decided on another tack by selecting which crews would fly. On 24 February aircrew were assessed into categories T, ТГ and ‘Others’. The last were employed on transfers or workshop flights, their machines being parked on the edge of airfields under camouflage. From the end of February, Class I veteran crews with numerous victories were those mainly used on operations, and proportional to the machines committed far more kills were achieved than before.

Allied electronic jamming methods were considered first-class. The years spent rejecting centimetric technology had led the once powerful German night- fighter arm into a blind alley. Moreover, from March 1945, more and more airfields were abandoned as the Western Allies reached the Rhine-Main area, the units dispersing to north and south Germany to guarantee further operations.

The last great night-fighter operation ensued on 21 March when 89 crews opposed an RAF raid on the hydro-electric plant at Bohlen-Altenburg. Aircraft of Jagddivisionen 1 and 3 and the Mittelrhein Jafii were involved in the pursuit which resulted in at least 14 bombers being shot down. At the end of the month night-fighter operations were cut drastically as fuel stocks vanished with no fresh supplies expected now that communications to storage dumps had been severed. Despite the fuel situation OKL manoeuvred individual squadron units in an attempt to continue the struggle. An OKL order to disband part of each Staffel reduced all surviving night-fighter Gruppen to a maximum of 16 aircraft, while the now superfluous Geschwader – and Gruppenstabe were disbanded. These were to be replaced by autonomous Einsatzgruppen (Operational Groups), each with a Gruppenstab, four Staffeln and a Stabsstaffel. Because of the deteriorating situation on the ground this instruction was dubious from the start.

Operations of the Last Piston-Engined Night Fighters

One of the best night fighters of the Luftwaffe was the He 219. Work continued on the He 219 A-7 at Vienna-Schwechat until almost the end of the war.

Operations of the Last Piston-Engined Night Fighters

Dr Hiitter’s design for a night fighter and long range reconnaissance aircraft, the Hu 211, was developed from the He 219. It was better aerodynamically with a greater wing surface.

At unit level, flight organisation had long been dictated by the realities. On 11 April, 20 twin-engined night fighters took off to engage RAF heavy bombers for the last time, and after that operations ebbed. The majority of the command centres had been dissolved, and the Allies had cut the Reich into two at the midriff. In northern Germany and Denmark, Luftwaffenkommando Nord controlled night-fighter operations, which amounted to more or less well-led individual missions. Day and night-fighter operations over Bavaria, Austria and the Reich Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia were headed by Luftwaffen­kommando West. As the supra-regional command structure and operational control crumbled away in the last weeks of the war, the Geschwader were placed in an extremely difficult positions when enemy bomber streams arrived and then often split to attack several targets.

Conversion Training of JG 1 Oesau

By the OKL decision, JG 1, recendy tested in the fighting on the Eastern Front, became the standard bearer for the new aircraft. Stabsstaffel/JG 1 would take over the tactical trials and training and would therefore be direcdy accountable to KdE. On 11 February the Stabsstaffel was placed under the jurisdiction of KdE by order of the Luftwaffe organisation staff. According to the plans, I./JG 1 was to be brought up to strength by personnel from II. and III./JG 1. At the same time Luftkommando 6 telexed I./JG 1 that the unit was now deemed to be resting and all its Fw 190s were to be handed over to II./JG l. The latter was also to send its own advance party to Vienna Aspern for the later transfer there of the He 162. Nothing came of this because the end was so near. The entire Geschwader, however, was to prepare itself immediately for the Volksjager on orders of OKL.

On 25 January the situation of JG 1 did not look favourable. I./fG 1 had 13 Fw 190 A-8 and A-9 aircraft return from the Eastern Front under Oberleutnant Demuth. A little later the remaining aircraft of II./JG 1 followed. III./JG 1 existed only on paper. During the retreat before the Soviet advance in East Prussia, the unit had been almost completely wiped out. Until the beginning of February the remaining Fw 190s were used as Jabos before II./JG 1 transferred to Rostock-Marienehe. The Red Army was then engaged from the Heinkel Works airfield. While this was in progress, on 9 February I./fG 1 support section arrived at Parchim. The remnants of both Gruppen would now form two Auffangsstaffeln (‘intercept squadrons’) on the He 162, these being l./JG 1 at Marienehe and Bernburg, and 2./JG 1 at Heidfeld/Vienna.

On 24 February, 2. Staffel led by Leutnant Hachtel transferred to Heidfeld, and two days later OKL ordered III./JG 1 to Parchim immediately. As there were no He 162s available there, most of the Staffel went to Vienna instead, where for some time He 162 M-19 had been the only machine ready for use by JG 1, provisionally as a trainer. As no other He 162s were expected immediately, parts of II. and III./JG 1 returned to Parchim. Instruction using one machine at Vienna was a lengthy business, and by 7 March only eight pilots of I./JG 1 had been conversion-trained for the Volksjager. A number of flight restrictions were in force: in particular it was forbidden to exceed 500 km/hr (310 mph) for longer

than 15 minutes on account of the susceptibility of the BMW turbines to breakdown. The situation was no better at Heidfeld because there were insufficient ground staff trained for the He 162.

In central Germany the ubiquitous shortages ensured that He 162 production advanced only slowly. There were too few skilled personnel and technical staff to service the Volksjager, since most trained servicemen were at the front. It was not possible to call upon Heinkel staff or their flight trials organisation because it had long been overburdened with work. The shortage of В-4 (benzine) cut back flying time. The conversion of BMW 003 turbines to J-2 (kerosene) had proved far more difficult than expected and could not be implemented for the time being. The combination of all these problems was destroying any hope that the Volksjager would be able to change the course of the air war over the Reich in the foreseeable future. Only Hitler and a few of the Luftwaffe commanders in their bunkers thought it possible to introduce positive changes fast. The ever more hasty forward planning reaching the Geschwader from March onwards took no account of the everyday major technical problems and ever worsening difficulty of fuel supply.

The reorganisation of JG 1, at least on paper, was on hand at QM-General level. Besides the 16 He 162s with the Stabstaffel, three Gruppen of 52 Volksjager each were projected for May 1945, a plan beyond the scope of reality. The QM – General could distribute his aircraft as he saw fit, but before they arrived they would often fall foul of Allied fighters or bombing raids. Equally, some very mundane reason might prevent completion of aircraft: a piece of equipment might not be delivered because of production hold-ups, although most often it would be shortage of fuel or a turbine problem, perhaps because a spanner had literally been dropped in the works by a forced labour saboteur. When the turbine was test-run it would be ruined, and it would be necessary to wait for a replacement. A repair would often not be possible for insufficient spare parts.

QM-General would not be deterred and ordered series aircraft 1-5 to Heidfeld, 6-13 were to be held back for tactical trials at Lechfeld, 14-20 were planned for tactical trials at Roggenthin/Rechlin. In fact no machines had ever been available for flying trials. Auffangsstaffel 2./JG 1 for example had still received no He 162s by 21 March.

On 26 March all the scheduling was revised. The first 18 series machines were to go to Heidfeld. Only afterwards would the tactical and operational trials begin. Nevertheless by 30 March no He 162s had yet landed at either Lechfeld or Rechlin. The first two machines, ЕЗФ51 and ЕЗФ52 finally arrived at Rechlin in mid-April. The emergency trials programme ended a few days later, not on account of the Allied advance but for organisational reasons.

Meanwhile the development and production of all kinds of aircraft had undergone an ominous change on 26 March when Hitler gave SS-General

Подпись: At least thirty He 162s, mainly the A-2 series with a few A-Is, were to be found with JG 1 at the war’s end.

Kammler wide-ranging plenipotentiary powers. All powers relating to jet aircraft invested hitherto in Reich Minister Speer passed to the SS, while Hitler also subordinated Goring’s General Plenipotentiary for Jet Aircraft to Kammler for the speedy execution of the portfolio. While Kammler familiarised himself with his new area of jurisdiction, the provisional instructions for the production and flying of the He 162 remained in force.

The Soviet advance to the gates of Vienna had led Heinkel-Siid to recognise that the airfields and production facilities in the Vienna region would only remain available for a short period. In secret they began removing files and equipment to the west. As far as possible completed machines were brought to safety at Langenlebarn west of Vienna. From there the majority of pilots took their Volksjager to Horsching/Linz. Here a number of non-airworthy Volksjager remained behind because there were no maintenance facilities for jets. The others were flown to Munich-Riem and Lechfeld. During this operation on 31 March Heinkel works pilot Huldreich Kemnitz crashed during the transfer flight and lost his life. At Lechfeld an attempt to begin operational training was abortive. Only a few test flights were undertaken there before it became necessary to head east for Munich as US ground forces came up.

At the beginning of April the opposing ground forces, German and Russian, clashed before Vienna. By 5 April it was obvious that the front would not hold. Russian tanks rolled into the heart of Vienna and crushed the last resistance of the SS and Hitler Jugend. Flight trials had long been forgotten. Gradually all airfields around Vienna fell into Russian hands. The last death in testing the He 162 occurred on 6 April 1945 when works pilot Wolfgang Liiddemann crashed. Schwechat (Heidfeld) airfield was being abandoned and Liiddemann attempted to fly out with the last airworthy Volksjager and failed.

Подпись: Maintaining the BMW 003 E-l was often a difficult affair because of the lack of essential parts. Meanwhile Kammler had involved himself in the development and production of the Ar 234 and He 162 jets and ordered that all manufacturing of piston-engined aircraft was to cease while the production of the He 162 was to be greatly accelerated. The instruction was expressed in similar terms in an OKL telex of 4 April 1945:

Continuing with the He 162 means persevering with an aircraft which deserves acceptance having regard to its stage of testing – in short a good modern fighter aircraft, if with little flying time, whose final cost is substantially less than for Me 262 and which makes lesser demands on the ground organisation. Moreover, it is expected that this aircraft will bring successes in the battle against the oppressive fighter-bomber plague.

General Karl Roller, Chief of the Luftwaffe General Staff, asked Kammler on 4 April to reconsider his decision regarding the He 162. Whether the SS – General, who had struck out nearly all Hitler’s newest air armaments with a stroke of the pen, answered or not is not recorded. Whatever was said at the top, conversion training at JG 1 went on to the extent that it was possible.

Me 262 C-2b

As the early jet turbines had not lived up to expectations, efforts were made from 1942 to increase thrust substantially. For this purpose the BMW P3390 TLR engine was developed. The Me 262 C-2b version of the Me 262 A-la was confirmed on 28 April 1944, but work on the engine plant was still well short of completion. On 20 December Messerschmitt began conversion work for the first C-2b once Works No. 170074 (V-074) arrived at Lechfeld. On 8 January 1945 the aircraft flew under turbine power but without using the rocket motor.

After metal fragments were found in the port turbine and a defect discovered in the drive bearings, the aircraft was grounded and the jet engines did not attain the prescribed levels of output until 24 February. Next day the starboard combustion chamber exploded, seriously damaging the whole turbine. At the end of March another defect was found in the port turbine, which had to be replaced. Because of shortage of В-4 fuel, works pilot Karl Baur did not fly Heimatschiitzer II from Lechfeld until 26 March when the thrust of two BMW 003 turbines and the two rocket motors (burn time 40 seconds) provided the prototype with a tremendous rate of climb. In the second and last flight of V-074 on 29 March, a switching fault prevented the rocket engine being used. The cause could not be found for a time because no fuel was available to run the turbines. V-074, the only Me 262 C-lb to have flown, was captured intact by US ground forces at Lechfeld on 27 April 1945, but it did not interest the

Me 262 C-2b
Side profile of the He 162 ‘Protector of the Homeland’with BMW 003 R propulsion unit. Unlike the Me 262 C-2b the rocket motor was not mounted directly on the turbine but under the fuselage.

Americans and was discarded behind a hangar for scrap. After month-long testing it was clear that the TLR turbines were far from suitable for series – produced aircraft, and they were not used for the Ar 234, He 162 or the Focke-Wulf Flitzer.

Me 262 C-3

This was almost an emergency design once it was realised from the Me 262 C-la and C-2b track record that a series-produced TLR fighter was still far off. By the beginning of February 1945 plans were placed before the Chief-TLR for the Me 262 C-3. By mid-February design work for the first prototype was complete and a full-size mock-up ordered. Messerschmitt calculated that the project bureau and factory annexe at Oberammergau would have the first fuselage ready for testing with an HWK 109-509 S2 rocket motor by 10 March. The rocket fuel was to be carried in two large 600-litre disposable tanks below the forward fuselage. Ultimately only one engine unit was made and the conversion work was never started. US troops captured many of the project studies and future aircraft plans.

As with all other rocket aircraft, the Me 262 variants had shown that the technology could not be mastered under the prevailing war conditions. This was true as much for the various rocket fighters (Me 163 and Ju 248) as for the Me 262 Homeland Protectors and the numerous emergency solutions which left the drawing boards from the summer of 1944.

On the Road to the Abyss

T

he coming collapse of the Luftwaffe could be seen relatively early, although at the highest level, in particular for Reichsmarschall Goring, this was not accepted. After the disaster at Stalingrad, the overall war situation deteriorated and with it the general situation for the Luftwaffe. Offensive capacity declined as a result of the heavy losses over the Eastern Front and the aircrew losses sustained during the attempts to supply encircled troop conglomerations. During the fighting in the East and Italy, the Allies found it increasingly easy to win territory and so force the Wehrmacht completely to the defensive.

From the summer of 1943, the US Eighth Air Force demonstrated that the Allies could successfully attack important ground targets everywhere in Europe with high precision even by day and in unprecedented numbers. RAF four- engined bombers attacked one major German city after another, mosdy by night, their purpose being to demoralise the German people, particularly the labour force, and bring about the greatest possible war weariness in the medium term.

The increased use of long-range escort fighters and ever better protected four – engined bombers such as the B-17 and B-24 was decisive for the course of the air war. In this way the Allies forced the squadrons of the once ‘invincible’ Luftwaffe step by step onto the defensive, even over Reich home territory. The fire storm at Hamburg showed the Luftwaffe leadership the strength of the enemy against which it was pitted, and more and more towns disintegrated into ash and rubble. The beginning of the end had been reached.

As 1944 dawned, large enemy bomber formations were attacking the production centres of the German aviation industry even by day. Heavy bomb- loads were dropped on shipyards, power stations and above all fuel refineries so important for a war effort in which all had been wagered on mechanisation. Nevertheless the number of completed fighters still rose noticeably. The monthly increase in production from 1,000 to 3,000 single-engined machines was intended eventually to force the Western Allies to abandon their bombing policy.

Aircraft Production Programmes 223 and 224 had this aim but increased production of fighters was not possible at once. One difficult problem was the

Подпись: The Ju 88 S and T, here aT-3 reconnaissance version with exhaust flame dampers, were no match for Allied fighters from the autumn of 1944.

shortage of aluminium and other necessary raw materials for aircraft manufacture. Fuel production and the adequate training of aircrews also declined from 1944. The decrease in training flights was proportional to the lack of operational successes experienced later. An infrastructure disintegrating under constant bombing and a gradual flattening out of fuel production provided little prospect of cheer from mid-1944. Lines of communication, particularly the railways, were the constant target of air raids and low-level attacks, while attacks on inland shipping and other traffic, especially in the West, ensured delays to raw materials and other supplies.

Operation Steinbock, the resumption of the bombing offensive in the West, proved little more than a flash in the pan over England. In comparison, the ever­growing enemy air forces were so superior that they could strike with great precision wherever and whenever they chose. On account of the shortened training schedules, losses during tactical training rose. This was partly due to the lack of flying instructors and training aircraft with dual controls. In the summer of 1944 the training period of Luftwaffe fighter pilots was only 35 per cent of

its former length, and the training units also faced severe shortages of fuel. Pilots newly operational were often referred to as ‘three-day wonders’ by veterans because so many failed to survive their first sorties.

The massive delays which occurred before the large-scale introduction of jets, and the numerous related technical hitches, spawned serious doubts in the possibility of final victory. The advent of a miracle weapon was a factor even amongst a section of the Reich government which provided hope for a favourable change in the situation, and became important in evaluating the military situation to the very end.

The Baptism of Fire

The heavy Luftwaffe losses led to ever younger pilots filling the gaps in the ranks. Both the NSFK and the Hitler Youth could not remain inactive. New operational pilots, especially for the He 162, were to be trained at the Reich Glider School at Trebbin, and also at Laucha and Brno from the end of January 1945. At all three aerodromes, training was arranged for the Me 163 and other types kept secret from the novices, perhaps the Natter.

The ‘total mission had been rejected by Hitler in principle, but from the beginning of the year had numerous advocates, amongst them the famous female aviator Hanna Reitsch. What the young candidates were actually being trained for seems to have been a mystery to all involved. Ever greater importance, as was obvious, was being attached to the He 162. A whole Geschwader was to be equipped with it. The idea of giving the second formation the name HitlerJugend was received with enthusiasm in the ranks of the boyish heroes and their promoters. It was necessary to press ahead as soon as possible but as neither the required infrastructure nor airworthy He 162s were available for the planned training, instruction tended to be mainly theoretical.

From the end of November 1944 therefore, life was breathed into Recruitment Group Oesau by accepting volunteers born in 1928 for training in theory at Luftkriegsschule 1, Dresden-Klotzsche, from where they would be drafted to Oschatz in central Germany for continuation training as fighter pilots. A training company and supply unit were set up from the various recruitment groups. In February 1945 Kompanie Oesau was spread between Celle and a holding camp at Goslau instead of Dresden. This was a unit whose personnel were to be used as ‘fighter pilots recruited for special purposes’ and then – depending how things turned out – as infantry. Once aviator training was dissolved, many of the pilots went to recendy formed anti-tank commandos.

Most of the barely 17- or 18-year-old pilots still believed, on the basis of assurances given by their superiors, that there would be a chance to fly the Natter, over which the SS had great influence, or the Volksjager if things changed. Behind the scenes the power struggle between the Party (that is the SS, NSFK and Hider Youth) and the Luftwaffe raged on. The Reich Youth leader attempted to shrug off NSFK influence by making a deal with the SS. Meanwhile Himmler had accepted the Natter, successfully test flown by Oberstleutnant Siegfried Knemeyer, despite Luftwaffe objections that it was included in their projects classified as ‘manned flak rockets’. The machine was a ‘disposable’ unit from which the pilot would bale out after firing his Fohn rockets. The idea of a ‘Luftwaffe Suicide Division’, openly proposed by Generalmajor Walter Storp during his stint as General der Flieger to 31 January 1945, also found a reception at the RLM. Most at OKL, and Hider himself, were opposed to suicide missions of all kinds, but could not always prevent them, although they remained few.

As development of the Natter and other aircraft needed time, the NSFK attempted to conjure up at least a couple of He 162s. In mid-February 1945 work had barely begun on the first two planned training machines with an engine. The He 162 training glider built by the NSFK at Dresden was flight- tested for the first time at Trebbin on 1 March 1945. In the provisional judgement of veteran airmen the aircraft was unsuitable for Hitler Youth pilots, being so unstable that the planned run of prototypes had to be halted while attempts were made to improve the design. Time was lacking in which to turn out a useful glider tug after production centres in the Erzgebirge came under threat from the Red Army sooner than expected.

Besides the single-seater with normal surfaces (as a glider), work on a two-seat trainer with greater wing surfaces began. The fourth variant in preparation at the beginning of 1945 was a two-seater with BMW 003 E-l turbine at DLH Oranienburg. Due to under-capacity the prototype engine for the two planned experimental machines was never completed at Heinkel-Siid Heidfeld/Vienna, as was the case with all other mixed-construction He 162 trainers. In the end, none left the works. So long as it remained possible, training and instruction was given in the hangars, but youthful dreams of the aviator’s life now faced an imminent end.

On 19 March training for fighter pilot recruitment in Bohemia was abandoned upon the approach of the Red Army, and as a result the NSFK agreed with OKL to concentrate practical flying training mainly in central Germany. After even the meagre requirements for two geographically separate training institutions could no longer be met, the best candidates from each of the three

The Baptism of Fire

At least one Grunau Baby glider was fitted experimentally with a cockpit in which the pilot could fly the machine in the prone position.

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schools were assembled at Trebbin. The Reich Glider School belonged to 4. Group NSFK Berlin/Mark Brandenburg. In comparison to the unit at Brno, the school was relatively well equipped at the beginning of 1945.The last course began at the end of March, some of the trainees having been transferred in from Laucha and Brno.

According to the diary entry of instructor Georg Cordt, in the second half of March there was at least one He 162 training aircraft in its component parts in one of the hangars at Trebbin. On 26 March construction of the machines began and two days later several flying instructors attached to the course for ‘Fighter Pilot Recruitment for Special Purposes’ made at least seven flights in the unpowered school glider, an especially powerful winch being used for the take­offs. On 29 March an aircraft was used as a tug. On 8 April the famous aviator Hanna Reitsch arrived unannounced in her Bii 131 and flew for the first and probably only time over Trebbin airfield in the He 162 S. Meanwhile motorised training flights at the Reich Glider School had been ordered severely restricted. Constant air alarms made any useful work on the ground or in the air extremely difficult and although some flying was done it could not be called very useful.

From 15 April flying routine gave way to Panzerfaust training. This involved firing the weapon at a wooden mock-up of a T-34 and at targets set up in the terrain. That their future role in the war, whether trainee or instructor, would be as ground troops became ever clearer. A few days previously Oesau units at Celle and Goslar with a total strength of 1,500 men were ordered to prepare for the

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front. On 1 April 1. Kompanie Oesau at Celle was raised to Bataillon Oesau of three companies. On 6 April 2. Kompanie Oesau, also of battalion size, went direcdy from Goslar to the front. Only two weeks later, on 21 April at the hamlet of Michelstein, the battalion had been reduced to 65, all others being dead, wounded or missing in action. The survivors served as ‘paratroops’ on the so – called ‘Innermost Line’.

The Baptism of Fire

Probably only a single version of the two-seater unpowered He 162 S training glider was built and flown at the Reich Glider School atTrebbin near Berlin.

The Baptism of Fire
Numerous weapons for pin-point bombing, such as this ‘Special Machine with Bomb – Torpedo 1400’were projected from 1944 onwards. They would have demanded kamikaze tactics from the pilot.

On 20 April the Special Course at Trebbin was dissolved and all personnel at the Reich Glider School were attached to the newly formed Division Friedrich Ludwig Jahn of Twelfth Army, for the defence of Berlin. During the heavy fighting around Potsdam, the unit was encircled for a while but reached German lines after sustaining heavy losses. Casualties rose. One of two Hitler Youth companies was reduced to 14 boys, the other, including its company commander, fell in the field. Shordy afterwards the surviving unit broke up and its members sought refuge in flight.

Mistel 6 (Ar E 377/He 162 orAr234 C-3)

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The two Arado plans presented to the RLM in August 1944 were discussed on 4 and 5 September at Landeshut/Silesia with RLM representatives. An average speed of700 km/hr (435 mph) was proposed, as with the Ar 234 B-2.The Mistel would have an additional powerplant of two ‘cast off’ turbines which had to provide between 300 and 500 kg standing thrust. They would be limited in size to 0.5 metres diameter and 2.5 metres in length and easy to maintain. Arado’s idea for a plastic fuselage was rejected by the RLM because the material had not

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been perfected: the lower aircraft would be all-wood. The wings were to be shoulder-mounted and tapered and would serve as auxiliary fuel tanks for the parent aircraft as suggested by Dr Hiitter. The 20-tonne Mistel would take off using a Rheinmetall-Borsig chassis which could remain attached to the lower aircraft during flight to enable landings without fuel and payload. The power – plant was an Ar 234 C-3 using four 1,000 kg-thrust rockets on the take-off chassis. The Ar E 377 itself could be piloted if necessary by means of fighter pilot controls once the upper machine had detached. A 2-tonne explosive charge in the nose was sufficient to sink a 15,000-ton ship. For ground targets a thin – cased container with up to 500 kg flammable liquid was planned.

On 30 November 1944 the design division completed detailed drawings of the two versions in which the previous SC 1800 was replaced by a more destructive 2-tonne bomb. On 7 December 1944 the Arado team provided the completed specifications for the new Mistel as follows:

(i) Ar 234 C-3 with Ar E 377 or Ar E 377a on 20-tonne take-off chassis;

(ii) He 162 with Ar E 377a on 20-tonne take-off chassis.

The lower unit with explosive payload would be steered in flight on a straight course to the target by means of a gunsight in the Ar 234 C-3. An He 162 could

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have been used in place of the jet bomber. Probably the only difference in construction from the Ar 234 would have been in the use of explosive bolts to hold the Volksjager and Arado body together, since the Ar 234 spring bolt was not practical for the lighter He 162 to guarantee the release. If used with the He 162, the lower unit would have had two BMW 003 A-l turbines installed below the wings to supplement the engine power of the fighter, and a reserve of 4.5 tonnes of fuel.

This idea was abandoned by OKL on the grounds that there were insufficient He 162 A-2s to equip the envisaged JG 1, and the Riistungsstab would have had to free the necessary capacity to build the Ar E 377. In the few weeks before the final collapse, this Mistel would not have been possible no matter which system was chosen.