World War II Guide

Guns Air Defense Engines Jet Aircraft Atom Bomb FAQ Books
Bombs Royal Airforce Jet Aircraft Fighters People Videos Timeline
USAAF B-29 Offensive Jet Aircraft V Weapons Glossary Search Links

Jet and Rocket Aircraft WWII

Why Jet Power | Jet Engines

Heinkel He 280
Messerschmitt Me 262
Messerschmitt Me 163
Heinkel He 162
Ba 349 Natter
Arado 234
Gotha Go 229 (Ho IX)
Junkers Ju 287

Gloster Meteor
XP-59 Aerocomet
P-80 Shooting Star


From the Military Bookshelf - Recommended Reading

cover cover cover cover cover cover cover cover cover cover

Why Jet Power?

Even before the war it was becoming apparent to some aircraft designers that propeller driven aircraft were nearing the limits of their possible performance. With the world speed record smashed by the Heinkel He 100 and shortly after by the Me 209 it was clear that no matter how much power a piston-engine plane possessed it could only approach the speed of sound, an entirely new method of propulsion would be needed to achieve greater performance.

Three different methods seemed possible: rocket, turbo jet and the 'ram' jet. All of these provide forward thrust by constant recoil verses the propeller which literally drags a plane through the air. A rocket motor works independent of the atmosphere carrying its own oxygen and fuel but also consuming them in a relatively short time. The 'ram' jet is simple in concept with the force of air ramming into the engine being sufficient for fuel to be introduced and ignited. The hot gases shooting through a tail pipe push the engine and the attached plane forward. Unfortunately, a 'ram' jet doesn't begin to function unless its already travelling at a decent speed, requiring a second powerplant to bring the aircraft up to speed for the 'ram' jet to take over.

A turbo jet is more complex requiring a rapidly spinning compressor to push enough air into the combustion chamber so the engine can generate sufficient thrust. The biggest obstacle to realizing the dream of jet powered flight was in producing a compact turbojet that gave good thrust while standing up to extreme heat and vibration.

Frank Whittle in England and Hans von Ohain of Germany developed the first turbo-jet engines independent of each other.


Aircraft First Flight
Heinkel He 176 20 June 1939
Heinkel He 178 27 August 1939
Heinkel He 280 30 March 1941
Gloster E.28/39 15 May 1941
Me 163 10 August 1941
Messerschmitt Me 262 18 July 1942
Bell XP-59A 2 October 1942
Gloster Meteor 5 March 1943
Arado Ar 234 30 July 1943
de Havilland Vampire 20 September 1943
Lockheed P-80 8 January 1944
Junkers 287 16 August 1944
Heinkel He 162 6 December 1944


Just five days before World War II broke out, on August 27, 1939, the He 178 became the world's first jet aircraft to take flight.

Heinkel He 280 - World's First Jet Fighter

He 280

Developed from the He 178 the He 280 was the world's first jet fighter and flew in early 1941. Its development was delayed by engine problems and political indifference, and when the jet program was finally pressed ahead, it was abandoned in favour of the more advanced Me 262. Only nine were built.

The world's first jet fighter, the Heinkel He 280, took the air on March 30, 1941 in a flight lasting just three minutes - this was a scant six weeks before a specially built Gloster plane (E.28/39) flew using Frank Whittle's turbojet design. This took place on May 15, 1941.


The Remarkable Messerschmitt Me 262

Me 262 jet fighter

"This is not a step forward; this is a leap!" Luftwaffe General Adolf Galland, after flying the Me 262 jet on May 22, 1943

Hitler spent a great deal of time asking for "wonder weapons" that could win the war at a stroke. German research was indeed very active throughout the war, perhaps too active since the vast number of weapon and secret projects diluted Germany's limited resources.

Arguably a wonder weapon existed well before the end of the war in the form of a jet powered interceptor that was 100 mph (240 km/h) faster than any Allied plane. The superb Messerschmitt Me 262 was the world's first jet fighter to enter operational service. With four 30mm guns in the nose of the plane the 262 packed devastating firepower.

The Me 262 began as the P.65, a proposal submitted in the Summer of 1939 to the RLM. The first Me 262 to take to the air on jet propulsion alone was the third prototype (Me 262 V3). In a flight lasting just 12 minutes on 18 July 1942 Flugkapitan Fritz Wendel successfully took-off and landed the new jet aircraft at the Leipheim runway.

Adolf Galland (General der Jagdflieger) was invited to fly the 262. On May 22, 1943 Galland took the revolutionary aircraft for a flight, afterwards he enthuistically said that flying the Me 262 felt "as if an angel was pushing." The jet he flew that day was the fourth prototype (Me 262 V4). Adolf Galland was so impressed with the new machine he wanted production of the Bf 109 to be stopped so Messerschmitt could concentrate on building the 262.

Just 72 hours later Erhard Milch ordered the new jet fighter into series production. Agreeing with General Galland's radical idea of accelerating the development of the Me 262 by having the first hundred built sent to special test commandos where the inevitable bugs and problems could be ironed out in actual combat. The experience gained would be put into the next production run of the plane. Hitler veoted this arrangement.

Progress on the Me 262 was slow and tortuous with a marked lack of interest by the Luftwaffe for the first three years of the war and significant problems with the Jumo turbo-jets that would power the airframe. On November 2, 1943 Herman Goring paid a visit to the Messerschmitt works at Augsburg and asked Messerschmitt how many bombs the jet plane could carry. Later, on the 26 of November, Hitler attended an airshow at Insterburg and saw the jet aircraft for the first time and was suitabily impressed. But much to the horror of fighter General Adolf Galland and others present Hitler announced that this new weapon was to be built as a blitz bomber and not a fighter. This marked a major setback to the eventual deployment of the Me 262 as a fighter in good numbers.

Despite Hitler's orders only one Me 262 was fitted with bomb racks and equipped to be a "blitz" bomber. The rest were produced as fighter / interceptors. On May 23, 1944 Hitler learned that the Me 262 was being manufactured only as a fighter. In a rage he removed Erhard Milch from head of procurement for the Luftwaffe and ordered that all existing Me 262 jets be converted to blitz bombers.

The Jumo jet engines had a life-time of only ten hours mainly due to the use of steel instead of rare metals (such as chromium) which would have stood up better to the extremely high temperatures of the turbo-jet but were very scare. The jet engines themselves were always in short supply. Extreme sensitivity was demanded in throttling up the Jumo engines as well so just after take-off the Me 262 was vunerable to piston engine fighters until it slowly accelerated to its blazing speed.

Weapons at War: The Jet Age

Weapons at War: The Jet Age

From their first appearance at the end of World War II to the most advanced planes of today, this is a thrilling look at the history of fighter jets.




Jet Fighter Operations of the Third Reich

Two main production types:
A-1a Schwalbe "Swallow" fighter
A-2a Sturmvogel "Stormbird" Fighter-Bomber

Power Plant: two 1980 lb (8.9 kN) thrust Junkers Jumo 004B-1, -2 or -3 turbojets

A-1 empty weight: 9,742 lb (4419 kg)
Loaded weight: 14,101 lb (6396 kg)
A/C Wingspan: 40 ft 11.5 in (12.48m)
Height: 12 ft 7 in (3.83m)
Length: 34 ft 9.5 in (10.60m)
B Length: 38 ft 7 in (11.76m)

Weapons:
A-1a four 30mm Mk-108 cannon in nose
A-2a the same guns as above plus two SC-250 kg (550 lb) bombs on external bomb rack.
A-1a/U1 four 30mm Mk-108 cannon and two 20mm cannon
A-1b 24 R4M unguided rockets

Four 30mm Mk 108 cannon in nose whose fire converged at 400 - 500 yards (365 - 460 m.)
100 rounds per upper gun, 80 rounds for each lower gun.

Performance:
A-1 Max Speed at sea level: 500 mph (805 km/h)
540 mph (869 km/h) at 19,685 ft (6000m)
initial climb rate: 3,937 ft/min (1200m/min)
service ceiling: 37,565 ft (11450m)
Range on internal fuel: 526-652 miles (846-1049 km)

Me 262 Schwallbe (Swallow)

Name: Me 262A-1a Schwallbe (Swallow)

Role: Jet Fighter

Manafacturer: Messerschmitt

Country: Germany

Dimensions:
Wing Span: 40 ft, 11½ in (12.5 m)
Length: 34 ft, 9½ in (10.6 m)
Height: 12 ft, 7 in (3.8 m)
Wing Area: 233.6 sq ft (21.7 m²)

Weights:
Empty: 8,378 lb (3800 kg)
Max. take-off weight: 15,532 lb (7045 kg)

Engines:
Two 900 kg (1,980 lb) thrust Junkers Jumo 004B axial turbojets
Eight-stage axial flow compressor with single stage turbine
Weight: 1,585 lb (719 kg)
Static Thrust: 1,980 lb (900 kg) final production form
Rated RPM: 8,700 (Maximum)
Overall length: 3,864.5 mm (152 in)
Maximum diameter: 805.6 mm (32 in)
Fuel: 2573 liters (680 U.S. Gal.) J-2 diesel oil

Performance:
Max. Speed: 540 mph 469 knot (870 km/h) at 19,685 ft (6000 m)
Max. Speed at sea level: 514 mph 446 kt (827 km/h)
Climb Rate: 3,937 ft/min (1200 m/min)
6 minutes and 48 seconds to 19,685 ft (6000 m)
Ceiling: 37,730 ft (11500m)
Range: 652 miles (1050 km)

Armament:
Four 30mm Mk 108 cannon in nose converging at 400 - 500 yards (365 - 460 m.)
100 rounds per upper gun, 80 rounds for each lower gun.

Me 262A-1a Me 262A-1b Me 262A-1a/R-1 Me 262A-1/Bo Me 262A-1a/U1 Me 262A-1a/U2 Me 262A-1a/U3 Me 262A-1a/U4 Me 262A-1a/U5 Me 262A-2a Me 262A-2a/R Me 262A-2a/U1 Me 262A-2a/U2 Me 262A-3a Me 262A-4a Me 262A-5a Me 262B-1a Me 262B-1a/U1Z Me 262B-2a Me 262C-1a Me 262C-2b Me 262C-3a De 262 D-1 Me 262 E-1 Me 262 S Me 262 V Me 262 W

Hitler spent a great deal of time asking for "wonder weapons" that could win the war at a stroke.  German research was indeed very active throughout the war, perhaps too active since the vast number of weapon and secret projects diluted Germany's limited resources.

Arguably a wonder weapon existed well before the end of the war in the form of a jet powered interceptor that was 100 mph (240 km/h) faster than any allied plane. The superb Messerschmitt Me 262 was the world's first jet fighter to enter operational service. With four 30mm (? in) guns in the nose of the plane the 262 packed devastating firepower.

But progress on the Me 262 was slow and tortuous with a marked lack of interest by the Luftwaffe for the first three years of the war and significant problems with the Jumo turbo-jets that would power the airframe. On November 2, 1943 Herman Goring paid a visit to the Messerschmitt works at Augsburg and asked Messerschmitt how many bombs the jet plane could carry. Later, on the 26 of November, Hitler attended an airshow at Insterburg and saw the jet aircraft for the first time and was suitabily impressed. But much to the horror of fighter General Adolf Galland and others present Hitler announced that this new weapon was to be built as a blitz bomber and not a fighter. This marked a major setback to the eventual deployment of the Me 262 as a fighter in good numbers.

Despite Hitler's orders only one Me 262 was fitted with bomb racks and equipped to be a "blitz" bomber. The rest were produced as fighter / interceptors. On May 23, 1944 Hitler learned that the Me 262 was being manufactured only as a fighter. In a rage he removed Erhard Milch from head of procurement for the Luftwaffe and ordered that all existing Me 262 jets be converted to blitz bombers.

Although only 100-300 actually flew operations and fought against Allied aircraft they downed far more than 100 enemy planes.

Jet fighter deliveries to Luftwaffe:

101 November '44
124 December '44
160 January '45
280 Febuary '45

Total deliveries of Me 262 aircraft reached 1,433 by VE day.

First flight of aircraft (airframe testing only since no jet engines were ready yet) the plane was fitted with a piston engine.

July 18, 1942 -- First flight of Me 262 under jet power. It was a twelve minute flight in which the test pilot reached 448 mph (km)

At the end of April '44 enough Me 262s were availible for a small Luftwaffe training squadorn to be established at Lechfeld.

But in the last week of May Hitler found out that none of the Me 262 jets were had been built as bombers. In a rage he ordered that production of the jet would be exclusively as a 'blitz' bomber.

By July 25 of 1944 Me 262s had downed two P-38 Lightnings and a Mosquito when another Mosquito survived an encounter with the revolunary jet to report its existence and remarkable performance.

August 28, 1944. Eighth Force's 78th Fighter Group claims the destruction of an Me 262, the first jet to be shot down in combat.

Kommando Nowotny

The first jet fighter unit didn't become operational until October 3, 1944. It was named after its leader, Nowotny, one of most experienced and highly decorated pilots the Luftwaffe had. His score of 255 kills plus the Knight's Cross with Diamonds he wore are testament to the brillance of this air warrior.

On November 8 General Adolf Galland came to see how operations were going at Achmer. While eating breakfast with Nowotny the siren sounded and men scrambled to their jets. Nowotny started off at once but stopped when Galland said he was to stay and help coordinate the flights from the operations room.

B-17 bombers were flying in above the clouds, one flight of 262s lifted off and then a second followed shortly by the thud of 30mm guns, flak and machine gun fire. Monitoring the radio traffic Galland and Nowotny heard one pilot crash-land and lost contact with another. Being on the ground while his men faced combat was too much for Nowotny and telling Galland he was going to fly he sprinted toward his aircraft before Galland could stop him.

Kommando Nowotny had lost 26 jets during its brief life.

Jagdgeschwader 7

Jagdgeschwader 7's Wing 3 with only 30 serviceable jets availible at any one time started downing aircraft at a rate of 100 a month. The unit claimed 427 kills by war's end.

R4M unguided rockets - 4 kg rockets were tested at Rechlin in 1944. First used in combat by the Geschwader on 18 March 1945. 12 of the rockets fit under each wing on launch rails. The weapon proved devastating against Allied bombers. 54 Me 262A-1a jets being equipped with a dozen of the rockets and 6 more carrying a full load of 24. 13 kills were credited to JG 7 in this action for the loss of five jets and three pilots.

Adolf Galland and Jagdverband 44

By war's end 1294 Me 262 jet fighters had been built but only 200 to 300 fought in the skies over Germany. All told the Me 262s downed more than 700 aircraft in the face of overwhelming air superiority (out numbered ten-to-one and in some battles fifty-to-one.)

"Squadron of Experts"

Began operations begining of April 1945 about 1 month before Germany's defeat.

Commanded by General Adolf Galland with 94 victories, ended the war with 104.

Lieutenant Colonel Heinz Baer with 204 victories ended the war with 220.

Colonel Johannes Steinhoff with 170 victories

Unit made up of: one lieutenant-general, two colonels, one lieutenant-colonel, three majors, five captains, eight lieutenants and about the same number of second lietenants.

At least ten of the squadrons 50 pilots wore the Knight's Cross total combined air victories of pilots = over 1,000

Based at Riem, near Munich. During its brief life the unit scored 55 confirmed kills.

March 18, 1945 an armada of 1,200 bombers escorted by at least 600 fighters approached Berlin and 37 Me 262 jet fighters rose to meet it. The odds were over 50-to-1 against the men but they didn't have time to think of that. In this tremendous struggle eight bombers and one fighter were shot down but with the loss of four jets. First combat use of R4M rockets.

April 10, 1945. Thirty of fifty German Me 262 jet fighters are shot down by US bombers and their P-51 escorts. The German fighters shoot down ten bombers -the largest loss of the war in a single mission to jets.

April 18, 1945 when taxing his 262 for take-off Oberst Johannes Steinhoff was badly burned when his landing gear caught a roughly patched crater in the runway crashing the jet into a burning wreck.

April 26, 1945 the leader of JV 44 was shot down.

The unit retreated to Salzburg, Austria and fought for another week until finally American tanks advanced onto the airfield.

The following table lists only JV44 pilots who qualify as Experten. These 17 pilots alone accounted for 1,726 Allied planes destroyed in aerial combat - an average of 101.5 planes each!

JV44 "Squadron of Experts"
Pilot Kills Decorations Remarks
Bär, Heinz Oberstlt 220    
Barkhorn, Gerhard Major 301    
Bob, Hans-Ekkehard Major 59    
Galland, Adolf Gernerallt 104    
Grüberg, Hans Oberlt 82    
Herget, Wilhelm Major 72    
Hohagen, Erich Major 55    
Kaiser, Herbert Ofw 68    
Krupinski, Walter Hauptmann 197    
Lützow, Günther Oberstlt 108    
Neuman, Klaus Leutnant 37    
Nielinger, Rudolf Ofw 20    
Sachsenberg, Karl, Heinz Leutnant 104    
Schnell, Karl-Heinz Major 72    
Schuhmacher, Leo Ofw 23    
Steinhoff, Johannes Oberst 176   Wounded 4/18/45
Stigler, Franz Oberlt
Technical Officer
28    

The Luftwaffe did not use the Western Convention of 5 victories making an ace. They used the term Experte (expert) to honor a pilot who demonstrated proficiency in combat over a prolonged period of time.

Awards
RK Ritter Kreuz (Knights Cross)
EL Eichenlaubs (Oak Leaves to RK)
S Schwerten (Swords to RK-EL)
Br Brillanten (Diamonds to RK-EL-S)

The combat records of many of the JV44 staff have been lost to history. It is quite possible, if not probable that even more Experten were present. Missing from the above list are two pilots with known victories while flying Me 262s with JV44. They are Uffz. Johann-Karl Müller with 3 victories and Ofw. Otto Kammerdierer with 2 victories.



Jet Engines

BMW
Junkers

RATO (Rocket Assisted Take-off) packs

Arado 234 taking off with RATO packs

These self-contained rocket pods were used to help heavily loaded aircraft take off in short order. After burning for 20-30 seconds the RATO units were jettisoned at an altitude of 200 to 300m where they deployed small parachutes allowing them to be refurbished and used again.
Weight 560 kg (1,235lb)
Thrust 4.90 kN (500 kp)
Rocket motor Walter HWK 109-502
Burn time about 30 seconds

Bayerische Motorenwerke (BMW)


Model 003 A-0 003 A-2 003 D 018 028
Type turbojet turbojet turbojet turbojet turboprop
Year 1943 1944 1944 1943 1942
Static Thrust 7.8(800) 8.83(900) 10.80(1100) 33.34(3500) ?
Length 3530 3530 3530 4750 6000
Diameter 690 690 690 1250 1250
Dry Weight 595 595 630 2200 3200
RPM 9500 9500 10000 6000 6000
Compressor
airflow
stages
ratio
19
7
3.1
20
7
3.4
25
8
4.95
83
12
7.1
83
12
7.0
Specific fuel consumption 143(1.40) 132.5(1.30) 112.10(1.1) 120(1.18) ?
Thrust/frontal area ratio
Thrust bypass ratio
21.10(2162)
0.41(42.10)
23.85(2432)
0.44(45.0)
29.20(2970)
0.43(44)
26.82(2845)
0.40(42.17)
?
Combustor stages
Turbine stages
annular
1
annular
1
annular
2
annular
3
annular
4
Notes - - - - -

Junkers Motorenwerke

Jumo 012, Junkers Turbojet engine, developing about 6000lb thrust, planned for the Ju 287. Never left the drawing board. Germany, 1945. Jumo 022, Junkers Planned turboprop engine, a development of the Jumo 012 with contra-rotating screws. Design only. Germany, 1945.
Model 004 B-1 004 D 4 004 E 004 H 012 022 PTL
Type turbojet turbojet turbojet turbojet turbojet turboprop
Year 1943 1944 1945 1945 1945 1945
Static Thrust 8.8(900) 9.8(1000) 9.8(1000)
11.8(1200)*
17.60(1800) 29.4(3000) ?
Length 3860 3860 3860 3950 4945 5600
Diameter 760 760 760 865 1080 1080
Dry Weight 745 760 770 1130 1600 3000
RPM 8700 8700 8700 6700 6000 53000?
Compressor
airflow
stages
ratio
21.4
8
3.14
21.4
8
3.5
21.4
8
3.5
33
11
5.5
50
11
5.50
50
11
5.50
Specific fuel consumption 143(1.4) 143(1.4) 143(1.4) 117(1.20) 117(1.20) ?
Thrust/frontal area ratio
Thrust bypass ratio
19.55(2000)
0.41(42.00)
21.77(2220)
0.46(46.70)
26.22(2660)
0.55(56.1)
30.3(3100)
0.53(54.5)
32.1(3300)
0.59(60)
?
Combustor stages
Turbine stages
6
1
6
1
6
1
8
2
6
2
annular
3
Notes - - - - - -

BMW 003 jet engine
Type: Seven-stage axial flow compressor with an annular combustion chamber and a single-stage turbine. Weight: 567 kg (1,252 lb) Static Thrust: 798 kg (1,760 lb) RPM: 9,500 Dimensions: Overall length 3,534 mm (11 ft 7 in), maximum diameter 690 mm (2 ft 3 in) Used in: He 162, Hs 132, He 280, Ar 234, Ju 287

History: The BMW 003 had a seven-stage axial flow compressor and an annular combustion chamber with sixteen burners. The single-stage turbine had hollow air-cooled stator and rotor blades. The adjustable propelling nozzle had internal cooling. It was used in a number of planes and was projected to be used in many more. The Russian RD-20 was based on this German design, along with the Japanese Ne-20.
Jumo 004 jet engine

Type: Eight-stage axial flow compressor single stage turbine. Weight: 719 kg (1,585 lb) Static Thrust: 900 kg (1,980 lb) in it's final production form Rated RPM: 8,700 (Maximum) Dimensions: Overall length 3,864.5 mm (152 in), maximum diameter 805.6 mm (32 in) Used in: Ar 234B, Arsenal VG.70, He 280, Ho 229, Hs 132B, Ju 287, Me 262, (Me) P.1101, S.O. 6000, (Fw) Ta 183, & Yak-15.

History: The Jumo 004 was the most widely used German WWII turbojet engine and was the first such engine to enter quantity production. It had an eight stage axial flow compressor, six straight-through combustion chambers, and a single stage turbine. Preliminary production work began in 1937, but a full scale prototype (Jumo 004A) was not bench tested until December 1940. A Jumo 004 was first flight tested in late 1941, mounted underneath a Messerschmitt Bf 110 aircraft. At the end of 1941, a new version (B-1) was designed with several modifications, with the first of these unit's being run at the end of 1942. The modifications made were as follows: Improved entry to the compressor Improved stator blade design for the compressor Modified turbine entry Separate compressor discs The B-4 was the first model to have hollow rather than solid turbine blades. In the summer of 1943, a prototype Me 262 was flown with two Jumo 004B unit's. Other Jumo 004 versions were planned (C, D-4 &E;) which had various improvements on the B version, including throttle regulators, two-stage fuel injection, increased thrust and shorter tail pipes. Large scale production was planned for Summer 1943. Contrary to this however, volume deliveries of 004s began in the Autumn of 1944. When the war ended in May 1945, more than 5,000 of these engines had been produced. These were notably used in the Me 262 and the Ar 234, the first operational jets of their kind. The production facilities were taken over by the Soviets and moved to the USSR for continued development. This development led to the RD-10 axial flow turbojet which powered the Yak-15 (among others). The Jumo 004 also influenced the French, who used the Jumo 004 in the Arsenal VG.70, and the Sud-Ouest S.O. 6000 Triton aircraft.




Arado 234 Jet Bomber

The Arado 234 came out of a Air Ministry requirement for a high speed reconnanissance aircraft and was the world's first jet propelled bomber.

The Arado 234 prototype first flew on 15 June 1943 after extensive ground testing. The use of a landing skid instead of more traditional landing gear caused problems from the start and despite great effort had to be abandoned.

The sixth prototype (Ar 234 V6) which flew on April 8, 1944 had four jet engines instead of the normal two, demostrating the promising possiblities of such an arrangment.

The ninth prototype incorporated retractable tricycle landing gear and was the first Arado 234B, the aircraft making its maiden flight in March of 1944.

Production commenced in June of 1944.

First operatoinal missions occured in July in overflights of France, and later Britain.

In September of 1944 a special Sonderkormmando unit was formed to use the Arado 234B-1 in the reconnaissance role, in this the plane excelled. Eventually about 60 Arado 234s undertook reconnanissance missions over France, England and Italy where the type's unparalled performance, 470 mph (750 kph) at 30,000ft (9144m), made it immune from interception right up to the end of the war. The last Luftwaffe sortie of the war was made by a reconn Ar 234 flying out of Norway on ?/?/ 1945.

Of the 210 B-series that entered service most were Arado 234B-2 Blitz bombers. The B-2 could carry up to 4,410lb (2000 kg) of bombs and became operational in 1945. The first bombing raids using Arado 234s occured during the battle of the Bulge in December 1944. Operations using the jet bombers were sporadic but notably reached a peak in early March 1945 with attacks on the Remagen bridge.

The planned Arado Ar 234C utilizing four BMW turbojets would have been even more impressive in performance but production did not get underway before war's end.



Heinkel He 162A-2 Salamander Volksjäger


The He 162 was a small, single-engine jet fighter developed in less than three months using mostly wood and other non-strategic materials. The first prototype flew on December 6, 1944. It was intended to be a "Volksjäger" (people's fighter) that could be flown by Hitler Youth volunteers after minimal training; fortunately the war ended before this desperate plan could be put into action. 280 aircraft were completed before the end of the war (and another 800 were found in various stages of completion in the factories), but only a handful actually saw action, in the hands of regular pilots.

Further development ideas included the He 162B (one or two pulse-jet engines), He 162C (forward-swept wings), He 162D (swept-back wings), and various combinations of jet and rocket propulsion.

 He 162A-2
Typesingle-seat interceptor
Wingspan23' 7¾" (7.2m)
Length29' 8½" (9m)
Height6' 6½" (2.6m)
Wing area120 sq ft (11.16 sq m)
EngineOne 1,760 lb (7.85 kN) thrust BMW 003E-1 or E-2 Orkan single-shaft turbojet
Weight, empty4,796 lb (2180 kg)
Weight, loaded5,940 lb (2695 kg)
Max Speed490 mph (784 km/h) at s/l; 522 mph (835 km/h) at 19,700 ft (6000m)
Inital Climb4,200 ft (1280m) /min
Service Ceiling39,500 ft (12040m)
ArmamentTwo 30mm MK 108 cannons /w 50 rounds each, later two MG 151/20 cannon /w 120 rounds each
Range434 miles (695 km) at full throttle and at altitude

Specification issued on 8 September 1944. Heinkel produced a wooden mock-up of the He 162 within 15 days. Heinkel recieved a large production order on September 28. On December 6 the prototype He 162 took to the air less than 10 weeks from the initial design work. By wars end about 275 He 162 Salamenders had been constructed.




Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet


Probably the most radical design to enter combat during the war. The aircraft was actually a rocket powered interceptor and way ahead of its time. Allied planes first encountered Me 163s during July of 1944. Altogether some 300 saw service by war's end but with just 12 confirmed bomber kills to show for it. Worst yet the production, maintenance and flying of even this modest number of Me 163s was very expensive and dangerous (the Komet fueled with extremely volatile hydrogen peroxide and hydrazine/menthol exploded sometimes just sitting on the runway.) The fastest climbing plane of the war it could reach 30,000 ft in under two minutes but with only a 8-10 minute fuel supply pilots had quite a task just getting the two 30mm guns to bear on a bomber. The plane's high speed gave pilots only a second or so to aim and fire. After the fuel was exhausted the aircraft glided down for a risky landing on a skid. Me 163s gliding down in this fashion were often bounced by Allied fighter pilots.

 Me 163B-1
Typesingle-seat rocket interceptor
Wingspan30' 7" (9.3m)
Length18' 8" (5.69m)
Height9' 0" (2.74m)
Wing area210 sq ft (19.60 sq m)
EngineOne 3,750 lb (16.68 kN) thrust Walter HWK 509A-2 bi-propellant rocket
Weight, empty4,191 lb (1905 kg)
Weight, loaded9,042 lb (4110 kg)
Max Speed596 mph (960 km/h) at 32,800 ft (10000m)
Inital Climb16,400 ft (5000m) /min
Service Ceiling54,000 ft (16500m)
ArmamentTwo 30mm MK 108 cannons in wing roots each with 60 rounds
Rangeless than 62 miles (100 km), highly dependent on flight profile




Gotha Go 229 (Ho IX Ho 229)


A vision of the future, the Horten Ho 229 was a flying wing. After years of development two Junkers Jumo turbojet engines were successfully integrated into an airframe based on Horten designs. In December of 1944 test flights were initiated with the jet powered Ho IX. Remarkably the plane showed good handling characteristics and eventually surpassed 500 mph (800 km/h) in level flight. With a total of just two hours flying time the Go 229 crashed in February of 1945, killing its test pilot.

The potential of this awesome plane was obvious and the Gotha company quickly readied the turbojet for production as a fighter-bomber with the Air Ministry designation Ho 299 (because Gotha built it, the plane is also called the Go 229.) The production version was expected to fly as fast as 623 mph (997km/h.) This is significantly faster than even the Messerschmitt Me 262 jet fighter, it would have been virtually unstoppable by allied aircraft. Before any Ho 229s could be produced, however, the Gotha factory was over-run by U.S. forces in April of 1945.

Gotha Go 229 (Ho IX Ho 229)

Role: jet flying wing

Manafacturer: Gotha

Country: Germany

Dimensions:
Wing Span: 54 ft, 111/8 in (16.75 m)
Wing Area: 376.6 square ft (35 m²)
Length: 24 ft, 61/8 in (7.47 m)
Height: 9 ft, 2¼ in (2.80 m)

Weights:
Empty: 10,140 lb (4600 kg)
Loaded: 16,550 lb (7500 kg)
Maximum Loaded: 19,840 lb (9000 kg)

Engines:
Two 900 kg (1,982 lb) Junkers Jumo 004B turbojets

Performance:
Maximum Speed: 607 mph (975 km/h) at 39,370 ft (12000 m)
Maximum Speed at sea level: 590 mph (950 km/h)
Climb Rate: 4,430 ft / minute (1350 m/min)
6.1 min to 19,685 ft (6000 m)

Ceiling: 52,500 ft (16000 m)
Range: 1,180 mi (1900 km) at 393 mph (630 km/h)
Range with drop tanks: 1,970 mi (3170 km)

Armament:
Four Mk 108 or Mk 103 30mm cannons with 120 rounds per gun
Maximum bombload: Two 2,205 lb (1000 kg) bombs



Bachem Ba 349 Natter "Viper"



Type Bachem Ba 349 Natter
Power-Plant 4,410lb (2000 kg) thrust Walter HMK 109-509C-1 bi-propellant rocket
four 1,102lb (500 kg) or two 2,205lb (1000 kg) solid motors
Max Speed 621 mph (1000 km/h) at high altitude
497 mph (800 km/h) at sea level
Rate of Climb 36,417 ft/min (11,100m/min)
Service Ceiling ? ft (? m)
Wingspan 11 ft 9.75 in (3.6m)
Length 29 ft 0 in (8.40m)
Empty Weight 1,940 lb (880 kg)
Loaded Weight with boost rockets 4,920 lb (2232 kg)
Armament 24 73mm spin-stabilized rockets or
33 R4M 55mm spin-stabilized rockets
Range after climb to altitude 20-30 miles (32-48 km)



Junkers 287 Forward Swept Wing Bomber


Ju 287 jet
In 1942 Junkers was given a contract to develop a four engine jet bomber. In an effort to obtain data on flight handling characteristics in the shortest time it was decided to build the prototype Ju 287 from as many existing production parts as possible. The fuselage and canopy came from the He 177A-3; the tail section was from a Ju 188 while the landing gear was taken off a captured B-24 bomber! About the only pieces built from scratch were the wings and the engine layout.

Power was supplied by four Jumo 004B-1 turbo-jet engines; two mounted on the forward fuselage and two under the wings. Rocket assisted take-off (RATO) measures were utilized to insure a greater safety margin. One Walter HWK 109-502 rocket pack was mounted under each engine; two were turned on at takeoff providing additional thrust while the remaining two RATO units were intended to provide some compensation in case of engine flameout on takeoff.

Initial flight testing was carried out at the Brandis airfield near Leipzig in August 1944. On 16 August 1944 the Ju 287 V1 took to the air for the first time with pilot Siegfried Holzbaur at the controls. The aircraft performed well and confirmed the wind tunnel predictions for a forward swept wing. A total of 16 test flights were undertaken with good results. At this point the Ju 287 V1 was transferred to the Luftwaffe's Rechlin test center for further flights.

Work at Rechlin primarily focused on studying airflow over the wings. Also, various engine layouts were studied including several six engine designs.

Type Junkers Ju 287 V1 Junkers Ju 287 V3
Power-Plant Four Jumo 004B-1 turbojets Six Jumo 004D turbojets
Static Thrust 1,980 lb (900 kg) 1,760lb (800 kg)
Max Speed 620 km/h at 6000 m 800 km/h at 6000 m
Cruise Speed 600 km/h at 6000 m 855 km/h at 11000 m
Climb Rate 13.70 m/s at sea level 16.50 m/s at sea level
Service Ceiling 30,840 ft (9400 m) 11000 m
Length 60 ft 0.5 in (18.30 m) 18.60 m
Height 4.70 m 5.40 m
Wingspan 65 ft 11.75 ft (20.10 m) 20.10 m
Wing area 58.30 m² 58.30 m²
Empty Weight 27,583 lb (12510 kg)  
Loaded Weight 44,092lb (20000 kg)  
Range 980 km 1800 km



Gloster Meteor

Gloster Meteor The Gloster Meteor's maiden flight took place at Cranwell, Lincolnshire on 5 March 1943 with Michael Daunt at the controls. The new aircraft was powered by two Halford H.1 turbojets producing 2,300 lb (10.2 kN) thrust each. Eight prototypes were built testing different engine types finally the 1,700 lb (7.5 kN) thrust Rolls-Royce Welland was selected and twenty pre-production jets were built designated Meteor I. The Meteor II never materialized so the Meteor III became the first true production version, the first 15 having Welland engines the rest 2,000 lb (8.9 kN) thrust Derwent 1 turbojets in short nacelles.

No. 616 Squadron received the jet fighter first and flew its first combat sorties on 27 July 1944 against V-1 buzz bombs. On 4 August 1944 came the first victory when Flying Officer T.D. Dean sent a V-1 buzz bomb diving out of control by tipping it with his wing after he discovered his guns were jammed.

On 17 July 1945 the Meteor IV took to the air for the first time powered by two 3,500 lb (15.5 kN) thrust Derwent 5 engines in long nacelles. To add stiffeness to the wings without a major redesign 34 inches (87 cm) was clipped off each wing from the 9th aircraft onwards, thereby increasing the rate of roll but also take-off and landing speeds.

Some 200 Meteor jets were built by war's end.

Type Meteor I / III
Power-Plant Two 1700 hp (7.62kN) thrust Rolls-Royce Welland I turbojets
Max Speed 415 mph (668 km/h) at 10,000 ft (3048m)
Initial Climb 2,155 ft/min (657m/min)
Service Ceiling 40,000 ft (12192 m)
Wingspan 34 ft 5.5 in (10.50m)
Length 29 ft 0 in (8.40m)
Empty Weight 8,140 lb (3693 kg)
Loaded Weight 13,800 lb (6260 kg)
Armament Four Hispano 20mm cannon in nose
Max Range 1,000 miles (1609 km)



XP-59 Airacomet

XP-59 Airacomet

The first jet made by the United States was the XP-59 Airacomet. Not quite up to combat duty the XP-59 saw extensive testing.



P-80 Shooting Star

p-80 Shooting Star

Developed in only 143 days, the prototype Lockheed XP-80 Shooting Star, Lulu Belle, makes its first flight on January 8, 1944 at Muroc Dry Lake (later Edwards AFB), Calif., with Milo Burcham at the controls. It is the first American fighter to exceed 500 mph in level flight. If the war had continued the Shooting Star most likely would has seen combat.

Guns Air Defense Engines Jet Aircraft Atom Bomb FAQ Books
Bombs Royal Airforce Jet Aircraft Fighters People Videos Timeline
USAAF B-29 Offensive Jet Aircraft V Weapons Glossary Search Links