Heinkel He 162 Volksjager (Peoples Fighter) Jet-Powered Fighter / Interceptor Aircraft
The German Heinkel He 162 was of an advanced, single-seat, single jet engine design of World War 2 - it appeared in limited numbers towards the end of the conflict.
Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
The He 162 Volksjager (the "People's Fighter") was developed as a quick solution to stem the tide of the major Allied advances witnessed by German forces in the latter years of the war. The plan was to produce these inexpensive jet fighters in mass production quantities and train Hitler Youth to take them into battle. This formula would go on to show any reader of history the desperate lows that the Reich was willing to steep to help win the war for Germany.
The He 162 was a single-seat fighter of unique design, most identifiable for having the powerplant sitting atop the fuselage, negating the need for any complex internal intake and exhaust systems running the length of the fuselage. The tail was ingeniously split in a "T" format and the wings were mounted high on the fuselage body with edges folded down at aerodynamic degrees. A powered tricycle landing gear, a large glass canopy and even an ejection seat rounded out the list of notable features.
Initial plans for the He 162 came out just 38 days before the first prototype flew, making for an astounding development timeframe. The fuselage was developed from metal allows and plywood for the most inexpensive combination available. Mounting the engine atop the fuselage in no way hampered performance of the aircraft as a whole, though it did provide some instability issues in terms of handling capabilities that pilots should be made aware of, especially considering the nature of the dogfight.
With an intended production goal of about 4,000 a month, the He 162 was to overwhelm the Allied forces through sheer numbers. This became more idealistic than truth, as the supplies and trained aircrews were running thin for the Reich by this time. With that said, training for Hitler Youth ensued but in towed gliders, minimal zing the true learning curve apparent in an advanced aircraft such as the He 162 was to be. Final training was to conclude with Hitler Youth in actual combat.
The dream of the inexpensive lightweight jetfighter piloted by masses of young Hitler Youth men was never to be realized. In the end, British forces took over the airfield housing the only operational Volksjager air group, eventually taking eleven samples back to Britain for further testing and review. Of the 800 initial batch Volksjagers produced, only about 200 would ever actually make it out of the factory gates, the rest remaining in their place in underground factories found throughout Germany.
Incidentally, the He 162 Volksjager is sometimes incorrectly given the name of "Salamander" when, in fact, Salamander is the name given to the entire project of producing the lightweight jet fighter. Volksjager remains the recognized designation and the Heinkel firm applied the name of "Spatz" ("Sparrow") to their creation.