Focke-Wulf Ta 283 Fighter-Interceptor Aircraft
The Focke-Wulf Ta 283 was a proposed German wartime fighter-interceptor utilizing a combination rocket-ramjet propulsion scheme.
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The deteriorating late-war situation for Germany in World War 2 (1939-1945) was brought about, in part, by the relentless day and night time aerial bombing campaigns brought about by the Allies. This prompted the German Air Ministry to call for any interested aviation concern to supply viable jet- or rocket-powered fighter-interceptors capable of meeting the threat head-on and in short order. A myriad of designs were proposed throughout the war though very few were actually developed and flown in an operational sense by the end. Many languished as "paper projects" and this was the case with the interesting Focke-Wulf Ta 283 rocket-and-ramjet-powered aircraft.
Also known as "Projekt 283" or "P.283", the Ta 283 was one of several programs being designed along the lines of ramjet engine propulsion by the end of the war. Ramjets offered considerable gains in overall speed when compared to even the fastest piston-powered fighters of the era but these systems could not take-over propulsion of an aircraft until reaching approximately 150 miles per hour. This required other propulsion means to first assist the aircraft into the air on take-off - rocket engine / boosters or turbojet engines were the norm. Ramjets used an air-breathing process similar to a jet engine to produce their thrust but relied on the engine's forward motion to compress oncoming air and generate thrust in turn. Conversely, jet engines utilized on onboard axial compressor to achieve the same result.
Kurt Tank of Focke-Wulf, designer of the famous wartime Fw 190 piston-driven fighter, funded some of Dr. Otto Pabst's gains in the field of ramjet technology. The ramjet had finally reached a position of formal testing by 1945 which helped to prove the design as a viable aircraft propulsion unit to some. To this point, no single aircraft had been flown solely under the power of a ramjet engine so the ground being traversed was quite new to all involved.
Even before 1945, the German Air Ministry was in need of fast performing fighters to combat Allied bomber formations and called for a ramjet-powered fighter-interceptor design. Tank responded with his Ta 283 submission which utilized a pair of ramjet engines as well as a rocket drive unit to achieve take-off. While the design was headed by Tank, the airframe was drawn up by one Hans Multhopp - designer of the wartime Ta 183 "Huckabein" jet-swept-wing, jet-powered fighter as well as the American post-war Martin XB-51 jet-powered bomber. He also lent his design talents to the Martin X-23 "PRIME" lifting body aircraft for the USAF in the post-war years.