Heinkel He P.1078C Fighter Concept
The Heinkel He P.1078C proposal was delivered for consideration in the Luftwaffe Emergency Fighter Program at the end of 1944.
Authored By Martin Foray; Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
Germany's Emergency Fighter Program was enacted in the middle of July in 1944 in response to the Allied bombing offensive taking out critical German war-making capabilities. Production was now to be centered around more defensive-minded fighter developments (both piston- and jet-powered types were entertained) in an effort to stave off complete elimination in the war. The program was, in essence, a last ditch effort by the Luftwaffe to win back air superiority from the Allies - the Allies now firmly entrenched in Europe and making their way towards Berlin with each passing week. Some of the key fighter developments that arose from this end-war initiative became the iconic Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe (Swallow)
and the budget-minded Heinkel He 162 Volksjager (People's Fighter)
Heinkel submitted several designs for consideration beyond their well-known Volksjager and the He P.1087C proposal was one such submission. However, unlike the Volksjager, the P.1078C would become nothing more than a "paper airplane" design destined to never see the light of day. Regardless, the German Luftwaffe had a need and there were plenty of German manufacturers yearning to help fill the proverbial void. The P.1087C was intended as the next logical step in German jet-powered fighter developments, engineers already looking to supplement and, ultimately, replace the earlier Me 262 and He 162 just now beginning to enter operational service in small numbers.
This particular Heinkel design proposal was associated with a Luftwaffe specification centered around use of the new Heinkel Hirth He S 011 series turbojet engine. The engine would output an estimated 2,866lbs of thrust to propel the Heinkel design at speeds of up to 630 miles per hour. To keep production costs down and expedite mass production, the He 1078C design was relatively simple in nature, utilizing wood wherever possible. The metal fuselage sported a length no longer than 17 feet and contained the armored cockpit, armament and relatively large single engine fitting (fuel was to be housed in the wings). Wingspan was just under 30 feet and the design as a whole just topped 7 feet, 8 inches in height. The armament would have consisted of 4 x MK 108 series cannons fitted as pairs to either side of the nose section. The nose section itself was rather short and acted as the air intake to aspirate the turbojet engine buried further aft in the design. The opening was rectangular in nature and conformed well to the fuselage's square appearance when viewed in the forward profile. The engine exhausted at the rear through a conventional exhaust ring. The cockpit was held well-forward in the design with the pilot seated under a small canopy allowing for limited viewing ahead and to the sides (the rear was obstructed by way of a short fuselage spine). The undercarriage was fully retractable and would have consisted of three landing gear legs: two main legs at amidships and a nose landing gear leg - all were single-wheeled installations. When at rest, this arrangement would have given the P.0178C a distinct "nose-up" appearance, in effect perhaps promoting quicker take-offs with the increased wing drag at speed. Since the jet-powered fighter would have been operating at high altitudes, the cockpit was to be fully pressurized for the safety of the pilot, requiring him to don a special aviation suit and oxygen equipment not unlike today's fighters pilots. A primitive ejection seat was to have been part of the overall production plan.
Perhaps the most identifiable portion of the P.1078Cs design was its wings. The assemblies were fitted high against the fuselage sides and extensively swept rearwards. Each wing was cranked upwards from fuselage centerline up to roughly three-quarters out and then capped with a short wing piece cranked sharply downwards. The reason for this design was largely related to aerodynamic principles that were still being researched at the time and the result was to have combated stress effects on the wings at high speeds. Ernst Heinkel was convinced of their ability to provide for increased maneuvering and agility during dogfights. It bears note that there were no horizontal tailplanes in the Heinkel design and the entire internal fuel load for the thirsty turbojet engine was to be stored across both of the wings. However, the wings were not armored which unduly would have exposed them to enemy fire even of the slightest degree.
German authorities eventually passed on the P.1078C proposal citing its irregular wing formation which could, in fact, be a detriment in high speed flight. The unprotected nature of the fuel stores was another sticking point for the submission and the P.1078C foundered from then on with little chance of advancement forcing Heinkel to abandon the design by late February, 1945. Germany would go on to capitulate in April of that year and sign a formal surrender with the Allied powers in May.
The Heinkel He P.1078C would become nothing more than another Luftwaffe footnote in the pages of aviation history concerning World War 2 though Ernst Heinkel himself was thought to have favored the P.1078C design and considered its tailless design with rear-mounted engine and cranked wings something of a revolutionary step forwards and quite unlike anything being put forth by other firms. As with other German secret projects in the late war years, it is left to the imagination as to the impact that such an aircraft may have had had it flown in an aggressive nature as intended.