A tailless design approach was used when finalizing the promising Messerschmitt P.1111 single-seat jet fighter in the latter stages of World War 2.
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Messerschmitt AG of World War 2 Germany managed three of the more iconic aircraft used operationally the conflict - the prop-driven Bf 109, the rocket-powered Me 163 "Komet" and the jet-powered Me 262 "Schwalbe". Between these designs lay a host of other submissions and design studies, some entertained by the German Air Ministry for possible development and others remaining in-house research projects or barely pencil sketches. The P.1111 was one of the many designs that never saw the light of day as an intended single-seat, jet-powered fighter. The aircraft was born from the P.1112 initiative which became Messerschmitt's last jet-powered design initiative of the war and fell in line with the sudden trend of Messerschmitt jet aircraft featuring tailless arrangements.
To help further the P.1112 endeavor along, design studies were ordered in January of 1945 and Willy Messerschmitt himself championed that these be developed along the lines of tailless aircraft after seeing several other tailless configurations find Air Ministry interest and approval. Despite the objections of some of his engineering group, the project continued as tailless to better the odds for a Messerschmitt aircraft being chosen by a desperate German government.
P.1111 became the first design study and the aircraft incorporated a planform featuring 45-degree sweptback wing mainplanes. While a single vertical tail fin was used, no other true tail surfaces were part of the layout. The wing mainplanes were of a considerable surface area that they nearly formed a true delta-wing planform. Beyond the sweep seen at the leading edges, the mainplanes were also given sweepback along their trailing edges. With its tubular fuselage, a single turbojet engine was selected to power the type and this would be aspirated by a pair of elliptical intakes set to either side of the near-nose position by which, via ductwork rounding the cockpit walls, the sole jet installation at rear would be fed. The cockpit was set aft of the nose assembly with the wing root structure running along both sides and the roots ran from the near-nose location to just near the exhaust port identified under the tail. A tricycle undercarriage would have been in play featuring a single-wheeled nose leg at the extreme nose position and the single-wheeled main legs found under the mass of the aircraft near midships.
It was intended, at least initially, that the wing mainplanes be designed as "wet", carrying the bulk of the required fuel stores for the thirsty jet engine but development never truly outlined the network that would have been used. The cockpit was also set to feature pressurization for high-altitude work (its principle foe would have been the high-flying American Boeing B-29 Superfortress heavy bomber) and an ejection seat was to be installed for the pilot.
Projected armament included 2 x 30mm MK 108 cannons in the nose with 2 x 30mm MK 108 cannon set in the wings (one per wing). Ammunition for the second set was held in a compartment immediately aft of the cockpit.
Power for the compact fighter became 1 x Heinkel-Hirth HeS 011 turbojet engine of 2,866 pounds thrust output. Performance could only be estimated as the finalized P.1111 was never constructed nor flown. Cruising speeds were in excess of 500 miles per hour with a rate-of-climb of 4,690 feet per minute being hoped for. Range was in the vicinity of 930 miles though actual flying time was restricted to about 1.8 hours. The proposed service ceiling reached nearly 46,000 feet.
In March of 1945, with the German war situation reaching catastrophic levels, the P.1111 design was submitted to Air Ministry officials. After a quick review, some changes were in order - the cockpit was moved to the absolute front of the fuselage and this forced the nose armament to be repositioned into the wings. With the wing space now reduced, fuel stores were repositioned themselves into the fuselage proper. Additional revisions to the wings, mainly a reduction of their surface area, led to a slight change in expected performance.
In this new guise, the aircraft was resubmitted for consideration as the "P.1112" but, in the end, the project came to nothing as the war in Europe ended during May and this, in turn, ended all prospects of another official review.
[ 0 Units ] : Messerschmitt - Nazi Germany
- X-Plane / Developmental
21.33 ft (6.5 m)
29.86 ft (9.1 m)
(Showcased structural dimension values pertain to the Messerschmitt Me P.1111 production model)
6,041 lb (2,740 kg)
9,447 lb (4,285 kg)
(Showcased weight values pertain to the Messerschmitt Me P.1111 production model)
1 x Heinkel HeS 011 turbojet engine developing 2,866 lb of thrust.
(Showcased powerplant information pertains to the Messerschmitt Me P.1111 production model)
506 mph (815 kph; 440 kts)
45,932 feet (14,000 m; 8.7 miles)
932 miles (1,500 km; 810 nm)
4,690 ft/min (1,430 m/min)
(Showcased performance values pertain to the Messerschmitt Me P.1111 production model; Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database)
PROPOSED STANDARD (Original):
2 x 30mm MK 108 cannons in nose
2 x 30mm MK 108 cannons in wings (one per wing)
PROPOSED STANDARD (Later):
4 x 30mm MK 108 cannons in wings (two per wing)
(Showcased armament details pertain to the Messerschmitt Me P.1111 production model)
P.1111 - Project Designation; revised to become the P.1112 model.
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