Junkers Ju P.009 (Hubjager) Jet-Powered Interceptor Proposal
The proposed Junkers P.009 interceptor of wartime Germany would have taken off vertically and landed on a fuselage-mounted skid arrangement.
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The situation for Germany during World War 2 (1939-1945) was taking a turn for the worse during the campaigns of 1944 as Allied warplanes hammered all reaches of the Hitler's once-proud empire. This led to various initiatives enacted by authorities to help stem the tide of defeat that included both rocket- and jet-powered interceptors designed to meet the high-altitude threat head-on in short order. A plethora of designs emerged before the end with many never to see the light of day. One such interceptor under brief consideration was the Junkers Ju P.009 intended to succeed the famous Messerschmitt Me 163 "Komet".
The Me 263 was a single-seat rocket-powered interceptor aircraft which offered exceptional performance while being compact and reusable. Its performance, particularly its rate-of-climb, was second-to-none and its construction largely conventional - both good qualities to have in a wartime aircraft. However, its failings lay in its volatile rocket fuel mixture, which held an inherent tendency to ignite, and its precarious landing procedure which required the pilot to land the plane on its belly-mounted skid. The Me 163, it seemed, was more of a threat to its operators than it was to any one Allied bomber.
Junkers revisited the Me 163 approach and began in-house development of a possible successor. A teardrop fuselage was designed that incorporated the pilot in a reclined position at the nose. The nose would be covered over in a large, clear plastic cone for maximum vision - the cockpit full pressurized for the rigors of high-altitude flying. The tail unit was traditional with a single vertical fin and low-mounted horizontal tailplanes. The wing mainplanes would be mounted low along the fuselage sides just ahead of midships. Proposed armament became 2 x 20mm MG 151 cannons fitted over and under the nose (one over the starboard side and the other under port). It was thought that these guns could be easily replaced by 2 x 30mm MK 108 cannons if requested.
To remedy the failings of the Me 163's rocket propulsion system, the Junkers design team centered on using ten small turbojet engines arranged in three individual clusters - three engines sat over the starboard side of the forward fuselage, three over the port side and the remaining four under the belly. The end result would appear as if a circle of jets fitted all around the fuselage just aft of the cockpit. This was to supply the necessary rate-of-climb required to meet incoming waves of bombers as quickly as possible. The small turbojet engines would come from an in-house Junkers design.
Take-off would be accomplished by the interceptor being set vertically, this allowing the aircraft to get into the air as fast as possible - in essence what we call today a Vertical Take-Off (VTO) aircraft. Its compact design also lent itself well to transport - a squadron of these systems could be moved to defend critical locations within the German territories. Landing and recovery of the aircraft was similar in scope to the Me 163 - a skid system would be employed from under the fuselage. Landing speeds were just below 100 miles per hour, still making for quite the challenge to even the most veteran of pilots.
There were plenty of limitations already witnessed with the Junkers project - designated as "P.009". It lacked sufficient internal volume at the fuselage for the needed fuel stores to feed the thirsty turbojet installations. Instead, the wings were earmarked for fuel stores but even this supply would limited total powered flight to an estimated six minutes - barely enough to complete one or two passes against an enemy bomber formation. By this point in the war, Junkers was already committed to its medium Jumo 004 series turbojet engine as well as development of larger and more powerful systems still to come - as such there lay little interest in committing critical resources to development of a small engine to meet the P.009 powerplant requirement. As war was good business, Junkers also had to keep in mind BMW's stake in the war - the Junkers competitor was also a key participant in the emerging turbojet market.
With little left to recommend itself, the P.009 fell to the pages of World War 2 history as nothing more than another German paper project. Some structural dimensions defined included a fuselage length of 16.4 feet and a wingspan of 13 feet. Estimated values included a Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) of 4,410 pounds, a maximum speed of 620 miles per hour, a rate-of-climb of 15,160 feet per minute, and a service ceiling of 51,515 feet.