Messerschmitt Me P.1101/92 Heavy Fighter / Bomber Destroyer
The impressive-looking Messeschmitt P.1101/92 did not proceed beyond the design stages during World War 2.
Authored By Dan Alex; Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
In 1944, Messerschmitt (among other German aircraft firms) was hard at work penciling out design concepts for the German Air Ministry (RLM) July 1944 initiative looking to fulfill the requirement for its "Emergency Fighter Program" (Jagernotprogramm - translating to "Fighter Emergency Program"). Following years of daylight and night time bombing raids by American and British bomber forces, German command began adopting a defensive-minded approach to keep its factories up and running and supply lines intact. The Luftwaffe was a vital component of the German war machine and losing air power in whole would have been a disastrous affair. As such, production of defensive-minded fighters was on order to content with the powerful Allied bombers - these bombers capable of absorbing large amounts of damage and flying in formations numbering hundreds, sometimes thousands, of aircraft not including their pesky fighter escorts. The advent of jet propulsion solidified the design direction for this new generation of German fighter. One of the most well-known late-war initiatives went on to become the jet-powered, single-seat, single-engine Volksjager ("Peoples Fighter") by the Heinkel bureau in which the aircraft would have been flown by lesser-trained, non-military personnel such as the Hitler Youth in the final defense of Germany. A lesser-known development was the Messerschmitt Me P.1101.
The Jagernotprogramm sought to bring to bear the power of a 2nd Generation jet fighter design in the single-seat, single-engine design mold. Of course the winning design for the RLM became the Focke-Wulf Ta 183 "Huckebein" ("Hunchback") - intended to replace the Messerschmitt Me 262 "Schwalbe" ("Swallow") 1st Generation jet fighter - but the Messerschmitt P.1101 program was allowed to continue development albeit with reduced funding and resources. This particular Messerschmitt airframe sported swept-back wings, a single engine and variable sweep wings - the latter quite revolutionary for its time. Fortunately for the Allies, only one example was ever constructed and this was found still incomplete at the Oberammergau complex on April 29th, 1945 by advancing American forces and taken back stateside for evaluation in the months and years following the end of the war.
Like the P.1101 aircraft, the P.1101/92 was another Messerschmitt-inspired jet fighter design attempt but instead focused use on a two-man crew and a pair of engines for maximum performance as well as a large-caliber cannon suitable for "bomber-hunting". The P.1101/92 would have, therefore, been classified as a "heavy fighter" or, perhaps more appropriately, as a "destroyer" ("Zerstorer") in line with other such aerial weapons like the preceding prop-powered Messerschmitt Bf 110. Unlike the P.1101, the P.1101/92 never evolved past the "paper stage" and was never constructed, even in a developmental prototype form.
The P.1101/92 held a unique design all its own. The fuselage was cylindrical, if stout, capped by a contoured nosecone and tapered off at the extreme end to a point. The cockpit was held well ahead of the center of gravity and situated just aft of the nose cone assembly. The aircraft required two crew to manage and their seating was arranged in a side-by-side format, however, these seats being staggered in nature with the starboard side crewmember positioned slightly aft of the portside crewmember. As the P.1101/92 was a jet-powered instrument, it is assumed that the aircraft would have featured a pressurized cockpit for both crew as well as individual ejection seats for timelier extraction of personnel from a doomed aircraft. Views would have been adequate for much framing is noted in the Messerschmitt drawings and the raised spine of the fuselage certainly blocks the rearward views for both pilots. Wings were mid-mounted monoplane assemblies sporting thick wing roots and were highly swept along the trailing edge with a trailing edge also featuring sweep to a lesser extent. The wing appendages emanated from ahead of amidships and tapered off and were clipped at the tips. From the forward profile, it would have been easy to notice dihedral across each span. To each wing underside would have been installed a single cylindrical turbojet engine inboard of mid-span, with the engine nacelles running from the leading edge to the trailing edge. The engines would have sat close to the wings to promote aerodynamic qualities. A unique aspect of the P.1101/92 design would have been the revolutionary use of "Vee" tail unit featuring no horizontal tail surfaces. Instead, the aircraft would have made due with two outward slanted vertical tail fins that could double as both rudder and stabilizer. While this design element is quite commonplace on aircraft today, it would have been another design hurdle for the Messerschmitt team to overcome at the time. The undercarriage was envisioned to be of a tricycle arrangement featuring two single-wheeled landing gear legs held inboard of each engine and a single-wheeled nose landing gear leg held ahead and under the cockpit floor. Construction of the P.1101/92 would have been all-metal.
Another unique aspect of the P.1101/92 design was its proposed armament of a single large-caliber 75mm BK 7.5-cm cannon fitted under the nose, offset to the starboard side. The cannon was intended to tackle directly with American and British bombers by providing P.1101/92 pilots with the firepower necessary in bringing down Allied warplanes with a short burst. While impressive in scope, the fitting of such large armament brought about its own design hurdles in terms of the needed internal space in the airframe for the weapon system, its feed mechanism and the ammunition supply. Also of note would have been the recoil effects of the weapons use while in flight and the terrible stress it may have placed on the metal airframe at speed. Such complicated weapon systems were also prone to jamming at the worst possible times and exposure to the frigid temperatures of the upper atmosphere would have compounded issues. Not out of the scope of the P.1101/92 would have been the addition of lower-caliber (perhaps 20mm) systems fitted to the wingroots - some artist impressions showcase this armament to enhance the killing power of the P.1101/92. Of course one could also not rule out use of high-explosive, unguided rockets or even wire-guided missile systems then under development by the Germans.
Power for the P.1101/92 airframe would have been provided by a pair of Heinkel-Hirth He S 0 11 series turbojet engines, each rated to develop up to 2,860lbs of thrust. Estimations abound as to performance specifications of the Messerschmitt design and include a 558 maximum top speed. The powerplant would have been another sticking point in further development of the P.1101/92 for turbojets, up to this point, were relatively temperamental and extremely thirsty installations. It would also be some time before it was realized to place such engines closer to the fuselage and do away with the underwing installations in whole. The technical aspects of the P.1101/92, coupled with the basic design aspects, would have been truly a mountain of sorts to overcome.
In the end, all additional development of the P.1101/92 was cancelled for priority was now being set on jet-powered implements that could operate from only a single engine instead of a proposed pairing. Additionally, jet engine production facilities were constantly disrupted by the Allied air campaign and the ever-encroaching Allied ground forces before the end of the war in May of 1945. The Allied bombing campaign ensured that logistical infrastructure for the German air force and armies was completely disrupted, leading to such cases where the jet powerplants were not available for delivery in the numbers required to bring designs such as the P.1101/92 to fruition. Such ended the tenure of this potentially amazing "bomber-killer" design.