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The last hopes of the Luftwaffe

Written by Sakhal

This article presents a synthesis of the aircraft, more or less known, that should have returned the dominance of the skies to the Luftwaffe, or at least resist the Allied formations to the point of radically diminishing the bombings upon Germany. History shows that in those moments none of both objectives was affordable, but by the light of the investigations performed at the end of the conflict it was possible to understand that, if the desired results were not achieved, was by a relatively small margin. In every case these flying machines, from the economic He 162 to the elegant Ar 234 or the extravagant Ba 349, were for the Allies the starting point of many new aircraft that in subsequent years would cross the skies. Among the many projects considered by the German technicians in the last stages of the war, this articles shows only those that had the possibility to be operative aircraft. Besides these have been included another two projects: the Do 335 and the Ba 349. The first one remained in the preproduction models, and the second one, in the stage of prototype. If the war had not prevented the production of the Do 335 and the trials of the Ba 349, surely they would have achieved valid results.

Messerschmitt 410 Hornisse (Hornet)

Built in 1160 exemplars, this twin-engined aircraft belonging to the family of Messerschmitt heavy fighters entered service around mid 1943. Aircraft of not very exceptional prestations, albeit appreciable ones, operated mainly as heavy fighter and fighter-bomber, although several versions were developed intended for different roles. It was notable the installation of two 13 mm machine guns in remote-controlled turrets in the sides of the fuselage, intended mainly to cover the blind sectors at prow, making specially effective and powerful its armament.

The last hopes of the Luftwaffe

Dimensions: 12.47 m x 16.35 m x 4.27 m

Speed: 624 km/h

Altitude: 7000 m

Engines: 2 x Daimler Benz 603 A 1750 hp

Armament: 2 x 7.92 mm + 2 x 13 mm + 2 x 20 mm + 1000 kg of bombs

Heinkel 219 Uhu (Owl)

This excellent night fighter, probably the best one used during the war, opened large gaps in the ranks of the Allied bombers on the German skies. Projected following very modern concepts, it was the first aircraft in the world that had as normal equipment ejection seats. It was equipped as well with pressurized cockpit, radar for night tracking and remote-controlled guns in the nose. The crew was two persons. In the first ten days of operative use, the He 219 managed to shoot down 25 British bombers without suffering casualties.

The last hopes of the Luftwaffe

Dimensions: 15.55 m x 18.50 m x 4.11 m

Speed: 670 km/h

Altitude: 12700 m

Engines: 2 x Daimler Benz 603 A 1750 hp

Armament: 6 x 20 mm

Dornier 335 Pfeil (Arrow)

The Dornier 335 was an aircraft of a very original concept, whose propulsion relied in two powerful piston engines coupled in tandem, one of which was tractor and the other propeller. This large single-seat aircraft, that had been conceived primarily as a nocturnal fighter, seemed very promising, but because of its very advanced concept provoked many distrusts that delayed its serial production until the last days of the war. It seems that certain prototypes were employed in some missions, but only experimentally.

The last hopes of the Luftwaffe

Dimensions: 13.85 m x 13.80 m x 5 m

Speed: 763 km/h

Altitude: 11400 m

Engines: 2 x Daimler Benz 603 E1 1800 hp

Armament: 2 x 13 mm + 1 x 20 mm

Messerschmitt 163 Komet (Comet)

First fighter on the world equipped with rocket engine, the small Me 163 saw the light in May 1944. Product of very advanced technical conceptions, at the end of the war it was still in phase of perfectioning, but due to the increasing hardness of the bombings it took also part in the operations, achieving notable results at the expense of the Allied bombers. The employment method was the following: at the arrival of the bombers, the Me 163 took off and gained altitude, to later rush against the enemy and finally glide to the ground. Because of their high speed, it was practically impossible to shoot them down from the bombers.

The last hopes of the Luftwaffe

Dimensions: 5.70 m x 9.30 m x 2.50 m

Speed: 900 km/h

Altitude: 12000 m

Engines: 1 x Walter HWK 509 A2 1500 kg of thrust

Armament: 2 x 20 mm

Messerschmitt 262 Schwalbe (Swallow)

The Messerschmitt 262 was the first jet fighter in the history of aviation that entered service in significative quantities. Unfortunately, the scarcity of materials, the insufficient tuning of its engines and its wrong use in the battlefield (being used as fighter-bomber instead of pure fighter) greatly harmed this magnificent aircraft. Despite this, the damage that managed to inflict to the Allied formations was truly remarkable. From the basic model derived a fighter version, a fighter-bomber, a night fighter and a reconnaissance aircraft, with a total of 1430 exemplars built.

The last hopes of the Luftwaffe

Dimensions: 10.60 m x 12.65 m x 3.85 m

Speed: 866 km/h

Altitude: 11450 m

Engines: 2 x Junkers Jumo 109-004 B1 900 kg of thrust

Armament: 4 x 30 mm + 500 kg of bombs

Arado 234 Blitz (Lightning)

The Arado 234, the first operative jet bomber in the world, entered service almost at the same time than the Messerschmitt 262, but unlike this it was an aircraft specifically created for bombing, instead of being a modified fighter. Aircraft of excellent performance, it soon revealed to be absent of the basic defects that had made to be born dead many other prototypes. It was employed, besides bombardment missions, for mid and long range photographical reconnaissance. Its high speed and the installation of two guns shooting backwards warranted enough protection against the Allied fighters.

The last hopes of the Luftwaffe

Dimensions: 12.65 m x 14.10 m x 4.30 m

Speed: 742 km/h

Altitude: 10000 m

Engines: 2 x Junkers Jumo 004 B 900 kg of thrust

Armament: 2 x 20 mm + 1500 kg of bombs

Heinkel 162 Salamander (Salamander)

Product of wit and despair, this small jet fighter was devised and realised in just three months. Its structure was the simplest one: mixed, but in the most part wood, while the controls were reduced to the minimum necessary. The jet engine was emplaced between the wings, externally above the fuselage. The cockpit, equipped with ejection seat, had beneath it, at each side, one20 mm gun. Built in few exemplars (around 100) because of the war, it had little weight in the operative plan due to the precipitated events.

The last hopes of the Luftwaffe

Dimensions: 9.04 m x 7.20 m x 2.59 m

Speed: 838 km/h

Altitude: 12000 m

Engines: 1 x BMW 003 E1 800 kg of thrust

Armament: 2 x 20 mm

Bachem 349 Natter (Viper)

The Bachem 349, even without having passed the stage of prototype, is a project that deserves to be remembered. It was a rocket-propelled aircraft launched from a vertical ramp. At the arrival of enemy bombers, the thrust of the rocket engine would make it reach an adequate point nearby to the enemy formation, from which the aircraft would fire a burst of deadly air-to-air rockets, for then start the descent. During the descent the propulsion plant and the cabin would detach, and each one would reach the ground by a parachute. However, in the first piloted test the aircraft disintegrated, and the project was abandoned.

The last hopes of the Luftwaffe

Dimensions: 6.02 m x 3.99 m x 2.24 m

Speed: 997 km/h

Altitude: 9800 m

Engines: 1 x Walter HWK 509 C1 2000 kg of thrust

Armament: 24 x 73 mm Hs 217 Fohn rockets or 33 x 55 mm R4M rockets

Categories: Aircraft - World War Two - 20th Century - [General] - [General]


Website: Military History

Article submitted: 2014-09-25

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