Oxford AC019 German Heinkel He 162A-2 Salamander "Spatz" Jet Fighter - II/Jagdgeschwader 1, Leck, Germany, 1945 (1:72 Scale)
"Guns before butter. Guns will make us powerful; butter will only make us fat."
- Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering, Head of the German Luftwaffe
In September 1944, with the Nazi empire under extreme pressure on all fronts, the German Air Ministry (ReichsLuftsfahrtMinisterium or "RLM") acknowledged Germany's desperate circumstances by issuing a requirement for a new jet fighter that would be simple, cheap, and easy to build in large quantity. The aircraft would be built in such quantities that little maintenance would be required, as a defective aircraft could simply be discarded and replaced with a new one. The Air Ministry called this aircraft the "Volksjaeger (People's Fighter)" while Heinkel, its manufacturer, called it the "Spatz" (Sparrow).
Such a measure made some sense under the circumstances, but there were those in the Nazi leadership, including Reichsmarshall Hermann Goering, head of the Luftwaffe, who went further, believing that the new fighter would be piloted by Hitler Youth. These adolescents would be given elementary pilot training by flying gliders based on the Volksjaeger, and then would immediately be put behind the controls of the fighter itself, to sink or swim in flight operations and air combat. The idea of putting barely trained kids into the cockpit of a high performance fighter, particularly one designed in haste and manufactured as cheaply as possible, was of course lunacy, and Goering, a fighter ace himself, should have known better.
The new aircraft was originally assigned the designation "He-500", but in order to misdirect Allied intelligence the designation was changed to "He 162". The lower number hopefully would suggest that the type had been in development for a number of years. Two variants were to be produced, including the "He 162A-1" bomber destroyer with two MK-108 30 millimeter cannon and 50 rounds per gun, and the "He 162A-2" air superiority fighter with two MG-151 20 millimeter cannon and 120 rounds per gun.
Pictured here is a 1:72 scale replica of a German Heinkel He 162A-2 Salamander "Spatz" jet fighter that was attached to II/Jagdgeschwader 1, then deployed to Leck, Germany, during early 1945.
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Wingspan: 4 inches
Length: 6 inches
Release Date: December 2011
Historical Account: "Check Six" - The design had some clear weaknesses, of course, such as its short endurance and the fact that the position of the engine left the pilot almost completely blind to the vital rear "six" position. Some sources also state that the back-mounted engine made the aircraft logitudinally unstable, rendering any maneuvers that "threw the aircraft around" unsafe.
In one sense the He 162 was remarkable: it was designed and flown in three months, and in the five months following, several hundred were built under the most difficult conditions. It was fortunate for the Allies that the He 162 was much too late to be anything more than a footnote to the history of the air war over Europe, but a certain curiosity remains over what it might have been able to do had events been more favorable to it.