The Heinkel He 162 Salamander

Germany
Germany

side view front view under view

The development of the Salamander must be something of a record, maybe the record. In September 1944 the German air ministry issued a requirement for a high-performance interceptor fighter that was supposed to attack the Allied bomber fleets attacking Germany, and was easily built by semi-skilled workers and constructed of non-strategic materials. It had to be fit for mass production, and easy to fly into combat.
Within 15 days Heinkel had a mock-up of the new fighter, and 5 days later the type was ordered in large numbers. The prototype flew for the first time on 6 December 1944, a mere 69 days after Heinkel started on the program!
The aircraft was largely made of wood, and Dural and Steel were used for part of the skinning and structure. The cockpit offered a clear and excellent view to the pilot, and the aircraft had an fully retractable three-point landing gear. The tail was designed in such manner that the exhaust of the turbo-jet engine would not damage it.

Versions:

Further pictures:

Heinkel He 162 Salamander
Heinkel He 162 Salamander

 

Technical data on the Heinkel He 162A-2 Salamander
Powerplant 1 × BMW 109-003E-1/2 Sturm torbojet, rated at 1764 lb st (7.85 kN) dry Role during war
  • Fighter
Length 29 ft 8.5 inch Height 8 ft 6.33 inch
Empty weight 4796 lb Operational weight 5480 lb typical,
5940 lb max
Wing Span 23 ft 7.5 inch Wing Aspect ratio 4.63
Wing Area 120.56 sq ft Service ceiling 39370 ft
Maximum speed 562 mph at 19685 ft Cruising speed unknown
Initial climb rate 1,950 ft per min Range 606 miles max
Fuel capacity internal 209 Imp gal (251 US gal) Fuel capacity external -
Machine guns - Cannons 2 × 20 mm MG 151/20 fixed forward-firing in the lower forward fuselage, 120 rounds each
Bomb load - Torpedoes/rockets -
Crew 1 Naval or ground based Ground
First flight (prototype) 6 December 1944 Operational Service 1945 - 1945
Manufacturer Ernst Heinkel A.G. Number produced 125 total, 100 awaiting flight testing, 800 awaiting final assembly
Metric system
Length 9.06 m Height 2.6 m
Empty weight 2175 kg Operational weight 2486 kg typical,
2694 kg max
Wing Span 7.2 m Wing Aspect ratio 4.63
Wing Area 11.2 m² Service ceiling 12000 m
Maximum speed 904 km/h at 6000 m Cruising speed unknown
Initial climb rate 594 m per min Range 975 km max
Fuel capacity internal 950 liters Fuel capacity external -
Machine guns - Cannons 2 × 20 mm MG 151/20 fixed forward-firing in the lower forward fuselage, 120 rounds each
Bomb load - Torpedoes/rockets -

Here is a quick overview of all different versions, without the full technical specifications:

Different versions of the Heinkel He 162  Salamander
Heinkel He 162 Salamander prototypes The first 10 aircraft to be built were all prototypes, or would be used a s such. They were used for tests concerning the powerplant, optimal wings, and armament.
Number built: 10
Heinkel He 162A-1 Salamander The first of 2 very close variants was the He 162A-1. It was powered by 1 × BMW 109-0003A-1/2 turbojet, and armed with 2 × 30 mm MK 108 cannons, 50 rounds each.
Number built: unknown out of a number of about 115
Heinkel He 162A-2 Salamander The second version had a revied powerplant, consisting of 1 × BMW 109-0003E-1/2 turbojet, and was armed with 2 × 20 mm MG 151/20 cannons, 120 rounds each.
The number of aircraft actually built differs with several sources. I can only guess that there is confusion about the number of aircraft accepted, and the number of aircraft actually in 'operational service'.
Number built: unknown out of a number of about 115

Remarks:

The Salamander, also known as Volksjäger or People's fighter, entered service according to some sources in Januari 1945, 6 weeks after it's first flight, and 16 weeks after the start of the program. Other sources mention that the production of the Salamander started in Januari 1945, and equipped the first unit in May 1945, 4 days before the German capitulation.
It was planned to build 4.000 of these aircraft, in numerous versions, each month. Pilots would have been drawn from the Hitler Jugend who would receive only very basic flying instructions. It is clear that at the end of the War the German upper command put little value in a man's life, for I personally don't see how someone with only very basic glider training could have flown a Jet aircraft into combat.
Some Salamanders have been spotted by the Allied aircrews during 1945. On 19 April 1945 the Salamander scored it's first kill, and also the first loss in combat was recorded.
During hard maneuvers the Salamander might loose parts, and the engine could too easily have a flame-out. Partly because of this in the last three weeks of the War 13 aircraft were lost, killing 10 pilots, and only 3 of these losses were in combat.

Strengths:

Weaknesses:

 

 

© by Frans Bonné, 2000
Last revision: 11/9/00