The Heinkel He 219 Uhu

Germany
Germany

Sorry, No ID pictures yet

The Uhu (english: Owl) is considered to be the finest night-fighter of Germany of World War 2. In 1940 Heinkel made a proposal to the german government for a twin-engine heavy fighter that could be adopted for torpedo bombing and/or for medium bomber duties. At first the government declined, insensitive to the excellent proposal, but had to change it's mind when the night bombing campaign of the RAF started picking up speed and accuracy. The result was that Heinkel was asked to redesign it's heavy fighter for a dedicated night-fighter type. Because the plans were already in an advanced stage, Heinkel could start building a prototype almost immediately, but ironically enough was set back considerably when an RAF bombing raid destroyed most of the completed drawings.
Even so, the work continued, and a heavy warplane with a fully retractable tricycle landing gear emerged. It had a fully glazed cockpit for two crewmembers, each seated on an ejector seat that operated on compressed air. These ejector seat were the first in service in the world. The powerplants were inverted-Vee's, but had an anular radiator in front of them giving a 'Radial-engine' look.

Versions:

Further pictures:

A Heinkel He 219A night-fighter, showing it's radar antennae
A Heinkel He 219A night-fighter, showing it's radar antennae

Another Heinkel He 219A nightfighter, showing some very clean lines
Another Heinkel He 219A nightfighter, showing some very clean lines

 

Technical data on the Heinkel He 219A-7/R1 Uhu
Powerplant 2 × Daimler-Benz DB 603G inverted-Vee, rated at 1900 hp (1416.43 kW) each Role during war
  • Night-Fighter
Length 50 ft 11.75 inch Height 13 ft 5.5 inch
Empty weight 24692 lb Operational weight 33730 lb max
Wing Span 60 ft 8.33 inch Wing Aspect ratio 7.96
Wing Area 478.99 sq ft Service ceiling 41665 ft
Maximum speed 416 mph at 22965 ft Cruising speed 391 mph at optimum altitude
Initial climb rate 1,810 ft per min Range 960 miles typical,
1243 miles max
Fuel capacity internal 594 Imp gal (713 US gal) Fuel capacity external -
Machine guns - Cannons
  • 2 × 30 mm MK 108 fixed forward-firing in the wing roots, 100 rounds each
  • 2 × 30 mm MK 103 fixed forward-firing in the ventral tray, 100 rounds each
  • 2 × 20 mm MG 151/20 fixed forward-firing in the ventral tray, 300 rounds each
  • 2 × 30 mm MK 108 fixed forward- and upward-firing in rear fuselage in a Shräge Musik installation, 100 rounds each
Bomb load - Torpedoes/rockets -
Crew 2: pilot, radar operator Naval or ground based Ground
First flight (prototype) 15 November 1942 Operational Service late 1943 - 1945
Manufacturer Ernst Heinkel A.G. Number produced 288 total, unknown number this version
Metric system
Length 15.54 m Height 4.1 m
Empty weight 11200 kg Operational weight 15300 kg max
Wing Span 18.5 m Wing Aspect ratio 7.96
Wing Area 44.5 m² Service ceiling 12699 m
Maximum speed 669 km/h at 7000 m Cruising speed 629 km/h at optimum altitude
Initial climb rate 552 m per min Range 1545 km typical,
2000 km max
Fuel capacity internal 2.700 liters Fuel capacity external -
Machine guns - Cannons
  • 2 × 30 mm MK 108 fixed forward-firing in the wing roots, 100 rounds each
  • 2 × 30 mm MK 103 fixed forward-firing in the ventral tray, 100 rounds each
  • 2 × 20 mm MG 151/20 fixed forward-firing in the ventral tray, 300 rounds each
  • 2 × 30 mm MK 108 fixed forward- and upward-firing in rear fuselage in a Shräge Musik installation, 100 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 219  Uhu
Heinkel 219A-0 Uhu Initially 10 prototypes were built, of which 7 were designated He 219A-0 as preproduction aircraft. All versions were fitted with the FuG 212 Lichtenstein C-1 intercept radar. There were two version, only slightly differing in armament.

Rüstsätze (field conversion sets):

He 219A-0/R1 Uhu Armed with:
  • 4 × 30 mm MK 108 cannon
  • 2 × 20 mm MG 151/20 cannon
He 219A-0/R2 Uhu Armed with:
  • 4 × 30 mm MK 103 cannon
  • 2 × 20 mm MG 151/20 cannon
He 219A-0/R3 Uhu Shortages of the 30 mm Mk 108 and MK 103 cannons forced the Germans to arm the Uhu with 'only' 6 × 20 mm MG 151/20 fixed forward-firing cannons. A couple of this batch of 130 aircraft were further used as prototype to test a number of armament variations.


Number built: 137 (7 original prototypes)
Heinkel 219A-2 Uhu Initially the next version would have been the He 219A-1, powered with 2 × Daimler-Benz DB 603, fitted with the GM-1 nitrous-oxide powerboost, but this was canceled. Thus the first production batch was the He 219A-2, powered by 2 × Daimler Benz DB 603A.
One of the prototypes had paved the way for the Shräge Musik installation. This cannon set-up pointed up and forward, making it possible for the Uhu to fly it's initial course without having to pull-up and slow down in order to fire at the target. Shräge Musik had another advantage, namely it was aimed at the relatively unprotected belly of the bombers. Also, the night-fighter was hard to spot, and it became even harder to spot when the background wasn't a clear night sky.

Rüstsätze (field conversion sets):

He 219A-2/R1 Uhu Armed with:
  • 2 × 30 mm MK 108 in a Shräge Musik installation
  • 4 × 20 mm MG 151/20 cannon fixed forward-firing, 2 in wing roots, and 2 in the ventral tray.
He 219A-2/R2 Uhu Armed with:
  • 2 × 30 mm MK 108 in a Shräge Musik installation
  • 2 × 20 mm MG 151/20 fixed forward-firing in wing roots
  • 2 × 30 mm MK 103 fixed forward-firing in the ventral tray.


Number built: 40
Heinkel 219A-5 Uhu The He 219A-3 and He 219A-4 were uncompleted projects for a three-seat bomber and three-seat reconnaissance bomber. So the next version was the He 219A-5. This was an improved night-fighter, based on the He 219A-2.

Rüstsätze (field conversion sets):

He 219A-5/R1 Uhu Identical to the He 219A-2/R1, except that the rear of the two engine nacelles were modified to contain a fuel tank. This resulted in an additional 172 Imp gal (206 Us gal, 780 liters) of fuel, extending the range by 404 miles (650 km)
He 219A-5/R2 Uhu Equal to the He 219A-5/R1, but powered by 2 × Daimler-Benz DB 603E, rated at 1,800 hp (1.342 kW) each
He 219A-5/R2-U2 Uhu Equal to the He 219A-5/R1, but powered by 2 × Daimler-Benz DB 603G, rated at 1,900 hp (1.417 kW) each
He 219A-5/R3 Uhu Equal to the He 219A-5/R1, but powered by 2 × Daimler-Benz DB 603Aa, rated at 1,800 hp (1.342 kW) each
He 219A-5/R4 Uhu This version had a third crewmember, situated in a raised, stepped cockpit section. The armament saw the addition of a -.51 inch (13 mm) MG 131 trainable rearward-firing gun for defensive purposes (and offensive when the Uhu flew in front and lower than the target). It was powered by 2 × Daimler-Benz DB 603E, rated at 1,800 hp (1.342 kW) each
Officially, the program ended here. The strong political antipathy by the German government against Heinkel sure wasn't shared by the night-fighter pilots, whose lives were dependent on the quality of their aircraft. The demand and need was so high that Heinkel continued to produce the He 219. The Luftwafe even had 6 aircraft assembled from spareparts!


Number built: unknown out of a total of about 288
Heinkel 219A-6 Uhu The effectiveness of the De Havilland Mosquito worried the Germans, for it was a very fast and small aircraft that could also operate at night, making it very hard to catch them. In order to deal with them Heinkel built the He 219A-6.
The He 219A-6 was a conversion from the He 219A-2/R1, powered by 2 × Daimler-Benz 603L, rated at 1,750 hp (1.305 kW) each, and fitted with the GM-1 nitrous-oxide powerboost. Further, this versin had no Shräge Musik, and no armor, to increase performance. It entered service in August 1944.
Number converted: unknown
Heinkel 219A-7 Uhu This was the last production version, and had the biggest number of Rüstsätze, to deal with a variety of armament and engine options.

Rüstsätze (field conversion sets):

He 219A-7/R1 Uhu Armed with:
  • 2 × 30 mm MK 108 in a Shräge Musik installation
  • 2 × 30 mm MK 108 fixed forward-firing in wing roots
  • 2 × 30 mm MK 103 fixed forward-firing in the ventral tray.
  • 2 × 20 mm MG 151/20 in the ventral tray.
He 219A-7/R2 Uhu Armed with:
  • 2 × 30 mm MK 108 in a Shräge Musik installation
  • 2 × 30 mm MK 103 fixed forward-firing in the ventral tray.
  • 2 × 20 mm MG 151/20 in the ventral tray.
He 219A-7/R3 Uhu Armed with:
  • 2 × 30 mm MK 108 in a Shräge Musik installation
  • 2 × 20 mm MG 151/20 in the wing roots.
He 219A-7/R4 Uhu First version fitted with the FuG 220 Neptun tail-warning radar. Armed with:
  • 2 × 30 mm MK 108 in a Shräge Musik installation
  • 2 × 20 mm MG 151/20 in the ventral tray.
  • 2 × 20 mm MG 151/20 fixed forward-firing in the wing roots.
He 219A-7/R5 Uhu Armed with 2 × 30 mm MK 108 in a Shräge Musik installation, and powered by 2 × Junkers Jumo 213E inverted Vee, each fitted with the MW 50 methanol/water power-boost system.
He 219A-7/R6 Uhu Armed with 2 × 30 mm MK 108 in a Shräge Musik installation, and powered by 2 × Junkers Jumo 222A/b inverted Vee, rated at 2,500 hp (1.864 kW) each


Number built: unknown out of a total of about 288

Remarks:

The Uhu had exceptional capabilities, and was an outstanding night fighter. Strangely enough, the German government ordered only a small number, probably because of political reasons. Even though the Heinkel company was not liked by the German leadership and orders were minimal, Heinkel decided to build on contradicting government orders.
In Venlo, The Netherlands, the first unit was formed: I/NJG 1. It was a Heinkel He 219A-0/R2 that in the night of 11/12 June 1943 scored it's first kill. Actually, it scored 5 kills against British bombers in a timespan of 30 minutes! During the first 6 sorties of He 219A-0's 20 British bombers were claimed, including 6 De Havilland Mosquitoes.

Strengths:

Weaknesses:

 

Got any comments?
Do you want to discuss this with someone else?
Post a message at the World War 2 Warbirds messageboard!!

 

© by Frans Bonné, 2000
Last revision: 12/11/00