Friday, February 14, 2014

The Friday Flyby - 14 February

Many people are somewhat familiar with the Me-262 and the Me-163 (not a jet fighter but a rocket plane) from World War II. Not so many folks are aware of the number of designs on the drawing board and those which made it to the prototype stage and beyond.

I had originally planned this post to be about the Me-262 Schwalbe, shown above. But then, while doing some research into the early jet fighters, all sorts of odd and interesting aircraft started showing up in my searching for material and pictures. (Of course, it's always about the pictures!)

So here for your edification and amazement, the jets of World War II.

United Kingdom
Experimental and test
  • Gloster E.28/39 – May 15, 1941 first jet engined aircraft to fly in the United Kingdom, and the first jet aircraft flown by any of the Allies of World War II.
Gloster E.28/39

  • Gloster Meteor – First operational Allied jet fighter, entered service on 27 July 1944. The first V-1 flying bombs "kill" was made by a Meteor on 4 August 1944 (another followed the same day). This was the first downing of one jet-powered aircraft by another, although that achievement is usually ascribed to the battles between manned jet aircraft during the Korean War in November 1950.
  • De Havilland Vampire – Production aircraft entered service in April 1945.
Gloster Meteor

De Havilland Vampire

United States
Experimental and test
  • Bell XP-83 – redesigned P-59 for long-range escort fighter duties. Cancelled after two prototypes.
  • Consolidated Vultee XP-81 – mixed power. Two prototypes built, project cancelled due to poor flight performance.
  • Douglas XBTD-2 Destroyer – two prototypes modified with mixed propulsion. Cancelled due to poor performance.
  • McDonnell FH Phantom – prototype, saw limited production postwar.
  • Northrop XP-79 – prototype tested 5 July 1944, cancelled 1945.
Bell XP-83

Consolidated Vultee XP-81

Douglas XBTD-2 Destroyer

McDonnell FH Phantom

Northrop XP-79

  • Bell P-59 Airacomet – first United States Army Air Forces jet to fly; used for training duties, contract terminated after 66 built.
  • Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star – first operational USAAF jet fighter in 1945; small numbers reached the European Theater immediately before VE-Day but did not see combat.
  • Ryan FR Fireball – mixed prop and jet aircraft for US Navy, first flew on June 25, 1944, but never saw combat. 66 delivered.
Bell P-59

Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star

Ryan FR Fireball

Soviet Union
  • Sukhoi Su-5 – combined propeller/thermojet propulsion. 1 built, first flew 6 April 1945. Grounded after piston engine failure.
Sukhoi Su-5

  • Mikoyan-Gurevich I-250 – mixed power fighter using a motorjet engine creating jet thrust at the rear and also turning a propeller at the front. 10–20 estimated built. Overtaken by pure jet aircraft.

Experimental and test
  • Heinkel He 178 – first aircraft ever to fly under turbojet power, 27 August 1939
  • Heinkel He 280 – first jet fighter, cancelled in favour of Me 262.
  • Henschel Hs 132 – dive bomber. Factory overrun by Soviets before flown.
  • Horten Ho 229 – fighter/bomber. First jet powered flying wing.
  • Junkers Ju 287 – multi-engine bomber; proof-of-concept flown 16 August 1944; captured by Soviets before definitive design built.
Heinkel He 178

Heinkel He 280

Henschel Hs 132

Horten Ho 229

Junkers Ju 287

  • Messerschmitt Me 262 – first operational jet-powered fighter.
  • Heinkel He 162 – Second jet engined fighter to serve with the Luftwaffe.
  • Arado Ar 234 – first jet-powered bomber and reconnaissance aircraft.
Messerschmitt Me 262

Heinkel He 162

Arado Ar 234

Experimental and test
  • Caproni Campini N.1 – first experimental Italian thermojet.
Caproni Campini N.1

  • Reggiane Re.2007 – turbojet fighter
  • Campini Caproni C.A.183bis – piston-thermojet engined high-altitude interceptor
Reggiane Re.2007

Campini Caproni C.A.183bis

Experimental and test
  • Nakajima Kikka – turbojet interceptor, similar but smaller than Me 262, prototype flown.
Nakajima Kikka (中島 橘花 "Orange Blossom")

Lots of interesting aircraft there. In many you can tell the design is a dead end. Some, like the Horton Ho-229, seem to foretell the future. But all are interesting in their own way.

Ever wonder who the first jet pilot was? This guy.

Erich Karl Warsitz
18 October 1906 - 12 July 1983

Warsitz held the rank of Flight-Captain in the Luftwaffe and was selected by the Reich Air Ministry as chief test pilot at Peenemünde West. He is remembered as the first person to fly an aircraft under liquid-fueled rocket power, the Heinkel He 176, on June 20, 1939 and also the first to fly an aircraft under turbojet power, the Heinkel He 178, on August 27 the same year.
On August 27, 1939 he undertook the world first jet flight with the Heinkel He 178 fitted with Hans von Ohain’s jet engine, the He S 3 turbine.After the second circuit Erich Warsitz set the He 178 up for the landing. The turbine responded to the throttle lever very obediently. Just above the ground he corrected the machine’s attitude, pulled off a perfect landing and came to a halt just short of the waters of the Warnow.  - Wikipedia 
The Future vs The Past


  1. I've seen the Arado 234 at the Smithsonian several times. It's beautiful.

    1. Next trip to DC, I'm checking it out. A beautiful bird indeed.

  2. As always, well done... especially the photo selection.

    1. Lot's of good stuff out there on the innertubes. (Lots of bad too, but we won't go there.)

      Thanks Buck!

  3. You're right, there were a lot more jets back then than I realized. Thanks, keep up the good work and hope you're feeling better.

    1. More jets and more jets.

      Feeling better, the Flyby is very therapeutic!

  4. Progress... Interesting steps to get from prop to jet, and the war WAS a large motivator!!!

  5. If you want to view a MOST EXCELLENT site depicting the plans/drawings/artwork/models of German fighters & bombers that never made it off the drawing board and/or into production visit LUFT ' They even sell models of the heretofore unknowns on e-bay now! GO SEE! A NZ site, iirc..

    1. I checked it out Virgil, some really cool aircraft. I smell a future post...

  6. There is a marked resemblance between the Gloster Meteor and a de Haviland Mosquito, other than the location of the elevator. I wonder how the Mosquito would perform with jet engines?

    1. Now that you mention it, you're right. A jet powered Mossie? That would be a thing to see.

  7. Fascinating. I'm guessing you're way better now. I was presented with the Me262 when I was little and that was about it for the next 20 years. It wasn't until I was much older that I realized that everybody was working on jets, rocket planes and the like all through the war. I remember reading about some of the losses of pilot after pilot in Britain after the war as they wrestled with getting through mach 1. It made for really grim reading. Survive an entire air war, come home and fly into the ground. It sounded safer to fly against the Germans.

    1. Way better, Aye.

      Our own top-scoring ace, Major Richard Bong was killed test flying the Lockheed P-80. Going from piston engined to jet powered aircraft was certainly a leap. Another killer was that the early jet engines were not that reliable and most jets have the glide characteristics of a brick. Then and now.


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