Luftwaffe Jet/Rocket Poll Nominee No.10…The Fieseler Fi-103R Reichenberg
The Fi-103R was a manned development of the V-1, powered by the same Argus pulse jet and assigned the role of a piloted missile (with an almost certain suicide bomber role for the pilot). Flown only as a prototype, most notably by the legendary female pilot Hanna Reitsch, the Fi-103R was not deployed operationally by its designated unit KG-200 in its assigned role, with the Mistel bomber program implemented in its place.
If you consider that the Fi-103R could have won the Second World War for Nazi Germany vote here
Luftwaffe Jet/Rocket Poll Nominee No.9…the Messerschmitt Me-328
The Me-328 was another short-lived Luftwaffe jet project that failed to progress beyond its initial prototype and evaluation process. Aimed to meet varying specifications, ranging from small parasite fighter and fighter-bomber roles, to suicide flying-bomb missions and short range interceptor, the major failing of the Me-328 was the power-plant (depending upon the version, usually a mix of 2 or more Argus pulse jets as used in the V-1). The vibration problems of the Argus jet engines destabilised the Me-328 to such an extent it has been reported that 2 of the prototypes broke up due to such violent forces.
If you consider the Me-328 could have reversed the defeat of the Third Reich in WWII please vote here.
Luftwaffe Jet/Rocket Poll Nominee No.8…the Henschel Hs-132
The Hs-132 narrowly failed to fly in prototype form before the defeat of Nazi Germany, being captured in its incomplete form by the Soviets in May 1945. A single-jet powered attack aircraft with the unique design feature of a cockpit built around the pilot lying prone, the Hs-132 shared some similarities with the He-162, and had it been developed and produced in time could have been a major part of the Luftwaffe’s inventory (succeeding piston engine tankbusters such as the Ju-87G, Hs-129 and Fw-190).
If you wish to vote for the Hs-132 as a potential war winner for the Luftwaffe follow this link.
Luftwaffe Jet/Rocket Poll Nominee No.7…The Bachem Ba-349 Natter (Viper)
The Bachem Ba-349 Natter (Viper) was a point-defence interceptor rocket with near suicidal requirements placed upon the pilot. With minimal flights under powered and unpowered conditions, the Ba-349 showed good flight dynamics, and was built with a minimum of strategic materials. However as a manned rocket powered interceptor it never saw operational service and manned flights were of a minimum (with the first resulting ion the death of the test pilot). It could be argued with some certainty that the Ba-349 was made redundant by parallel developments in SAM technology, such as the Wasserfall and Rheintochter missiles.
If the Ba-349 is your choice please vote here
Luftwaffe Jet/Rocket Poll Nominee No.6…The Junkers Ju-287
The Ju-287 only flew as a prototype and test-bed, failing to reach operational service with the Luftwaffe before the war’s end. It’s radical forward swept wings gave this four jet-engine bomber reportedly good handling capabilities, and it could have carried a heavier bomb load than its near contemporary, the Arado Ar-234. The Junkers Ju-287 was also used as a developmental basis for early Soviet jet bomber research.
If you consider that the Ju-287 could have helped win the war for the Third Reich feel free to vote here.
Luftwaffe Jet/Rocket Poll Nominee No.5…The Gotha Go-229
Also known as the Ho-229, named after the Horten brothers who developed and designed the radical ‘all-wing’ format of this German jet fighter, the Go-229 did not reach operational status with the Luftwaffe before the war’s end. Those prototypes that did fly were generally successful in showing the fighter’s potential and it has been recorded that a mock dogfight was conducted between a Go-229 and a Me-262, which was won by the Go-229. Recent research carried out by Northrop on a mock-up of the Go-229 demonstrated it had some limited stealthy qualities when contrasted with then radar equipment.
You can vote for the Go-229 here.
Luftwaffe Jet/Rocket Poll Nominee No.…The Arado Ar-234 Blitz bomber
The Ar-234 was the first jet-powered bomber and in its very short operational use in the Luftwaffe it showed great promise, including reconnaissance flights over the UK, bombing missions against the Ludendorff bridge at Remagen, and potential wider use in a four jet engine version and possible night-fighter use. Like the Me-262 and the He-163 the Ar-234 didn’t reach service in sufficient quantities early enough with adequately skilled pilots, however it would have been a potent weapon if these strategic and operational issues had been addressed.
You can vote for the Ar-234 here.
Luftwaffe Jet/Rocket Poll Nominee No.3…The Heinkel He-162 Salamander
The He-162 was arguably the most rushed and yet advanced fighter developed during World War II, if not all history. The ‘Volksjäger’ (People’s Fighter) was essentially a last ditch response to create a semi-conventional jet fighter interceptor designed to be mass produced for mass interceptions of the Allied daylight bombing campaign. Unfortunately for the Luftwaffe and Nazi Germany the He-162 was unable to be produced and used in sufficient numbers by quality pilots before the end of the war in Europe, with only some Gruppen of JG1 being able to fly the Salamander on a few sorties (with a very debatable quantity of confirmed kills to their credit). It must be pointed out however that the He-162 was essentially a disposable fighter with limited demands on strategic reserves…in light of this it could have been a major asset earlier in the war if it had been introduced with more qualified pilots available. It was also reportedly a good fighter to fly by an experienced pilot, and like other Luftwaffe jets and rocket warplanes the He-162’s major technical weakness was in its engine.
You can vote for the Heinkel He-162 here.
Luftwaffe Jet/Rocket Poll Nominee No.2…The Messerschmitt Me-163 Komet
The next voting option for a Luftwaffe jet or rocket powered aircraft that could have helped win WWII is the Me-163 rocket interceptor. The Komet was a swept wing rocket-powered aircraft that saw limited service with certain Jagdgruppen from May 1944 onwards. Unlike it’s more successful Messerschmitt stable-mate the Me-262 the Me-163 was not as successful in either meeting it’s main mission (i.e. intercepting the daylight USAAF bomber streams and defeating them) not in being as capable as it should have been (e.g. it had no retractable wheeled undercarriage and the C-Stoff/T-Stoff fuel combination was dangerously volatile). Having said that if voting for the Komet you may wish to consider it’s overall advanced technical status which served as a starting point for what could have been a far more successful Ju-263, plus it had some foreign design and service implications (being adapted by the Japanese and far more successful than Soviet equivalent types).
You can place your vote for the Me-163 Komet here.
Luftwaffe Jet/Rocket Poll Nominee No.1…The Messerschmitt Me-262 Schwalbe/Sturmvogel
Probably the hot favourite as jet aircraft that could have helped reverse Allied superiority for the Luftwaffe and helped win the war, the Me-262 and its variants was the most operationally successful of all the jet and rocket powered warplanes to see service in WWII. When voting here are some points to consider:
- The Me-262 was the only operational Luftwaffe jet during WWII to have multiple kills accorded to multiple aces in its short service life.
- The Me-262 was superior in most aspects to contemporary or near contemporary Allied jets (e.g. the Gloster Meteor, De Havilland Vampire, Bell P-58 Airacomet)
- As a Schnellbomber (fast jet bomber) it did have some value, although from a strategic point of view the production demands emphasizing bomber versions over fighter/interceptors was a mistake. Also the Me-262 was developed into the first jet night-fighter.
- It’s influence on post-war jet design can be seen in aircraft such as the Avia S-92, the Sukhoi Su-9 and even the development of swept wing principles with the F-86 Sabre.
You can cast your vote in the poll here.
Luftwaffe Jet/Rocket-Engined Warplanes…Which Could Have Won WWII for Germany
January’s Wings of War poll looks at ‘what might have been’ with respect to the impressive range of jets and rocket-powered aircraft that were developed for the use of the Luftwaffe by the end of the Second World War in Europe. Putting aside such strategic influences such as the availability or resources such as fuel, or the deficit of trained aircrew by war’s end, which of these German jets and rocket-powered aircraft could have helped turn the tide and helped defeat the Allies? For example, could a fleet of He-162s stemmed the tide of Allied bombers pummelling the Reich? Was the Go-229 an early stealth fighter able to evade Allied radar?
I have listed aircraft that did make some kind of flight during the period leading up to the defeat of Nazi Germany…paper designs and semi-built projects such as the Ta-183 Huckebein or the Sanger “Silverbird” Orbital Bomber are excluded.
The Panavia Tornado… an example of a German Luftwaffe operated Tornado based in the US on training detachment
Today’s photos at ‘Wings of War’ looks at aircraft captured and impressed into service by it’s previous operator’s enemy. First up is a Focke-Wulf Fw-200 Condor that had been Himmler’s personal aircraft, and had then been taken on by the RAF.
Night Fighters of the Luftwaffe: Image #3…a pair of Messerschmitt Me-262B night fighters
Night fighters of the Luftwaffe: Image #2…a Dornier Do-217