The 1/72 scale display of captured Luftwaffe jet aircraft introduced in 2015 to the Jet Age Museum’s model corner was a natural progression from earlier dioramas depicting Gloster built Hawker Typhoon fighter bombers attacking German armoured fighting vehicles and overflying such rocket weapons at the V2 ballistic missile, Bachem Natter and Messerschmitt Me163 Komet. It also offered the possibility of posing a Hawker Typhoon close to its nearest Luftwaffe equivalent, the Focke-Wulf Fw190.
As some of the best Jet Age Reserve Model Collection representations of Second World War Luftwaffe jet aircraft, Fw190s and Hawker Typhoons had been built with lowered undercarriages – and because the display would ideally be compact enough to fit an existing case – the scene was set in the summer of 1945.
The Luftwaffe had surrendered to the Allies and British, American and Soviet scientists were keen to learn the secrets of their recent aerial foes. In a corner of an airfield at which the cream of Nazi technology had been gathered for evaluation by white suited technicians, a high ranking RAF officer has arrived in a silver de Havilland DH80 Puss Moth to ask of his subordinates, “How do these German aircraft compare to our Hawker Typhoon?” The answers can be summarised as follows:
Hawker Typhoon single seat in line piston engined fighter
The Napier Sabre-engined Hawker Typhoon first flew in February 1940 although delivery to the RAF did not begin until September 1941 and engine and structural problems dogged the Typhoons early career as a low-level interceptor. However, from 1942, the Hawker Typhoon excelled in its role as a ground attack strike aircraft, fitted with four 20mm canon and either bombs or rocket projectiles.
In particular, Typhoons helped end the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944 when they were able to halt the advance of German armour through the Ardennes. The Hawker Typhoon also provided the basis for the later Hawker Tempest and Sea Fury piston-engined fighters and most of the 3 330 examples were built in Gloucester.
Focke-Wulf Fw 190 single seat radial piston engined fighter
Ordered in 1937 to supplement the Messerschmitt Bf 109, Kurt Tank’s Fw 190 broke with contemporary German design practice in having a radial air cooled engine which restricted the pilot’s forward view and, it was thought, created more drag than an inline liquid cooled power plant. However, the Fw 190 was to become popular with pilots due to its wide track undercarriage and bubble canopy offering a clear rear view. First flown on 1 June 1939, the Fw 190 began to equip the Luftwaffe in late 1940 and within a year they were making low level daylight sweeps over southern England. Outclassing the Supermarine Spitfire V, Fw 190s were only matched by Spitfire IXs in partnership with four canon Hawker Typhoons and data gained from a captured Fw 190 informed the specification of the Hawker Sea Fury. The armament, speed, agility and faster roll rate of the Fw 190 made it a formidable opponent even in the hands of less experienced pilots.
Heinkel He 162 Salamander – single engine jet fighter
By 1943 the Luftwaffe’s 4 000 aircraft were scattered from North Africa to Russia and unable to stop massed formations of Allied strategic bombers – escorted by Mustang and Thunderbolt fighters – attacking German cities and – more importantly – the production of oil and light alloys. On 8 September 1944 Minister of Armaments and War Production Albert Speer proposed a fleet of single engined fighters – to be made of wood and steel by semi-skilled labour – to counter this threat. While Messerschmitt focused on their twin engined 262, a design for the”People’s Fighter” by Heinkel – who had built Germany’s first jet aeroplane in 1939 – was chosen as being simplest and easiest to build. Named the Spatz (Sparrow) by Ernst Heinkel himself, the BMW 003 powered fighter was best known as the Salamander – a creature that survives fire. First flown on 6 December 1944, the 500 mph He 162 was the World’s first production aircraft fitted as standard with an ejection seat. Although designed to be flown by members of the Hitler Youth, the unforgiving He 162 only equipped two Luftwaffe squadrons before the War ended.
Messerschmitt Me 262 – twin engine swept wing fighter
Heinkel’s experimental 178 of 1939 and twin-engined twin-tailed 280 fighter design of 1940 used the same centrifugal gas turbine technology that Frank Whittle used on the Gloster E28/39 and Meteor but in 1940 the German Air Ministry decided to focus development on Messerschmitt’s 262 – powered by more advanced axial flow turbojets. Production of these new engines by BMW and Junkers were hampered by shortages of high temperature metals and as a result the turbojets needed intensive maintenance during their short lives. The first Me 262 combining pure turbojet power and a suitable nosewheel undercarriage was thus not demonstrated to Hitler until 26 November 1943 when the Fuhrer decreed that the Me 262 be used as a bomber against a future invasion of France. Although armed with two rather than four nose canon, the Sturmvogel (Stormbird) Me 262 loaded with 1 00 kg of bombs was slow enough to be shot down by Allied fighters although the Schwalbe (Swallow) interceptor version – operational from August 1944 – additionally armed with rockets proved effective against two and four engined bombers. Fewer than 300 Me 262s – capable of 559 mph – were actually used in combat.
Horten H IX – twin engine flying wing bomber
In 1943 Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring required an aircraft which could carry 1 000 kg (2 200 lb) of bombs 1 000 km (620 miles) at 1 000 km/h (620 mph). This speed was beyond piston engines but the range and load challenged the thirsty and underpowered early turbojets. The Horten brothers – Walter and Reimar – had been working on flying wing gliders since the 1930s and believed that the low drag of this design could meet the “3 x1 000” challenge. Following a state investment of 500 000 Reichsmarks, a glider version of the Horten H IX flew in March 1944 after which the project was developed by Gothaer Waggonfabrik at Friederichsroda while the Horten brothers worked on a flying wing to bomb America. The first Horten H IX – built from carbon injected plywood panels stuck together with charcoal and sawdust – flew on 2 February 1945 before the factory was captured by the US Army on 14 April 1945. Although Westland and Armstrong Whitworth in Britain built experimental flying wings before and after the H IX, it was not until the 1980s that Northrop in the USA returned to the same format with the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber.
Arado Ar 234C – four engine bomber with V1 flying bomb
Wartime experience proved that speed alone could allow an aircraft such as the de Havilland Mosquito to reach its target past flak and fighters, thereby dispensing with the need for defensive gunners. The first prototype Ar 234s had twin Junker Jumo 004 turbojets but the sixth and eighth machines were powered by pairs of more powerful BMW 003 gas turbines, making them the first four-engined jets to fly. The twin engined Ar 234 V7 prototype also made history on 2 August 1944 as the first jet aircraft ever to fly a reconnaissance mission while twin engined B versions notably bombed the Ludendorff bridge at Remagen in an attempt to stop the Allied advance on Germany in March 1945.
The Ar 234C variant however was too late to see combat. Powered by four engines and featuring rocket assisted take off bottles on outer wing pylons, some examples were designated as launch platforms for V1 flying bombs as this model shows. These early pulse-jet powered cruise missiles had in fact already been launched at Greater Manchester by piston engined Luftwaffe bombers flying over the North Sea although the dorsal – rather than ventral – position of the V1 on the Ar 234 might not have been successful. A similar arrangement caused at least one Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird to crash when attempting to launch a ramjet powered reconnaissance drone in the 1960s.
The Whitehead Memorial Garden stands today in Tottington, near Bury, in Greater Manchester, as a memorial to those who died when a V1 launched by a Heinkel 111 fell there on Christmas Eve 1944. There were also casualties in nearby Oldham.
Fieseler Fi 103R Reichenberg piloted flying bomb
Between June and October 1944 over 9 000 Fieseler Fi 103 pulse jet powered pilotless flying bombs – also known as V1s – were fired at England from France. However, due to effective British defences – including early Gloster Meteor jets – only a quarter of these delivered their explosive payloads. The air launched Fi 103R concept replaced the V1’s automatic pilot with a real one who could fly around defences to an objective – albeit with a miniscule chance of bailing out and parachuting to safety before the final dive. Although Fi 103Rs were tested by Heinz Kensche and Hanna Reitsch the project was abandoned on 15 March 1945
de Havilland DH80A Puss Moth communications monoplane
Built from 1929 to 1933, the DH80A moved light aviation from open cockpit biplanes – such as de Havilland’s earlier Gipsy Moth – to cabin comfort, 100 mph cruising speeds and folding wings for easy storage. DH80As set many inter-War distance records including Jim Mollison’s first solo east to west North Atlantic crossing, which took 31 hours 20 minutes in August 1932. British based DH80As continued to serve during World War II, notably with the Air Transport Auxiliary. Some examples are still airworthy today and indeed would not look out of place at a General Aviation airport such as Gloucestershire at Staverton among more modern Cessnas and Beechcraft.
Austin 10 Utility Truck
The model of the brown camouflaged Austin 10 Utility Truck (better known as Austin Tilly) waiting to transport the RAF “brass” away from the airfield comes from the Airfix Bomber Command Resupply Set although a range of Oxford Die Cast versions are also currently available. The Tilly was in fact the military version of the pre 1939 Austin 10 saloon. The chassis is the same size and it uses a “platform” construction that is the result of welding a pressed-steel floor to a frame, which results in great diagonal stiffness. The Austin Tilly featured some extra equipment compared to the civilian Austin 10 as well as a more powerful engine, including a water pump, bigger fuel tank and “cross-country” tyres. About 30 000 vehicles were built and in 2015 about 160 ´survivors` (from wreck to excellent) are on the Tilly Register.
Scammell Pioneer recovery vehicle
The Scammell Pioneer was developed in the late 1920s specifically for off road use. Similar vehicles were then being tested for use in the colonies where surfaced roads were scarce. The requirement matched that for military vehicles and the Army obtained a 20 ton tank recovery transporter from the Scammell Company in 1932. It was later followed by other Pioneers, gun tractors, more tank transporters and heavy breakdown tractors.
The essence of the Scammell’s off road performance was its unique suspension system. Most Pioneers were driven only by the four rear wheels. These were mounted, two per side, on a metal casing containing a gear train. Each casing was pivoted at its centre allowing the two wheels to drive at a considerable angle from that of the vehicle’s chassis. One rear axle transmitted power to the two gear trains.
The front unpowered axle was fitted with three attachment points, one at each end of the axle and the third, by means of an ‘A’ frame, under the cab. A single centrally pivoted transverse spring provided the suspension for this axle, with the result that it could rise and fall to a greater distance from the chassis than is possible in the case of the more common arrangement with a spring on each side.
The slow revving Gardner diesel engine and unusual suspension enabled the vehicle to haul prodigious weights, though at relatively low speeds, over very rough ground.