Early Jet Powered Aircraft
Heinkel He162A – DeHavilland DH-108 – North American B-45

The Gallery of 1940s aircraft has a lot to look at in it so I thought it would be interesting to look at some early jet powered aircraft to see how that development in aeronautics began. There are some notable aircraft not yet represented in the gallery, but what we have already tells an interesting story, which we might come back to in a later visit.

The Heinkel He162 was planned to give Germany a light jet fighter made from materials not vital to its war effort such as wood. It was designed in the final three months of 1944 and 360 had been built by the end of the war in May 1945. However only a handful had been flown in combat because of a shortage of engines and supplies like fuel. At the end of the war the allies were keen to study this new fighter and five were given to the French air force to give its pilots experience in flying jet aircraft.

This is the very simple Hobby Boss 1/72 kit and there isn’t much that can be said about it except that if you want a more detailed model than this there are other options you should look at. However, if you want something simple and quick to make this kit will do you. I finished this model in French colours partly because I like French aircraft but also because, in some ways, the French gained more from their five He162s that the entire German air force did from its 360.

The deHavilland DH-108 Swallow was an early experimental jet powered aircraft that used some of the aeronautical innovations the Germans had explored during the war including tailless aircraft and swept back wings. It used the fuselage of the deHavilland Vampire jet fighter with new advanced wing design. It was difficult and dangerous to fly and all three of these aircraft were lost in flying accidents.

Anigrand offer this little 1/144 model as a bonus kit in their Avro Vulcan B.2 kit. It is not very highly detailed and it is not quite clear which of the three DH-108s this is supposed to be so I made this as the third prototype and had to improvise my own markings to represent that aircraft. I hear that there will soon be an injection mounded kit of this aircraft in 1/72, it should make up into an attractive little model.

While the Americans were also experimenting with new aerodynamic innovations they also fitted jet engines to traditionally designed aircraft. One of them was the North American B-45 Tornado which was a strictly conventional looking aircraft with jet engines mounted in pods under the wings. They were the United States’ first jet bomber which, with the beginning of the Cold War, were armed with nuclear weapons and based in Britain from 1952.

This is another Anigrand 1/144 resin kit. It is reasonably accurate and assembles easily. So far as I am aware they only ever flew in a bare metal finish which is not difficult to apply using one of the new metallic lacquers. The kit decals are also not bad, which is just as well because the only other alternative kit is the rare vacform Air Craft one. In 1/72 your options are Mach 2 or Valom, neither of which are highly regarded.