He 162 file photo [90]

He 162 Volksjäger

ManufacturerHeinkel Flugzeugwerke
Primary RoleJet Fighter
Maiden Flight6 December 1944


ww2dbaseThe He 162 Volksjäger fighters were designed based on a philosophy loved by the German political leadership in Berlin such as Hermann Göring and Albert Speer but hated by Luftwaffe generals such as Adolf Galland. The design was drawn up to provide disposable high performance jet fighters that were also, at least in theory, relatively simple to operate. While the design itself was fundamentally sound, the end products, built with second-rate materials, achieved less than what was hoped. The requirement officially went out in Sep 1944, and within days the contract was given to the firm Heinkel. The prototype aircraft flew on 6 Dec 1944, and the second prototype crashed after the leading wing edge broke off during flight. Despite the fact that the prototype aircraft were still having many issues, preparations for production began on 1 Jan 1945. They were built underground starting in Mar 1945 in a former salt mine at Tarthun near Magdeburg; this 2,400-worker 2,000-square-foot facility would also build Fw 190 and Ju 88 aircraft. In Feb 1945, the first deliveries were completed and given to the First Group of Jagdgeschwader 1 (I/JG-1). These new jets saw combat in mid-Apr, scoring several kills but also at a cost of 13 Volksjäger fighters and their pilots; 10 were lost to technical malfunctions, one lost in a landing accident, and two as combat casualties. As He 162 fighters saw more combat, it was found that the tail fins could break off if the pilots maneuver too hard in combat. In the last days of April, II/JG-1 evacuated from Marienhe and on 2 May joined the I/JG-1 at Leck, but shortly after aircraft were grounded as the German surrender commenced. While the He 162 jet fighters were designed to be adequately armed, their light weight fuselage allowed only minimum weaponry; while they were supposed to be simple enough to fly by novices, ultimately only combat veterans sat in their cockpits.

ww2dbaseOn 6 May, JG-1 turned over the jets to the Allies. As of that date, 120 He 162 fighters were operational, with 200 more completed but not yet delivered. British test pilot Eric Brown who had a chance to fly one recalled it being very easy to fly, but the rudder response was too much, and agreed with the German assessment that sudden movement of the rudder might cause the rudder to fall off. French test pilots arrived at a similar conclusion, complaining that it was too difficult to maneuver both in the air and on the ground (in fact, the French He 162 testing program was abandoned as these difficulties began to pose a danger to the test pilots). Show pilot Robert Hoover, who also had a chance to fly a captured example, said the landing speed of the He 162 fighter was too high, making landings risky.

Robert Dorr, Fighting Hitler's Jets

Last Major Revision: Aug 2006

He 162 Volksjäger Timeline

8 Sep 1944 The German Air Ministry issued a requirement for a simple, lightweight, and easy to operate jet fighter.
15 Sep 1944 The firm Heinkel was given the contract to produce the simple, lightweight, and easy to operate jet fighters that the German Air Ministry requested seven days prior.
6 Dec 1944 Heinkel's He 162 jet fighter made its maiden flight. Manufacture of the He 162 was protected from Allied air attack by being built in an underground factory in a former salt mine at Tarthun near Magdeburg, Germany.
14 Apr 1945 The underground aircraft factory at Tarthun south of Magdeburg, Germany, which produced He 162 jet fighters among other weapons, was discovered by Private 1st ClassJames Prenger and Warrant Officer Joseph Crocker.
20 Apr 1945 German pilot Leutnant Rudolf Schmitt became the first to use the He 162 jet fighter's ejection seat.


MachineryOne BMW 003E-1 or 003E-2 turbojet rated at 800 kgf
Armament2x20mm MG 151
Span7.20 m
Length9.05 m
Height2.60 m
Wing Area14.50 m²
Weight, Empty1,660 kg
Weight, Maximum2,800 kg
Speed, Maximum900 km/h
Service Ceiling12,000 m
Range, Maximum975 km


Overhead view of a Heinkel He-162 Volksjäger jet fighter, 1945, location unknownHe 162 aircraft at rest, Germany, Apr 1945He 162 pilots of JG1 at Leck, standing in front of their jet fighters, Apr 1945Partly completed Heinkel He-162 Volksjäger jet fighters in a salt mine at Tarthun (now Bördeaue), Germany, April 1945.
See all 5 photographs of He 162 Volksjäger Jet Fighter

Did you enjoy this article or find this article helpful? If so, please consider supporting us on Patreon. Even $1 per month will go a long way! Thank you.

Share this article with your friends:


Stay updated with WW2DB:

 RSS Feeds

Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Commenter identity confirmed Bill says:
16 Feb 2009 03:18:47 PM

a last ditch weapon to defend the fatherland. to be flown by hitler youth. the aircraft was armed with two 30 mm cannons. another weapon to little to late!!!!
2. Commenter identity confirmed Alan Chanter says:
16 Jun 2009 11:01:48 AM

A product of desperation, the Heinkel He 162 Salamander, also known as the Volksjäger (People’s fighter), recorded its maiden flight on 6 December 1944, just three months after the September 1944 specification for a cheap jet fighter was issued and only 38 days after design drawings were submitted by the factory. The all-wood aircraft was intended to be produced in massive numbers and flown by relatively inexperienced pilots. As it turned out, flying any jet fighter was something best left to the experts, not to mention something like the He 162 which had a number of severe problems requiring a deft hand on the controls. In tight turns parts tended to fly off and the aircraft would spin out of control, and the engine was prone to flame-outs. In the three weeks from April 13th to the end of the war 13 aircraft and 10 pilots were lost, only two or three in combat. Even so, when everything worked it was a delight to fly and was considered the best jet of the war as a gun platform with no directional snaking.

Deliveries to the Luftwaffe commenced mid-April 1945 with the first victory, and the first loss, occurring on the 19th. However, many more losses were caused by flying accidents as unfamiliar pilots attempted to master the jet. Heinkel’s own Test pilot Flugkapitan Peter being one of those was killed whilst testing the He 162 in December 1944.

One Gruppe of three squadrons (1/JG 1) equipped with some fifty He 162s was formed at Leck in Schleswig-Holstein on the 4th May 1945, but British forces occupied the airfield on the 8th of May and accepted the unit’s surrender.

By the end of the war around 116 machines had been completed and another 800 were under construction. A remarkable achievement (The fantastic quantities ordered: 1000 per month, rising to 4000 per month could never have been achieved) considering the chaotic conditions of the Third Reich’s last days.

3. Robert Hoffman says:
27 Jan 2016 11:55:50 AM

Could anyone tell me what the red painted arrows on the nose were for?
4. Robert Hoffman says:
3 Jul 2017 10:45:58 AM

The He-162 and DO-335 were both called arrow so the jet had the arrow added.

All visitor submitted comments are opinions of those making the submissions and do not reflect views of WW2DB.

Posting Your Comments on this Topic

Your Name
Your Email
 Your email will not be published
Comment Type
Your Comments


1. We hope that visitor conversations at WW2DB will be constructive and thought-provoking. Please refrain from using strong language. HTML tags are not allowed. Your IP address will be tracked even if you remain anonymous. WW2DB site administrators reserve the right to moderate, censor, and/or remove any comment. All comment submissions will become the property of WW2DB.

2. For inquiries about military records for members of the World War II armed forces, please see our FAQ.

Search WW2DB
More on He 162 Volksjäger
Related Book:
» Fighting Hitler's Jets

He 162 Volksjäger Jet Fighter Photo Gallery
Overhead view of a Heinkel He-162 Volksjäger jet fighter, 1945, location unknown
See all 5 photographs of He 162 Volksjäger Jet Fighter

Famous WW2 Quote
"All that silly talk about the advance of science and such leaves me cold. Give me peace and a retarded science."

Thomas Dodd, late 1945

Support Us

Please consider supporting us on Patreon. Even $1 a month will go a long way. Thank you!

Or, please support us by purchasing some WW2DB merchandise at TeeSpring, Thank you!