21/9! (reaching for the skies edition)

We’ve seen a terrestrial 219 from a German maker so let’s meet an aeronautical one.

Have a Heinkel He 219. Intended as a night fighter, the 219 had a rather troublesome development and like much of Germany’s military hardware arrived too late and in too few a number to have much operational impact. It first flew in combat in 1943 and was quite a capable plane, being the only prop driven plane capable of taking on the Mosquito. It was powered by a pair of Mercedes V12 engines of 44.5 litres and about 2,000 bhp which had the unusual feature of being fitted upside down with the crankshaft on top.

Unusually for a German plane of the time the 219 had tricycle undercarriage and unusually for any plane of the era it had two ejection seats.


Note the radar aerials on the nose

There were plans to make upgraded models with Junkers Jumo multibank engines (six banks of four cylinders each so they looked something like an asterisk from the front) but these never made production.


A 219 survives in a museum in the US having been taken there after the war while a second has been fished up in pieces off Denmark and will eventually be put on display. At least some of the parts are reasonably well preserved such as this wing section (it’s the outboard section and you can relate it to the main picture by the two rectangular ports on the leading edge)


After the war Heinkel were banned from building planes until the mid 1950s so instead made bubble cars and scooters. On getting permission to return to the air they built the F 104 under licence for the Luftwaffe, were taken over by VFW and then MBB before eventually winding up as part of EADS who then became Airbus.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter