Heinkel’s He 280 flew under jet power for the first time on 2 April 1941. It was the first aircraft ever designed as a jet-powered fighter and 65 years later, Michael Ullmann decided to remember the aircraft by building Eduard’s 1:48 scale kit.
During the 1930s, the Heinkel company saw that aircraft performance could be pushed beyond its limits by the new technology of the jet engine. It was time for aircraft to begin flying faster and higher than had ever been possible.
Conventional propeller-driven aircraft would remain of primary importance for the time being, but jet power was the way of the future. Heinkel knew of the experiments carried out with a turbojet engine in Gottingen by an engineer called Hans loachim Pabst von Ohain. Indeed, shortly after Heinkel himself met von Ohain, von Ohain was hired, in April 1936.
Thus a momentous story began. After a demonstration engine had been run, von Dhain began the development of a turbojet that could be installed into an airframe. This turbojet, designated HeS 3B, was installed into the He 178, for a first flight on 27 August 1939. But it was :lear that the He 178 was only a development aircraft useful in gaining information about the new engine type. Mevertheless, an He 178 demonstration эп 1 November 1939, in front of high ranking RLM authorities, including General lldet, generated so much enthusiasm that Heinkel felt obliged to send a aroposal for a jet fighter to the RLM.
The cockpit was first painted in RLM02, with the instrument panel in RLM 66. This was according to RLM regulations. Later the entire cockpit was finished in RLM66. (all Michael Ullmann)
This fighter proposal, at first designated He 180, was for a twin-engined, single-seat, stressed-skin airframe with a fully retractable tricycle undercarriage. It also incorporated a Heinkel-designed, com-pressed-air ejection seat and nose-mounted armament. The He 280 that evolved from this preliminary pro-
The major sections of the kit were assembled and a huge amount of filler applied to fill all the gaps. I used masking tape to protect other areas of the model’s surface while filling.
posal was a very ‘clean’ aircraft, into which Heinkel built a great deal of new technology. Not only did the type introduce turbojet engines to a fighter design for the first time, but it was the first German aircraft with a tricycle undercarriage. The RLM considered the latter too much, preferring the Messerschmitt Me 262 design, which then featured a tailwheel undercarriage. Later, the Me 262 underwent a major redesign to a tricycle undercarriage configuration.
The development of the first turbojets
Above: A second coat of filler, the extremely fine Mr Surfacer 1000, covered any fine imperfections left at the wing/nacelle junction.
Right: The wings attached to the fuselage well on the topside, with little need for remedial work to hide any problem gaps.
iuffered continuous delays, however, and Те 280 flight trials began without power, rhe first such flight occurred on 12 September 1940. Several unpowered lights tested the airframe and its aerody-lamics, before the first powered flight :ould take place on 2 April 1941. Power vas provided by a pair of HeS 8A turbo-ets. Sixteen days later the He 280’s only eal rival, the Me 262, completed its first jowered flight with a lumo piston :ngine. No Me 262 flew under jet power intil 18 July 1942.
Far left: The gaps between the wing and fuselage on the model’s underside.
With development continuing, He 280 VI was trial fitted with pulse jets. Its 13 lanuary 1943 first flight with these motors resulted in the airframe icing cat-astrophically. Its pilot, Schenk, was obliged to leave the aircraft using his ejection seat, the first ever such escape from an aircraft.
On 27 March 1943, the RLM decided to cancel the He 280 in favour of the longer-ranged Me 262. Some 12 He 280s had been built, the last three, V10-V12, as prototypes for the He 280B fighter.
The remaining prototypes were used on research projects and the remains of He 280 V3 were found at the Wien-Schwechat airfield after the war. The fate of the He 280 may actually have lain in the fact that it was a Heinkel product. Early in the war it had been suggested that Heinkel should build bombers, leaving the fighters for other manufacturers, specifically Messerschmitt. This political opinion may have led to the He 280’s cancellation.
Above: There is a large step between the wing uppersurfaces and the engine nacelles. This had to be carefully covered with filler and sanded.
Left: The large amount of filler left after sanding is evident in this view of the nose. Also visible are the destroyed engraved panel lines, all of which had to be carefully restored before painting.
Left: Lots of tape protected the model’s surface when copious amounts of filler were used to close the underside wing/ fuselage gaps.
Above: The starboard fin is shown here with the kit-supplied swastika in place. This is printed in two parts. After putting them together, a white spot remains that needs to be covered with black paint.
Above left: The model had all its seams polished to remove sanding marks ready for painting. All the destroyed engraved panel lines were restored at this stage.
Left: After decaling, a coat of clear semi-gloss varnish was applied to the model. The shine of the final finish resembles perfectly that of the original RLM02 paint finish. I accentuated the panel lines with dark greyink in order to break up the monotone RLM02-grey surface.
Eduard’s is the only I le 280 kit available in 1:48 scale. On opening the box, its flash-free parts and crisp surface detail – especially the engraved panel lines, which are extremely fine for a perfect scale effect – are very impressive. Unfortunately, when construction starts the modeller soon discovers that the fit of the kit parts is far from perfect. Every seam had to be treated with filler and sanded down. This amounted to a lot of work, work which succeeded in destroying the engraved panel lines. These lines must be carefully restored, but outside this troublesome extra work, assembly is trouble free. The only details I added were photo-etched parts from my spares box for the seatbelts and scissor link on the nose undercarriage leg. The kit’s decals are perfectly in register and very thin. They snuggled down perfectly with my favourite decal setting solution, Mr Mark Softer from Gunze.
With the right skills and attitude to solve the fit problems of this kit there is a lot of modelling fun to be had from it, because it contains few parts and requires just a simple paint job.
Thanks to Eduard (www. eduard. cz) for providing its Heinkel He 280 kit
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