Kit No. SH 72192
Decals: One version – for 1939 prototype
Comments: Engraved panel lines, resin wheel inserts, acetate film insert for instrument panel, photo-etch details, single piece canopy
The development of the Heinkel He 178 began when Dr. Hans Joachim Pabst von Ohain and his assistant Max Hahn joined Ernst Heinkel’s design team in March 1936. Von Ohain patented jet propulsion in 1936 in Germany, and took his idea to Heinkel. Von Ohain successfully demonstrated the first turbojet engine, the Heinkel HeS 1 (Heinkel Strahltriebwerk (jet engine) No. 1), in a bench test in March 1937. Despite begin fueled by hydrogen and possessing no throttle control, the engine was able to develop 250 kg of thrust. This first jet engine was made largely of sheet metal, and the high temperature of the hydrogen propulsion led to considerable burning of the metal, but the test was otherwise successful. By September, a second test in which the engine was fueled by gasoline was made, Gasoline tended to clog the combustors, but Ohain redesigned the engine it performed much better. While it was never intended to be an airworthy production model, Ohain had used the HeS 1 to prove the feasibility of jet propulsion.
Ohain began work on a second engine, running on diesel fuel with a throttle control device. This time, work also began on an airframe designed to fly using a single jet engine. This design became the He 178. It had a flush-riveted, all-metal monocoque fuselage, wooden wings and retractable undercarriage. For all tests, the He 178 V1 had its undercarriage fixed in the down position with the wheel wells covered over. On August 24, 1939, taxiing trials began with the prototype, fitted with an HeS 3b engine. On August 27th, the aircraft made its first flight at the Heinkel works at Marienehe airfield outside Rostock, Germany. This was the first ever jet-powered flight in history. Although credit for the first successfully run turbojet is given to Frank Whittle, who developed his engine independently, Ohain’s design was the first to power an all-jet aircraft, the first prototype of the Heinkel He 178.
On November 1, 1939, the He 178 was demonstrated to Reich Aviation Ministry (RLM) officials, including Erhard Milch and Ernst Udet, during the continuation trials. The He 178 made about 12 flights during this demonstration, with Captain Erich Warsitz at the controls. Unfortunately, the conservative approach to aircraft design favored by both men, and echoed by Hermann Goering, head of the Luftwaffe, doomed the project. No official interest in the concept ever materialized.
Subsequently, the He 178 was fitted with a more powerful HeS 6 engine, a retractable undercarriage, and wings with a longer span. This became the He 178 V2. This second prototype, reportedly never made a powered flight, perhaps due partly to the lack of interest on the part of the brass at the RLM.
The He 178 V1 was sent to the Deutsches Technikmuseum where it was destroyed along with the He 176 in an Allied bombing raid in 1943. Although none of von Ohain’s designs entered production, his contributions to the development of the jet engine in Germany were invaluable. Using the lessons of the He 178, von Ohain went on to develop the twin-engine He 280, which competed in a competition to become the Luftwaffe’s first jet fighter, but lost out to the Messerschitt Me 262.
Length: 7.48 m (24 ft 6 in)
Wingspan: 7.20 m (23 ft 3 in)
Height: 2.10 m (6 ft 10 in)
Wing area: 9.1 m² (98 ft²)
Empty weight: 1,620 kg (3,572 lb)
Max takeoff weight: 1,998 kg (4,405 lb)
Powerplant: 1 × HeS 3 turbojet, 4.4 kN (992 lbf)
Maximum speed: 598 km/h (380 mph)
Range: 200 km (125 mi)
Special Hobby’s He 178 V-2 comes in a resealable clear plastic bag on two sprues, with two smaller zip lock bags containing the one-piece injection-molded canopy with the resin wheel wells in the first bag, and the decals, photo-etch details and film instruments in the second. The kit has crisply engraved panel lines and is molded in gray, consisting of 32 parts, three of which are to be disregarded per the instructions as they are for the short-winged V-1 prototype. A section must be cut from each of the fuselage halves to accomodate the resin wheel well inserts, and the cockpit is rather well detailed for this scale with a seat, control yoke, photo-etch instrument panel with a film insert for the dials, and separate rudder pedals with accompanying photo-etch details. In addition, there are photo-etch details for the main landing gear, which are positioned well forward in the fuselage just ahead of the shoulder-mounted wing. Other than a very small sheet with the word “Heinkel” printed on it twice, there are no decals.
A well-detailed kit of an historic aircraft. Highly recommended.
- Special Hobby instructions