heinkel-he-280_hangar-47-1The Birth of the Jet Age

Although experiments were underway with jet propulsion in several countries even in the 1930’s, the opening of hostilites in 1939 put many such projects on hold.  Even Germany’s jet program suffered from diverted resources, but recovered in time to field the world’s first operational jet fighter by late 1944.  Although the British had the Gloster Meteor operational within a few weeks of Germany unleashing its Messerschmitt Me262 against Allied bomber formations, the Meteor never saw combat during the war, with the exception of intercepting V-1 rockets.  The United States lagged behind with its Bell P-59 Airacomet, which flew before war’s end but never became fully operational.  Problems with its jet engine limited the P-59’s thrust, and it was no faster than late-war piston-engined fighters such as the Chance Vought F-4U Corsair and North American’s P-51 Mustang.

German wartime jet design had a profound influence on many post-war fighters fielded by both the United States and the Soviet Union, beginning with the swept-wing North American F-86 Sabre and the MiG-15.  The delta wing design, employed successfully just over a decade later in fighters such as the American F-102 Delta Dagger and French Mirage series, originated on German drawing boards but hadn’t made it past the concept stage as of 1945.  The West might have had an early advantage in jet fighters but for two factors: the German aviation research material seized by the Russians at the close of World War II, and British trade policy, which jump-started the post-war Soviet jet fighter program by allowing the sale of examples of the successful Rolls Royce Nene engine — which later became the powerplant for the MiG-15.

Aircraft

De Havilland D.H. 100 Vampire

De Havilland D.H. 100 Vampire by Heller 1/72 scale Kit No. 221 Cost: $9.99 Decals: Two versions Comments:  Old kit, basic cockpit, raised panel lines, simple construction; minor fit issues with canopy History Originally named the “Spider Crab,” the De...

FH-1 Phantom

McDonnell FH-1 Phantom by MPM/CMK 1/72 scale Kit No. 72015 Cost: $30.00 (Limited Run, Out of Production) Decals: Two versions – U.S. Navy, U.S. Marines Comments: Hard plastic, engraved panel lines, basic cockpit, vacuform canopy, some scratchbuilding or...

Heinkel He 178 V2

Special Hobby’s kit of the world’s first jet aircraft is a re-issue of the 1994 Condor kit and features engraved panel lines and photo-etch detail parts.

Heinkel He 280

Heinkel He 280 by Eduard 1/48 scale Kit No. 8049 Cost:   $30.00 Decals: Two versions for pre-production Luftwaffe aircraft, dated 1941 and 1943 Comments: Engraved panel lines; resin wheels and pilot’s seat; photo etch details for cockpit (seat straps, instrument...

Messerschmitt P.1101

Messerschmitt P.1101 by Dragon/DML 1/72 scale Kit No. 5013 Decals: Two versions – Luftwaffe 1945 Comments: Engraved panel lines, includes jet engine, photo-etch details for cockpit and radio aerial, Ruhrstall X-4 air-to-air missiles History The Messerschmitt...

Gloster E.28/39 Pioneer

Gloster E.28/39 Pioneer by Novo 1/72 scale Kit No. F174 Cost: $6.00 Decals: One version – Royal Air Force Comments: Neat little kit for a quick weekend build; historical interest; separately molded ailerons, elevator flaps and rudder; raised panel lines. Ex-Frog...

P-59 Airacomet

Bell P-59 Airacomet by Amodel 1/72 scale Cost: $22.00 Decals: Five versions ( 4 U.S. Air Force; 1 U.S. Naval Air Training Center) Comments: Finely engraved panel lines; complex fuselage construction; some parts not to scale History The Bell P-59 Airacomet has a unique...

P-80 Shooting Star

Monogram’s Korean War-era Lockheed P-80 features detailed cockpit and landing gear, and a detachable rear fuselage that reveals an Allison jet engine.

Bell X-5

The Bell X-5 was an experimental jet flown during the early 1950’s by the U.S. Air Force and the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (precursor to NASA) with the goal of probing the flight envelope of a variable sweep wing jet aircraft. As the first functional “swing wing” aircraft, the X-5 represents a milestone in aviation history.

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