Luftwaffe 1946 Fighter Competition

At the beginning of 1945 the RLM (Reichsluftfahrt Ministerium) invited aircraft manufacturers for three fighter competitions to provide new fighters for the Luftwaffe. The aim was to reduce the number of operational types and achieve a significant step forward in fighter capabilities over the types then service. The Luftwaffe used a mix of FW-190, Ta-152, Me-109, Me-262, He-162 and Me-163 types. The piston engined fighters were more and more outclassed by the newer allied fighters and the jet aircraft were clearly the first-generation jets with all associated teething problems.


Three categories were named on the invitation: Jager-P (Propeller), Jager-D (Dusen/Jet) and Jager-B (Bord/Parasite). The latter was meant to be carried on or under a bomber aircraft and released in the case of attack.

Companies were invited to participate in all three competitions and could enter as many designs as possible. Initial design studies had to be handed in to the RLM by the first of August 1945. After an initial screening, nineteen designs were selected, and the manufacturers were instructed to build three prototypes of each design. The prototypes should be ready for a fly off in April 1946.

The company with the most designs (six) was Messerschmitt. Messerschmitt was keen to re-establish its position as the primary supplier of fighter aircraft for the Luftwaffe. They were followed by Blohm & Voss and Focke Wulf with three designs. Junkers, BMW, Lippisch, Daimler Benz, Horten and Heinkel each had one design approved. There were three designs in Jager-P category, three in Jager-B and thirteen in the Jager-D category.

Because some manufacturers had trouble getting the prototypes ready on time, the competition was postponed to August 1946 and even then, some aircraft were only just finished. Although only three prototypes were ordered some companies produced more as private ventures to speed up development or to replace prototypes lost during testing.


The Propeller and Bordjager category did not lead to production orders. The RLM found that although the Blohm & Voss entry showed very good overall performance, the day of the piston engined fighters was over and the Luftwaffe should not order any new ones.


In the Bordjager category there was no clear winner. All three entries had insufficient performance and armament and the whole concept op a parasite fighter was questioned. Despite this the Lippisch design was selected for further development.


The competition in the jet fighter category was fierce with no less than thirteen entries participating. After much deliberation the Focke Wulf Fa-226 Flitzer was selected as winner and production orders for a thousand Fa-226A models were issued.


The accompanying pictures show the various prototypes during the evaluation by the Luftwaffe in August 1947. During this evaluation one prototype of each type was allowed to participate in trials for speed, range and manoeuvrability. Mock combats with several Me-262 fighters were held as were mock attacks on bomber aircraft. An ageing He-280 prototype served as chase aircraft, painted overall yellow.


Below is the floorplan of the hangar with a key to some details for each prototype.


Key  Picture  Specification  Manufacturer  Type  RLM Number  Engine  Description 
  Propellor  Blohm & Voss  P-208  BV-327  DB603 A very unusual design as a tailless aircraft with swept back wings, the BV-327 demonstrated a very good performance and great manoeuvrability. A tricycle undercarriage was used, with the wide-track main wheels retracting inwards into the centre section and the nosewheel retracting forwards. All armament was in the aircraft's nose and consisted of three MK 108 30mm cannon. This design was clearly the best of the three piston engined fighters in the competition. However, there were great doubts about its ability to survive against allied jet fighters and no production run was ordered. The aircraft in the competition was the third prototype.
Bord Jager Lippisch P-12 Li-305 Lorin Ramjet This was the only Lorin ramjet powered aircraft in the competition. Because of this engine, this fighter was unable to take off under its own power and had to be carried aloft by a larger carrier aircraft. The size also limited its capability to carry weapons and this reduced efficiency. After release from the carrier aircraft the Li-305 could land conventionally. Although no winner was declared in the B (Bord) category, this Li-305 was considered the best of the three contestants. The aircraft in the competition was the first prototype as Lippisch did not have time to produce more than one prototype.
Dusen Jager Focke Wulf P-VII Ta-226 HeS-011 The Ta-226 was the clear winner of the fighter competition. Performance was among the best of the various prototypes but also range and armament were good.
Presumably the fact that the design was rather conventional also counted in its favour. Immediately after the competition a initial order of 1000 aircraft was given to Focke Wulf with the first production aircraft reaching operational status in 1947.
The aircraft in the competition was the fourth prototype. Focke Wulf produced more than the specified three prototypes as they were very keen to do well in this competition.
Propellor Daimler Benz DB609 DB-391 DB609 Originally conceived as a demonstrator for the new 2700hp 18-cylinder DB-609 engine Daimler Benz decided to develop the aircraft into a propeller fighter for the competition.
It was of a conventional layout with the exception of the propellerís location. The engine was mounted in the fuselage nose, with an annular radiator in front. The wings were un-swept and exhibited no dihedral and were mounted below the fuselage. The tail was of a conventional design, with its single fin and rudder. Because of the propeller arrangement, a tricycle landing gear had to be used. A single pilot sat in the cockpit that was located towards the rear, just ahead of the contrarotating propellers.
Where the Daimler Benz Jager differed from most aircraft was its unusual propeller placement which was in the middle of the aircraft in a ring around the fuselage.
The aircraft was troubled by the new engine which caused a lot of problems and also the propeller arrangement was not very efficient.
The aircraft in the competition was the first prototype.
Dusen Jager Messerschmitt P-20 Me-304 Jumo 004 The Lippisch P.20 jet fighter project was a further development of the Me 163 "Komet" and was the final design of Dr. Alexander Lippisch for the Messerschmitt company before the development department was disbanded. The P.20 was similar in appearance to the Me 163, with an air intake mounted low in the nose which fed a single Jumo 004 turbojet. Armament was to be two MK 108 30mm cannon mounted in the forward fuselage sides and two MK 103 30mm cannon mounted in the wing roots.
The design was considered too small to enable much development and was not pursued any further.
The aircraft in the competition was the third prototype.
Dusen Jager Blohm & Voss P-209.02 BV-299 HeS-011 This Blohm & Voss design had a forward swept wing. It was small aircraft with excellent performance. However due to its small size the weapon load was comparatively light.
The type came in third behind the Ta-226 and Ju-289.
The aircraft in the competition was the first prototype.
Dusen Jager Focke Wulf P-III Ta-306 HeS-011 This was basically an older design by Focke Wulf which was upgraded for the 1947 competition by replacing the original Jumo 004 engine with a Heinkel HeS-011 engine. However, the performance of the aircraft lagged behind the other competitors. The aircraft in the competition was the first prototype.
Dusen Jager Heinkel P-1089 He-162D HeS-011 Heinkel wanted to enter the P-1080 design in the competition but was unable to complete the prototypes in time for the tests. This left the company no option but to enter the He-162D. This was a development of the less than successful Heinkel Volksjager with forward swept wings and a V-tail.
Performance was lacklustre however and was far behind the other aircraft in the competition.
The aircraft in the competition was the V068 prototype.
Dusen Jager Messerschmitt P-1101 Me-275 HeS-011 Initially meant as an experimental aircraft to investigate the effect of different angles of wing sweep Messerschmitt decided to enter the design in the fighter competition as a safeguard for the potential failure of his other more advanced designs. The Me-275 turned out to be not really suitable a as fighter because of the lack of room for any heavy armament in the small fuselage.
The aircraft in the competition was the sixth prototype.
Dusen Jager Blohm & Voss Ae-607 BV-347 HeS-011 This rather remarkable flying wing design from Blohm & Voss performed quite well in the trials but the design proved to exotic for the RLM
The aircraft in the competition was the fourth prototype.
Propellor Messerschmitt P-14 Me-334 DB603 This was basically a piston engined Me-163 designed by Alexander Lippisch when he was connected to the Messerschmitt factory. The aircraft was developed by Messerschmitt and entered the competition as a Messerschmitt design.
The small size and the powerful DB603 engine made the aircraft very difficult to handle by the enormous propeller torque.
The aircraft in the competition was the third prototype.
Dusen Jager Messerschmitt P-1111 Me-337 HeS-011 The Me-337 (P-1111) was one of the most advanced designs in the competition. It was a tailless delta powered by one HeS-011 engine. Performance was very good but in order to improve performance and keep the aircraft as small as possible Messerschmitt has removed almost all armour from the design.
This lack of protection was severely criticized and the design was not considered for production.
The aircraft in the competition was the first prototype.
Dusen Jager Junkers EF-128 Ju-289 HeS-011 The Junkers Ju-289 was a tailless design which showed great promise. However, the design just lost out to the Focke Wulf Flitzer
The aircraft in the competition was the third prototype.
Dusen Jager BMW P-III BMW-324 BMW 003 This design was created by BMW as a way to promote their own jet engines. However, the aircraft was powered by the BMW 003 engine which was considered obsolete by 1947.
The aircraft in the competition was the third prototype.
Dusen Jager Messerschmitt P-1106 Me-301 HeS-011 The Me-301 (P-1106) was a development of the P-1101. It was smaller and the cockpit was moved far back towards the tail.
Test pilots classified the aircraft as dangerous to fly to completely unsuitable as a fighter.
The aircraft in the competition was the second prototype. Messerschmitt built a total of eight prototypes of which six crashed during testing.
Bord Jager Blohm & Voss P-175 BV-307 Jumo 004 This aircraft was powered by a single Jumo 004 engine and had no undercarriage to save weight. It was armed with two 20mm canon. Due to the lack of a undercarriage the aircraft could not land and the pilot had to bail out and land by parachute. The aircraft would then also descend with a parachute.
The aircraft in the competition was the fifth prototype.
Bord jager Messerschmitt P-1079/16 Me-316 Schmidt Pulse Jet Powered by a single Schmidt pulse jet the Me-316 was of an asymmetrical design It was armed with two MG 151 20 mm cannon. It was handicapped however by the low power of the engine and performance was below expectations.
The aircraft in the competition was the sixth prototype.
Dusen Jager Horten / Gotha IX Go-229 2 x Jumo 004 Although the design of the all wing Horten IX started a number of years previously, the aircraft was entered in the 1947 competition. The aircraft turned out to be too heavy however and not manoeuvrable enough to compete with the other designs.
The aircraft in the competition was the seventh prototype.
Dusen Jager Focke Wulf P-VI Ta-183 HeS-011 The Ta-183 was a small swept wing fighter with a high T-Tail. Although the performance of the aircraft was excellent, the tail caused problems at high speed and several prototypes were lost due to structural problems. Focke Wulf offered to improve the design but the offer was declined as the Ta-226 was selected for production.
The aircraft in the competition was the sixth prototype.
    Messerschmitt   Me-262 2 x Jumo 004 A number of Me-262 production fighters were used as adversaries during the trials.
    Heinkel   He-280 2 x Jumo 004 The Heinkel He-280 V-10 was used as a chase aircraft during the trials. Painted RLM yellow for better visibility.

All models in 1/144 scale. Most are Anigrand resin kits, the Go-229 and He-162D are injected Brengun kits. The Ta-183 and P-1101 are injected kits from Valom, the P-20 is by Jach.


Last updated: 18/08/2020