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He 162D

DML 1/48 He 162D Volksjäger Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review May 2007 Manufacturer DML
Subject He 162D Volksjäger Scale 1/48
Kit Number 5552 Primary Media Styrene/Photo-etch
Pros Several variants in the box including the new forward swept wing; kit has the super-detailed engine and piano-hinged cowlings Cons
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $34.95

First Look

He 162D
He 162D
He 162D
He 162D
He 162D
He 162D

Towards the end of World War II, the Germans wanted to mass-produce a jet fighter that made little use of strategic materials (e.g. aluminum), made use of the available jet engine (BMW-003A-1) and would be simple to fly. Heinkel was able to achieve a number of amazing feats that have never before or since been accomplished with a jet fighter.

First, Heinkel was able to get a prototype flying in 69 days after project initiation. While the fuselage did employ metals in its construction, the wing was wood. And due to the Allied bombing campaign against industrial targets, Heinkel designed the He 162 to be built in components around the country, then assembled underground before being pressed into operations. In three months in early 1945, 116 of these aircraft were delivered. Despite Heinkel's amazing feat in design and production, the war was nearly over. Fuel resources were scarce and experienced pilots were even more scarce.

Several enhancements were already being developed before the Volksjäger entered production. One was to replace the H-tail with a lighter and less complex V-tail similar to what would later appear on the Beech Bonanza. Both the H and V tails allowed the hot jet exhaust to pass by without overheating the tail. Another enhancement was the forward swept wing. German designers were looking forward swept wing technology as a viable improvement over the rearward sweep wings already entering Luftwaffe service. The forward swept wing was intended to be used on what would be designated He 162D, though I'm sure the Germans were realizing the affects of wing twisting that adversely impacted the forward swept wings until the advent of composites allows for the successful use of such a wing on NASA's X-29.

You're looking at one of the best He 162 Volksjägers ever produced. This is the old Trimaster kit that was not necessarily the easiest model to assemble, but in the right hands it was definitely top-notch.

Trimaster released two of these kits - one with the super-detailed engine that could be displayed open or closed up at will using the photo-etched hinges provided in the kit. These photo-etched hinges were later sold separately as these were quite popular with AMS modeler to hinge the cowlings on other aircraft projects.

The second kit was an easier build as it didn't have the detailed engine and the cowlings were designed to be displayed closed only.

Both of these kits were absorbed into Dragon Models Limited after they bought out Trimaster and their He 162, Me 262, Me 163, Fw 190, and Ta 152 tooling. Many of these kits have been reissued over the years with some improvements over the original Trimaster releases.

Well as I said, here is the He 162 back again, but not exactly the same model you've seen before. This is the hi-tech version of the kit, complete with superdetailed engine and piano-hinged photo-etch cowling hinges. Inside the box is the complete He 162A-2 kit along with the V-tail parts that were optional in the earlier releases.

What's new is an all-new tooled tree with a pair of forward swept wings. The detailing on this new tooling is scribed, just as the rest of the parts in this kit. You can use the forward-swept wings and V-tail or the straight wings and H-tail, your choice.

Notional markings for one aircraft are included in the kit, and you're on your own for swastikas as these decals are politically correct.

While the Tamiya Volksjäger is the easiest build on the market, kit kit is still my favorite as it still offers better detailing, though it requires a little more experience with the included photo-etched parts.