1:72 Heinkel He 276 B-2/U1; German Luftwaffe's 'D5+JH' (s/n 221016) of II./NJG 3; Skrydstrup (Denmark), early 1946 (Whif/kit-bashing)
+++ DISCLAIMER +++
Nothing you see here is real, even though the conversion or the presented background story might be based historical facts. BEWARE!
The Heinkel He 276 was a night fighter that served with the German Luftwaffe in the later stages of World War II. Its inception dated back to June 1942 when the RLM requested a multi-purpose combat aircraft, the so-called "Arbeitsflugzeug", that could be adapted to various roles and would replace the Bf 110, Ju 88/188 and Do 217.
Heinkel responded with a multitude of designs under the project number P.1065, all of them capable of a speed between 600-700 km/h (373-435 mph) and a ragne form 400-1.000km (248-621 miles) and all driven by piston engines. None of them would enter the hardware stage, though.
In parallel, Heinkel also worked on the fast He 219 "Uhu" night fighter, also a psiton-engined design which was a direct response to the RAF's fast Mosquito night bombers which flew so high and fast that they could operate almost unmolested over Germany. Additionally, the Luftwaffe had to cope with more and intense night bomber raids - it became clear that the number of night fighters was not big enough to cope with this threat, let alone the aircraft's capabilities.
The He 219 was introduced with high hopes, but the advent of the jet age already signalled that the piston-engined fighetr would become obsolete in a matter of months. As stopgap solutions, 1st generation jet aircraft like the Me 262 or the Ar 234 were in hurry converted to night fighters, but this could not hide that fact that a more potent solution was needed - concerning almost any aspect like range, speed, firepower and radar capability.
Plans to augment the He 219 were dropped after intial trials, so that Heinkel decided in September 1944 to develop a completely new aircraft, dedicated to the long range night fighter role. The design team did not start from scratch, though, as the He 219 was already a very good basis to start from, with jigs and tools available for quick production start.
The He 276 A-0 was consequently designed around the He 219 structure, even though all wing surfaces were new. The main wings had a laminar profile for higher speeds in excess of 800km/h, the aircraft was to be powered by two Heinkel-Hirth S011 jet engines in nacelles under the wings.
In order to keep the tail surfcaes free from the jet efflux, the He 219's twin fin arrangement was replaced by a single fin with a cruciform stabilizer above the fuselage level. Since the engine nacelles could not take the landing gear anymore, a new arrangement with wells in the lower fuselage waas introduced - overall the He 276 resembled a lot the much smaller Ar 234.
The radar system was to be the FuG 240 'Berlin', which was still under development, with a (draggy) "antler" antenna arrangement on the nose plus a rearward-facing warning radar. The rarar was operated by a second crew member who's also control the defensive armament, a tail-mounted FDL 131Z barbette. Main armament were four 30mm MK103 machine cannons in the lower fuselage, each with a muzzle velocity of 860 m/s (2,822 ft/s) and firing HE/M rounds at 380 RPM. Like the He 219 the He 276 was equipped with ejection seats.
The first prototype was assembled in record time, and the first flight of the He 276 A-0 took place in August 1945 - only to reveal several shortcomings. One issue was poor directional handling, which could quickly be mended through an enlarged fin surface and a fin fillet, the bigger problem was the unavailability of the HeS011 engine for serial production, and its priority allocation to light fighters.
As a consequence, the engine arrangement was literally revised over night - the He 276 was direly needed in frontline service and no more delays were accepted. This lead to the He 276 B series, which would become the production type.
This version was powered by four of the proven Junkers Jumo 109-004D, an uprated version of the Me 262's engine. The engines were mounted in separate nacelles under the wings, even though these were so close to each other that they looked like a double nacelle.
A further innovation of the B-series was the introduction of the first radar-guided weapons station - the FDL 131ZR was not visually guided (a task that proved to be almost impossible during night sorties), but rather slaved to the radar system which would automatically align and fire the guns. The radar operator could still override the autamatic guidance, but the system was deemed reliable enough for front line use and it effectively relieved the radar operator.
The first production series (B-1) only comprised 10 aircraft, and it was almost immediately replaced by the B-2 which introduced another novelty: the parabolic antenna for the FuG 242 'Schwerin' radar, an improved version of the FuG 240 with longer range and higher sensitivity.
The He 276 B-2 arrived at the Nachtjagdgeschwader in early 1946 and was immediately thrown against Allied bombers and fared surprisingly well.
The He 276 was a simple aircraft, which made production and maintenance relatively easy. It also offered enough development and modification potential - many machines received augmented armament and equipment in form of so-called Rüstsätze, which were later integrated into production and earned the aircraft additional 'U-X' suffixes. These included racks for unguided R4M or RZ 65 rockets under the wings, or several 'Schräge Musik' cannon arrangements, which featured two or four oblique-mounted guns in the fuselage, partly coupled with an optical or radar trigger to fire them automatically when flying under a target.
The He 276 B-2 was the only version to enter service, though - a planned B-3 upgrade with four reheated Jumo 109s (rated at 1.200 kp each) remained on the drawing board.
Length (incl. rear antenna): 14.97 m (49 ft 2 in)
Wingspan: 16.56 m (54 ft 3 in)
Height: 5.14 m (16 ft 10 in)
Wing area: 44.4 m² (478 ft²)
Max. takeoff weight: 13,580 kg (29,900 lb)
4× Junkers Jumo 109-004D jet engines, each rated at 1.015 kp
Maximum speed: 916 km/h (494 kn, 568 mph)
Range: 1,540 km (831 nmi, 960 mi)
Ferry range: 2,148 km (1,160 nmi, 1,335 mi)
Service ceiling: 13.300 m (43.564 ft)
4 × 30 mm MK 103 cannons in a detachable fairing under the fuselage, 220 RPG;
2× 13 mm MG 131 in an FDL 131ZR tail barbette, 450 RPG;
Factory Rüstsatz "U1" with 4× 30 mm (1.18 in) MK 108 cannons, mounted dorsally as
Schräge Musik (oriented 65° above horizontal), 100 RPG
Two hardpoints under the outer wings, capable of carrying 500 kg each
(normally occupied by 300l drop tanks).
The kit and its assembly:
This whiffy Luft ’46 aircraft model had two inspirational roots. One was the question what could a jet-powered He 219 night fighter have looked like, the other was the real Heinkel P.1065 ‘Arbeitsflugzeug’ project(s), following the idea what that aircraft might have looked like if it had been ushered into production and service?
It would certainly have relied upon existing components – so the concept for this jet-propelled, dedicated night fighter design was born.
The model is a wild kitbash, welded together from the following main ingredients:
• Fuselage of a 1:72 Frog He 219 (Matchbox re-boxing)
• Wings from a 1:100 VEB Plasticart An-24 (NuBee re-boxing)
• Two pairs of 1:72 Revell Me 262 engine nacelles
• Fin and stabilizer from an 1:72 Matchbox Douglas F3D Skyknight
Sounds odd? Yes, and it took some surgical work to get these pieces together. The He 219 fuselage was shortened, a 1” plug taken out at the wings’ trailing edge, thereby shortening the wing roots to the An-24’s dimensions, and the tail section cut off. The tail gap was replaced by a scratched FDL 131Z barbette, and new stabilizers from a Matchbox F3D placed on top of the fuselage, far away from the jet efflux.
I did not want to open the cockpit, but the canopy offers good visibility into the interior, so I scratched something together - the Frog kit has literally nothing of value to offer, so I added a new floor (also acting as front wheel well), new Me 262 seats, dashboards, an IR sight and something that looks like the upper side of a fuselage tank, plus two crew figures.
The wings were clipped, too, and the original An-24 turboprops replaced by two pairs of Me 262 engines in the same place, mounted closely together.
This meant that the landing gear had to go elsewhere, so I relocated the main landing gear wells into the lower fuselage, changing it into a narrow Ar 234 or B-66 style arrangement - from AH-64, F-86 and Bv 155 parts.
For this new arrangement the belly was cut open and a Fiat G.91 part from a Revell kit integrated. The covers for the main landing gear were scratched from sytrene sheet.
The front wheel strut is OOB, but shortened, and instead of a single, big wheel I used smaller twin wheels, from a Matchbox Canberra PR.9. After 25 years these parts finally found a new destination. ^^
The thimble radome is a Pavla resin piece, it actually belongs to a Bristol Beaufighter TF Mk. X, but perfectly fits ins shape and size - and the new nose dramatically changes the He 219 lines!
On the fuselage, I finally added four vertical guns as a "Schräge Musik" installation, adding some more purpose to the rather ugly aircraft. A pair of drop tanks (from two Academy Fw 190 kits) and their respective hardpoints (from a Me 262) complete the ordnance.
I must admit that the thing is ugly as hell, but on the other side looks very German and purposeful - and the new nose section recalls some similarity with a CF-100 or even a B-57a C-130 or a Transall?
Painting and markings:
As a late war German night fighter, almost anything goes. I went for a personal mix of two real night fighter schemes, blended into one: the basis comes from a Me 262 two seater which was finished in an unusual scheme for night duties: upper surfaces in RLM 81 & 83 (Braunviolett and Dunkelgrün), with black (RLM 22) undersides.
Since many night fighters received field modifications, and in patricular much lighter upper surfaces, I added an individual RLM 76 treatment (maybe whitewash, though - not certain if it was intended as winter or night cammo) that comes from a Ju 188 night reconnaissance aircraft and which can only be described as original.
In an initial step the model received its normal paint scheme (using Humbrol 116 and 155, plus flat black from Modelmaster), the RLM 76 additions (with Modelmaster Authentic enamel paint and some Humbrol 127) were then added, so that the original paint could shine through. Everything done with a soft brush, and the result is IMHO very good.
All interior surfaces and the landing gear were painted in dark grey (Humbrol 67) and later slightly dry-painted with medium grey (Humbrol 176) in order to point out details.
Decals were puzzled together from various sources, and I kept everything very simple and minimal - just some German insignia, a tactical code and the last digits of the airframe's serial number at the top of the fin.
Finally, some soot stains were added with grinded graphite and everything sealed under matt acrylic varnish (Revell).
I will admit that the He 276 is an ugly aircraft, with a rather utilarian design. But this actually adds a very German touch to it - and how else could a successos to the He 219 or Ju 88 C look like? ;)