Last update: 14 May 2017
The Messerschmitt P.1101 was a single-seat, single-jet fighter project, developed in response to the 15 July 1944 Emergency Fighter Program, which sought the second generation of jet fighters for the Third Reich. The aircraft was the first such design to feature variable-sweep wings that could be altered manually before flight while the aircraft was still on the ground. Though in the process of having its first prototype nearing completion, the P.1101 program was halted when US ground forces arrived to secure the Messerschmitt facility. The evaluation of the captured P.1101 helped to develop the next generation of jet powered aircraft such as the Bell X-5 and Grumman XF10F Jaguar.
Design and development
The First Me P.1101
On July 24th, 1944, the Messerschmitt design bureau, under Dr. Woldemar Voigt, had formed a preliminary paper design under the designation P.1101. The fuselage was short and wide, with two round air intakes on either side of the cockpit, which fed the single He S 011 jet engine which was located in the lower rear fuselage. 710 liters (188 gallons) of fuel could be contained above and below the turbojet. The wing leading edges were set at two different sweep angles (40 degree inboard and 26 degree outboard). Flaps were located over the entire trailing edge to aid in slow speed operations. Wings were mid-mounted along the sides of the oval fuselage which tapered at the rear. Another 170 liters (45 gallons) of fuel could be carried in wing tanks located in each of the inner wing sections, making a total of 1050 liters (277 gallons). The V-tail unit (110 degrees of separation) was mounted on a boom that extended above the jet exhaust, a feature that would be present on all future Me P.1101 designs. A steel plate was used on the underside of the tail boom, to protect the enclosed radio equipment from engine exhaust heat. The nose wheel of the tricycle landing gear retracted to the rear and the two main wheels retracted forwards into the wing roots. The main armament was to consist of two 300mm MK 108 series cannons, located in the lower forward fuselage sides. Provision was entertained for the carrying of a single SC 500 bomb held under the fuselage center, partially stowed in a belly recess.
The Second Me P.1101
A second Me P.1101 design dated from August 30, 1944, was basically similar to the first design, but sleeker. The fuselage had a more pointed nose section, and was designed to hold a variety of armament. As in the first design, two circular air intakes, located on either side of the cockpit, fed the single He S 011 jet engine which was located in the rear fuselage. The fuselage had a more pointed nose section, and was designed to hold a variety of armament. There were two protected fuel tanks above the engine and behind the cockpit that held 830 kg (1830 lbs) of fuel. The wings were both equally swept back at 40 degrees, they were mounted mid-fuselage and were "borrowed" from the Me 262 jet-powered fighter-bomber. A V-tail was also to be fitted on this design, with the jet engine exhausting below the tail boom. The nose wheel retracted to the rear and rotated 90 degrees to lie flat beneath the weapons bay in the nose. Both main wheels retracted inwards towards the wing roots. Provisions were made for a drop tank, and even for a towed fuel tank using the V-1 wing. The armament was to be either a MK 112 55mm cannon or two MK 108 30mm cannons, with a possible third MK 108 or MK 103 30mm cannon being able to be squeezed in. One of the more advanced weapon proposals for this design variant of the Me P.1101 was for the upward firing SG 500 "Jagdfaust" (Fighter's Fist). This was basically a thin cased 50mm high explosive rocket propelled shell housed in a vertical tube. Two of these would have been placed in the fuselage nose, and a single SC 500 bomb could also be carried beneath the fuselage.
The worsening war situation, led to the approach of building a full-scale prototype in parallel with detail construction and continuing statistical calculation, while existing components such as the wings (Me 262), landing gear (extended Bf 109), and flight components were utilized where feasible. Production of the Me P.1101 V1 prototype was begun at Messerschmitt's Bavarian Oberammergau Complex with a projected first flight in June 1945. The complex was unknown to the Allies, and never suffered any bombing raids during the war. It was discovered by American troops on April 29, 1945, a few days before the war's end. The Me P.1101 V1 was about 80% complete at that time. The fuselage was constructed out of duralumin, with space provided beneath the cockpit for the air duct. Located behind the cockpit and above the engine was the fuel supply of 1000 liters (220 gallons). The rear fuselage tapered down to a cone, where the radio equipment, oxygen equipment, directional control and master compass were mounted. The underside of the rear fuselage was covered over with sheet steel, for protection from the heat of the jet exhaust. Although a Jumo 004B jet engine was planned for the first prototype, the more powerful He S 011 could be added on later versions with a minimum of fuss. The wing was basically the same as the Messerschmitt Me 262 wing, it was covered in plywood, and could be adjusted on the ground at 35, 40 or 45 degrees of sweepback. Both the vertical and horizontal tails were constructed of wood, and the rudder could be deflected 20 degrees. Also under design was a T-tail unit and a V-tail also. The undercarriage was of a tricycle arrangement. The nose wheel retracted to the rear and was steerable. The main gear retracted to the front, and included brakes. The cockpit was located in the nose, with a bubble canopy giving good vision all around. The canopy was kept clear by warm air which could be drawn from the engine. Cockpit pressurization was to be incorporated in the production model, as was either two or four MK 108 30mm cannon. The production model was also to fitted with cockpit armor, and up to four underwing X-4 air-to-air missiles could be carried.
On 29 April, 1945, when US infantry discovered the Oberammergau complex the V1 prototype was approximately 80% complete. Later, the prototype was shipped first to Wright Patterson AFB, then to the Bell Aircraft Works in Buffalo, New York in 1948. The P.1101 was fitted with an Allison J-35 jet engine, and mock-up weapons (6 x Mg 151 and 4 x MK 108 cannon) were pasted on the fuselage sides. Bell used the Me P.1101 as the basis for the Bell X-5, during which individual parts of the P.1101 were used for static testing. Sometime in the early 1950s, the remainder of the Messerschmitt Me P.1101 V1 was sent to the scrap yard, thus ending this unique and distinctive aircraft's history.
|Country of Origin:||German Reich|
|Variant:||Messerschmitt P.1101 (fourth design)|
|Length:||9.1 m (29 ft 0 in)|
|Height:||2.8 m (9 ft 2.5 in)|
|Wing area:||15.9 m2 (171 sq ft)|
|Weight Empty:||2,594 kg (5,719 lb)|
|Weight Loaded:||4,064 kg (8,960 lb)|
|Max. takeoff weight:||4,500 kg (9,900 lb)|
|Model:||Heinkel HeS 011A|
|Thrust:||12.01 kN (2,866 lbf)|
|Max speed:||980.0 km/h (612.0 mph) |
at 22.970 ft
|Max speed (altitude):||()|
|Max speed (sea level):||()|
|Cruise speed:||905.0 km/h (562.0 mph)|
|Range:||1,500 km (932 mi)|
|Service Ceiling:||12,000 m (39,370 ft)|
|Rate of climb:||22.2 m/s (4370ft/min)|
|Wing Loading:||236 kg/m2 (236 lb/ft2)|
|Takeoff roll:||709 m (2542 ft)|
|Landing roll:||572 m (1876 ft)|
|Air to Air Missiles:|| |
- Me P.1101 First Design
- The July 24, 1944 design by Hans Hornung of a single-seat jet fighter. It was powered by one Heinkel He S 011 turbojet. This was the shortest of all versions with a blunt nose and a v-tail. It had a wingspan of 7.15 m and a length of 6.85 m. The armament was two MK 108 cannon.
- Me P.1101 Second Design
- August 30, 1944 sleeker design. Also a v-tailed single-seat jet fighter with a more pointed nose and wings swept back at 40 degrees. It had a wingspan of 8.16 m and a length of 9.37 m.
- Me P.1101 Third Design
- Full-scale prototype design of a flying test single-seat jet fighter with a wingspan of 8.06 m and a length of 8.98 m. It had a conventional tail and swept wings designed to be set at different angles while on the ground. Test flights were first intended to be undertaken with a 35 degree wing sweep, followed by a 45 degree sweep. The first test flight was to take place in June 1945.
- Me P.1101 Fourth Design
- The final single-seat jet fighter design that went into production with a wingspan of 8.25 m, a length of 9.175 m and a weight of 1250 kg.
- Me P.1101 L
- A ramjet-powered single-seat fighter that would have eight additional small rocket engines for takeoff. This design would have a much wider fuselage covering the large Lorin ramjet located to the back of the cockpit, as well as a conventional tail.
- Me P.1101/92
- A different design of a two-seat v-tailed heavy fighter and destroyer. It was an all-metal aircraft armed with a large 7.5 cm Pak 40 cannon and was powered by two Heinkel He S 011 turbojets. It had a wingspan of 13.28 m and a length of 13.1 m.
- Me P.1101/99
- Another very different variant altogether. Two-seat attack/destroyer all-metal aircraft powered by four Heinkel He S 011 turbojets. It had the cockpit at the front end of the fuselage and was armed with a 7.5 cm Pak 40 cannon and five MK 112 55 mm cannons. Its tail was of the conventional type and it had a wingspan of 15.4 m and a length of 15.2 m.