Heinkel He-162 A-2 "Red 1" (Salamander)
FE - 489
W Nr 120077
Stock No. 3609-01-0415-HE162

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For additional information on the He 162,
see FE 0504

at Freeman Field - 3rd plane from right

Photo by Earl L. Ware, Base Photographer
Freeman Field, 1945-6

Photo by Earl L. Ware, Base Photographer
Freeman Field, 1945-6

Location unknown
At Freeman Field - Courtesy Mr. Lynn Ware
This plan was featured in a parade at Columbus, Indiana about 1946

Landing at Muroc after its flight by Bob Hoover 
Six photos below from Heinkel He 162  , Planes of Fame Museum Chino / California 

Cockpit  view with the writing  ' Nervenklau' (all pictures  via J.Bargholz/California) 

The  He 162 from the rear, clearly visible the jet engine on top and the therefore necessary construction of the stabilizer.

Front view with another BMW 003 - jet engine right beside the aircraft

Overview from the front right

The red  ' 1 ' , looking at  the wing tip.

The He 162 with the  He 100 (replica) in the background
Source Disposition
Ken Keller Built in February/March of 1945 at the Heinkel Aircraft Factory at Rostock/Marienehe
Ken Keller May 1945, "Red 1" was captured at Leck Airfield and subsequently went to Cherbourg, France to be shipped to the United States aboard the HMS Reaper in July 1945.
War Prizes
pg 212
By 24 July 1946, it had been refurbished and transferred from Freeman Field to Muroc Dry Lake (otherwise Muroc Flight Test Base and currently Edwards AFB) for flight test
Ken Keller 1946, "Red 1" was transferred to Muroc Dry Lake test base, currently Edwards Air Force Base, and was flown only once, by Air Force pilot, then Lieutenant, Bob Hoover
Ken Keller 1947, after testing was completed by the Air Force, "Red 1" went to the University of Kansas, Lawrence
Ken Keller Acquired by Eddie Fischer of Kansas City, Kansas in 1948
Ken Keller 1950's, "Red 1" was obtained by Ed Maloney for The Air Museum Planes of Fame and was displayed in Claremont, Ontario and finally at the Museum's current home in Chino
Ken Keller Currently on display in the Tom Friedkin Hangar in the Planes of Fame facility in Chino, California.

FE-489 He-162A WNr. 120077, Red "1", 2/JG 1. This aircraft was flight-tested (by Bob Hoover) at Muroc Dry Lake in 1946 and presently resides at the Planes of Fame Museum.

Luftwaffe Over Ohio!

Heinkel He-162 A-2 "Red 1" (Salamander)  - by Ken Keller 

 The museum's Heinkel He-162 A-2, werke nummer 120077, was built in February/March of 1945 at the Heinkel Aircraft Factory at Rostock/Marienehe.  The He-162 was then assigned in April, 1945 to II/JG-1 "OESAU" at Leck Airfield in Holstein, Germany and was assigned the code number "Red 1".  One of "Red 1's" known pilots was Gerhard Hanf.  

In May 1945, "Red 1" was captured at Leck Airfield and subsequently went to Cherbourg, France to be shipped to the United States aboard the HMS Reaper in July 1945.  Shortly after arriving in Newark, New Jersey, "Red 1" was transferred to Freeman Field in Indiana and assigned the captured aircraft code number FE-489 which was later changed to T-2-489 and the aircraft was extensively evaluated.  

In 1946, "Red 1" was transferred to Murac Dry Lake test base, currently Edwards Air Force Base, and was flown only once, by Air Force pilot, then Lieutenant, Bob Hoover.  At some point in history, "Red 1" received the name "Nervenklau" which translates to "Nerve Stealer" (or a literal translation of "Nervous Claw"); no doubt testimony to the unstable nature of the aircraft.  

In 1947, after testing was completed by the Air Force, "Red 1" went to the University of Kansas, Lawrence where it stayed for a year before being acquired by Eddie Fischer of Kansas City, Kansas in 1948.  In the 1950's, "Red 1" was obtained by Ed Maloney for The Air Museum Planes of Fame and was displayed in Claremont, Ontario and finally at the Museum's current home in Chino.  "Red 1" is currently on display in the Tom Friedkin Hangar in the Planes of Fame facility in Chino, California. 

Historical information by Ken Keller, Photo by Lani Muche

Air News with Air Tech
December 1945

SPOTTED in flight, Germany’s Volksjaeger is the most awkward-looking German air­plane extant. On the ground, its high wing, dihedral tail, and~ top-side engine nacelle give it the lines of a single-engine amphibian.

Originally scheduled for production in September, 1944, the Heinkel 162 was test flown for the first time just three months later. Apparently, the early tests were successful, for the German high command set up a production schedule which would ‘deliver 500 of these ships to the Luftwaffe during the first thirty days of production, would eventu­ally send 1,000 Salamanders into action every month. Actually, only 140 of these strange planes had been completed by the end of the’ war. So the airplane which was to engage Allied fighters in combat and thus force our pilots to jettison extra fuel tanks necessary for escort range never really contributed to the final Reich defense~ It is, nevertheless, an interesting ship from a design standpoint.

A single jet type with on deck endurance of about 20 minutes, the He-162 was fashioned entirely from non-strategic materials. The one-piece shoulder-high wing is all-wood except for metal tips, with space between the wooden spars accommodating 4O-gallon fuel cells. The metal flaps, which extend along the sharply tapered trailing edge from the fuselage to the ailerons, have maximum depression of 45° with hydraulic motivation. Semi-monocoque in structure, the fuselage is flush-riveted throughout, is extremely clean aerodynamically, and’ permits ‘stowage of 168 gallons of fuel in the bulbous tail cone. Pilots enter the single-place cockpit through the roof, are ejected by an explosive cartridge when bail-out is necessary. A small ship with some of the design features of the V-i bomb, the Volksjaeger has wing span of 23 feet, 8 inches and measures 28 feet, 8 inches in length. With only two guns, either MK-108 or MG-151, mounted low on the sides, the He-162 could do little more than annoy Allied escort pilots in direct combat.

Climbing 4,200 feet per minute at sea level, exceeding 522 mph at 19,700 feet, the 5,940-pound airplane was ideally suited to nuisance raids on attacking Allies. With Luftwaffe operations from small fields dic­tated by the retreat of German ground forces, its ability to take off in 875 yards on jet power alone or 415 yards with assisted take-off unit was an important factor. How­ever, full throttle range of 242 miles with maximum fuel load was inadequate in the face of round-the-clock and round-the-com­pass raids by the Allies. So the Heinkel 162, which combined the best ideas of Heinkel and Messerschmitt, the best jet units of Heinkel-Hirth and Juino, became a symbol of the whole bottom-of-the-barrel, last-ditch German army.

Today, it rests harmlessly in a hangar at Freeman Field, Indiana.


    Heinkel He-162, Red 1, Werk Nr. 120077 

   Of the advanced projects to come from the drawing boards of the German aircraft industry during World War Two, none can be considered more controversial than the last design to reach squadron service during the war, the Heinkel He-162.

Often called the Salamander, (this was the name of the program) the aircraft was officially known as the Spaatz (sparrow) and nicknamed the Volksjäger. (People’s fighter) Its futuristic looks belie the fact that this was a design bourn out of desperation. A last ditch attempt to stem the tide of the Allied air offensive that was raiding the Reich on a daily basis.

In Sept. 1944, the Fighter Staff had issued a specification for a cheap and easily produced single engine jet fighter, to be quickly mass produced by unskilled labor, making the most of non-strategic materials and to be powered by the BMW-003 jet engine.

The proposal was met with ardent opposition by Professor Willie Messerschmitt and General of Day Fighters, Adolph Galland, who quite rightly thought that all this effort would be better concentrated on producing the already proven ME-262.

Galland, who was always good for a memorable quote, had said the following of the Volksjäger concept in his post war biography that reveals his frustration over the decision to use the ME-262 as a bomber; “The program had but one advantage, it was technically quite impossible to hang a bomb underneath the tiny aircraft and declare it a blitz bomber. Compared to the ME-262, the He-162 meant a considerable step backward in every way.”

Galland’s protests did nothing more than to put another nail in the coffin of his career before he was replaced and to move the deadline for submissions forward by six days.   

After many heated and spirited debates between the German Air Ministry and the five competing companies who had offered their proposals, the Heinkel project was chosen for production. Political favoritism may have played a part here as the Heinkel design team seems to have had a head start over the competition.

While some of the other companies barely had time to perform basic calculations for their designs, Heinkel had been working roughly along the same lines during the summer of 1944 and had test performance data on the BMW-003, along with a full scale mock-up of their concept.

There are allegations that Dr. Karl Frydag, head of the commission for airframe production and also a Heinkel company official, had not only sold the concept to Karl Saur, head of the Fighter Staff, but also may have let Heinkel know ahead of time of the upcoming specification.

A curious light is thrown on the situation by a document detailing a POW interview with a Flugbaumeister Halz of the Fl.-E-2 section of the Air Ministry that purports that when the decisive report on the Volksjäger concept was being sold to Göring, certain technical documents required to support their case were lacking and Halz was ordered to have faked photos of the He-162 with the help of a cinema expert, showing an He-162 prototype executing a roll above the clouds before a prototype was even built!

If these assertions have any basis in fact, then they seem to have served their purpose. The idea of the Volksjäger had become almost a national frenzy, a fever that had infected everyone connected with air defense, all the way up to Göring himself; “Hundreds, thousands, umpteen thousands! Until the enemy has been chased back beyond the borders of Germany!”

Of interest in all of this is that in the post war interviews of the above cast of characters, none claim responsibility for the He-162 program and blame the others for the idea.  

Incredibly, the plan was pushed through and preparations for mass production were made. Schedules were fixed and astronomical production figures were planned. In order to achieve such production figures, (1000 examples to be delivered by April, 1945.) the standard practices in aircraft manufacture were done away with. Detailed design and testing, construction of prototypes and tooling up of factories for mass production were to be done simultaneously and took place almost immediately.

A scheme was even proposed to use the Hitler Youth as pilot candidates. After basic training on He-162 S gliders, (an engineless He-162 model specifically built for training these lads) they would receive hasty conversion training on the real jets and graduate to combat! Such was the fantasy world the leaders of the Third Reich lived in during the last months of the war. Luckily for the Hitler Youth, this scheme never progressed much beyond the planning stage.

In light of the situation however, the Heinkel design was the best choice. It could be manufactured quickly with the least amount of testing, had better calculated performance than the other designs submitted by the competition and with the cancellation of the bomber aircraft program, Heinkel had the manufacturing capacity to produce large numbers of the aircraft without delay.

The result was a tiny machine of mixed construction, looking more like an oversized V1 on wheels than a fighter aircraft. The main fuselage was made of aluminum, while the wings, nose, access and landing gear doors and parts of the tail unit were made of plywood. Its hasty development (A remarkably short sixty nine days had passed from drawing board to flying prototype.) produced an inherently unstable aircraft of extremely limited range. A number of quick fixes were applied at the assembly line level, but the aircraft’s teething troubles were never fully resolved.

The Volksjäger remained an unforgiving aircraft for the novice pilot. Easy to fly and light on the controls, it retained some nasty vices and could be just as easily mishandled with fatal consequences. The aircraft had an appalling safety record.

During two weeks of flying ops, JG 1 (the main user of the He-162) were losing an average of one aircraft every two days due to flying accidents, pilot error, mechanical and structural failures.

Much has been made in post war writings that the little fighter could have been a problem for the Allies, but in my opinion this is a moot point. True, the He-162 was faster than Allied aircraft and did possess some good flying qualities. But even if the machine went through a proper development cycle and had its various bugs straightened out, even if sufficient supplies of fuel, pilots and aircraft were available, it’s doubtful that this little fighter would have had much impact on the war and “chased the enemy beyond the borders of Germany” as Göring fantasized.

First was its lack of range. Less than an hour of flight time under the best of conditions and a mere 20 to 30 minutes at sea level. Taking into account the fuel used for take off and searching for the enemy, along with having a sufficient reserve to land safely, precious little time was left for combat. Second, was its engine. Perched on top of the fighter directly behind the cockpit, it totally obscured the view of that all important 6 o’clock position, along with making the aircraft top heavy and unstable.

German jet engines were also temperamental and unreliable. They required a gentle hand on the throttle and a lot of time to take off and land. This would have made the He-162 vulnerable to an above and behind attack from strafing Allied fighters.

Lastly, was its lack of bad weather instruments and flying equipment. While the Allies could bomb Germany through cloud cover or at night, the He-162 required good flying weather for combat operations. All of this would restrict the little fighter to the point defense/day interceptor role.

This is not to say that the Volksjäger wasn’t a remarkable aircraft. As a lightweight fighter intended to utilize non-strategic materials, it certainly met the design requirements, especially if one compares it to its American counterpart; Bell Aircraft’s XP-77. But to be able to design, organize the resources and materials to manufacture, and equip a front line unit with a usable jet fighter within such a short period in time, under such extremely desperate conditions, remains a miraculous feat unparalleled in the history of aviation.  

 History of Red 1

Originally coded Red 2, werk number 120077 was built at the Heinkel-North plant at Rostock-Marienehe in the early months of 1945; this machine became the personal aircraft of Lt. Gerhard Hanf.

Lt. Hanf had originally joined III Gruppe of JG 77 in 1943 flying a Bf-109 G-6 as part of the unit’s 9th Staffel. By the summer of 1944 the 9th Staffel was transferred to I Gruppe of JG 1 and its pilots were re-trained to fly the FW-190 A-8.

On Feb. 7th 1945 I/JG 1 was ordered to hand over it’s FW-190s to II Gruppe at their base at Graz and proceed to Parchim, some 45 miles from the Heinkel-North plant to begin conversion training on the He-162 under the guidance of the Heinkel factory test pilots..

At this time Lt. Hanf was promoted to Staffelkapitän (Squadron Leader) of II Gruppe and stayed behind until late Feb./early March when Hanf and several other pilots were sent to Vienna to begin training on the He-162 at the Heinkel-South plant.

Training must have been extremely basic, as initially the only aircraft available were mainly test prototypes and pilots were ordered not to fly faster than 500km/h (311mph), higher than 3,000 m (9,842 ft) or for longer than 15 minutes!

It was not until early April, after the Heinkel- South plant had been evacuated as advancing Soviet forces neared Vienna that II/JG1 arrived at Rostock-Marienehe and were equipped with He-162s fresh off the assembly line at Heinkel-North.

Lt. Hanf must have felt some loyalty to his original unit as the wolf’s head badge of III/JG 77 was painted on his aircraft along with his nickname; “Nervenklau” (nerve stealer).

One can only imagine the apprehension Hanf and others must have felt to have been given an aircraft of such new and untried technology and ordered to fly it into combat during the last weeks of the war, with such rudimentary training. Even at the best of times, according to one source, training consisted of a quick familiarization of the controls and instruments on the ground followed by a solo flight. There were no two-seat training aircraft. Pilots were expected to be able to master their machines after only 20 minutes of flight time!

In the meantime, I/JG 1 had moved from Parchim, to Ludwighurst, to Husum and finally arriving at Leck in Schleswig-Holstein, around mid-April, with II Gruppe joining them on the 2nd or 3rd of May.

Leck airfield had been a minor base near the Danish border that by this time had become a main collecting point for surviving Luftwaffe units in Northern Germany, which included the Arado Ar-234 jet bombers of I/KG 76. Conditions at Leck were crowded and chaotic. Maintenance facilities were inadequate with supplies and fuel practically non-existent, II Gruppe’s arrival only adding to the confusion. It is rather doubtful that Lt. Hanf was able to log many combat hours in Red 1 by this time.

Although initially ordered not to engage in combat, JG 1 was able to fly a limited number of sorties from this base. Sources claim that two aerial victories were achieved by this unit, one of which can be confirmed from British loss records. A Typhoon of No 486 Squadron piloted by Flight Officer M. Austin, was shot down near Rostock on May 4th. Austin was able to parachute to safety and was taken prisoner. However, German records to confirm this have not surfaced. Austin’s Typhoon may have indeed been shot down on this date, but as to whether or not a He-162 did the deed remains speculative and is disputed by some historians.

At the same time an administrative reorganization of JG 1 was taking place in an attempt to exercise some form of effective combat command. I and II Gruppe being amalgamated into a single unit designated; Einsatz Gruppe JG1. This reorganization didn’t last long as the war was coming to an end and with a general cease fire in Northern Germany being declared on May 5th, JG1 was grounded while surrender terms were being negotiated.

Explosive charges had been installed in the remaining aircraft to keep them from falling into the hands of the Allies. This would have been carried out had it not been for last minute orders from the Luftflotte Mitte command stating that; in accordance with the conditions of surrender, all aircraft were to be handed over intact. The explosives were removed and on May 6th British forces arrived to occupy Leck. They must have been pleasantly surprised to find two rows of He-162s lined up neatly on either side of the runway as if on parade. JG 1’s aircraft were seized as war booty and their pilots spent the following weeks at the Schmörholm barracks as POW’s.

Two days later British and American intelligence teams arrived to examine the intact He-162s. Eleven aircraft were promptly made ready for shipment to England’s Royal Aircraft Establishment, while five were diverted to the French. The Americans, under the command of Col. Watson, claimed three machines as part of Operation Lusty, one of them being Lt. Hanf’s Red 1.

The three He-162s were taken to Merseburg, an Allied collection point for captured equipment and then taken to Kassel (they may have been flown to these two locations by the Americans) where they were dismantled, crated, loaded on rail cars and sent to the French port of Cherbourg in June, 1945.

They were then loaded aboard the liberty ship; Richard J. Gatling, along with a large amount of captured German material and shipped to the United States, arriving at New York Harbor sometime in late July / early Aug. 1945.

Red 1 was given the code; FE-489 (later changed to T-2 489) and transferred to the foreign aircraft evaluation center at Freeman Field in Seymour, Indiana. By late July 1946 T-2 489 had been refurbished, inspected and readied for flight testing. It was then transferred to the flight test center at Muroc Dry Lake. (Now Edwards AFB) The machine was only flown once by test pilot Bob Hoover. Apparently, during re-assembly in the U.S. it had been incorrectly rigged and Bob had his hands full trying to land the aircraft. As the He-162 wasn’t considered an example of cutting edge technology, little attention was paid to fixing the problem and interest in the aircraft waned.

By 1947, T-2 489 was donated to the University of Kansas at Lawrence, Kansas along with a Messerschmitt Bf-109 G-10, T-2 122. Both machines were stored at a near-by airport and students from the university, with the help of correspondence from Wright Field, had spent approximately 524 hrs. assembling the He-162, installing the engine and making sure it would run properly. Both aircraft were used for a display at an engineering exposition at the university in April, 1948. T-2 489 was among the most popular exhibits. According to a newspaper account; the crowds marveled at the ten foot flame the engine shot out after being started up.

Later in 1948, T-2 122 and T-2 489 were acquired by Eddie Fisher of Kansas City, Kansas and placed in storage at his facility. Fisher was probably one of the first to start collecting what is now referred to today as warbirds. Had it not been for him obtaining the airframes, most likely they would have been turned into scrap metal, as was the fate of many captured aircraft.

During the 1950s both aircraft were purchased by another collector, Ed Maloney, founder of the Air Museum, also known as the Planes of Fame Museum. Maloney had the airplanes moved to Claremont California to be displayed in his fledgling museum. After moving to several different locations over the years, Red 1 is currently on static display at the airport in Chino, CA.

During this time, some restoration work has been done to the He-162. The airframe looks to have been repainted, although the original markings have been preserved. The cockpit has been restored to German standards (Aircraft that were test flown had the oxygen and radio equipment replaced by American units and the instrument placards were redone in English) and the landing gear was rebuilt. There have been rumors that the aircraft may be for sale and that it might be restored to flying condition, but both these rumors seem to be unfounded. This is probably a good thing. After researching the war time history of the He-162 for this article, I wouldn’t want to be the one climbing into the cockpit of this aircraft to find out the true meaning of “Nervenklau”. 

 Richard Corey                                                                                                            

   Gerhard Hanf

Graduated as a civilian glider pilot before volunteering to become an officer in the Luftwaffe in 1941. Graduated from air combat college (Luftkriegsschule) in Breslau and awarded his military pilot wings in 1942. Started fighter pilot training in early 1943. Joined III. Gruppe of JG 77 in Romania and Italy, flying the Me 109 G-6. 2nd Lt. in June 1943. His squadron (9.JG 77) became part of I/JG 1 in the summer of 1944. At the same time, the pilots were re-trained on the Fw 190 A-8. Squadron Leader (Staffelführer) of the 4th Staffel of JG 1 from August 1944. This unit was re-named 2nd Staffel of JG 1 in February 1945 and re-equipped with the Heinkel He 162 jet fighter. At that time Gerhard Hanf was promoted to Squadron Commander (Staffelkapitän) of 2./JG 1. Four aerial victories: a P-51 on 21 April 1944 over Romania, P-38 on May 7th, 1944 also over Romania, two P-47s over France on July 7th, and July 30th, 1944. Several ground targets destroyed. Shot down three times by P-38, P-51, and B-24. Injured twice. Decorations include: Pilot badge, Combat (fighter) pilot clasp in Bronze and Silver, Wounded-In-Combat Clasp, Iron Cross I and II.

Courtesy of Stuart Brooks of http://brooksart.com/                                                                                                                                                               

T-2 489 during its only test flight in American hands with test pilot Bob Hoover at the controls at Muroc Dry Lake. 


Red 1 on display at the University of Kansas at Lawrence in April, 1948. 


Red 1 as it appears today at the Planes of Fame Museum in Chino, CA.                                                                       Photo courtesy of Brandon Kunicki via Dave McDonald.  


A right hand view of Red 1. Note the wolf’s head badge of III/JG77, the first squadron Lt. Gerhard Hanf had joined after completing pilot training. Although JG1 was the only fighter group to fly the Volksjäger in combat, Hanf must have felt some loyalty to his old unit.

Photo courtesy of Brandon Kunicki via Dave McDonald. 


The left side of Red 1. The name Nervenklau (nerve stealer) was Lt. Hanf’s nickname. Although, one could say that this name would be suitable for the aircraft itself!

Photo courtesy of Brandon Kunicki via Dave McDonald.


War Prizes by Phil Butler

Warplanes of the Third Reich by William Green

Monogram Close-Up # 11, Volksjäger by J. Richard Smith and Eddie J. Creek

Heinkel He-162 Volksjäger by Heinz J. Nowarra

Aero Series # 4, Heinkel He-162 Volksjäger by the Aeronautical Staff of Aero Publishers Inc.

World War Two Fighting Jets by Jeffrey Ethell and Alfred Price

Fighters of the Luftwaffe by Joachim Dressel and Manfred Griehl

The First and The Last by Adolph Galland

Wings of the Luftwaffe by Capt. Eric Brown

Luftwaffe Emblems 1939 – 1945 by Barry Ketley and Mark Rolfe

Air Classics volume 38 # 7, Aug. 2002

Air Classics Mystery Aces and Aircraft of the Luftwaffe, 1981 

ADI (K) Report # 340 / 1945, Arguments for and Against the Volksjäger.

USSAF in Europe memo, Shipment of GAF Equipment and Inventory List for the Richard J. Gatling.

Interview with Engineer and Test Pilot Gerhard Gleuwitz and his remarks about the He-162.

Documents are from the Air Force Historical Research Agency archives, provided by Archie DiFante.

News clippings of the 1948 engineering exposition from the University of Kansas archives, provided by Barry Bunch. 

History of Gerhard Hanf provided by Stuart Brooks from his web page at: http://www.brooksart.com/Lastmanstanding.html 

Special thanks to Dave McDonald of Classic Wings Magazine, Brandon Kunicki and Stuart Brooks for information and photos.