Historical Writings of the combat aircraft of the two World Wars


Heinkel He 280

Many people contend that the Me 262 is the world's first jet fighter, or others that the Meteor holds claim to the title. More informed people say the Whittle is the first. In truth, the before mentioned Heinkel He 280 is the first Jet fighter. And, even more amazing, it was designed at a time when all German military leaders were focused on a brief Blitzkreig victory.

As such, the powers-that-were showed no interest in this exceptional machine. The He 280 holds three records: First jet combat aircraft, first twin-engine jet, and the first jet to be other than just a research aircraft. The He280 V1 was ready to fly in September 1940, and flew as a glider on the 11th of that month behind an He 111. Fritz Schafer was the first man to fly in it with its two 1,290lb (585kg) thrust HeS 8A centrifugal jets on 2 April, 1941.

Fortunately for the Allies, (who had no knowledge of the craft) only eight of these "attractive" twin-finned planes were flown. Despite all its power, at a time when it would have been utterly invincible, and despite the fact that the Heinkel roundly trounced an Fw190 in early 1942, (a mock dogfight) the RLM showed no interest.

Intended armament was three 20mm MG 151. The proposed He 280B would have had six, plus 1,102lbs (500kgs) worth of bomb load. Completed trials included twin Argus 014 duct propulsion, glider tests with no engine nacelles, and V-type butterfly tails.

Had the He 280 become operational, it would have had no possible opposition, and at a time when the Third Reich was at its wartime peak. It would have swept enemy opposition from the skies over Britain, allowing for operation Sealion to go forward unopposed. Along with the Fw190 and good old Me109, it would have smashed North Africa and possibly the Soviets with it. And then where? Who knows. This is a fine example of the luck that certainly played a part in the eventual Allied victory.

Technical Data

Origin: Ernst Heinkel AG
Type: Single-seat fighter.
Engines: (Most) two 1,852lb (840kg) thrust Junkers Jumo 004A turbojets.
Dimensions: Span 39ft 4.5 in (12.00m); length (most) 33ft 5.5in (10.20m);
Height: 10ft 5-3/4 in (3.19m)
Weights: (V6) empty 7,386lb (3350kg); loaded 11,465lb (5200kg)
Armament: See text.
Performance: (V6) maximum speed 508mph (817km/h);
range at height 382 miles (615km)




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