Heinkel He 219

Infobox Aircraft
name=Heinkel He 219 "Uhu"
type=Night fighter

first flight=6 November 1942
primary user=Luftwaffe
more users=
number built= ~300
unit cost=
variants with their own articles=Hütter Hü 211
The Heinkel He 219 "Uhu" (Eagle-Owl) was a night fighter serving in the later stages of World War II with the German Luftwaffe. The requirement for an advanced night fighter was issued in 1942 and the He 219 was the product of this program. A relatively sophisticated aircraft, some speculate that had the "Uhu" been available in quantity, it may have had a significant effect upon the strategic bomber offensive of the Royal Air Force. However very few of the aircraft saw service and the He 219 had no appreciable impact upon the course of the war.

Design and development

Due to political rivalries between Josef Kammhuber, commander of the German night fighter forces, Ernst Heinkel, the constructor, and Erhard Milch, responsible for aircraft construction in the "Reichsluftfahrtministerium" (RLM — the German Aviation Ministry), the development and production of the aircraft was tortuous. Furthermore, the aircraft was complicated and expensive to construct, a factor that further limited the number of aircraft produced.

When Robert Lusser returned to Heinkel from Messerschmitt, he began work on a new high speed bomber project called P.1055. This was an advanced design with a pressurized cockpit, twin ejection seats (the first to be planned for use in any combat aircraft), nose wheel landing gear and remote control defensive guns similar to those used by the Messerschmitt Me 210. Power was to be provided by two DB 610 "coupled" engines producing 2,950 hp each, delivering excellent performance with a top speed of approximately 750 km/h (465 mph) and a 4,000 km range with a 2,000 kg bombload.

The RLM rejected the design in August 1940 as too complex and risky. Lusser quickly offered four versions of the fighter with various wingspans and engines in order to balance the performance and risk. At the same time, he offered the P.1056 dedicated night fighter with four 20 mm cannons in the wings and fuselage. The RLM rejected all of these on the same grounds in 1941. Heinkel was furious and fired Lusser on the spot.

About the same time as Lusser was designing the P.1055, Kammhuber had started looking for a dedicated aircraft for his rapidly growing night fighter force. Heinkel quickly re-designed P.1055 for this role as the P.1060. This design was similar in layout but somewhat smaller and powered by the smaller and simpler DB 603 engine. This engine wasn't known for its altitude performance, which was a problem for this design with its short wings, but Daimler offered a new "G" version that addressed that issue. Heinkel was sure he had a winner and sent the design off to the RLM in January 1942 while he funded the first prototype out-of-pocket. Nevertheless the RLM again rejected the He 219 in favour of new Junkers Ju 88 and Messerschmitt Me 210 based designs.

Construction of the prototype started in February but suffered a serious setback in March, when Daimler said that the DB 603 G would not be ready in time. Instead they would deliver a 603A with a new gear ratio to the props, with the new designation 603C. Even these took until August to arrive, thus the prototype did not fly until 6 November 1942. Green and Swanborough 1989, p.12.] When Kammhuber saw the prototype on the 19th he was so impressed he immediately ordered it into production over Milch's objections. Milch, who had rejected the He 219 in January, was enraged.

Stability problems were noted but Heinkel overcame the problem by offering a cash prize to the engineers who could fix the problem. Further changes were made to the armament; the dorsal rear defensive guns - mounted atop the fuselage, and firing from a fixed, internal-mount position at a point just aft of the wings' trailing edge, were removed due to their ineffectiveness. The forward firing armament was increased to two 20 mm guns in the wing roots and four more guns or cannons mounted in the ventral tray. Production prototypes were then ordered as the He 219 A-0 (V-series aircraft) and quickly progressed to the point where V7, V8 and V9 were handed over to operational units in June 1943 for testing.

Operational history

The He 219 had an auspicious combat debut. On the night of 11-12 June 1943, Werner Streib flew the V9 and shot down five bombers, before crashing on landing. Smith and Kay 1972, p. 298.] In the next ten days the three Heinkels He 219A-0 pre-production aircraft would shoot down a total of 20 RAF aircraft, including six of the previously "untouchable" de Havilland Mosquito fighter/bombers. Greatly encouraged, Kammhuber continued to press for immediate production.

Production finally got underway with the He 219 A-2 model which included a longer engine nacelle containing an extra fuel tank and typically included the R1 kit with two MK 108 30 mm cannons installed as Schräge Musik. Production problems due to allied bombing meant the A-2/R1 did not reach Luftwaffe units until October 1943. The first 10 to 15 aircraft were delivered with the FuG 212 (Lichtenstein C-1) 490 MHz UHF frequency radar.

Milch repeatedly tried to have the program killed and in the process Kammhuber was removed from office. Production ceased for a time but then restarted because the new Junkers Ju 388s were taking too long to get into service. Only 206 He 219s had been produced in the previous 15 months. Soon the A-5 began production and was the first major production variant He 219 to enter production. The A-5 featured an updated, 90 MHz VHF frequency Telefunken FuG 220 Lichtenstein SN-2 radar system which had a reduced range from the C-1 but was less vunlerable to chaff jamming and improved its accuracy and resolution.

The He 219 was a capable fighter aircraft, allowing the pilots a large degree of autonomy. Ground control simply got them into the right area and then the pilots took over and hunted down the bombers on their own – the SN-2 radar's 4 km range was longer than the distance between the bombers. The performance of the A-5 was not extraordinary – about 580 km/h or 360 mph – but it was enough of an advance over the Messerschmitt Bf 110s and Junkers Ju 88Gs that the aircraft could chase several bombers per sortie.

In order to combat the Mosquito, the He-219 had all excess weight removed. Some weapon and radio systems were deleted and the aircraft was able to attain a speed of 404 mph (650 km/h). This version was given the designation A-6.

The last major production version was the A-7 with improved DB603E engines. The A-7 could be outfitted with two 30 mm Rheinmetall MK 108s in the wing roots, two 30 mm long-barreled Rheinmetall MK 103s and two 20 mm Mauser MG 151/20s in a ventral tray and two MK 108s in a "Schräge Musik" installation. However, for a lighter load out, the Mk 103s were not usually fitted.

The follow on series was to be the He 219B and were to fitted with the new, but very troublesome, Junkers Jumo 222A/B 2,500 hp 24-cylinder engines which allowed the He 219 to reach 435 mph (700 km/h). They were also to have had increased wing spans of 22.06 m for better high altitude performance. However, with the Jumo 222s not going into proper production, only a test machine or two were ever fitted with the Jumo, some additional airframes with the big wing were slated to fly with high altitude versions of the DB 603. But again, only a test machine or two ever flew with the big wing.

A further adaption would have been the He 219C, also intending to use the big wing and Jumo 222 powerplants, with an all new fuselage of 17.15 m fitted with a complete three-man Ju 388 J cockpit section forward and a manned power tail turret aft. Day bomber and night-fighter versions were proposed and metal was cut on the project, but without the Jumo engines, they never flew.

Paper projects include the very high altitude He 219E with a vastly increased wingspan of 28.5m and DB 614 engines, which were apparently an uprated DB 603 G capable of 2000 hp.

A more reasonable project was the Hü 211, a design created by Wolfgang Hütter, that took a standard He 219 fuselage and tail and added a long span, high aspect ratio wing of 24.55 m to create a fast high altitude machine. While this design as was expected to be powered by the Jumo 222, so seemed doomed to never fly, work continued on two sets of wings until they were destroyed by allied bombing.

The He 219 gained an almost mythical reputation. However the aircraft was clearly underpowered and certainly not the "Mosquito killer" that it is generally reputed to be. Its heavy wing loading meant that its manouevreability was poor, and turn radius worse than that of the Ju 88 G-6. Nevertheless, it is clear that the aircraft should have been allowed to continue to be produced and a night-fighter wing armed with this aircraft instead of their motley collection of outdated heavy fighters and converted medium bombers would have been considerably stronger opposition for the RAF.Fact|date=January 2008


;He 219 A-0:initially used for pre-production aircraft but became first major production version with 104 built, 1750 PS DB 603A engines;He 219 A-1:Proposed reconnaissance-bomber aircraft. The project was abandoned.;He 219 A-2:similar to A-0 but extended engine nacelles with additional fuel tanks, 1670 PS DB 603AA engines, 85 built;He 219 A-2/R1:Two-seat night-fighter version, armed with two 30-mm MK 108 cannons in a ventral tray, two 20-mm MG 151/20 cannons in the wing roots, plus two MK 108 cannons just behind the cockpit.;He 219 A-5:planned three-seat night fighter, only some prototypes built from A-2 airframes known;He 219 A-6:planned Mosquito-hunter, stripped-down version of the He 219 A-2, armed with four 20-mm MG 151/20 cannons, ;He 219 A-7:Improved night-fighter version, powered by two 1800 PS DB 603E engines, 210 ordered as of November 31, 1944


Starting June 16, 1945, the U.S. Army Air Force Intelligence Service as part of "Operation Lusty" (LUftwaffe Secret TechnologY) took control of three He-219s at Grove in Jutland, Denmark, base of the 1st Night Fighter Wing ("Nachtjagdgeschwader 1") when the war ended. These aircraft were made flight-worthy by "Watson's Wizzers" and flown to Cherbourg, France. He 219 A-2 Werknummer 290202, was shipped to the United States with 21 other captured German aircraft on board the British aircraft carrier HMS "Reaper" and were reassembled at Ford Field, Newark, New Jersey. "Werknummer" 290202 was given the foreign equipment number FE-614 and later T2-614. It was flown to Freeman Field, Indiana for flight testing along with a second of the three He 219's; a He 219 A-5 prototype, Werknummer 290060 and given the foreign equipment number FE-612. The fate of "Werknummer" 290060 is unknown. Following testing the He 219 A-2 "Werknummer" 290202 was then moved in 1946 to Orchard Place Airport in Park Ridge, Illinois. It was stored in a vacant aircraft factory and then transferred to the Smithsonian's National Air Museum on 3 January 1949. Finally the He 219 was crated and shipped to the Smithsonian's Silver Hill, Maryland storage facility in early 1955. He 219 A-2 "Werknummer" 290202 is undergoing restoration in the collection of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C., USA. Recently the fuselage has been put on display at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center by Dulles Airport, however the wings are still being restored at the Paul Garber Facility in Suitland, Maryland. Today the fuselage can be seen displayed near the museum's Dornier Do 335 and Arado Ar 234, aircraft that accompanied it across the Atlantic over 60 years ago.

pecifications (He 219 A-7)

aircraft specifications

plane or copter?=plane
jet or prop?=prop

ref="Jane's Fighting Aircraft of World War II" [Bridgeman 1946]

capacity=3 passengers
length main=15.5 m
length alt=51 ft 0 in
span main=18.5 m
span alt=60 ft 8 in
height main=4.4 m
height alt=14 ft 5 in
area main=44.4 m²
area alt=478 ft²
empty weight main= kg
empty weight alt= lb
loaded weight main=
loaded weight alt=
useful load main=
useful load alt=
max takeoff weight main=13,580 kg
max takeoff weight alt=29,900 lb
more general=

engine (prop)=Daimler-Benz DB 603E
type of prop=liquid-cooled inverted V12 engine
number of props=2
power main=1,800 PS
power alt=1,324 kW
propellers=VDM three blade constant speed airscrew

max speed main=616 km/h
max speed alt=333 knots, 385 mph
cruise speed main=
cruise speed alt=
stall speed main=
stall speed alt=
never exceed speed main=
never exceed speed alt=
range main=1,540 km
range alt=831 nm, 960 mi
ferry range main=2,148 km
ferry range alt=1,160 nm, 1,335 mi
ceiling main=9,300 m
ceiling alt=30,500 ft
climb rate main=
climb rate alt=
loading main=
loading alt=
more performance=

** up to 4× 20 mm (0.787 in) MG 151 cannon in a detachable fairing under the fuselage, 300 rounds/gun
** 2× 20 mm (0.787 in) MG 151 cannon in wing roots, 300 rounds/gun
** 2× 30 mm MK 108, Schräge Musik (oriented 65° above horizontal), 100 rounds/gun

ee also



similar aircraft=
* de Havilland Mosquito NF
* P-82 Twin Mustang
* Messerschmitt Bf 110
* Nakajima J1N Gekko
* P-61 Black Widow-the only dedicated Allied night fighter to see service.

* Do 216 - Do 217 - Hs 217 - He 219 - He 220 - BV 222 - FA 223

* List of military aircraft of Germany

see also=




* Bridgeman, Leonard (editor). “Heinkel He 219.” "Jane’s Fighting Aircraft of World War II". London: Studio, 1946. ISBN 1-85170-493-0.
* Green, William. "Warplanes of the Third Reich". London: Macdonald and Jane's Publishers Ltd., 1970 (fourth Impression 1979). ISBN 0-356-02382-6.
* Green, William and Gordon Swanborough. "Heinkel's Nocturnal Predator...The He 219". "Air Enthusiast". Issue Forty, September-December 1989. Bromley, Kent:Tri-Service Press. pp. 8-19, 70-72.
* Nowarra, Heinz J. "Heinkel He 219 "Uhu". Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing Inc., 1989. ISBN 0-8874-0188-0.
* Remp, Roland. "Heinkel He 219, An Illustrated History Of Germany's Premier Nightfighter". Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing Inc., 2007. ISBN 0-7643-1229-4.
* Smith, J.R. and Antony L. Kay. "German Aircraft of the Second World War". London:Putnam, 1972. ISBN 85177 836 4.

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