Henschel's Hs 132 was a World War II dive bomber and interceptor aircraft of the German Luftwaffe that never saw service. The unique design featured a top-mounted jet engine and the pilot in a prone position. The Soviet Army occupied the factory just as the Hs 132 V1 was nearing flight testing, the V2 and V3 being 80% and 75% completed.
Design and development
There had been interest in the idea of a prone pilot for combat aircraft in order to reduce g-forces during maneuvering. Several aircraft had already experimented with this layout for various reasons, the Horten IIIf had a prone pilot, but this was primarily in order to reduce drag in this high-performance glider., while the DFS 228 reconnaissance glider also used a prone pilot in order to make it easier to seal its pressure cabin. But it was not until the Berlin B9 was built specifically to test this arrangement for improved g-load that any serious effort to development could be carried out. Starting in the spring of 1943, the Berlin B9 twin-piston engined experimental aircraft demonstrated that it was indeed possible for a pilot to fly the aircraft lying down, and that it did improve his ability to handle high loads. However it also demonstrated that the pilot had an extremely restricted field of view upwards or to the rear that made it suitable only for certain roles, including bombers or fighters or interceptors with a major speed advantage over their opposition. Based on this research, a number of late-war German designs followed the B9's lead and used a prone pilot. Better g-load performance was not the only reason, however, as this layout also reduced the frontal area of the aircraft. This was a serious concern for interceptors attacking the USAAF's B-17 Flying Fortress, as calculations showed that the chance of being hit by its defensive guns was largely a function of frontal area.
The genesis for the Hs 132 was an 18 February 1943 specification published by the German Air Ministry (RLM) calling for a single-seat shipping attack aircraft in order to counter an expected invasion of Europe. A piston-engined aircraft was called for at the time, but the performance requirements led to a switch to jet power. Henschel submitted their design for RLM approval in April/May 1944, by which point they had already started wind tunnel testing the basic layout. The aircraft that emerged had a roughly cigar-shaped fuselage with short-span mid-set wings and a horizontal tail with considerable dihedral ending in twin rounded rudders. The BMW 003 engine was mounted on the back of the aircraft above the wing, likely to make servicing easier due to the low ground height of the aircraft that put the engine roughly shoulder-height. The twin rudder arrangement kept the controls free of the jet exhaust. The cockpit was completely faired into the fuselage contour, with a rounded clear nose-cone on the front of the aircraft. Behind this was the actual "window", a large armored-glass plate located some distance behind the extreme nose. The design bore a strong resemblance to the contemporary Heinkel He 162.
The basic A model was armed with one 500 kg bomb and no other armament. It was to begin its attack in a shallow dive outside the ships' range of fire, and after reaching a speed of 910 km/h (565 mph) the pilot would "toss" the bomb at the target using a simple computerized sight, and then climb back out of range. The aircraft was stressed to 12 g for the pullout. The computerized bombsight was not delivered in time to be fitted to the aircraft. Several other versions of the basic airframe were proposed as well. The Hs 132B used the Junkers Jumo 004 engine in place of the BMW 003, and added two MG 151/20 cannons. The HS 132C was a more extensively modified version intended for bomber interception, featuring the larger Heinkel HeS 011 engine, two MG 151/20s and two MK 103 or MK 108 30 mm cannons as well. The Hs 132D included a new wing of increased span.
A contract for six prototypes was approved in May 1944, and construction was begun in March 1945. Hs 132V1 was scheduled to have its first flight in June 1945, but the completed wings and fuselage were never mated, and Russian forces captured the intact fuselage in May 1945 while the wings were never moved from their factory in France.
* Hs 132A Dive Bomber
BMW 003 turbojet engine, 1 x 500 kg (1,102 lb) bomb
* Hs 132B Interceptor
Jumo 004 turbojet engine, 1 x 500 kg (1,102 lb) bomb, 2 x 20 mm MG 151 cannon
* Hs 132C Attack aircraft
He S 011 turbojet engine, 1 x 500 kg (1,102 lb) bomb, 2 x 20 mm MG 151 cannon and 2 x 30 mm MK 103 cannon
* Hs 132D
Specifications (Hs 132A)
* Crew: 1
* Length: 8.90 m (29 ft 2½ in)
* Wingspan: 7.20 m (23 ft 7½ in)
* Height: 3.00 m (9 ft 10 in)
* Wing area: 14.80 m² (159.30 ft²
* Loaded weight: 3,400 kg (7,496 lb)
* Powerplant: 1× BMW 003A turbojet, 7.8 kN (1,760 lb at 9,500 rpm)
* Maximum speed: (780 km/h at 6,000 m (700 km/h with bomb)) (485 mph at 19,685 ft (435 mph with bomb))
* Range: (with bomb) 1,120 km (696 miles)
* Service ceiling (with bomb) 10,000 m (32,810 ft)
* up to 500 kg (1,102 lb) of disposable stores on external rack
There is a widely available image that purports to show the completed Hs 132V1 outside the Henschel plant. This is actually an an artist's impression by Gert Heumann.