1998-09-28

Heinkel and the Turbojet Engine: Origin of the First Jet Fighter 985598

This year marks the sixtieth anniversary of the first turbojet engine flight. The engine was developed by the Ernst Heinkel company based on a concept pioneered by Dr. Hans von Ohain who passed away earlier this year. Initial flight-testing was conducted with the jet engine mounted under a propeller-driven aircraft. By the summer of 1939, a specially designed test aircraft, the Heinkel He 178, flew purely on jet power. This success led to development of the world's first true jet fighter, the twin-engine He 280. Although the He 280 failed to go into production (an honor that fell to the competing Messerschmitt Me 262) it was a pioneer in several aeronautical technologies. Heinkel's early and enthusiastic support for the turbojet provided a strong impetus to the entire German aero-engine industry. However, his efforts did not lead to a Heinkel turbojet engine production contract. The He 162 jet fighter (that entered large-scale production near the end of World War Two) was powered by a BMW axial-flow jet engine.

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