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Heinkel He-280

This plane was the first turbojet powered fighter in history to make it'self airborne. It clawed it's way into the air on 30 March 1941, nearly six weeks before the British Gloster E.28/39. The He-280 undertook it's maiden flight successfully with no engine cowlings to minimise a fire hazard which had shown up in ground tests. The engines used were two Heinkel-Hirth HeS 8 turbojets.

The development of this fighter had started in 1939. The wings were straight, mid-set, with the engines slung underneath at about one-third span. A long, pointed nose led back to the single-seat pressurised cabin, and the high-set tailplane carried twin endplate fins.

The plane itself was unique in many areas. It was the first jet combat fighter aircraft. It was the first twin-jet aircraft, the first jet aircraft to go beyond prototype stage and it was fitted with the world's first ejection seat. It also had a tricycle undercarriage, a rare feature at that time.

Eventually, eight of these aircraft were built and one of them was pitted against a FW 190 piston-engined fighter in a mock battle late in 1941 to prove the jet's superiority. The jet won the duel easily but even so, there was little interest in it and the project was cancelled. When the jet programme finally pressed ahead, the He-280 was abandoned in favour of it's better known cousin, the more advanced Messerschmitt Messerschmitt Me-262 "Schwalbe".