Heinkel He 178V1

Kit:Condor, 1/72; bought for €6 in 2008. Model finished on 2019-12-08.
Aircraft:First prototype around the time of its first flight in 1939.
Heinkel He 178V1 in 1/72

Heinkel He 178V1 in 1/72

Heinkel He 178V1 in 1/72

Heinkel He 178V1 in 1/72

Despite what many British (erroneously) believe, Heinkel He 178 was the first turbojet-powered aircraft in the world. It first flew on August 27, 1939, almost two years before the first flight of the Gloster E.28/39. In fact, the Gloster aircraft was the fourth jet to ever fly. To the British inventor Sir Frank Whittle's credit, he did get his engine to run before the Germans did (on a test bench), in April 1937; the Heinkel engine first ran in September of that same year.

There are very few pictures of the first protototype, the He 178V1. The second prototype, V2, is better documented, but that aircrat not only has a completely different wing, but also never actually flew. Soon after the first flight of the He 178, Dr. Ernst Heinkel turned his attention to the design of the He 280 twin-engined jet fighter.

Heinkel He 178V1 in 1/72

Heinkel He 178V1 in 1/72

Construction Notes

Compared to the scale plans I was able to find (e.g., Air Enthusiast August 1972), the Condor kit is quite accurate. It also comes with good detail, so very few modifications or additions were needed. I replaced the seat and added photo-etch seatbelts. I also inserted a piece of 1/3" styrene tube into the nose to properly simulate the intake duct, and replaced the (fixed) landing gear struts with some Albion Alloys' aluminum tubing.

Because of the poor photographic evidence of this aircraft, the colors are a somewhat of a mystery. It is clear from photos that the aircraft had unpainted metal panels, some darker than others; using the RLM 02 primer color for other parts seemed like a good guess. I used Alclad II enamels and (for the RLM 02) Tamiya's XF-22 German Grey. Masks for painting the wing roots and closed wheel wells were cut using a Cricut computer-controlled cutter. The canopy was dipped in Future floor wax, but otherwise I did not use any clear coating. Based on photos, the first prototype had no markings at the time of the first flight.

He 178V1 in 1/72

Ready for airbrushing with all gaps filled

He 178V1 in 1/72

Masked for aluminum color; note the wing roots

References Used

There are very few photographs of the original V1, and the few one can find are of poor quality. There are more pictures of the V2, second prototype, but those tend to be heavily retouched (and besides, that is a completely different aircraft anyway).
  1. Aeroplane Monthly July 1992, May 2001, August 2019
  2. Air Enthusiast August 1972
  3. Luftfahrt international 9/81

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