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As Germany made further preparations for an inevitable war (1933-36), Wasserkuppe became an official training camp for the Nazi Youth Flight Corps. Exploiting a loop hole in the Treaty of Versailles, Hitler did everything possible to encourage glider flying. Funding for the program was subsidized through the efforts of brown-shirted storm troopers who "urged" German citizens to donate to "sport flying". It would be an easy matter to transform the skilled, young glider aviators into fighter and bomber pilots. Many of the technical school pilots had built their own planes. They represented a body of trained men who would be able to take leadership roles in airplane factories in time of conflict.
By (1939), the Wasserkuppe Nazi Youth Flight Corps was operating at full capacity. Luftwaffe personnel on site numbered over 40 instructors and support personnel. During a 1943 allied air assault, Wasserkuppe suffered the loss of twenty men killed and numerous casualties. All Nazi aircraft, glider hangers and the flight operations center were destroyed.
* In September 1944, with the Nazi empire under extreme pressure on all fronts, the German Air Ministry ("ReichsLuftsfahrtMinisterium" or "RLM") acknowledged Germany's desperate circumstances by issuing a requirement for a new jet fighter that would be simple, cheap, and easy to build in large quantity. The aircraft would be built in such quantities that little maintenance would be required, as a defective aircraft could simply be discarded and replaced with a new one. The Air Ministry called this aircraft the "Volksjaeger (People's Fighter)".
Such a measure made some sense under the circumstances, but there were those in the Nazi leadership, including Reichsmarshall Hermann Goering, head of the Luftwaffe, who went further, believing that the new fighter would be piloted by Hitler Youth. These adolescents would be given elementary pilot training by flying gliders based on the Volksjaeger, and then would immediately be put behind the controls of the fighter itself, to sink or swim in flight operations and air combat. The idea of putting barely trained kids into the cockpit of a high performance fighter, particularly one designed in haste and manufactured as cheaply as possible, was of course lunacy, and Goering, a fighter ace himself, should have known better.
* The He-162 finally began to see combat in mid-April. On 19 April, the pilot of a British Royal Air Force (RAF) fighter who had been captured by the Germans informed his interrogators that he had been shot down by a jet fighter whose description was clearly that of a He-162. The Heinkel and its pilot were lost as well, shot down by an RAF Tempest fighter while returning to base.
its first operational unit, the "Ist Gruppe / Jagdgeschwader 1 (I/JG-1)", which had previously flown the Focke-Wulf FW-190......From mid-April (1945), I/JG-1 had scored a number of kills, but had also lost thirteen He-162s and ten pilots. Most of the losses were from flying accidents, due to problems such as engine flame-outs and occasional structural failures. The difficulties with the type seem to have been due to the fact that it was rushed into production, not that it was an inherently bad design. One experienced Luftwaffe pilot who flew it called it a "first-class combat aircraft".
In January 1945, the Luftwaffe formed a special "Erprobungskommando 162" He 162 test pilot evaluation group to which the first 46 aircraft were delivered. The group was based at the Luftwaffe test center at Rechlin under the command of Heinz Bär. Bär, an experienced combat pilot credited with 200 kills, familiarized himself and his group with the new airplanes.
February saw deliveries of the He 162 to its first operational unit, I/JG-1, the 1st Group of Jagdgeschwader 1 (fighter squadron), which had previously flown the Focke-Wulf Fw 190. I/JG-1 was transferred to Parchim, near the Heinkel factory at Marienehe, where the pilots could pick up their new jets and start intensive training beginning in March, all while the transportation network and fuel supply of the Third Reich was collapsing under the pressure of Allied air attacks. On April 7, the USAAF bombed the field at Parchim with 134 B-17 Flying Fortresses, inflicting serious losses and damage to the infrastructure. Two days later, I/JG-1 transferred to a airfield at nearby Ludwigslust and, less than a week later, moved again to an airfield at Leck, near the Danish border. In the meantime, on April 8 the 2nd Group of JG-1 (II/JG-1) moved to the Heinkel airfield at Marienehe and started converting from Fw 190s to He 162s. The 3rd Group of JG-1 (III/JG-1) was also scheduled to convert to the He 162, but the Group was disbanded on April 24 and its personnel used to fill in the vacancies in other units.
The He-162 finally saw combat in mid-April. On April 19, a captured Royal Air Force fighter pilot informed his Germans interrogators that he had been shot down by a jet fighter matching the description of a He 162. The Heinkel and its pilot were lost as well, shot down by a RAF Hawker Tempest while on approach. Though still in training, I/JG-1 had scored a number of kills beginning in mid-April, but had also lost thirteen He 162s and ten pilots. Ten of the aircraft losses were the result of various technical malfunctions, such as engine flameouts and sporadic structural failures: just two were shot down. The He 162's 30-minute fuel capacity also caused problems, as at least two of JG-1's pilots were killed attempting emergency landings after exhausting their fuel.
In the last days of April, as the Soviet troops approached, II/JG-1 evacuated from Marienhe and on May 2 joined the I/JG-1 at Leck. On May 3, all of JG-1's surviving He 162s were restructured into two groups, I. Einsatz (Combat) and II. Sammel (Replacement). All the JG-1's aircraft where grounded May 5 when General Admiral von Friedeburg signed the surrender of all German armed forces in Holland, Northwest Germany and Denmark. On May 6 when the British reached their airfields, JG-1 turned their He 162s over to the Allies, and examples of the fighter were then shipped to the US, Britain, France, and the USSR for further evaluation. Erprobungskommando 162 fighters, which had been passed on to JV 44, an elite jet unit under Adolf Galland a few weeks earlier, were all destroyed by their crews to keep the jets from falling into Allied hands. By the time of the German unconditional surrender May 8, 1945, 120 He 162s had been delivered; a further 200 aircraft had been completed and were awaiting collection or flight-testing; about 600 more were in various stages of production.
The difficulties experienced by the He 162 were caused mainly by its rush into production, not by any inherent design flaws. One experienced Luftwaffe pilot who flew it called it a "first-class combat aircraft." Though a RAF pilot was killed in November 1945 when one of the tailfins broke off during the Farnborough air show, a British pilot who evaluated the He 162 praised it.