Anigrand #AA3010 1/144 German Experimental VTOL Aircrafts Special Set

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Product Code: AA3010


Kit #AA3010. 1/144 scale. This is a highly-detailed set of resin kits, complete with decals. The set includes the Dornier Do 29, the VFW VAK 191B, the EWR VJ 101C, and the Dornier Do 31.

Dornier Do 29: The Dornier Do 29 was an experimental STOL aircraft, co-created by Dornier and the German Aviation Laboratory in the 1950s to test a tilting-propeller system to facilitate Short Take-Off and Landing (STOL) performance. Like American X-planes of the same era, it was a proof-of-concept aircraft, not intended for production. It was successful in proving the concept, but no production aircraft followed.

The concept dated back the World War II-era Focke-Achgelis helicopter design, Fa 269, which had pusher propellers under each wing. In the 50s, Dornier revisited this concept, but used it with a fixed-wing aircraft instead. For ease of construction, the aircraft was based on the Do 27 light transport, modified with twin Lycoming GO-480 engines, one under each wing. These drove three-bladed props that could be tilted downward to an angle of 90 degrees – in addition, the engines were coupled so that symmetrical thrust would be maintained in case one engine shut down. The forward fuselage was modified with a helicopter-like bubble canopy, and the pilot was equipped with a Martin-Baker ejection seat, just in case.

Two prototypes were built, but neither tested their tilt propellers at more than 60 degrees, facilitating STOL but not attempting VTOL flight. One prototype is on display at the Dornier Museum.

VAK 191B: The VFW VAK 191B was an experimental VTOL nuclear strike fighter design built in the early 1970s, and it was a close cousin to the Harrier and its prototype predecessor, the Kestrel. It was intended to replace the Fiat G.91 in Luftwaffe service.

With the growing threat of a Soviet invasion – and the risk of first-strikes knocking out major tactical airfields, NATO countries in the 50s and 60s explored several VTOL options. The US looked at Zero-Length Launch systems, which used a strap-on rocket to literally blast an F-100 or other fighter-bomber into flight. The British followed a path that led to the Harrier – also adopted by Spain, India and the US Marines. Germany followed its own path with several concepts, including the VAK-191B, a near-clone of the Harrier. Initially planned as a tactical nuclear strike fighter with moderate supersonic dash capabilities, the aircraft eventually became a technology demonstrator, equivalent to a US “X-plane” project.

In 1962, West Germany announced a requirement for a new ground attack fighter to replace the Fiat G.91, and blended this need with NATO’s focus on VTOL fighters. This effort focused on the Focke-Wulf Fw.1262 design, which was developed in a partnership with Germany’s Vereinigte Flugtechnische Werke (VFW) and Italy’s Fiat as the VAK-191, a tactical nuclear strike fighter. Within five years, NATO had lost interest in the tactical VTOL concept and Fiat had pulled out of the program. Without the resources to undertake such a program without partners, the West German Luftwaffe turned VAK-191B into a technology demonstrator. Prototype development was cut from six to three airframes, which made 91 flights between 1970 and 1975. These prototypes tested concepts later included in the Panavia Tornado, including 'fly-by-wire' technology.

As built, the VAK-191B would not have met its initial tactical goals, and in comparison, the Harrier proved to be a much more combat-capable aircraft.

EWR VJ.101C: The EWR VJ 101 was an experimental vertical take-off-and-landing (VTOL) tiltjet fighter with a Mach 2 capability. It was developed as a candidate to replace the West German Luftwaffe’s Lockheed F-104G Starfighter. After a five-year test program, this project was canceled in 1968.

German interest in VTOL interceptor and strike fighters stemmed from their proximity to the Warsaw Pact, and their fear that runways would be cratered early in any conflict with the Soviets, leaving their air force grounded. Great Britain and even the US Air Force tested VTOL and Zero-Length Launch systems to address a similar concern. Recognizing this interest, EWR was created by the post-war German aircraft designers Messerschmitt, Heinkel and Bölkow to build the VJ 101 C.

Each had been developing their own VTOL designs prior to the merger, and these concepts were blended into the final product. In appearance, their aircraft resembled the Bell XF-109 – both designs had paired engines mounted in rotating pods on the wingtips.

Proof of concept mock-ups were extensively used to test out the concepts behind the VTOL features, and proved the design was feasible. Two prototypes were then produced, the X-1 and the X-2. X-1 began flying in 1963, proving that the plane worked, and that, even without afterburners, it could operate beyond the sound barrier – a first for VTOL aircraft. A faulty autopilot caused the crash of X-1 in 1965, but because the fault lay in the autopilot, not the aircraft, testing continued with X-2, which was equipped with afterburners.

Although it proved successful from a technical standpoint, it was not proceeded with – the Luftwaffe instead purchased the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II, and became one of the first to use the Panavia Tornado.

Dornier Do 31: The Dornier Do 31 was a West German experimental VTOL jet transport designed to meet NATO specifications for a tactical support aircraft for the EWR VJ101 project. NATO, Germany, the USAF and the UK were all interested in developing a VTOL (or in the case of the USAF, just a VTO) system to provide survivable air defense and strike capabilities in the event of a Soviet first-strike that cratered NATO runways. The project was cancelled in 1970 due to high costs, technical problems and changing requirements.

The aircraft’s design is so evocative of both the Arado Ar 234 and a myriad of early post-war Soviet jet bombers that there can be little doubt of their kinship. Clearly some of the same war-era design team members who were later responsible for the Soviet designs had escaped to the West and gone to work for Dornier. The glass-nosed transport had a high wing with two underslung jet engines, one under each wing, along with podded quartets of vectored-thrust lift engines mounted on the wing tips. If it had reached operational status, it could have carried 36 troops or 24 stretcher patients at 450 mph or it could cruise at 404 mph for 1,100 miles.

Three prototypes were built. The first only had the underslung engines, and it was used as proof of concept that the aircraft could manage level flight. The second was a static airframe, and the third was the VTOL demonstrator. It flew and demonstrated full VTOL capabilities in late 1967. An early hybrid computer was necessary to make controlled VTOL flight possible. The first prototype is in the Dornier Museum, and the third prototype is in the Deutsche Museum Flugwerft Schleissheim near Munich.

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