Late in WW
II, the Luftwaffe was being heavily attacked at its' own airfields. One of
their last ditch, and ultimately futile attempts at dispersal of aircraft
was the Heinkel He-172 W.
Using the V-tailed He-172
as the basis for this aircraft, a hydrodynamically capable hull was
engineered and attached to the aircraft. Small stablising wingtip floats
were also added. Line connections and extra internal fuel capacity was
introduced. The pitot tube was shifted to the port wing
Since the standard
position of the cannons had been under the nose, this caused some problems
in the design. Left as it was, the guns would either fill with water and
explode when fired, or allow water into the aircraft upon landing and sink
the plane. Neither was a good option. The first attempt to rectify this involved
watertight doors that would flick open when the guns were selected, but
the doors had the tendency of closing when the cannons were fired (traced
to interruptions in the electrical circuit caused by the vibrations of the
guns firing) which led to large sections being blown forcibly
off the aircraft. This was unsuitable, as it led to in-flight fires,
excessive drag, and instantaneous sinking of the plane when landing!
doors also would flick open upon landing (again, short circuits were to
blame) and sink the plane. Obviously, this was the wrong approach.
After the loss of 11 test aircraft, Heinkel looked elsewhere for a
The second option was to
modify the underwing cannon pods from the Me-109. Since there was no
landing gear in the aircraft, some space could be freed up to carry more
ammunition. With this, the major hurdles were overcome and the "Sea
Salamander" was set for its' first combat forays.
Fortunately for the
Allies, Heinkel was still using a wooden sandwich composition for the
majority of the wing assembly, and since they still were using glue that
lacked proper bonding capability, the "Sea Salamanders" had an
atrocious rate of wing failures. It was later determined that placing
the planes in proximity to salt water merely accelerated the process.
one enemy aircraft fell to a "Sea Salamander".
images below to see larger images
The kits used is the Dragon 1/48
scale He-172 and the float from an Airfix Ju-52. Amazingly, the two fit together
quite well. I merely cut the top of the float off, thinned the edges, and
attached it to the fuselage of the He-172. A small amount of putty
later...viola! Flying boat variant complete! I figured the cannon pods would
also make handy stations for mechanics to stand on and for pilot entry as well.
The handling dolly is from a 1/48 Monogram Kingfisher. I added hoist points
on the plane, suspecting the Germans would have based Sea Salamanders on ships
had they the time and ability to do so. In fact, it's entirely possible that
they might have given the design to Japan, who could have fit them nicely into a
Type 400 sub as defensive fighters for a sub task force, or escorts for
Water is a railroad
accessory, which is a sheet of ripply, thin plastic, which I painted Tamiya
Clear Blue, and cut out the area where the plane would sit.