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Aircraft Review: He-162 Project - VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot' 

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VSL HE162 -Header.jpg


Aircraft Review: He-162 Project - VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot' 


By Stéphane Tolédo-Paul

Heinkel Flugzeugwerke was a German aircraft manufacturing company founded by Ernst Heinkel in 1922. The company was responsible for a number of famous aircraft, such as the He 178, the first jet-powered aircraft to fly, the twin-engine bomber He 111, which was the backbone of German bombing during World War II, the four-engine bomber He 177, the He 100, which was an unsuccessful competitor to the Messerschmitt Bf 109, as well as the highly effective He 219 Uhu night fighter and, of course, the He 162 "Salamander" or Volksjäger (People's Fighter) which we will discuss in this review.

The Heinkel He-162 was a single-seat, single-engine jet fighter with a mid-wing configuration and a distinctive silhouette, featuring its engine mounted on top of the fuselage behind the cockpit, its wingtips angled downward, and its twin-tail design to allow for engine airflow. Designed to meet the demand for an easily built jet with minimal use of strategic materials, which were in short supply by the end of World War II in Germany, a large part of its components were made of wood, plus it had to be easy to fly, even for those with limited flight experience. With a length of 9.05 meters, a wingspan of 7.20 meters, a height of 2.60 meters, and a wing area of 14.5 m2, it had an empty weight of 1660 kg and a maximum takeoff weight of 2685 kg. It was equipped with a BMW 003E-1 engine with a thrust of 8.00 kN. The He 162 had a top speed was 840 km/h, a service ceiling of 12,000 meters, and a range of 975 km. Its armament consisted of two 20 mm Rheinmetall-Borsig MK 108 cannons.


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Purchase & Installation
Priced at $25 USD, the VSKYLBS He 162 can be downloaded from the X-Plane.org website, in the Warbirds/WWII section. This is version 3.0 of the project, released in February 2023, which comes in two variants, one for X-Plane 12, and the other for X-Plane 11. Once the file is downloaded, simply unzip it, and then place the He 162 aircraft folder into your main X-Plane 12 "Aircraft" directory. The aircraft folder also contains a highly comprehensive POH (Pilot's Operating Handbook), plus other documents relating to the model. 



Exterior model
Upon loading the aircraft, my first impressions were extremely positive as the aircraft is accurately modelled, correctly proportioned, and highly detailed. It sits well on the ground and comes in a factory-fresh version (which I personally really like), that allows you to see how the aircraft was manufactured at the time, with its wooden and metal components, and two other different liveries, including a nice Russian variant.


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The attention to detail is impressive; I particularly liked the modelling of the engine nozzle and the landing gear, with its realistically worn tires and complex operation. The textures are realistic, with different technical markings on the moving surfaces. They are a bit too glossy for my taste (due to X-Plane 12’s rendering), but this can be easily adjusted in the object files, which I hope will be corrected in a future update. I really appreciated the subtle weathering on the textures and the scratches on the canopy, which contributed to the immersion in the sim. The 3D work is excellent; I have always appreciated this aircraft for its unique design, with its downward-angled wingtips, top-mounted engine, and twin-tail configuration, which is unconventional, and seeing it so well executed was truly delightful.


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Cockpit & Functionality
Inside the Heinkel He 162, you'll find a beautifully designed cockpit with great attention to detail. The vintage gauges looked highly authentic, and I especially liked how you can see the inner workings of the tachometer, just like on the original model. I also appreciated the weathering of the instrument glass, which adds an interesting touch of realism. All the instruments are metric and in their original German text. As with the MiG I previously tested, an option in feet would have been appreciated, especially for pilots who are not familiar with this system. One detail which did happen to bother me (only because I'm fussy), is the onboard clock, whose second-hand moves like a quartz model, even though I know there's a dataref that allows for the smooth movement of mechanical watch hands. 


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Apart from this very minor detail, all the controls are present, and like the rest, very well modelled, with even the canopy release cable being included! These controls can all be operated with the mouse and are compatible with virtual reality headsets. There is only one instrument, the AFN2 radio navigation indicator that does not work, and this is marked with an "inoperative" label. The gunsight, however, is fully functional, which was great to see. Overall, VSKYLABS have done an excellent job with the He 162’s cockpit and one which is easily on par with the best current add-ons out there.


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VSKYLABS, in their wisdom, have developed an aircraft, which very closely resembles that of its real-life counterpart, and as such, will prevent you (and many other simmers, such as myself), from doing what I like to do with an aircraft upon first load; that is to… throttle up and take off joyfully. 


If you do attempt this, and exceed 10,000 rpm, it will express its utmost disapproval by shooting flames out of its rear end, along with a complete loss of thrust. The early German jet engines were known for their delicate throttle input and their propensity to degrade quickly if you attempted to throttle up too quickly. VSYLABS has perfectly replicated this... and it's something I really appreciate. So, my first piece of advice is to read the user manual provided with the aircraft. It's about fifty pages long, covering all aspects of the aircraft, both historical and technical, and it emphasizes this point a lot. The keyword for piloting this aircraft is "gentleness," and believe me, you'll need it if you don't want to lose control surfaces, burn out the engine, blow a tire, or who knows what else. 


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During takeoff, the He 162’s acceleration (compared to modern jet offerings) is painfully slow. Not only do you have to give the aircraft time to speed up, but you must also keep an eye on your airspeed (you don’t want to lose your flaps), plus your engine, unless you want to end up in a fireball. 


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Once all these parameters are mastered, let the Heinkel rise gently and gain altitude slowly. The airspeed will increase sluggishly, and the aircraft will exhibit quite a bit of sensitivity to control inputs, especially in the roll. Again, gentleness is key when piloting this early jet aircraft. 


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During the cruise phase, you'll get used to this sensitivity; it's even a positive aspect, as the aircraft responds well and quickly. You just have to remember that it's fragile, doesn't like to be rushed, and lacks power, so anticipation is essential, as is vigilance in managing the delicate engine. 


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Landing is more of the same: monitor your speed to avoid losing control surfaces, which would be disastrous at this stage of flight, and anticipate any necessary throttle adjustments without pushing the engine too hard.


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In short, the He 162 is a demanding aircraft, but one which I find fascinating to fly. In their description, VSKYLABS mention that they have put a lot of work into the flight model for significant realism, and it’s easy to see. Looking back, it's almost unbelievable to think that Nazi leaders thought this aircraft could have changed the outcome of the war, as it was clearly an aircraft that required skilled pilots, who were in short supply at that time. Nevertheless, the He 162 stands as a testament to both the ingenuity and desperation of German engineers and designers during those final days of World War II.


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The VSKYLABS Heinkel He 162 is a fantastic model for X-Plane users who not only want a challenge but who are also interested in historical aircraft. Yes, it's a demanding aircraft to fly, requiring patience and finesse, but that’s not without its rewards. The attention to detail in the cockpit and the flight model is impressive, providing an immersive and realistic experience. While it may not have been a game-changer in real-life warfare, the Heinkel He 162 certainly offers an enjoyable and educational experience for those looking to step into the shoes of a World War II pilot.





The He-162 Project - VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot' is available from the X-Plane.Org Store here:


He-162 Project - VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot'

Priced at US$25.00


Project's Main Features:

  • VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot' project
  • Highly defined flight dynamics model of the He-162 First Generation Jetfighter
  • Comprehensive damage simulation
  • Built around the powerful, native X-Plane's 'Experimental Flight Model' environment.
  • Highly detailed model of the Heinkel He-162 aircraft.
  • Comprehensive manual - 50 pages booklet
  • Systems simulation: All core systems of the He-162 are modeled
  • Fully functional VR (Virtual Reality) Ready
  • Multi-Layer FMOD sound pack

Auto-Updates and Support

  • Highly responsive VSKYLABS support forums
  • The project is under constant development: development road-map is including flight model refinements, enhanced systems depth, additional liveries and other improvements.



X-Plane 12 or X-Plane 11
Windows, Mac, or Linux
4 GB VRAM Minimum - 8 GB+ VRAM Recommended
Current version: 3.0 (February 22nd, 2023)


Review by Stéphane Tolédo-Paul

26th April 2023

Copyright©2023: X-Plane Reviews


Review System Specifications: 

Windows 10, Intel i5 8400 2.8GHz, 16GB, Nvidia GTX 1060


(Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved





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