Heinkel Lerche

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Heinkel Lerche
Role Tail-sitter Fighter
National origin Germany
Manufacturer Heinkel
Designer Heinkel
Status Paper project only, never built

The Heinkel Lerche (English: Lark) was the name of a set of project studies made by German aircraft designer Heinkel in 1944 and 1945 for a revolutionary VTOL fighter and ground-attack aircraft.

The Lerche was an early coleopter design. It would take off and land sitting on its tail, flying horizontally like a conventional aircraft. The pilot would lie prone in the nose. Most remarkably, it would be powered by two contra-rotating propellers which were contained in a donut-shaped, nine-sided annular wing.

The remarkably futuristic design was developed starting 1944 and concluding in March 1945. The aerodynamic principles of an annular wing were basically sound, but the proposal was faced with a whole host of unsolved manufacture and control problems which would have made the project highly impractical, even without the material shortages of late-war Nazi Germany.

Specifications (Lerche II)[edit]

Figures below are given for the 'Lerche II' plan dated 25 Feb 1945.

Data from [1]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 9.4 m (30 ft 10 in)
  • Wingspan: 4 m (13 ft 1 in)
  • Wing area: 12 m2 (130 sq ft)
  • Empty weight: 4,500 kg (9,921 lb)
  • Gross weight: 5,600 kg (12,346 lb)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Daimler-Benz DB 605D V-12 liquid-cooled direct fuel-injected piston engines 2,000 PS (1,500 kW)
    or 2 × Daimler-Benz DB 603E V-12 liquid-cooled direct fuel-injected piston engines 2,400 PS (1,800 kW)
    (1 PS (Pferdestärke) = 0.736 kW = 0.98632007272 hp)


  • Maximum speed: 800 km (500 mph, 430 kn)
  • Cruise speed: 553 km (344 mph, 299 kn)
  • Never exceed speed: 1,282 km (797 mph, 692 kn)
  • Service ceiling: 14,300 m (46,900 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 50 m/s (9,800 ft/min)


See also[edit]

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era

Related lists


  1. ^ Nowarra, Heinz J. (1993). Die Deutsche Luftrüstung 1933-1945 : Band 2 Flugzeugtypen Erla-Heinkel (in German). Koblenz: Bernard & Graefe Verlag. pp. 259–260 & 272. ISBN 3763754660.