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Messerschmitt P.1101 & Bell X-5

The Messerschmitt P.1101 was a single-seat, single-jet fighter project of World War II, developed as part of the 15 July 1944 Emergency Fighter Program which sought a second generation of jet fighters for the Third Reich.

A prominent feature of the P.1101 prototype was that the sweep angle of the wings could be changed before flight, a feature further developed in later variable-sweep aircraft such as the Bell X-5 and Grumman XF10F Jaguar.

The Bell X-5 was the first aircraft capable of changing the sweep of its wings in flight.

It was inspired by the untested wartime P.1101 design of the German Messerschmitt Company.

In contrast with the German design, which could only have its wing sweepback angle adjusted on the ground, the Bell engineers devised a system of electric motors to adjust the sweep in flight.


Me P.1101 First Design

The 24 July 1944 design by Hans Hornung of a single-seat jet fighter.

It was powered by one Heinkel He S 011 turbojet.

This was the shortest of all versions with a blunt nose and a v-tail. It had a wingspan of 7.15 m and a length of 6.85 m.

The armament was two MK 108 cannon.

Me P.1101 Second Design

A sleeker design, dating from 30 August 1944.

Also a v-tailed single-seat jet fighter with a more pointed nose and wings swept back at 40 degrees. It had a wingspan of 8.16 m and a length of 9.37 m.

Me P.1101 Third Design

Full-scale prototype design of a flying test single-seat jet fighter with a wingspan of 8.06 m and a length of 8.98 m.

It had a conventional tail and swept wings designed to be set at different angles while on the ground.

Test flights were first intended to be undertaken with a 35-degree wing sweep, followed by a 45-degree sweep.

The first test flight was to take place in June 1945.

Me P.1101 Fourth Design

The final single-seat jet fighter design that went into production with a wingspan of 8.25 m, a length of 9.175 m and a weight of 1250 kg.

Me P.1101 L

A ramjet-powered single-seat fighter that would have eight additional small rocket engines for takeoff.

This design would have a much wider fuselage covering the large Lorin ramjet located to the back of the cockpit, as well as a conventional tail.

Me P.1101/92

A different design of a two-seat v-tailed heavy fighter and destroyer.

It was an all-metal aircraft armed with a large 7.5 cm Pak 40 cannon and was powered by two Heinkel He S 011 turbojets.

It had a wingspan of 13.28 m and a length of 13.1 m.

Me P.1101/99

Another very different variant altogether.

Two-seat attack/destroyer all-metal aircraft powered by four Heinkel He S 011 turbojets.

It had the cockpit at the front end of the fuselage and was armed with a 7.5 cm Pak 40 cannon and one MK 112 55 mm auto-cannon in the nose, and four additional MK 112 in Schräge Musik configuration behind the cockpit. Its tail was of the conventional type and it had a wingspan of 15.4 m and a length of 15.2 m.

Bell X-5

Two X-5s were built (serial numbers 50-1838 and 50-1839).

The first was completed 15 February 1951, and the two aircraft made their first flights on 20 June and 10 December 1951.

Almost 200 flights were made at speeds up to Mach 0.9 and altitudes of 40,000 ft (12,000 m).

One aircraft was lost on 14 October 1953, when it failed to recover from a spin at 60° sweepback.

Air Force Captain Ray Popson died in the crash at Edwards Air Force Base.

The other X-5 remained at Edwards and continued active testing until 1955, and remained in service as a chase plane until 1958.






33 ft 4 in (10.16 m)


30 ft 6 in (9.30 m)

Lower wingspan

20 ft 9 in (6.32 m) swept at 60° sweep


12 ft 0 in (3.66 m)

Wing area

175 sq ft (16.3 m2)



NACA 64A011


NACA 64A08

Empty weight

6,350 lb (2,880 kg)

Gross weight

9,875 lb (4,479 kg)


1 × Allison J35-A-17A turbojet engine,

4,900 lbf (22 kN) thrust at sea level


Maximum speed

705 mph (1,135 km/h, 613 kn)


750 mi (1,210 km, 650 nmi)

Service ceiling

42,000 ft (13,000 m)



Messerschmitt P.1101




9.18 m (30 ft 1 in)


8.25 m (27 ft 1 in)


3.71 m (12 ft 2 in)

Wing area

15.9 m2 (171 sq ft)

Aspect ratio




NACA 00011.41-1.1-40


NACA 00009-1.1-40

Empty weight

2,594 kg (5,719 lb)

Gross weight

4,065 kg (8,962 lb)

Max take-off weight

4,500 kg (9,921 lb)

Fuel capacity

1,250 kg (2,756 lb) / 1,432 l (378 US gal; 315 imp gal)


1 × Heinkel HeS 011A turbojet engine, 12.01 kN (2,700 lbf) thrust


Maximum speed

980 km/h (610 mph, 530 kn) at 7,000 m (22,966 ft) (estimated)

Maximum speed

Mach 0.8

Cruise speed

905 km/h (562 mph, 489 kn)

Landing speed

172 km/h (107 mph; 93 kn) (with ⅓ fuel aboard)


1,500 km (930 mi, 810 nmi)

Service ceiling

14,000 m (46,000 ft)

Rate of climb

22.2 m/s (4,370 ft/min) at sea level

Time to altitude

10,000 m (32,808 ft) in 9 minutes 30 seconds

Wing loading

296.5 kg/m2 (60.7 lb/sq ft) maximum

Take-off run

709 m (775 yd)

Landing run

572 m (625 yd)



4 × 30mm MK 108 cannons on production aircraft


4 × Ruhrstahl X-4 air-to-air missiles on production aircraft.













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