The Egyptian Helwan (also Haluan or Heluan) HA-300 lightweight jet fighter is an exotic and enigmatic aircraft. It is quite unique by being the lightest Mach 2 fighter ever built (at a take off weight of 3.200 kg for the first prototype and 4.500 kg for the planned series version). It was the last jet fighter conceived under the direction of Willy Messerschmitt, and in its later stage (after Messerschmitt dropped out of the project) the development team was actually headed by Kurt Tank, that other famous German designer. And it was truly cosmopolitan from its conception onward.
The development actually started in 1952 in Spain, based on late WW2 developments undertaken in Oberammergau. With declining Spanish interest, Messerschmitt must have been quite happy when Egypt signed a contract in 1959 to continue the development of this fighter.
The final development resulted in a tailed delta configuration, not unlike the MIG 21. Power for the small and light delta fighter came from a Bristol Orpheus 703 engine in the first two prototypes, whereas the third prototype and the series were planned for the locally developed Brandner/EGAO E-300.
The project team consisted of Egyptian, German, Swiss, Spanish and Austrian members. As they did not have any experienced local test pilots, Egypt sought and found help from another non-aligned country: India provided Kapil Bargava for the flight tests.
The first prototype flew for the first time on March 7, 1964, the second prototype (depicted in the model) on July 22, 1965. While the prototypes displayed pleasing handling characteristics not unlike the similar (but lower performance) Folland Gnat, there was little doubt about its inferiority to the MIG 21, which had at that time already entered service with the EAF. This, combined with the very slow development process and economic problems in Egypt finally led to the cancellation of the whole project. The third prototype (powered by the Brandner engine) was completed and ground tested, but never flew. In May 1969 - 17 years after the development had started! - the curtain finally fell for Messerschmitt´s last fighter.
The second prototype has actually survived the cancellation. It was transferred to Germany in the early 90's and found its place in the Oberschleissheim Air Museum just outside of Munich.
Helwan works of the Egyptian General Aero Organization (EGAO)1
Crew : 1
Weapons : It was planned to fit two 20 or 30 mm guns and two Atoll air-to-air missiles
Power plant : 1 x Bristol Orpheus 703 (Brandner E-300 was fitted to the third prototpye)
Thrust : 1 x 21,6 kN (4850 lbs). For the E-300, the calculated thrust with afterburner was 10540 lbs
Length : 13,0 m
Heigth : 3,65 m
Span : 5,84 m
Wing area : 16,7 sq m
Max. take-off weight : 4490 kg
Max. speed : Mach 1.13 (was expected to be Mach 2 with Brandner E-300 engine)
Service ceiling : 18000 m
Range : around 1400 km (estimated)
It is said that the programme cost the Egyptian government some 135 million Pounds.
Egyptian Air Force, but only two protoypes were flown at Helwan before the programme was terminated in 1969.
After the Second World War, Professor Willy Messerschmitt for some years worked in Spain where he designed the HA-200 jet trainer, which first flew in 1955. Even two years before, design studies were started on a small Mach 2 interceptor, designated P 300. This led to the construction of a glider as proof of concept vehicle (HA-300P). As Spanish interest in the project vaned and funds dried up, the whole programme was transferred to Egypt.
There the first prototype HA-300 made its maiden flight on 7 March 1964, with Indian test pilot Kapil Barghava at the controls. The second prototype followed on 22 July 1965. With the Orpheus engine, the aircraft was severely underpowered, but development of the planned Brandner E-300 did only progress slowly. Finally, the programme was cancelled in 1969, even though a third protoype with the E-300 had started taxi test already