The Heinkel He 162 Volksjäger (German, "People's Fighter"), the name of the project of the Emergency Fighter Program design competition, was a German single-engine, jet-powered fighter aircraft fielded by the Luftwaffe in World War II. Designed and built quickly, and made primarily of wood as metals were in very short supply and prioritised for other aircraft, the He 162 was nevertheless the fastest of the first generation of Axis and Allied jets. Volksjäger was the Reich Air Ministry's official name for the government design program competition won by the He 162 design. Other names given to the plane include Salamander, which was the codename of its construction program, and Spatz ("Sparrow"), which was the name given to the plane by Heinkel.
Herbert Ihlefeld (1 June 1914 – 8 August 1995) was a German World War II fighter ace who served in the Luftwaffe from 1936 until the very end of World War II in May 1945. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords. The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves and Swords was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. He claimed 132 enemy aircraft shot down; nine in the Spanish Civil War, 67 on the Eastern Front, and 56 on the Western Front, including 15 four-engined bombers and 26 Spitfires. He survived being shot down eight times during his 1,000 combat missions.
In May 1944, he became Geschwaderkommodore of Jagdgeschwader 11 (JG 11—11th Fighter Wing), briefly before switching to Geschwaderkommodore of Jagdgeschwader 1 (JG 1—1st Fighter Wing), overseeing the period where elements of the Geschwader were equipped late in the war with the He 162 Volksjäger. The wing’s first mission was on 26 April 1945. On 4 May, an He 162 downed an RAF Typhoon. On 8 May, Ihlefeld handed over his aircraft to British forces. Signed by the artist and Herbert Ihlefeld
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