Sverre (Steve) Kongelbeck, 72, a retired division chief of the Applied Physics Laboratory of Johns Hopkins University, died Friday at Montgomery General Hospital in Olney after a heart attack.

He was head of the laboratory's Central Mechanical Engineering Division for 22 years before retiring in 1974. Since that time, he worked as the laboratory's chief consultant until his death.

During the early 1960s, Mr. Kongelbeck worked on a number of defense and space projects. He helped develop the Tartar anti-aircraft missile. His design for foldable control surfaces for the missile made it compact enough to be deployed by the fleet's destroyer escorts.

He continued during the 1960s to work on supersonic anti-aircraft guided missile systems that would be compatible with the Navy's smaller ships.

He was awarded the Navy's Distinguished Public Service Award for "outstanding contributions to the advancement of ordinance engineering and enhancement of the operational capabilities of the fleets of the U.S. Navy."

Mr. Kongelbeck came to this country before World War II. During the war, he helped direct construction of Liberty Ships.

After the war, he worked as a refinery engineer in Nevada, as an engineer with Bethlehem Steel , and as the engineer in charge of the construction of the Bevetron of California at Berkeley before joining Johns Hopkins in 1952.

A native of Steinkjer, Norway, he was a 1926 graduate of Halling College in Oslo and earned a master's degree in mechanical engineering at the Technical University of Norway in Trondheim. He also was the national amateur heavyweight boxer of Norway at the age of 22.

Mr. Kongelbeck worked as chief engineer of a South African firm that built steel mills before moving to this country.

He was a member of the American Society of Mechnical Engineers and had been president of the Sons of Norway.

He is survived by his wife, the former Anne Marie Nissler, of the home in Silver Spring; a son, Dr. Knut, of Malibu, Calif.; a daughter, Anita Kongelbeck, of Washington, and two sisters, Reidunn Kavli and Marie HolterSorensen, both of Oslo. CAPTION: Picture, SVERRE KONGELBECK