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Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe
Type: single-seat fighter / interceptor;
Powerplant: 2 x 1,984lbs (900kg) thrust Jumo 004B turbojet engines;
Performance: 540mph / 870kph at 19,685ft / 6,000m (maximum speed), 37,565 ft / 11,450m (service ceiling), 652 miles / 1,050 km (range – internal fuel),
Weight: 8,378lbs / 3,800kg (empty), 14,110lbs / 6,400kg (maximum take-off);
Dimensions: 40ft 11.5in / 12.48m (wing span), 34ft 9.5in / 10.60m (length), 12ft 7in / 3.84m (height), 233.58sq.ft / 21.7m.sq (wing area);
Armament: 4 x 30mm MK108 cannon in the nose;
The Me262 Schwalbe (Swallow) was the first jet fighter to enter combat and in doing so, earned a place in history, being the most advanced aircraft of the period to fly and achieve operational status. The fact that it did not make a bigger impact on the course of the war, was not due to the airframe but due to engine problems, interference from a raft of government departments and later on, even Hitler himself. Allied leaders were already anxious over the introduction of the Me163 rocket fighter into service and the introduction of this new aircraft only added to their alarm. The only response, however inadequate, was the rushed introduction of the Republic P-47M Thunderbolt, a piston-engined aircraft that was specially configured to achieve a maximum level speed of 470mph (755kph) it was still some 70mph (115kph) slower than the Me262 and other factors, such as better manoeuvrability could not always make up for this deficiency. During 1938, Hans A Mauch and Helmut Schelp in the powerplant development group of the technical department in the RLM were working on the plans for putting together an official jet engine programme. At about the same time, Hans M Antz joined the airframe development group and set about organising a complimentary official programme for jet and rocket airframes, part of thisprogramme leading to the development of the Me163 Komet as well as the Me262. Although opposed by a number of older RLM officials, the programme was quickly set up and one of his first moves was to interest Messerschmitt in the possibilities of jet propulsion, leading to the company's Chief of development, Robert Lusser initiating an investigation into its viability. Before the end of the year, Messerschmitt was given a contract to design an airframe around the axial-flow turbojets which BMW were developing at the time. It was hoped that the engines would produce around 1,323lbs (600kg) of thrust and be ready by December 1939. Despite the initial studies under Woldemar Voigt looking at both single-engine and twin-engine designs, Messerschmitt's original submission, designated P.1065 and dated June 1939, had two engines in each wing root and a tail-wheel landing gear. A speed of 599mph (900kph) was predicted and the company received an order for three prototypes as well as a static test airframe under the designation Me262, the design process being led by Rudolf Seitz. This ended in mid-May 1940 and resulted in the engines being moved to under-wing mountings in order to simplify spar design. In is interesting to note that Glosters, who designed the Meteor jet fighter, mounted the centrifugal turbojets integral to the wing resulting in the cowling having a much greater frontal area than the Me262s axial engines, although there was little to choose between them in terms of drag. Overall however, the Me262 was a much cleaner design and had less drag than the Meteor. Meanwhile, Heinkel were working independently on a twin-jet fighter, designated the He280.
As the programme continued, BMW were having problems with their engine, which on bench tests was giving only 573lbs (260kg) of thrust; the rival Junkers Jumo 004 engine also had problems and so the prototype Me262 flew on 18 April 1941 under the control of Fritz Wendal, with a single Jumo 210G piston engine in the nose. Although acceleration was poor, general handling was good and so testing continued in this way to test various systems before the first BMW 003 turbojets were delivered in November 1941. These were fitted to the prototype, which retained the piston engine in the nose, which was fortunate as both turbojets failed just after take-off, and the pilot managed to complete a circuit of the airfield and land. The engines had seized due to compressor blade failures which necessitated a complete redesign – the Me262 could not wait however and as Junkers had overcome most of their problems, the Jumo 004A engine was chosen as the aircraft's powerplant. The Junkers engine however was larger and heavier than the BMW one, so this meant that the aircraft's airframe had to be modified and the third prototype flew with two Jumo 004A engines producing 1,852lbs (840kg) of thrust each on 18 July 1942. Testing continued with this aircraft but there was a knack with getting airborne because with the tail-wheel landing gear, the elevators were ineffective in the tail-down position. This would obviously be unacceptable once the aircraft entered service so the fifth prototype had a tricycle undercarriage designed and fitted, by which time two further prototypes and fifteen pre-production Me262A-0 aircraft had been ordered. The undercarriage proved satisfactory and so the sixth prototype had a fully retractable set installed as well as having 1,984lbs (900kg) thrust Jumo0048-1 engines with redesigned nacelles.
On 22 April 1943, the fourth prototype was flown by Generalleutnant Adolf Galland in a flight of some importance of the programme (and German jets in general) as it was part of a plan to convince non-technical Luftwaffe and government personnel of the desirability of jet power. After the flight, Galland enthused greatly over the Me262 and organised a meeting at the RLM soon after, where it was decided to transfer production at Messerschmitt from the Bf109 to the Me262. although the aircraft was ordered into production on 5 June 1943, various delays ensued, not least being the disruption caused by Allied bombing of the Regensburg factory and the transfer of the development programme from Augsburg to Oberammergau. The suicide of Ernst Udet (who had strongly favoured radical developments) in November 1941 didn't help either as he was succeeded by Erhard Milch, who preferred to concentrate production on existing aircraft and impressing Hitler with large production figures and did little to facilitate the introduction of new aircraft. However, in Novemeber 1943, the prospects for production began to look much more hopeful as Oberst Siegfried Kneymeyer, who had frontline experience of the way the Luftwaffe was beginning to suffer at the hands of increased Allied numerical superiority, became head of the Luftwaffe's development section for technical air armament. He realised that, in order to reverse the effects of the Luftwaffe's numerical inferiority, a striking superiority in aircraft performance was necessary and proposed the abandonment of the Luftwaffe's bomber programme and concentrate solely on fighter development, especially the Me262. To his credit, Göring agreed with him but Bormann and Goebbels persuaded Hitler to keep the existing bomber programme going in a smaller form so as to keep the raids on Britain going. Following a demonstration of the sixth Me262 prototype before Hitler on 26 November 1943, the Me262 was given a top-priority production status but a number of problems with both the airframe and the engines had to be resolved using the twelve existing prototypes and test aircraft. A hold-up in the supply of engines meant that the pre-production Me262A-0 airframes had to be stockpiled, the engines also being used on the Arado Ar234 bomber, but sixteen Me232A-0 aircraft were delivered during April 1944 and another seven the following month. Hitler's early interest and backing of the aircraft was due to him seeing it as a fighter-bomber, after being told it could carry bombs, although the necessary equipment had not yet been fitted. Neither Göring nor Messerschmitt were keen to divert precious resources away from what they saw as the main direction of the programme (that of being a fighter) but they had little choice, being told to move ahead with adapting the aircraft as a super-speed bomber. Various combination of bomb racks were tried, with loads up to 2,205lbs (1,000kg) and there was even a bomb with a wooden wing, towed at the end of a 20ft (6.1m) tube beneath the aircraft's tail, taking off on a dolly that could be jettisoned. The intention was to dive towards the target and release the bomb and its towbar, the latter being jettisoned along with the wings. Tests were not encouraging and the idea was abandoned.
In early 1944, the first Me262A-0 test aircraft were delivered to the Erprobungsstelle Rechlin for testing in all aspects of air worthiness, performance and equipment. The process was speeded up by using extra aircraft and that the 1st and 3rd Staffeln of the versuchsverband Ob.d.L. had begun to experiment with the aircraft in carefully selected clandestine missions. Despite a few quirks, the test pilots reported excellent flying characteristics and so following acceptance, the initial production aircraft, Me262A-1a, began to enter service in July 1944 and were very similar to the preproduction aircraft. The first semi-operational Luftwaffe jet fighter unit was known as Erprobungskommando 262 (EK 262) which finished evaluating the aircraft in September 1944 when a new fighter unit, Kommando Nowotny was formed. The new unit had two Staffeln, with about twenty Me262A-1a aircraft each, based at Achmer and Hesepe, becoming operational on 3 October 1944, flying against USAAF bombers. Initial operations were rather poor, with a number of aircraft being shot down as the pilots were having difficulty lining up a shot while they were travelling so fast and so slowing down, thereby losing their only real advantage. There were also a number of losses due to structural, undercarriage and turbojet failures, the biggest problem being high-speed landings on stationary wheels, the resulting shock causing wheel failure and structural damage.
Later sub-variants included the Me262A-1a/U1 which differed in having two MK103, two MK108 and two MG151/20 cannon in the nose. The Me262A-1a/U2 was an all-weather fighter in which the standard radio was supplemented by a FuG125, while the Me262A-1a/U3 was an unarmed reconnaissance aircraft with two Rb 50/30 cameras. The next variant was the Me262A-2a production bomber version and was almost exactly the same except for having bomb racks to carry one 1,102lbs (500kg) or two 551lbs (250kg) bombs. The first bomber units were formed in September 1944, as well as a bomber training unit designated IV / (Erg) / KG51. The first bomber units were Kommando Schenk, commanded by Major Wolfgang Schenk and formed from a detachment of KG51 and an experimental unit known as Kommando Edelweiss. The Me262A-3a had extra armour protection; the Me262A-5a was an armed reconnaissance variant with two MK108 cannon and two under-wing drop tanks. While the Me262A series had all been single-seat aircraft, there was obviously a requirement for a two-seat conversion trainer and this was met by the Me262B-1a. The second seat in fact replaced the rear fuel tank and so auxiliary tanks were fitted below the forward fuselage. Fifteen were built before its suitability as a night-fighter was realised, leading to the conversion of a number of B-1a aircraft off the production line with radar and homing equipment. The Me262B-1a/U1 proved so effective that the Me262B-2a was built from the outset as a night fighter. This variant had a larger fuselage so as to allow the storage of extra fuel and came equipped with dual MK108 cannon in a Schräge Musik installation behind the cockpit. The single prototype began flight trials in March 1945 but the war ended before more could be built. The Me262C was an experimental version, flown in February 1945 using auxiliary rocket boosting but was not developed beyond the production of three prototypes. The last big Luftwaffe effort was made on New Year's Day 1945 with every available aircraft attacked Allied airfields but after this the decline became rapid and by the end of the war, the Me262s were among the few aircraft still flying, with the third Gruppe of JG7 Nowotny at Fassberg and the famous Jagdverband 44 still operational. JV44 had been formed by Adolf Galland as a last-ditch effort to keep the cream of the Luftwaffe pilots together, flying the best available aircraft. Formed from 12 / JG54 on 10 February 1945 at Brandenburg-Briest, JV44 began operations on 31 March 1945 from Munich-Riem with twenty-five Me262s and fifty pilots. A month later, every remaining Me262 was being flown to the JV44 base from disintegrating units, ending up with over 100 Me262s. After transferring to Salzburg-Maxglam, the unit was forced to surrender on 3 May 1945. In its month of operations, the unit showed what the Me262 was capable of, shooting down around forty-five Allied aircraft while having an average of only six aircraft operational at any time.
Total production of the Me262 amounted to just over 1,430 and there can be no doubt that if this aircraft had not been held up by engine trouble and political interference then it might have swung the balance of the air campaign back in Germany's favour by breaking up the Allied strategic bombing schedule. Me262s firing salvos of twenty-four R4M missiles against a bomber formation and then following up with their cannon could be lethal but a few were shot down by escorting Allied fighters due to their greater manoeuvrability compared to the Me262s greater speed. Fortunately for the Allies, only a small number of Me262s were employed operationally, and their effects were diffused over the varied roles they ended up fulfilling. There were also a number of tactical mistakes made for not only were Me262s used in the ground attack role, but German tacticians believed that the Me262s should engage the bomber's fighter escort from a string of bases from the Netherlands to northern France, leaving the bombers to fly on towards their target and be intercepted by Germany's conventional fighters as they neared their targets. Jet tactics were however, still being worked out, and the wisdom of the tactics used was only realised after the satellite bases were overrun.
Gunston, Bill. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Combat Aircraft of World War II, Salamander, London, 1978.
Kay, A L & Smith, J R. German Aircraft of the Second World War, Putnam Aeronautical Books, London, 2002.
Mondey, David. The Hamlyn Concise Guide to Axis Aircraft of World War II, Bounty Books, London, 2006.
Photos and additional information courtesy of:
Books on the First World War |Subject Index: First World War
How many German jets were shot down in ww2?
Me 262 pilots claimed a total of 542 Allied aircraft shot down, although higher claims are sometimes made….Messerschmitt Me 262.
|Me 262 Schwalbe|
|Retired||1945, Germany 1951, Czechoslovakia|
|Primary users||Luftwaffe Czechoslovak Air Force (S-92)|
|Developed into||Messerschmitt P.1099|
Messerschmitt Me 262 (Schwalbe / Sturmvogel)
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 06/03/2021 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.
The Messerschmitt Me 262 was the German answer to a failing war effort heading into 1945 during World War 2 (1939-1945). It was championed by some of the major players of the war though ultimately limited in its combat reach by forced design decisions, shortages of critical war materials, engine reliability, inexperienced pilots, and the Allied bombing campaign. The Me 262 could have been a game-changer for the Germans had it been given the necessary resources it required to make its mark on the war early on and provide a turning point for the German defense. By the end of the war, the Me 262 was hampered by a variety of issues - both logistically and politically - which ultimately limited its effectiveness and imprint on the war. Additionally, so much time had elapsed between the design idea and actual operational service that the Allies were already hard at work on their own jet-powered fighters which would have leveled the playing field. Nevertheless, the Me 262 still resonates with observers of World War 2 history - the first jet-powered fighter in service anywhere in the world - and remains the focus of so many "what-if" scenarios.
The turbojet engine is largely credited to the British and Frank Whittle but other nations evolved their own designs at about the same time in history. Germany was one such nation with patents and prototypes emerging during the 1930s - BMW and Jumo would become two of its major contributors players heading into World War 2 (1939-1945). With new, more refined turbojet engine models becoming available, the RLM (German Air Ministry) charged the Messerschmitt and Heinkel concerns with development of a new military-minded airframe to be powered by jet propulsion. Due to the limited thrust output of these new engines, two engines became the accepted norm for all viable future jet fighter designs.
Messerschmitt and Heinkel submitted their designs to the RLM in June of 1939 as "Projekt 1065" and "He 280" respectively. German authorities favored the Messerschmitt design over the competing Heinkel endeavor but still saw value in further developing the He 280 alongside the P.1065 and thusly, funding was allotted for both submissions. First flight of the He 280 was on April 2nd, 1941 becoming the world's first turbojet-powered military fighter aircraft in the world to fly. The Heinkel product followed its earlier He 178 experimental prototype into aviation history, the He 178 being the first jet-powered aircraft ever to fly back on August 27th, 1939.
During March of 1940, Messerschmitt was awarded a government contract for four aircraft of which three would become flight test models and the other a static test article under the designation of "Me 262" and the name of "Schwalbe" (translating to "Swallow"). The initial design called for use of straight main wing assemblies but weight and thrust issues with the expected BMW powerplants forced engineers to adopted a pseudo-swept-wing arrangement rather than redesign the entire aircraft. Additionally, the original design saw the engines buried in each straight wing assembly as opposed to the largely accepted vision of the Me 262 with its underslung nacelles. It was this wing revision that introduced - or rather forced - the heavy, large engines to reside in underwing nacelles away from the aircraft structure. This had the beneficial effect of allowing unrestricted access to the engine during testing and service while also facilitating engine replacement. The changes also benefitted the overall design aerodynamically to an extent by producing a more streamlined form with less frontal drag. The undercarriage was of a "tail-dragger" arrangement to keep the fighter's construction and operation simple. The arrangement included two single-wheeled landing gear legs leading a single-wheeled tail wheel at rear. All legs were retractable under the aircraft.
Due to delays in both the BMW and Jumo jet engines, the Me 262 prototype airframe was fitted with a Jumo 210Ga 12-cylinder liquid-cooled engine of 750 horsepower output managing a two-bladed wooden propeller. This allowed Messerschmitt engineers to, at the very least, test out some facets of their new design without the need to delay the program by waiting for the proper turbojet engines to pass their own testing regimens. The subsequent work on the airframe produced the "Me 262V1" prototype which began conducting ground running trials during April of 1941. It eventually went into the air on April 18th, netting an airspeed of 261 miles per hour without turbojet support. The flight lasted all of eighteen minutes and proved the aircraft sound in terms of handling and airflow. The aircraft allowed for twenty-three total flights to be had - a critical period of development for Messerschmitt engineers despite the lack of true turbojets being fitted.
BMW 003 series turbojet engines finally arrived for November 1941 and these were quickly run and then added to the Me 262 airframe. The first true jet-powered Me 262 went airborne for the first time on March 25th, 1942 though the Jumo piston engine was still retained for safety. The flight proved something of a failure when both engines flamed out, the pilot able to direct his heavy aircraft - under the power of the sole piston engine - back down to the runway. The exercise forced a rewrite of the BMW 003 engines which produced the new 003A designation and testing of this engine began in October of 1943.
With the work on the BMW engine ongoing, the Me 262 was outfitted with the alternative Junkers Jumo 004 turbojet model instead. The switch added additional thrust output that the 003 lacked and, it was hoped, would benefit the Me 262 airframe. By this time, the original Jumo 004 had been revised along the lines of using far less war material in its construction which introduced weaknesses in its design - the changes begat the 004B engine designation. The Jumo engines were installed into the second (Me 262V2) and third (Me 262V3) Me 262 airframes for testing which forced a modification of the existing engine nacelles (originally intended for the BMW turbojets). Additionally, the vertical tail surface was enlarged to compensate with the changed airflow.
With its Jumo engines fitted, Me 262V3 went airborne on July 18th, 1942, becoming the first of the line to fly solely on the intended jet propulsion arrangement. The aircraft, requiring a great deal of runway length to get airborne, ultimately managed a top speed of 375 miles per hour during this twelve minute stint, reaching an altitude of about 6,000 feet in the process. Additional testing during subsequent flights revealed nothing detrimental about the product - amazing considering the technological complexity inherent in the jet-powered fighter design. One of the key changes instituted was in a revised wing structure which officially granted the Me 262 airframe a fully-swept wing profile. By now, speeds in testing had reached 450 miles per hour. Despite its designation, Me 262V2 actually followed V3 into the air on a first flight during October 1942.
Progress proved such that two more prototypes - V4 and V5 - were ordered by German high command to be followed by fifteen preproduction series aircraft, this despite ongoing development and the generally unreliable, low-powered engines at play. V1 and V4 were eventually damaged beyond repair, V2 was lost (its pilot killed) during a dive attempt, and V3 was destroyed in an Allied bombing raid. V5 was the first version to introduce the tricycle undercarriage arrangement - against Messerschmitt's wishes and at the behest of Galland while further backed by Luftwaffe chiefs. The move was intended to improve ground running for the pilot as well as take-offs. The nose leg would feature as a consistent weakness for the life of the aircraft. V5 was also eventually damaged during testing and not repaired.
When famous German aviator Adolph Galland first flew Me 262V4, he was so impressed that he returned to his superiors and pushed for large-scale manufacture of the type (inherent limitations of the design aside). With rumors of the British undertaking a similar jet-powered fighter project, the Luftwaffe agreed with Galland and the Me 262 received the needed priority for mass production. The official production charge occurred in June of 1943 with the ambitious manufacture rate of sixty Me 262 fighters per month. This charge forced Messerschmitt engineers to find quick solutions to ongoing issues - cockpit pressurization and an ejection seat were still on the to-do list.
Me 262V6 was used as a preproduction quality mount and fitted all-new engine nacelles with the latest Jumo 004B-0 engines then available. Weapons were not yet fitted. In November of 1943, V6 was used to display the awesomeness of the Me 262 fighter design before Adolph Hitler himself. Hitler was so enamored by the display that he suggested the fighter be used in the tactical bomber role, giving rise to a fighter-bomber form (the "Sturmvogel" or "Stormbird") for which Messerschmitt was not completely ready to undertake with the compact delivery schedule. Nevertheless, the promise was secured that the Me 262 could fulfill the fast bomber role which fell into the plans by Hitler to use these aircraft in a counter-punch role against key Allied fronts as a shock instrument - a "Blitz Bomber". Prototype V6 crashed in March of 1944 with the loss of its pilot.
A cleaned-up canopy (the small sliding window gone) greeted preproduction model Me 262V7 and a pressurized cabin was finally added. The Jumo engines used were finally production-quality forms which now promised a near-finalized look to the German aircraft. After over a dozen test flights, V7 was too lost in a fatal crash in May of 1944.
Me 262V8 was finished with the proposed armament of 4 x 30mm MK 108 series cannons in the nose. A new canopy was also later installed with improved vision. Testing of the V8 and its guns revealed problems all their own forcing a revision of the feed mechanism - though jamming of these guns (brought about by violent maneuvers of the aircraft) was never truly solved by the end of the war. Ammunition counts for the large-caliber weapons were restricted by necessity as internal volume was at a premium within the Me 262 airframe. V8 went airborne in March of 1944 but was later lost in October of that same year during a landing exercise gone wrong. Despite Hitler's insistence on a jet-powered fighter, Messerschmitt engineers continued to further the Me 262 as a fighter first - particular when word of the new Boeing B-29 "Superfortress" heavy bomber began to reach German intelligence circles.
Me 262V9 was given several advanced physical changes and used for high-speed testing and other test roles beyond that. It first flew during January of 1944 - before V8 - and managed its own collection of successful (and unsuccessful) flights during its time aloft. Me 262V10 was delayed by the lack of engines and did not fly until April 1944. It was then used to trial bomb testing as Hitler's prized fighter-bomber.
Program Challenges and Product Limitations
The Me 262 fighter initiative faced many challenges in its run to becoming the German fighter that would change the war. The Allies were hard at work on their own advanced fighter concepts which would have given the Me 262 a run for its money - no longer the sole, untouchable jet fighter in the skies over Europe. Additionally, the Junkers Jumo jet engines required for the product were very temperamental and largely unreliable which worsened mass production promises. The engine was also the powerplant of choice for another championed German jet aircraft - the Arado Ar 234 "Blitz" bomber - a design falling more in line with Hitler's fighter-bomber vision over the battlefield. As such stocks of the engine were committed to that Arado program as well.
As a war weapon, the Me 262 was very limited by the very infancy of its inherent technology and those existing technologies brought together - from the engines and guns to operating speeds and advanced form. Additionally, skilled workers and restricted war material were a requirement with such an advanced aircraft - further complicating the rise of the Me 262 as the standard German frontline fighter in a war effort that was hampered by the constant Allied day and night bombing raids.
Production quality Me 262s were not available to the Luftwaffe until April of 1944 and the first stock numbered just sixteen aircraft. The numbers were strengthened some in May with seven more fighters arriving. By this time, the aircraft was reaching speeds of 540 miles per hour and capable of simply outrunning, out-diving, or out-climbing any known Allied fighter/interceptor. Its cannon armament could bring down a single bomber by way of a single burst of fire. Thusly, the Luftwaffe believed it truly had a thoroughbred on its hands suitable for changing Germany's war circumstance.
However, one final major hurdle still remained in getting the Me 262 into the air - suitably trained pilots. As such, airframes were set aside for conversion to a tandem two-seat form with the first arriving in July 1944 and the Luftwaffe arranged for a trials squadron to be formed.
The first Me 262 air kill of an opposing aircraft - a British de Havilland Mosquito - was recorded on July 26th, 1944. The first Me 262 loss to enemy fire followed on August 28th, 1944 when a pair of Republic P-47 Thunderbolts successfully downed the jet.
Hitler continued to insist on the Me 262's development along the fighter-bomber route. This was driven home after a May 1944 meeting when he learned that the fighter-bomber form had not even been addressed, resulting in the immediately ordering of such an aircraft to take precedent over the fighter version without delay. The modifications to the existing air frame proved problematic but were nonetheless forced onto Messerschmitt designers. This included adding more fuel for extended operational ranges and the deletion of two of the four 30mm cannons to help offset an inherent imbalance of the airframe - particularly when the bombs were dropped and that weight lifted. The aircraft also received two hardpoints under the fuselage ahead of the main landing gear legs. Applicable arming and release equipment was run through the cockpit and wings. The changes produced a heavier aircraft with altered flight characteristics which would require an experienced and attentive pilot at the controls. Despite the shift to the fighter-bomber mold, development of the fighter form was allowed to proceed and every 20th Me 262 was set aside for the fighter role and even these were requested to be completed with some sort of bomb-carrying/release feature.
With the German war situation reaching new lows, the Me 262 was pressed into reconnaissance and night fighter roles heading into the end of 1944 and this further broadened the tactical appeal of the new aircraft. Reconnaissance models were outfitted with camera equipment and typically lost some or all of its cannon armament. Early night fighters lacked radar until two-seat forms with radar arrived. Night fighters were easily identified by their "antler" style antenna arrays fitted to the nose.
During this time, the Allies were fortunate to recover some crashed Me 262 airframes which were hauled back off to England for stringent testing and evaluation. Additional information was streamed from French Me 262 factories by employees which helped to fill in some of the technical gaps of the aircraft. Engineers estimated several qualities about the new German fighter which were not far off from actual performance figures. This did provide the Allies with a window into the advanced nature of the German program and helped compare the type to in-development models in Britain and America that would someday soon meet up with the Me 262 in the skies over Europe. With no counter-product quite yet available, however, it was found that conventional Allied fighters needed to engage the Me 262 during its more vulnerable take-off or landing phase as the engines were unsuitable for quick reaction measures by the German pilots. Allied bomber formations were more or less as the mercy of the fast-flying German interceptor - as were their escort aircraft. Conventional fighters could only outmaneuver the Me 262.
However, the challenge still lay with the Me 262 pilot and his new mount. The Me 262s operated exceedingly fast for the period and bomber formations were quick to disappear from the gun sight of the incoming Me 262. The Me 262 pilot had to become rather precise on his initial approach lest the formation become alerted to the impending threat and attacks were begun from above and conducted through a dive. Exceeding dive speeds also held the risk that the wings could break free of the design. As a bomber, the long nose of the Me 262 limited dive bombing by not providing an adequate view on the target. This, coupled with dangerous approach speeds, make dive bombing a harrowing - though still possible - affair. Pilots simply were taught to drop their bombs above 3,000 feet to allow for the necessary altitude to recover in a climb.
Me 262 Production
Me 262 production was largely influenced by the Allied bombing campaign to the point that fabrication and final assembly lines were constructed in secret, camouflaged forested locations away from industrial collections to help keep aircraft deliveries from becoming regularly disrupted. This process allowed the aircraft to be wholly built in one location, towed outside for gun and engine testing, and then rolled to a nearby awaiting Autobahn stretch. The highways were then used as make-shift runways with the aircraft now free to fly off to its final delivery point - a German airfield - for official service.
This process was not always possible due to the Allied bombing campaign, however, and many facilities fell under the bombs of the enemy. Other incomplete airframes - delayed by late-arriving engines - were strafed while waiting in the open. Still others were destroyed en route on trains when rail transport was the call of the day. Those aircraft that remained at factories sure to fall to the Allied advanced were often stripped of their usefulness and destroyed by the Germans on retreat lest they fall into the hands of the enemy. Many Me 262s were photographed during these advances with all manner of damage to the airframe and nose landing gear leg. The gun pack in the nose - installed as a whole unit - was usually removed and shipped to be reused elsewhere. Engines were also removed with the hope that they could be used in other aircraft.
Total production of Me 262s is said to have reached over 1,400 aircraft with some also occurring in Czechoslovakia (engines and airframes). While a seemingly impressive mark considering the German war situation by 1945, operational levels never peaked beyond 200 aircraft due to the bombing raids, logistical issues in delivering the aircraft, and a limited stock of parts, workers, and pilots. Many of the available models were the fighter form with few reconnaissance, night fighter, and training mounts at hand.
Me 262 Production Models
Despite its limited production reach, the Me 262 saw a considerable number of variants emerge during its time - some brought about in-the-field and others at Messerschmitt factories. The preproduction models began with Me 262A-0 and twenty-three of these were built all using the Junkers Jumo oo4B turbojet engine. The Me 262A-1a became the initial production model and operated as both fighter and fighter-bombers. The Me 262A-2a became the first definitive fighter-bomber form - the "Strumvogel - in service. While gaining a more defined bomb-carrying/release capability, this variant lost its upper pair of 30mm cannons due to balance issues. Me 262A-4a became a reconnaissance platform while a more refined reconnaissance model became the Me 262A-5a by the end of the war. The Me 262B-1a was a tandem, twin-seat trainer form with dual controls. Some were modified as two-seat night fighters under the Me 262B-1a/U1 designation and outfitted with FuG 218 series "Neptun" radar and nose-mounted antenna.
The Me 262 was evolved as it operated and several kits were developed to help increase the tactical flexibility and prowess of the new fighter. These aircraft were denoted by the "R" number used in their designations. R1 marked aircraft outfitted with an underfuselage hardpoint for external fuel stores to help increase operational ranges. R2 were aircraft cleared for using Rheinmetall rocket boosters for assisted take-offs and R3 models received BMW rocket boosters. R4 fitted the FuG 350 Zc "Naxos" Radar Warning Receiver (RWR). R5 installed 4 x 30mm MK 108 series cannons in the nose. R6 was given bomb sight equipment and bomb racks for the fighter-bomber role. R7 was cleared to carry 12 x R4M rockets underwing through simple, yet effective, wooden racks being fitted. R8 carried the R110BS rocket equipment and R9 was granted support for the Ruhrstahl Ru 344 X-4 wire-guided air-to-air missile.
Me 262 One-Off and Limited Trials Aircraft
The one-off Me 262A-1a/U1 was modified with a nose gun battery of 2 x 20mm and 4 x 30mm cannons. The Me262A-1a/U2 was another one-off model and this was used for testing a night-fighter concept by way of installation of the FuG 220 Lichtenstein SN-2 radar system and "antler" antenna array on the nose. Me 262 A-1a/U3 designated a limited stock of fighters to be converted with cameras and used in the reconnaissance role. While armament was typically removed in these, some did hold on to a single 30mm cannon. Two Me 262 A-1a/U4 prototypes were built to trial a bomber destroyer form. One was fitted with the 50mm MK 214 autocannon and the other with the BK 5 cannon in the nose. Me 262 A-1a/U5 was another six-cannon Me 262 trial model. Three aircraft made up the Me 262A-1b for performance trials with the BMW 003 turbojet engine. Me 262A-3a was used to trial a new bombsight. Me 262A-2a/U2 became a pair of prototypes with redesigned, glazed-over noses for bombardier personnel to lay prone in. Me 262A-3a was a proposed ground-attack model that went nowhere. Me 262B-2 became a proposed night fighter development with a lengthened fuselage. Me 262C-1a trialed rocket-boosting take-offs for the interception role in February of 1945 (Walter HWK 109-509 rocket fitted to the tail). Another rocket-assisted interceptor became Me 262C-2b fitting a BMW 109-718 rocket thruster with revised BMW 003R turbojet engine arrangements. The Me 262C-3 became a proposed rocket-powered interceptor. Me 262C-3a was another rocket-assisted interceptor form with the Walter HWK 109-509S-2 boosted fitted to a belly position. Production of this mark was underway at the end of the war. Me 262D-1 was a proposed bomber destroyer to be outfitted with oblique-angled mortars for attacking bomber formations from underneath. Me 262E-2 was intended to carry the 55mm MK 114 cannon. Me 262E-2 was to have underwing provision for up to 48 x R4M explosive rockets. The Me 262W-1 was to carry Argus As 014 pulse jet engines of 610lbs thrust output. Similarly, Me 262W-3 was to follow with As 044 engines of 1,100lbs thrust. The Me 262 "Lorin" was a high-speed Me 262 fighter retaining its Jumo jet engines but mounting ramjets over the wings for an additional, exceptional punch of thrust.
Several other proposed Me 262 forms existed but were not pursued due to logistics and the end of the war.
The Me 262 proved to have considerable combat value in action despite its limitations. Its rather successful entry into a combat environment certainly served to mark the end of the piston-driven fighter who was, itself, reaching its technological end by the middle of 1945. Tactics were quickly developed around the performance capabilities of the Me 262 that took into account the fast approach speeds without the benefit of dive breaks. Diving attacks were commonplace and the operating speeds negated the guns of Allied bombers who could not track the target effectively enough to bring her down. Where agility was a limitation in the Me 262, this was offset by its ability to generate speed either through diving or through the open throttle. The nose-mounted cannon - disastrously lethal on paper - was known to regularly jam at the feed mechanism during maneuvering which rendered the Me 262 useless. The cannons also held a low muzzle velocity which made it largely inaccurate beyond 600 meters and useless as a ground strafing weapon. Combat losses were made at the hands of enemy fighters and, on occasion, some bomber gunners. Attrition rates were also increased by accidents due to pilot error and the general unreliability of the engines.
Swan Song for the Swallow
The Me 262 was used operationally when and where it could be had. However, the end months of the war worked against the production and delivery schedule for the aircraft. The British Meteor had already flown and the Americans learned much through the Bell P-59 Airacomet which laid the foundation for their Lockheed P-80. All of these early jet forms were straight-winged designs which limited speeds and added drag. Swept-wing technology was as infant as was the jet engine and little useful research had been conducted on subsonic and supersonic flight envelopes to be incorporated into new jet fighter designs. Such swept-wing jet-powered fighters would not become available until late some time later and were the focus of the next war - the Korean War (1950-1953). With that in mind, the me 262 would have proven something of an interim solution for Germany heading into 1946 should the war had progressed this far. Similarly, the Meteor and Shooting Star would have met quick technological ends with the arrival of swept-wing fighters and more advanced, efficient, and powerful turbojet engine technology. As history reflects however, this early class of fighters indeed marked the evolution of military fighters in general and served their purpose for their time. Many straight-winged designs endured beyond the 1950s as they were happily adopted by smaller air forces looking for their first taste of jet-powered flight.
The Japanese Contribution to the Me 262 Legacy
Japan and Germany shared a relationship during World War 2 as part of the Axis powers to include Italy and several other European nations. As such, there was some transfer of technology between the two powers that included the Messerschmitt Me 163 "Komet" rocket-powered interceptor and the Me 262 jet fighter. However, the part of the plans were lost when the U-boat submarine carrying them was intercepted by Allied forces in May of 1945. With the plans in possession, and the memory of engineers having visited Germany to see the Me 262 firsthand, Nakajima designers fleshed out a similar, though dimensionally smaller jet-powered fighter as the Nakajima Kikka ("Orange Blossom"). The Japanese Navy ordered development of the type through a formal requirement as stated certain performance numbers like a 430+ mile per hour maximum speed and inherent fighter-bomber capability. Additionally, the aircraft was to incorporate folding wing structures so as to more easily hide the Kikka in fortified tunnels against American bombing raids. Japanese Army interest in the same aircraft was furthered along the lines of the Nakajima Ki-201 "Karyu".
The end product was an aircraft mimicking the general design form of the German me 262. It did not use the swept-back wings and retained a straight wing layout instead. The fuselage was quite thinner in profile and more slab sided with a less elegant appearance. The vertical tail unit was decidedly smaller as well and the wing mainplanes shorter and of reduced surface area. The engine of choice became the locally-designed and produced Ne-12 turbojet until these proved underpowered. This led to the Ne-20 series being selected which were visual copies of the BMW 003 turbojets and outputted at 1,047lb thrust.
As the war situation deteriorated quickly for the Japanese (Germany had surrendered in May of 1945), the Kikka project was pushed to a fast resolution while American Boeing B-29 bombers were now regularly pounding Japanese mainland infrastructure an d military targets. A first flight of a Kikka prototype was recorded on August 7th, 1945. However, subsequent development was halted with the Japanese surrender of August 15th. Only the first prototype and an incomplete second were available by the end of the war. The Nakajima Kikka was not far enough into development for it to be considered a serious threat until much later in 1945 or early 1946. The examples were quickly confiscated by the Americans and studied at length.
Due to the Czech participation in production of both Me 262 airframes and engines, it retained a serviceable stock of the aircraft after the war. These were finished and adopted for service as the Avia S-92 based on the single-seat Me 262A-1a fighter model. There also followed the CS-92 two-seat trainer form based on the Me 262B-1a model. However, the aircraft were not in service for long due to the availability, and procurement cost, of the Soviet Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 jet-powered fighter in the ensuing years. This allowed the limited-scope Me 262/S-92 to fall away to history, examples given to classrooms for education on the nuances of jet-powered flight. No other post-war operator of the Me 262 emerged - the Americans restocked through the Lockheed P-80 "Shooting Star" line and the British held the Gloster Meteor for frontline service while also continuing work of more advanced fighter forms. Czechoslovakia never utilized more than twelve Me 262s - nine being definitive Me 262 fighter types.
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Autographed books on history
The Me-262 Stormbird
New Addition to both the Military and History Book Clubs
See the video below of the first time the Me-262 (two seat version), P-51 Mustang and Supermarine Spitfire fly together in an air show formation
Eighth Air Force Gun Camera Film of Me-163B and Me-262 Kills
Flying 1/3 Scale Me-262A1
Walter Schuck and Gunther Rall with the Me-109G-6
Walter Schuck with Lassi Eskola of Koala-Kustannus with a Finnish Air Force Me-109G. Koala published The Star of Africa in Finland
Walter Schuck (JG-5, JG-7) 206 victories, 8 kills in the Me-262 jet fighter.
Oberleutnant Walter Schuck joined the Luftwaffe in 1937. He scored his first victory while with 7./JG-5 based at Petsamo on the Polar Sea. On June 5, 1942, he shot down 4 Russian fighters. His rate of victories increased steadily. During March 1944, he downed 7 Boston bombers and by April had 84 victories. By the end of the war he scored 206, the last 8 in the Me-262. He wrote his autobiography (see Our Author Friends page), and he is selling book plates to those who wish to have them. Contact Colin at [email protected] for details.
Above: Kurt Schulze, Colin, and Jorg Czypionka during the interview in California. Kurt was an excellent host, and Jorg was an invaluable interview source. Great men both of them. Colin was hired by Vulcan Productions to produce a segment on German jet combat in World War II. We brought in Jorg and Harald Bauer, two of the last surviving Luftwaffe jet pilots of the war. See http://www.nbclearn.com/courage
Above Left to right: Knight's Cross holder, fighter ace and JV-44 Me-262 pilot Hans-Ekkehard Bob, Colin, Jon Guttman and Knight's Cross ace and Fw-190 pilot Hugo Broch at the reunion in Germany in 1999.
Below is Walter's own autobiography that covers his career in the Luftwaffe, and details his own experiences with JG-5 and JG-7 flying the Me-109 and Me-262 respectively.
The M-262 Schwalbe/Stormbird Story
Our latest book on the Me-262 jet, complete with interview excerpts with German and Allied pilots is now available on Barnes & Noble, Zenith Press and Amazon websites. See the stories of Germany's most decorated pilots who began their war fighting in the piston engine age and finished in the jet age, and their Allied opponents in their own words.
The Me-262 Stormbird, is the history of the Me-262 jet, as described from the first person viewpoints of almost two dozen German jet pilots and a like number of Allied aces, also with specific comments from Allied pilots who flew against them, all from Colin's interviews and archive research, with support from noted historians Jon Guttman and Barrett Tillman. One of the forewords is written by Me-262 pilot Jorg Czypionka, a fine gentleman and good friend.
This book is now released in paperback and the limited edition copies will be sold with bookplates signed by the various pilots when available, with each book accompanied by its own numbered certificate. Unfortunately customer may have to purchase their hardcovers on the secondary market and ship to us for the bookplates to be inserted.
On June 15th Walter scored 6 more, and on the 17th, 12 more victories in 24 hours! By August he had 150. Later in the war he flew the Me262 jet with JG-7. He shot down four B-17's and four fighters in the Me-262, with 8 victories total in the jet. His final score was 206 confirmed aerial victories. Awards include the Iron Cross 2nd and 1st Classes, German Cross in Gold, and the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves.
Below is a video tribute to JV-44 and the Me-262 story and the men who flew it in Galland's Circus.
Video link tribute to IV./JG-7 in CGI. Sorry for the music, not our creation.
Me-262 CGI creation as a tribute
Me-262 project with wartime footage and current video of flying models
Me-262 two seat flying project along with single-seat Schwalbe
The Recent Addition to Restored Warbirds : DeHavilland Mosquito
The Race for the Jets
Von Ohain and the Me-262 Powerplant
Georg-Peter Eder and III./JG-7 in one their most most successful anti bomber missions during WW II in CGI
Below: The Me-262 A1 pictured below is on display at the National Air and Space Museum, at The Smithsonian Institution. This original was flown by several pilots, including Georg-Peter Eder, Heiner Haeffner, and Theodor Weissenberger, and is in the colors of III./JG-7. Read about the men who flew in and against this iconic fighter in The Me-262 Stormbird, with their own first person comments and interviews.
The Artwork of the Me-262 and The
Luftwaffe Pilots in Action
Below: Robert Bailey's painting Dawn Intrusion shows Walter in Yellow 1 after take off, pursued by Mustangs, as he and the men of JG-7 were ambushed on their own airfield in February 1945 by American fighters.
Above: 1st Lt. Earl Lane scores a jet kill, by Robert Bailey
Robert Bailey's Escort Fury, Oberleutnant Walter Schuck of JG-7 has just scored his fourth B-17 kill of the mission, his eighth in the jet fighter, and his 206th of the war. Capt. Joseph A. Peterburs of the 20th Fighter Group ends his career, shooting him down on April 10, 1945. After the war they became great friends.
Above: Keith Ferris' painting, Nowotny's Final Encounter, depicting the event over Achmer on Nov. 8, 1944, when 1st Lt. Edward R. "Buddy" Haydon of the 357th Fighter Group surprised Major Walter Nowotny, the 23 year old Kommodore of his own operation jet unit, Kommando Nowotny. See the details of this encounter in the Me-262 Stormbird, from the perspectives of Haydon, Adolf Galland and Georg-Peter Eder, who all witnessed the event.
Buddy Haydon in his P-51D "Lady Nelda"
Above: Buddy Haydon describing the encounter during an interview
Above: Leutnant Jorg Czypionka of 10./NJG-11 scores a night victory over a RAF Mosquito, by Robert Bailey. See Jorg's story in The Me-262 Stormbird, and order your signed copy today! Remember, we also have the Limited Edition books with signatures of six American P-51 Mustang two German jet pilots, and one Me-109 pilot.
Jorg Czypionka who flew the Me-109 and Me-262 as a night fighter
The Germans Featured in The Me-262
Major Georg-Peter Eder had 78 kills, with 36 four engine bombers. He received the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves. He was shot down on 17 occasions and wounded 14 times.
Major Erich Hartmann trained in the Me-262, scored 352 confirmed victories in the Me-109 receiving the Knight's Cross, Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds. He spent over ten years in Soviet gulags after the war.
Major Gunther Rall scored 275 victories and trained in the jet. He retired as a Lt. Gen. in the West German Air Force and was a NATO command and Staff officer.
Lt. Col. Johannes Steinhoff scored 176 victories, survived his burning jet crash and retired as a Lt. Gen in the post war German Air Force and was NATO Air Commander for the Bundesluftwaffe. He earned the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords.
Major Hans-Ekkehard Bob received the Knight's Cross and flew the jet in the last weeks of the war, scoring 60 victories in total during the war.
Col. Hajo Herrmann created the Wild Boar (JG-300) and scored 9 bomber kills at night flying the Me-109 and Fw-190, after a great career as a bomber pilot, where he sank over 70,000 tons of shipping.
From the Spanish Civil War through the last day of WW II, Hajo earned the Night's Cross, Oak Leaves and Swords. After he created JG-300 he evaluated the Me-262 as a night fighter. He spent over ten years in Soviet gulags. He later became one of Germany's most successful attorneys.
Major Kurt Buehligen received the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords for his career as a fighter pilot. He shot down 112 aircraft. He was also in fight school with Hans-Joachim Marseille and Werner Schroer.
1st Lt. Jorg Czypionka was an instructor pilot who became a night fighter pilot in the Me-109G, and later in the Me-262 jet. He scored a Mosquito kill near Berlin.
Lt. Gen. Adolf Galland scored 104 kills, starting his career in Spain. At age 32 he was one of WW II's youngest generals along with Maj, Gen. Dietrich Peltz, and commanded his own jet unit, JV-44. He received the Knight's Cross, Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds.
1st Lt. Adolf Glunz scored 71 kills (19 four engine bombers) and earned the Knight's Cross, and finished the war with Walter Schuck in JG-7.
Col. Walther Dahl scored 128 kills ( 32 confirmed and 6 probable heavy bombers) and earned the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves. He checked out in the jet and also tested captured Allied aircraft.
Sgt. Hermann Buchner is credited with 46 tank victories and 58 aerial victories, including 12 while flying the Messerschmitt Me- 262 jet fighter, receiving the Knight's Cross.
Captain Walter Krupinski scored 197 kills and was awarded the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves. He retired as a Lt. Gen. from the West German Air Force in 1975, his last flight being in the F-15 Eagle.
Major Walter Nowotny scored 258 kills, his last three in the jet on the day he was killed by Buddy Haydon. He received the Diamonds to the Knight's Cross.
Rare signed photo of Walter Nowotny upon finishing Gymnasium (high school) just before he joined the Luftwaffe. Courtesy of his brother Lt. Rudolf Nowotny.
Major Erich Rudorffer scored 222 kills and had 12 in the jet, and he shot down 10 heavy bombers. He received the Oak Leaves and Swords.
Major Wolfgang "Bombo" Schenck was a bomber pilot who flew the Me-262 as a ground attack pilot, earning the Oak Leaves.
1st Lt. Walter Schuck scored 206 kills and ended the war in the jet with 8 victories in the Me-262, earning the Oak Leaves. Joe Peterburs shot him down on his last mission of the war.
Major Wolfgang Spate scored 99 kills, and was also the commanding officer of JG-400 which flew the Me-163B Komet. He earned the Oak Leaves.
1st Lt. Franz Stigler flew with Marseille in Africa and scored 22 kills, but would have had 23 and the Knight's Cross had he not saved the B-17 Ye Olde Pub. He later flew jets with Galland.
Major Werner Roell earned the Knight's Cross as a Stuka ground attack and tank busting pilot who later flew jets with Galland's JV-44.
Major Wilhelm Reinert destroyed 174 enemy aircraft, 16 tanks, and 6 locomotives. He earned the Oak Leaves and Swords and retired as a post war Lt. Col. from the West German Air Force.
Hajo Herrmann with Colin Heaton in 1998 during one of their many interviews at Hajo's home in Duesseldorf.
Col. Edward R. "Buddy" Haydon signing his bookplates for The Me-262 Stormbird Limited Edition.
Joe Peterburs and Walter Schuck together, and they became the best of friends despite Joe shooting down Walter's jet, forcing him to bail out.
Urban L. "Ben" Drew holds up two fingers for the two Me-262 jets he shot down in one mission, and witnessed by Georg-Peter Eder. The two became best friends after the war.
Buddy Haydon describing the event on Nov. 8, 1944 when he forced 258 victory ace and Diamonds holder Major Walter Nowotny into the ground. See the full story in Stormbird.
206 victory ace (8 in the jet) Walter Schuck signing his bookplates for the Me-262 Stormbird Limited Edition.
Pilots from the Me-262 Stormbird
Lt Gen Johannes Steinhoff
Major Georg-Peter Eder
Major Urban L. "Ben" Drew
Gen. James H. Doolittle
Col. Edward R. "Buddy" haydon
Lt. Gen Benjamin O. Davis
Col. Francis S. Gabreski
Lt. Gen. Walter Krupinski
Col. Walker "Bud" Mahurin
Col. Joseph A. Peterburs
Major Erich Rudorffer
Lt. Col. Wolfgang Schenck
Maj. Gen. Hannes Trautloft
Major Hans Ekkehard-Bob
BGEN Charles B. Yeager
Also a History and Military Book Club selection!
You can also order from other locations around the world, such as www.waterstones.com and from other locations such as Zenith Press direct at www.zenithpress.com or order from us, where we will sign them for you. We will also have 100 limited edition copies signed by the pilots and authors Colin D. Heaton and Anne-Marie Lewis. Check for availability.
Limited Edition of 100 Me-Stormbird Books
We will have signed bookplates from Urban L. "Ben" Drew, Walter Shuck, C.E. "Bud" Anderson, Barrie Davis, Kurt Schulze, Joseph A. Peterburs, Arthur Fiedler, Edward R. "Buddy" Haydon, Jorg Czypionka. All outstanding men assisted for the limited edition of 100 books for charity.
Contact us for ordering signed German Aces Speak or the Me-262 Stormbird books (including the limited edition) and allow about 10-14 days for delivery once we receive your order. We will sign them, add the bookplates in the limited editions, print the certificates, and please stipulate if you wish to have any personalized inscriptions. Certificates numbered for each book will also be included, just as with Noble Warrior.
The Limited Edition of 100 books has signed book plates from the aces themselves, with certificates of authenticity specifically numbered matching each numbered book.
See also the personal stories and the history of the jet fighter (in their own words and reports) by Buddy Haydon, Joe Peterburs, James Doolittle, Curtis Lemay, Adolf Galland and Georg-Peter Eder (witnesses to Nowotny's death), as well as jet pilots (and conversion trained pilots) Walter Krupinski, Walter Schuck, Hermann Buchner, Franz Stigler, Ben Drew, Robin Olds, Chuck Yeager, Wolfgang Schenck, Hajo Herrmann, Erich Hartmann, Hans-Ekkehard Bob, Gunther Rall, Erich Rudorffer, Jorg Czypionka, Johannes Steinhoff, Gunther Rall, Hannes Trautloft, and many others in the new book The Me-262 Stormbird.
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Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet (Comet) vs Messerschmitt Me 262 (Schwalbe / Sturmvogel)
4 x 30mm MK 108 automatic cannons in nose section.
External Bomb load of up to 1,200lb. Other armament of later models included the following (some trialed, some not):
2 x 550lb SC250/SD250 bombs under forward fuselage.
2 x 1,100lb SC500/SD500 bombs under forward fuselage.
1 x 1,100lb or 2,200lb towed bomb (Deichselschlepp).
2 x 20mm MG 151/20 cannons with 2 x 30mm MK 103 cannons and 2 x 30mm MK 108 cannons in nose.
24 x 55 R4M AA rockets underwing.
1 x 50mm Mauser MK 214 autocannon in nose.
1 x 50mm Rheinmetall BK 5 cannon in nose.
2 x Ruhrstahl X-4 wire-guided air-to-air missiles under the forward fuselage.
Reconnaissance versions were usually gun-less aircraft and carried camera equipment in the nose, noted by bulged fairings along the nose sides required for the film magazines.
Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe - History
"It felt as though angles were pushing"
Luftwaffe General Adolf Galland after his first flight with a Me262 on May 22, 1943.
It might be not surprising, but the flight simulator Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe was the inspiration for getting this model, too. The Revell it was not too difficult to build and gave me the opportunity to learn how to work with an airbrush set. Although this means that the whole model was just build for learning purposes, working with an airbrush set was easier than I expected and the result was not so bad at all.
Being the first operational jet fighter of the world, the Messerschmitt Me262 was one of the most advanced aircraft of its time.
Development for this plane began as early as 1938 and the first prototype made its maiden flight (still propulsed by a piston engine) in April 1941. The first jet powered version flew in July 1942.
Full scale production started in November 1943 but two major aspects, one political and one technical stopped its fast introduction to front line fighter units. The political factor was that the plane should be used as a fast bomber instead of a fighter, and it took until late 1944 and early 1945 until it was officially allowed to use this plane as a fighter. The technical problem was the reliability and availability of the jet engines. They had only a lifetime of about 10 flying hours and production never reached the output necessary.
Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe — the first jet fighter
Pushed back onto its haunches in WW II the Luftwaffe continued to seek technological advances that could be used to counter the continuing dominance and numbers of the Allies. Not possessing the industrial might to develop nuclear weapons Germany was able to lead the world in aeronautics, especially with regard to wing and engine designs. The first operational jet powered fighter was the Luftwaffe’s Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe (Swallow). It was heavily armed with 4 x 30mm cannon as well as rockets and bombs, though the Schwalbe did not do well as a dive bomber. The design is clean and the Me 262 kept its speed while turning. Slow airspeeds had to be avoided, though the full leading edge slats made for excellent flying, since the spool up time of the early turbojet engines was quite long and too sudden advances of the throttles could stall the engines — a realm Schwalbe pilots had to avoid during fighter on fighter combat.
Front quarter view of the Me 262 at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force — photo by Joe May
Opposite nose perspective of the Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe — photo by Joe May
The Me 262's Junkers Jumo 004 turbojet — photo by Joe May
Although designed as a bomber killer the Schwalbe's bubble like canopy was fighter-like — photo by Joe May
The Allies counter to the Me 262 was the use of superior numbers in aircraft to attack airfield bases of the jet fighter as well as to deny fuel by strategically bombing transportation networks. The German military countered with antiaircraft artillery along the final approaches of their Schwalbes making life difficult for those Allied fighters attacking the jets during their most helpless of moments.
Me 262 showing its clean aerodynamic design and powerful armament at the NASM on the National Mall — photo by Joe May
Another view of the Me 262 canopy — photo by Joe May
There are several survivors, a list of which can be seen on Wikipedia. It is important to note that the U.S. design of the North American F-86 Sabre as well as the MiG-15 (Микоян и Гуревич МиГ-15), NATO codename “Fagot”, of the USSR were influenced by the Willy Messerschmitt’s Me 262. Willy Messerschmitt had ideas to further advance the Schwalbe’s design with aggressively swept wings to further increase airspeeds.
Posts about both of the museums mentioned here are numerous and finding them is easy — simple type the museum’s name into the search window and select ENTER to get a list of links.
World War PhotosMesserschmitt Me 262 wreck 2 Me 262 in gun camera footage Me 262 W.Nr. 170059 EKdo262 Leipcheim Fifth prototype Me 262 V5
Third prototype Me 262 V3 Me 262 10 W.Nr. 111585 Me 262 A-1a white 4 of the Kommando Nowotny Obertraubling the wreckage of Me 262 Wk Nr 500488
Me 262 W.Nr. 500210 yellow ” and 112372 ” Fassburg 1945 German fighter jet Me 262, 8th AF gun camera footage 2 Me 262 A-2a V555, W.Nr. 110555 Me 262 V056 Nachtjager W.Nr. 170056 with FuG218 radar
Third prototype Me 262 V3 1943 Captured Me 262 A-2a/U2 Weimar-Nohra airfield, Germany 12 May 1945 First prototype Me 262 V1 PC+UA Me 262 yellow 17 of I/JG 7
Me 262 “Schwalbe” W.Nr. 111711 in USA Abandoned Me 262 Schwalbe 1945 Me 262 “Schwalbe” V167 Me 262 wrecks 1945
Second prototype Me 262 V2 PC+UB Me 262 V5 Stammkennzeichen PC+UE Captured night fighter Me 262 B-1a/U1 red ” W.Nr. 110305 from NJG11 Me 262 A-1a white ” of the Kommando Nowotny 2
Me 262 A-1a KD+EA W.Nr. 170095 Me 262 in 8th AF gun camera footage Me 262 wreck in 1945 Me 262 W.Nr. 111711, pilot Hans Fay
Obertraubling – Me 262 nose section Me 262 A-1a ” of the JV 44 Me 262 assembly line in 1945 A devastated Me262 found at a forest soon after the war’s end
Messerschmitt Me 262 wreckage in German junkyard Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe white 9 Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe jet fighter wings of the Me 262 and Si204
Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe fuselage jet fighter abadoned Me 262 fighter Messerschmitt Me262 Innsbruck Austria May 1945 Messerschmitt Me 262 white 22 from JV44 – Salzburg Austria May 1945
Me262 W.Nr. 111857 of JV44 and Junkers Ju87 Stuka of NSG 9 Hotting, Munich Area 1945 Me262B night fighter in Germany 1945 Me262 V083 with a 50mm Rheinmetall Mauser BK 5 cannon Me 262 A-2a 111685 9K+FH, autobahn near Munich, color photo
A devastated Messerschmitt Me262 ” found at an airfield soon after the war’s end Me262 fighter in Germany 1945 Messerschmitt Me262 Salzburg Austria Me262 jet fighter wreck at Erding Field, Germany 1945
Messerschmitt Me262 jet fighter Salzburg Austria Me262A-1a W. Nr. 112358 yellow ” of JG7 – Germany 1945 Messerschmitt Me262 wreck 1945 Me 262 Schwalbe Salzburg 1945
Jet fighter Me 262 A-1a Schwalbe W.Nr. 170312 near Frankfurt, Germany March 1945
Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe (Swallow)
Messerschmitt A.G. were asked in 1938 to design a vehicle around the new turbojet engines then being developed by Junkers and BMW. This they completed the following year, and early in 1940 were authorised to construct a small batch of prototypes. For various reasons the early jet engines were unsuited to the aircraft, and official enthusiasm wavered, but in July 1942, with the emergence of Jumo engines, the Me 262 began to show its true promise as a fighter. The RLM, however, remained convinced that they could win the war with conventional fighters and gave the Messerschmitt Me 262 a very low development priority. Despite the success of flight trials and the enthusiasm of his advisers, Hitler refused to sanction quantity production until November 1943, when after a personal demonstration he decided against overwhelming advice to the contrary to go ahead with the type as a bomber. Series production of the Messerschmitt Me 262A-1 as a fighter began in May 1944, but when Hitler discovered this a month or two later he immediately ordered the conversion of those so far built into bombers.
The Messerschmitt Me 262A-2 Sturmvogel, as the bomber version was known, was fitted to carry two 500 kg bombs or one 1000 kg a factor which immediately cut its speed to a point within reach of Allied piston-engined fighters. This typical piece of Hitlerian pig-headedness cost the Luftwaffe valuable months, when they might have been employing the Me 262 as a fighter, in converting it to a role for which it was quite unsuited. Ironically, as the result of the war became more and more certain, Hitler gave the Messerschmitt Me 262 a defensive fighter utter priority over all other aircraft production in Germany yet of over 1400 produced, probably only 200 or so were actually operational against the Allies. Other variants built or projected included the Messerschmitt Me 262B-1 dual control trainer, the Me262 B-2 night fighter, the Me 262C rocket-boosted fighter and the Me 262D and E rocket-armed bomber interceptors.
Production: 1430 aircrafts.
Description [ edit | edit source ]
One of the most advanced fighters in World War II, the Me 262 was introduced in 1944. In comparison to the allied fighters it was faster and it was better armed, as it used canons. 1,430 were produced, and it retired in 1957 from the Czechoslovakian Air Force.
The Me 262 did have a severe drawback however: It required a long amount of time to take off and land, and were vulnerable at these points. P-51 Mustangs would circle over Axis bases which were equipped with the M2-262, and one of two things would occur: The Me-262 pilots would take the bait and rise to the challenge, only to be strafed on take off, or they wouldn't go after the Mustangs, and get strafed. Another severe drawback of the Me-262 was that it had short engine life. After total flying time of 25 hours, the plane had to land and have it's engines stripped off and new ones put on.
World War II Database
ww2dbase Me 262 Schwalbe jet fighters were the most advanced fighters introduced during WW2. The research that produced the first operational jet-powered combat aircraft in history began in fall 1938. In May 1943, top German leadership (including Adolf Hitler, Erhard Milch, and others) was introduced for the first time to this new machine. Although this test flight in Bavaria in southern Germany was marred by mechanical failures, Hitler was nevertheless impressed. His enthusiasm would be misplaced, however while this jet design was what Germany needed to counter the increasing threat from the new Allied fighters and bombers, Hitler demanded that jet technology was to be used for bombers rather than fighters. It was only through secret dealings that Albert Speer and others were able to continue the jet fighter program. The first operational Me 262 jet fighters were deployed to France as early as Apr 1944. According to some such as German fighter ace Adolf Galland, had the deployed numbers been greater, the Allies would never have achieved air superiority over the French coast, thus the Normandy invasion would have been much delayed or even averted while this was merely counter-factual speculation, it was without a doubt that Hitler's meddling in this arena limited the German Air Force's capability. On 1 Sep 1944, American General Carl Spaatz expressed his fear that these new jet fighters would inflict heavy losses on Allied bombing missions indeed, many Allied bomber crews recalled their horror in seeing enemy fighters moving so quickly at them. On 18 Mar 1945, 37 Me 262 jet fighters intercepted a force of 1,221 bombers and 632 escorting fighters during the engagement, the German jet fighters shot down 12 bombers and 1 fighter for the loss of far fewer. Although in the large picture they had only shot down 1% of the attacking Allied aircraft, these kinds of small scale tactical victories gave the Germans a little morale boost at a time when it was badly needed.
ww2dbase US Army infantry officer Charles Scheffel was attacked by a strafing Me 262 jet fighter. As he survived the first strafing run, he looked up and saw that
[f]lames shot out of cylinders under the plane's wings while it stood on its tail, rocketing straight up. Then the plane nosed over, pirouetted gracefully, and headed back toward us for another pass, wearing black and green camouflage paint, a white cross on its side, and a swastika on its tail.
ww2dbase The aircraft that attacked Scheffel's ground formation was likely a jet from Luftwaffe's I Gruppe, Kampfgeschwader 54 (KG54) ground attack unit.
ww2dbase By the end of the war, 1,433 Me 262 jet fighters were built. Captured examples of Me 262 jet fighters and the participation of former German engineers in US and Soviet programs led to American F-86 and Soviet MiG-15 designs being heavily influenced by the Me 262 design.
Robert Dorr, Fighting Hitler's Jets
Colin Heaton, The German Aces Speak
Charles Scheffel and Barry Basden, Crack! and Thump
Last Major Revision: May 2007
Me 262 Schwalbe Timeline
|18 Jul 1942||Prototype jet fighter Me 262 V3 Schwalbe took its maiden flight with Fritz Wendel in the cockpit over Leipheim, Germany.|
|22 May 1943||Adolf Hitler, Erhard Milch, Adolf Galland, Willy Messerschmitt and others previewed the Me 262 jet fighter at Lechfeld, München-Oberbayern, Germany. Hitler liked the jet and demanded it to be used as a bomber.|
|7 Sep 1943||Willy Messerschmitt met with Adolf Hitler. During the meeting, Messerschmitt pushed for further support for the Me 209 fighter project at the expense of the Me 262 fighter project. Furthermore, he agreed with Hitler's notion that Me 262 jet aircraft should be redesigned to carry bombs, thus making it a high speed bomber.|
|26 Nov 1943||The turbojet powered Messerschmitt Me 262 fighter was demonstrated at Insterburg, Ostpreußen, Germany (now Chernyakhovsk, Russia) before Adolf Hitler, who, to everyone's surprise, insisted that it should be developed as a bomber.|
|20 Dec 1943||Adolf Hitler ordered Wehrmacht officers to devote utmost effort to the production of Me 262 jet fighters. He stressed that these jets could serve as an anti-invasion weapon, dropping bombs on Allied beachheads.|
|31 Mar 1944||The newly-formed German Jagdverband 44, flying Me 262 jet fighters, flew its first mission out of München (Munich), Germany.|
|18 Jul 1944||German Luftwaffe Hauptmann Werner Thierfelder, commander of the special test unit (Eprobungskommando) tasked with evolving tactics for the new Me 262 jet-powered fighter was killed when his plane crashed in flames near Landsberg, Germany. The cause of the crash was not determined, but it was likely to be either a mechanical failure or due to poor fuel quality.|
|26 Jul 1944||Leutnant Alfred Schreiber, flying a Me 262A-1a jet fighter, damaged a Mosquito aircraft crewed by Flight Lieutenant Albert Wall and navigator Albert Lobban No. 544 Squadron RAF. This was the first air-to-air combat involving a jet aircraft. Although the Mosquito aircraft would ultimately make an emergency landing at Fermo, Italy, Schreiber received a victory for the engagement because he had observed a large piece broken off from the British aircraft and was convinced that the aircraft could not be in flight for long the piece he observed was actually just the outer hatch door.|
|15 Aug 1944||Feldwebel Helmut Lennartz scored the Luftwaffe's first Messerschmitt Me 262 jet fighter kill on an American B-17 Flying Fortress bomber. Lennartz survived the war with eight Me 262 and five Bf 109 victories to his name.|
|28 Aug 1944||Oberfeldwebel Hieronymus Lauer became the first to be shot down by US fighters while flying a jet aircraft. His Me 262 fighter was shot down by Major Joseph Myers and 2nd Lieutenant Manford Croy, Jr. of 82nd Fighter Squadron of USAAF 78th Fighter Group, both flying P-47 fighters. When Lauer was shot down at 1915 hours, his guns were not even loaded, as he was on a ferry flight between Juvincourt, France and Chievres, Belgium. Lauer survived the subsequent crash landing.|
|3 Oct 1944||The first Messerschmitt Me 262 fighter unit was established at Achmer and Hesepe near Osnabrück, Germany under the command of Austrian-born ace Major Walter Nowotny. The unit had 30 aircraft distributed among two squadrons and was given the task of intercepting USAAF day bomber raids on the heart of Germany.|
|14 Feb 1945||Oberstleutnant Heinz Bär was appointed as Geschwaderkommodore of III/EJG 2, the Luftwaffe unit tasked with the operational training of pilots for the Messerschmitt Me 262 Jet fighter.|
|27 Feb 1945||The rocket-boosted Messerschmitt Me.262C-1a made its maiden flight. Fitted with a Walter HWK rocket motor in the tail this machine, in trials, attained an altitude of 38,400 feet from a standing start in under 4.5 minutes.|
|4 Apr 1945||Eduard Schallmoser, flying a Me 262 jet fighter, scored the first kill of German Jagdverband 44. The kill was accidental, however, as he unintentionally rammed an American P-38 fighter in the tail.|
|9 Apr 1945||Fähnrich Hans Guido Mutke, flying a Me 262 jet fighter, claimed to have reached supersonic speed while diving on a P-51 fighter. This claim would be disputed by most.|
|30 Sep 1945||A captured Me 262 jet fighter flew over Freeman Field in Indiana, United States with test pilot Harold Watson in the cockpit. The flight was observed by German test pilot Karl Bauer.|
|Machinery||Two 1,980 lb (900 kg) thrust Junkers Jumo 004B single-shaft axial turbojets|
|Armament||4x30mm MK 108 cannons|
|Weight, Empty||4,000 kg|
|Weight, Maximum||7,045 kg|
|Speed, Maximum||870 km/h|
|Service Ceiling||11,500 m|
|Range, Normal||1,050 km|
|Machinery||Two 1,980 lb (900 kg) thrust Junkers Jumo 004B single-shaft axial turbojets|
|Armament||4x30mm MK 108 cannons|
|Weight, Empty||4,400 kg|
|Weight, Maximum||6,400 kg|
|Speed, Maximum||800 km/h|
|Service Ceiling||11,500 m|
|Range, Normal||1,050 km|
|Machinery||Two 1,980 lb (900 kg) thrust Junkers Jumo 004B single-shaft axial turbojets|
|Armament||4x30mm MK 108 cannons, 2x500kg bombs|
|Weight, Empty||4,000 kg|
|Weight, Maximum||7,045 kg|
|Speed, Maximum||755 km/h|
|Service Ceiling||11,500 m|
|Range, Normal||1,050 km|
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