Messerschmitt Me 262

Messerschmitt Me 262

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The Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe ("Swallow
Swallow
The swallows and martins are a group of passerine birds in the family Hirundinidae which are characterised by their adaptation to aerial feeding...

") was the world's first operational jet-powered
Jet aircraft
A jet aircraft is an aircraft propelled by jet engines. Jet aircraft generally fly much faster than propeller-powered aircraft and at higher altitudes – as high as . At these altitudes, jet engines achieve maximum efficiency over long distances. The engines in propeller-powered aircraft...

 fighter aircraft
Fighter aircraft
A fighter aircraft is a military aircraft designed primarily for air-to-air combat with other aircraft, as opposed to a bomber, which is designed primarily to attack ground targets...

. Design work started before World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 began, but engine problems prevented the aircraft from attaining operational status with the Luftwaffe until mid-1944. Compared with Allied
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

 fighters of its day, including the jet-powered Gloster Meteor
Gloster Meteor
The Gloster Meteor was the first British jet fighter and the Allies' first operational jet. It first flew in 1943 and commenced operations on 27 July 1944 with 616 Squadron of the Royal Air Force...

, it was much faster and better armed.

In combat, when properly flown, it proved difficult to counter due to its speed. Me 262 pilots claimed a total of 542 Allied kills (although higher claims are sometimes made) against the loss of about 100 Me 262s. The design was pressed into a variety of roles, including light bomber
Light bomber
A light bomber is a relatively small and fast class of military bomber aircraft which were primarily employed before the 1950s. Such aircraft would typically not carry more than one ton of ordnance....

, reconnaissance
Aerial reconnaissance
Aerial reconnaissance is reconnaissance that is conducted using unmanned aerial vehicles or reconnaissance aircraft. Their roles are to collect imagery intelligence, signals intelligence and measurement and signature intelligence...

 and even experimental night fighter
Night fighter
A night fighter is a fighter aircraft adapted for use at night or in other times of bad visibility...

 versions.

The Me 262 was one of the most advanced aviation
Aviation
Aviation is the design, development, production, operation, and use of aircraft, especially heavier-than-air aircraft. Aviation is derived from avis, the Latin word for bird.-History:...

 designs in operational use during World War II. The Allies countered its potential effectiveness in the air by relentlessly attacking the aircraft on the ground, or while they were taking off or landing. Maintenance problems and a lack of fuel during the deteriorating late-war situation also reduced the effectiveness of the aircraft as a fighting force. In the end, the Me 262 had a negligible impact on the course of the war due to its late introduction and the small numbers that were deployed in operational service.

The Me 262 influenced the designs of post-war aircraft such as the North American F-86 Sabre and Boeing B-47 Stratojet.

Design and development


The Me 262 was already being developed as Projekt 1065 (P.1065) before the start of World War II. Plans were first drawn up in April 1939, and the original design was very similar to the plane
Fixed-wing aircraft
A fixed-wing aircraft is an aircraft capable of flight using wings that generate lift due to the vehicle's forward airspeed. Fixed-wing aircraft are distinct from rotary-wing aircraft in which wings rotate about a fixed mast and ornithopters in which lift is generated by flapping wings.A powered...

 that eventually entered service. The progression of the original design into service was delayed greatly by technical issues involving the new jet engine
Jet engine
A jet engine is a reaction engine that discharges a fast moving jet to generate thrust by jet propulsion and in accordance with Newton's laws of motion. This broad definition of jet engines includes turbojets, turbofans, rockets, ramjets, pulse jets...

s. Funding for the jet program was also initially lacking as many high-ranking officials thought the war could easily be won with conventional aircraft.

Among those were: Hermann Göring
Hermann Göring
Hermann Wilhelm Göring, was a German politician, military leader, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. He was a veteran of World War I as an ace fighter pilot, and a recipient of the coveted Pour le Mérite, also known as "The Blue Max"...

, head of the Luftwaffe, who cut the engine development program to just 35 engineers in February 1940; Willy Messerschmitt
Willy Messerschmitt
Wilhelm Emil "Willy" Messerschmitt was a German aircraft designer and manufacturer. He was born in Frankfurt am Main, the son of a wine merchant...

, who desired to maintain mass production
Mass production
Mass production is the production of large amounts of standardized products, including and especially on assembly lines...

 of the Bf 109
Messerschmitt Bf 109
The Messerschmitt Bf 109, often called Me 109, was a German World War II fighter aircraft designed by Willy Messerschmitt and Robert Lusser during the early to mid 1930s...

 and the projected Me 209
Messerschmitt Me 209-II
|-See also:-References:NotesBibliography* Green, William. War Planes of the Second World War, Fighters, vol. I. London: Hanover House, 1960....

; and Major General
Major General
Major general or major-general is a military rank used in many countries. It is derived from the older rank of sergeant major general. A major general is a high-ranking officer, normally subordinate to the rank of lieutenant general and senior to the ranks of brigadier and brigadier general...

 Adolf Galland
Adolf Galland
Adolf "Dolfo" Joseph Ferdinand Galland was a German Luftwaffe General and flying ace who served throughout World War II in Europe. He flew 705 combat missions, and fought on the Western and the Defence of the Reich fronts...

, who supported Messerschmitt through the early development years, flying the Me 262 himself on 22 April 1943. By that time, problems with engine development had slowed production of the aircraft considerably.

The project aerodynamicist
Aerodynamics
Aerodynamics is a branch of dynamics concerned with studying the motion of air, particularly when it interacts with a moving object. Aerodynamics is a subfield of fluid dynamics and gas dynamics, with much theory shared between them. Aerodynamics is often used synonymously with gas dynamics, with...

 on the design of the Me 262 was Ludwig Bölkow
Ludwig Bölkow
Ludwig Bölkow was one of the aeronautical pioneers of Germany.-Background:Born in Schwerin, in north-eastern Germany, in 1912, Bölkow was the son of a foreman employed by Fokker, one of the leading aircraft constructors of that time.-Early career:Bölkow’s first job was with Heinkel, the aircraft...

, later a prominent figure in the post-World War II development of the German aircraft industry. He initially designed the wing using NACA
National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics
The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics was a U.S. federal agency founded on March 3, 1915 to undertake, promote, and institutionalize aeronautical research. On October 1, 1958 the agency was dissolved, and its assets and personnel transferred to the newly created National Aeronautics and...

 airfoil
Airfoil
An airfoil or aerofoil is the shape of a wing or blade or sail as seen in cross-section....

s modified with an elliptical nose section. Later in the design process, these were changed to AVL derivatives of NACA airfoils, the NACA 00011-0.825-35 being used at the root and the NACA 00009-1.1-40 at the tip.

The elliptical nose derivatives of the NACA airfoils were used on the horizontal and vertical tail surfaces
Empennage
The empennage , also known as the tail or tail assembly, of most aircraft gives stability to the aircraft, in a similar way to the feathers on an arrow...

. Wings were single-spar cantilever construction, with stressed skin
Stressed skin
In mechanical engineering, stressed skin is a type of rigid construction, intermediate between monocoque and a rigid frame with a non-loaded covering:...

s, varying from 3 mm (0.118110236220472 in) thick at the root to 1 mm (0.0393700787401575 in) at the tip. The wings were fastened to the fuselage at four points, using a pair of 20 mm (0.78740157480315 in) and forty-two 8 mm (0.31496062992126 in) bolts.

In mid-1943, Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 envisioned the Me 262 as an offensive ground-attack/bomber
Bomber
A bomber is a military aircraft designed to attack ground and sea targets, by dropping bombs on them, or – in recent years – by launching cruise missiles at them.-Classifications of bombers:...

 rather than a defensive interceptor. The configuration of a high speed, light payload Schnellbomber
Schnellbomber
A Schnellbomber is a high-speed bomber. The concept developed in the 1930s when it was believed that a very fast bomber could simply outrun its enemies....

 ("Fast Bomber") was intended to penetrate enemy airspace during the expected Allied invasion of France. His edict resulted in the development of (and concentration on) the Sturmvogel variant. It is debatable to what extent Hitler's interference extended the delay in bringing the Schwalbe into operation.

Albert Speer
Albert Speer
Albert Speer, born Berthold Konrad Hermann Albert Speer, was a German architect who was, for a part of World War II, Minister of Armaments and War Production for the Third Reich. Speer was Adolf Hitler's chief architect before assuming ministerial office...

, then Minister of Armaments and War Production, claimed in his memoirs
Inside the Third Reich
Inside the Third Reich is a memoir written by Albert Speer, the Nazi Minister of Armaments from 1942 to 1945, serving as Hitler's main architect before this period...

 that Hitler originally had blocked mass production of the Me 262 before agreeing in early 1944. He rejected arguments that the aircraft would be more effective as a fighter against Allied bombers then destroying large parts of Germany, and wanted it as a bomber for revenge attacks. According to Speer, Hitler felt its superior speed compared to other fighters of the era meant it could not be attacked and so preferred it for high altitude straight flying.

Although the Me 262 is often referred to as a "swept wing
Swept wing
A swept wing is a wing planform favored for high subsonic jet speeds first investigated by Germany during the Second World War. Since the introduction of the MiG-15 and North American F-86 which demonstrated a decisive superiority over the slower first generation of straight-wing jet fighters...

" design, the production Me 262 had a leading edge
Leading edge
The leading edge is the part of the wing that first contacts the air; alternatively it is the foremost edge of an airfoil section. The first is an aerodynamic definition, the second a structural one....

 sweep of only 18.5°, too slight to achieve any significant advantage in increasing the critical Mach number
Critical Mach number
In aerodynamics, the critical Mach number of an aircraft is the lowest Mach number at which the airflow over any part of the aircraft reaches the speed of sound....

. Sweep was added after the initial design of the aircraft, when the engines proved to be heavier than originally expected, primarily to position the center of lift properly relative to the centre of mass. On 1 March 1940, instead of moving the wing forward on its mount, the outer wing was repositioned slightly aft; the trailing edge of the mid-section of the wing remained unswept. Based on data from the AVA Göttingen
Göttingen
Göttingen is a university town in Lower Saxony, Germany. It is the capital of the district of Göttingen. The Leine river runs through the town. In 2006 the population was 129,686.-General information:...

 and wind tunnel
Wind tunnel
A wind tunnel is a research tool used in aerodynamic research to study the effects of air moving past solid objects.-Theory of operation:Wind tunnels were first proposed as a means of studying vehicles in free flight...

 results, the middle section's leading edge was later swept to the same angle as the outer panels.

Test flights


The first test flights began on 18 April 1941, with the Me 262 V1 example, bearing its Stammkennzeichen radio code letters of PC+UA, but since its intended BMW 003 turbojets were not ready for fitting, a conventional Junkers Jumo 210
Junkers Jumo 210
The Jumo 210 was Junkers Motoren's first production inverted V12 gasoline aircraft engine, produced just before the start of World War II. Depending on version it produced between 610 and 700 PS and can be considered a counterpart of the Rolls-Royce Kestrel in many ways...

 engine was mounted in the V1 prototype's nose, driving a propeller, to test the Me 262 V1 airframe. When the BMW 003 engines were finally installed, the Jumo was retained for safety, which proved wise as both 003s failed during the first flight and the pilot had to land using the nose-mounted engine alone. The BMW 003s were discovered to be subject to catastrophic failure due to the propwash entering the intakes during operation and they were permanently removed from the program in favor of the relatively reliable Junkers Jumo 004
Junkers Jumo 004
The Jumo 004 was the world's first turbojet engine in production and operational use, and the first successful axial compressor jet engine ever built. Some 8,000 units were manufactured by Junkers in Germany during late World War II and powered the operational Messerschmitt Me 262 jet fighter,...

.

The V3 third prototype airframe
Airframe
The airframe of an aircraft is its mechanical structure. It is typically considered to include fuselage, wings and undercarriage and exclude the propulsion system...

, with the code PC+UC, became a true "jet" when it flew on 18 July 1942 in Leipheim
Leipheim
Leipheim is a town in the district of Günzburg, in Bavaria, Germany. It is situated on the Danube, 5 km west of Günzburg, and 17 km northeast of Ulm. The village Riedheim and the hamlet Weissingen are districts of Leipheim...

 near Günzburg
Günzburg (district)
Günzburg is a district in Bavaria, Germany. It is bounded by the districts of Dillingen, Augsburg, Unterallgäu and Neu-Ulm, and by the state of Baden-Württemberg ....

, Germany, piloted by Fritz Wendel
Fritz Wendel
Fritz Wendel was a German test pilot during the 1930s and 1940s.-Achievements:On 26 April 1939 Fritz Wendel set the world air speed record of 469.22 mph, flying the Messerschmitt Me 209 V1...

. This was almost nine months ahead of the British Gloster Meteor
Gloster Meteor
The Gloster Meteor was the first British jet fighter and the Allies' first operational jet. It first flew in 1943 and commenced operations on 27 July 1944 with 616 Squadron of the Royal Air Force...

's first flight on 5 March 1943. The conventional gear
Conventional landing gear
thumb|The [[Piper PA-18|Piper Super Cub]] is a popular taildragger aircraft.thumb|right|A [[Cessna 150]] converted to taildragger configuration by installation of an after-market modification kit....

 — producing a pronounced tail-down attitude on the ground — of the Me 262 V3 caused its jet exhaust to deflect off the runway, with the wing's turbulence negating the effects of the elevator
Elevator (aircraft)
Elevators are flight control surfaces, usually at the rear of an aircraft, which control the aircraft's orientation by changing the pitch of the aircraft, and so also the angle of attack of the wing. In simplified terms, they make the aircraft nose-up or nose-down...

s, and the first takeoff attempt was cut short.

On the second attempt, Wendel solved the problem by tapping the aircraft's brakes at takeoff speed, lifting the horizontal tail out of the wing's turbulence. The first four prototype
Prototype
A prototype is an early sample or model built to test a concept or process or to act as a thing to be replicated or learned from.The word prototype derives from the Greek πρωτότυπον , "primitive form", neutral of πρωτότυπος , "original, primitive", from πρῶτος , "first" and τύπος ,...

s (V1-V4) were built with this configuration. Changing to a tricycle
Tricycle gear
Tricycle gear describes an aircraft undercarriage, or landing gear, arranged in a tricycle fashion. The tricycle arrangement has one wheel in the front, called the nose wheel, and two or more main wheels slightly aft of the center of gravity...

 arrangement, initially a fixed undercarriage on the "V5" fifth prototype, then fully retractable on the sixth (V6, with Stammkennzeichen code VI+AA) and succeeding aircraft, corrected this problem.

Test flights continued over the next year, but engine problems continued to plague the project, the Jumo 004 being only marginally more reliable than the BMW 003. Airframe modifications were complete by 1942, but hampered by the lack of engines, serial production did not begin until 1944, but deliveries were low, with 28 Me 262s in June, 59 in July, but only 20 in August. This delay in engine availability was in part due to the shortage of strategic materials, especially metals and alloys able to handle the extreme temperatures produced by the jet engine.

Even when the engines were completed, they had an expected operational lifetime of approximately 50 continuous flight hours; most 004s lasted just 12 hours, even with adequate maintenance. A pilot familiar with the Me 262 and its engines could expect approximately 20–25 hours of life from the 004s. Changing a 004 engine was intended to require three hours, but this typically took eight to nine due to poorly made parts and inadequate training of ground crews.

Turbojet engines have less thrust at low speed than propeller
Propeller
A propeller is a type of fan that transmits power by converting rotational motion into thrust. A pressure difference is produced between the forward and rear surfaces of the airfoil-shaped blade, and a fluid is accelerated behind the blade. Propeller dynamics can be modeled by both Bernoulli's...

s, and as a result, low-speed acceleration is relatively poor. It was more noticeable for the Me 262 as early jet engines (before the invention of afterburner
AfterBurner
The AfterBurner is a lighting solution for the Game Boy Advance system that was created by Triton-Labs.Originally, portablemonopoly.net was a website created to petition Nintendo to put some kind of light in their Game Boy Advance system...

s) responded slowly to throttle changes. The introduction of a primitive autothrottle
Autothrottle
An autothrottle allows a pilot to control the power setting of an aircraft's engines by specifying a desired flight characteristic, rather than manually controlling fuel flow...

 late in the war only helped slightly. Conversely, the higher power of jet engines at higher speeds meant the Me 262 enjoyed a much higher rate of climb
Rate of climb
In aeronautics, the rate of climb is an aircraft's vertical speed - the rate of change in altitude. In most ICAO member countries , this is usually expressed in feet per minute and can be abbreviated as ft/min. Elsewhere, it is commonly expressed in metres per second, abbreviated as m/s...

. Used tactically, this gave the jet fighter an even greater speed advantage in climb rate than level flight at top speed.

With one engine out, the Me 262 still flew well, with speeds of 450–500 km/h (280–310 mph), but pilots were warned never to fly slower than 300 km/h (190 mph) on one engine, as the asymmetrical thrust would cause serious problems.

Operationally, carrying 2000 l (439.9 imp gal; 528.3 US gal) of fuel (in two 900 l (198 imp gal; 237.8 US gal) tanks, one each fore and aft the cockpit, and a 200 l (44 imp gal; 52.8 US gal) tank beneath), the Me 262 had an endurance
Endurance (aircraft)
In aviation, Endurance is the maximum length of time that an aircraft can spend in cruising flight. Endurance is sometimes erroneously equated with range. The two concepts are distinctly different: range is a measure of distance flown while endurance is a measure of time spent in the air...

 of 60 to 90 minutes. Fuel was usually brown coal-derived
Coal liquefaction
-Methods:The liquefaction processes are classified as direct conversion to liquids processes and indirect conversion to liquids processeses. Direct processes are carbonization and hydrogenation.-Pyrolysis and carbonization processes:...

 J2, with the option of diesel oil or a mixture of oil and high octane
Octane
Octane is a hydrocarbon and an alkane with the chemical formula C8H18, and the condensed structural formula CH36CH3. Octane has many structural isomers that differ by the amount and location of branching in the carbon chain...

 B4 aviation petrol
Aviation fuel
Aviation fuel is a specialized type of petroleum-based fuel used to power aircraft. It is generally of a higher quality than fuels used in less critical applications, such as heating or road transport, and often contains additives to reduce the risk of icing or explosion due to high temperatures,...

. Consumption was double the usual for a twin-engine Luftwaffe aircraft, so a low-fuel warning came on when levels fell below 250 l (55 imp gal; 66 US gal).

Unit cost for an Me 262 airframe, less engines, armament, and electronics, was RM87,400. (By comparison, a new Volkswagen Type 1
Volkswagen Beetle
The Volkswagen Type 1, widely known as the Volkswagen Beetle or Volkswagen Bug, is an economy car produced by the German auto maker Volkswagen from 1938 until 2003...

 was priced at RM990.)To build one airframe took around 6,400 man-hours.

Operational history


On 19 April 1944, Erprobungskommando
Erprobungskommando
An Erprobungskommando was a Luftwaffe unit tasked with the testing of new aircraft and weaponry under operational conditions.-Erprobungskommando 16:...

 262 was formed at Lechfeld just south of Augsburg
Augsburg
Augsburg is a city in the south-west of Bavaria, Germany. It is a university town and home of the Regierungsbezirk Schwaben and the Bezirk Schwaben. Augsburg is an urban district and home to the institutions of the Landkreis Augsburg. It is, as of 2008, the third-largest city in Bavaria with a...

, Bavaria
Bavaria
Bavaria, formally the Free State of Bavaria is a state of Germany, located in the southeast of Germany. With an area of , it is the largest state by area, forming almost 20% of the total land area of Germany...

 as a test unit (Jäger Erprobungskommando Thierfelder, commanded by Hauptmann
Hauptmann
Hauptmann is a German word usually translated as captain when it is used as an officer's rank in the German, Austrian and Swiss armies. While "haupt" in contemporary German means "main", it also has the dated meaning of "head", i.e...

 Werner Thierfelder
Werner Thierfelder
Werner Thierfelder was a German Luftwaffe ace and recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross during World War II. The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership. Werner Thierfelder was killed on 18 July 1944...

) to introduce the 262 into service and train a core of pilots to fly it. On 26 July 1944, Leutnant Alfred Schreiber
Alfred Schreiber
Alfred Schreiber , nicknamed "Bubi", was a German Luftwaffe fighter ace. He is noted for claiming the first aerial victory by a jet fighter in aviation history. He was born in Keplachowitz....

 with the 262 A-1a W.Nr. 130 017 damaged a Mosquito
De Havilland Mosquito
The de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito was a British multi-role combat aircraft that served during the Second World War and the postwar era. It was known affectionately as the "Mossie" to its crews and was also nicknamed "The Wooden Wonder"...

 reconnaissance aircraft of No. 540 Squadron RAF
No. 540 Squadron RAF
No. 540 Squadron RAF was a photo-reconnasissance squadron of the Royal Air Force from 1942 to 1956.-Formation and World War II:The squadron was formed on 19 October 1942 from 'H' and 'L' flights of No...

 PR Squadron, which was allegedly lost in a crash landing upon landing at an air base in Italy. Other sources state the aircraft was damaged during evasive manoeuvres and escaped.

It was the first victory for a turbojet fighter aircraft in aviation history. Major
Major
Major is a rank of commissioned officer, with corresponding ranks existing in almost every military in the world.When used unhyphenated, in conjunction with no other indicator of rank, the term refers to the rank just senior to that of an Army captain and just below the rank of lieutenant colonel. ...

 Walter Nowotny
Walter Nowotny
Major Walter "Nowi" Nowotny was an Austrian-born German fighter ace of World War II. He is credited with 258 aerial victories in 442 combat missions...

 was assigned as commander after the death of Thierfelder in July 1944, and the unit redesignated Kommando Nowotny
Kommando Nowotny
Kommando Nowotny was a Luftwaffe fighter Gruppe formed during the last months of World War II for testing and establishing tactics for the Messerschmitt Me 262 jet fighter, and was created and first commanded by Walter Nowotny, from whom it drew its name....

. Essentially a trials and development unit, it holds the distinction of having mounted the world's first jet fighter operations. Trials continued slowly, with initial operational missions against the Allies in August 1944 allegedly downing 19 Allied aircraft for six Me 262s lost, although these claims have never been verified by cross-checking with USAAF
United States Army Air Forces
The United States Army Air Forces was the military aviation arm of the United States of America during and immediately after World War II, and the direct predecessor of the United States Air Force....

 records. The RAF Museum holds no intelligence reports of RAF aircraft engaging in combat with Me 262s in August, although there is a report of an unarmed encounter between an Me 262 and a Mosquito.

Despite orders to stay grounded, Nowotny chose to fly a mission against an enemy bomber formation flying some 30,000 feet above, on 8 November 1944. He claimed two P-51Ds destroyed before suffering engine failure at high altitude. Then, while diving and trying desperately to restart his engines, he was attacked and forced to bail out by other Mustangs. Some U.S. historians proposed Nowotny's victor was P-51D pilot Lt. Robert W Stevens of the 364th Fighter Group. According to other sources, he was shot down and killed by First Lieutenant
First Lieutenant
First lieutenant is a military rank and, in some forces, an appointment.The rank of lieutenant has different meanings in different military formations , but the majority of cases it is common for it to be sub-divided into a senior and junior rank...

 Edward "Buddy" Haydon of the 357th Fighter Group
357th Fighter Group
The 357th Fighter Group was an air combat unit of the United States Army Air Forces during the Second World War. The 357th operated P-51 Mustang aircraft as part of the U.S. Eighth Air Force and its members were known unofficially as "The Yoxford Boys" after a village near their base...

 and Captain Ernest "Feeb" Fiebelkorn of the 20th Fighter Group, both USAAF.

Actually, the exact circumstances surrounding the death of Walter Nowotny remain uncertain to this day. It is also possible he was hit by "friendly" flak. The Kommando was then withdrawn for further training
Flight training
Flight training is a course of study used when learning to pilot an aircraft. The overall purpose of primary and intermediate flight training is the acquisition and honing of basic airmanship skills....

 and a revision of combat tactics to optimise the 262's strengths.

By January 1945, Jagdgeschwader 7
Jagdgeschwader 7
Jagdgeschwader 7 Nowotny was a Luftwaffe fighter-wing of World War II and the first operational jet fighter wing in the world.It was created late in 1944 and served until the end of the war in May 1945, and it operated the Messerschmitt Me 262 jet fighter exclusively.JG 7 was formed under the...

 (JG 7) had been formed as a pure jet fighter wing, although it would be several weeks before it was operational. In the meantime, a bomber unit – I Gruppe, Kampfgeschwader 54
Kampfgeschwader 54
Kampfgeschwader 54 "Totenkopf" was a Luftwaffe bomber wing during World War II .Its units participated on all of the fronts in the European Theatre until it was disbanded in May 1945. It operated two of the major German bomber types; the Heinkel He 111 and the Junkers Ju 88...

 (KG 54) – had re-equipped with the Me 262 A-2a fighter-bomber for use in a ground-attack role. However, the unit lost 12 jets in action in two weeks for minimal returns.

Jagdverband 44 (JV 44) was another Me 262 fighter unit, of Staffel (squadron) size given the low numbers of available personnel, formed in February 1945 by Lieutenant General
Lieutenant General
Lieutenant General is a military rank used in many countries. The rank traces its origins to the Middle Ages where the title of Lieutenant General was held by the second in command on the battlefield, who was normally subordinate to a Captain General....

 Adolf Galland
Adolf Galland
Adolf "Dolfo" Joseph Ferdinand Galland was a German Luftwaffe General and flying ace who served throughout World War II in Europe. He flew 705 combat missions, and fought on the Western and the Defence of the Reich fronts...

, who had recently been dismissed as Inspector of Fighters
Inspector of Fighters
Inspector of Fighters was not a rank but a leading position within the High Command of the German Luftwaffe in Nazi Germany. The inspector was responsible for the readiness, training and tactics of the fighter force. It was not an operational command.-Inspectors:-References:* Isby, David C...

. Galland was able to draw into the unit many of the most experienced and decorated Luftwaffe fighter pilots from other units grounded by lack of fuel.

During March, Me 262 fighter units were able, for the first time, to mount large scale attacks on Allied bomber formations. On 18 March 1945, 37 Me 262s of JG 7 intercepted a force of 1,221 bombers and 632 escorting fighters. They shot down 12 bombers and one fighter for the loss of three Me 262s. Although a 4:1 ratio was exactly what the Luftwaffe would have needed to make an impact on the war, the absolute scale of their success was minor, as it represented only one per cent of the attacking force. In 1943 and early 1944, the USAAF had been able to keep up offensive operations despite loss ratios of 5% and more, and the few available Me 262s could not inflict sufficient losses to hamper their operations.

Several two-seat trainer
Trainer (aircraft)
A trainer is a class of aircraft designed specifically to facilitate in-flight training of pilots and aircrews. The use of a dedicated trainer aircraft with additional safety features—such as tandem flight controls, forgiving flight characteristics and a simplified cockpit arrangement—allows...

 variants of the Me 262, the Me 262 B-1a, had been adapted through the Umrüst-Bausatz 1 factory refit package as night fighter
Night fighter
A night fighter is a fighter aircraft adapted for use at night or in other times of bad visibility...

s, complete with on-board FuG 218 Neptun high-VHF band radar, using Hirschgeweih ("stag's antlers") antennae with a set of shorter dipole elements than the Lichtenstein SN-2 had used, as the B-1a/U1 version. Serving with 10 Staffel, Nachtjagdgeschwader 11
Nachtjagdgeschwader 11
Nachtjagdgeschwader 11 was a Luftwaffe night fighter-wing of World War II. NJG 11 was formed on 20 August 1944 with one Gruppe consisting of 2 Staffeln.-Formation:...

, near Berlin, these few aircraft (alongside several single-seat examples) accounted for most of the 13 Mosquitoes lost over Berlin in the first three months of 1945. However, actual intercepts were generally or entirely made using Wilde Sau
Wilde Sau
Wilde Sau was the term given by the Luftwaffe, during World War II, to the technique by which British night bombers were mainly engaged by single-seat fighter planes.- Origins :...

 methods, rather than AI radar-controlled interception. As the two-seat trainer was largely unavailable, many pilots had to make their first flight in a jet in a single-seater without an instructor.

Despite its deficiencies, the Me 262 clearly signaled the beginning of the end of piston-engined aircraft as effective fighting machines. Once airborne, it could accelerate to speeds over 850 km/h (528 mph), about 150 km/h (90 mph) faster than any Allied fighter operational in the European Theater of Operations.

The Me 262's top ace
Flying ace
A flying ace or fighter ace is a military aviator credited with shooting down several enemy aircraft during aerial combat. The actual number of aerial victories required to officially qualify as an "ace" has varied, but is usually considered to be five or more...

For a list of Luftwaffe jet aces see List of German World War II jet aces was probably Hauptmann Franz Schall
Franz Schall
Franz Schall was a German World War II fighter ace and recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross . The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership...

 with 17 kills which included six four-engine bombers and 10 P-51 Mustang fighters, although night fighter ace Oberleutnant Kurt Welter
Kurt Welter
Kurt Welter was a German Luftwaffe fighter ace and the most successful Jet Expert of World War II.For a list of Luftwaffe jet aces see List of German World War II jet aces A flying ace or fighter ace is a military aviator credited with shooting down five or more enemy aircraft during aerial combat...

 claimed 25 Mosquitos and two four-engine bombers shot down by night and two further Mosquitos by day flying the Me 262. Most of Welter's claimed night kills were achieved in standard radar-less aircraft, even though Welter had tested a prototype Me 262 fitted with FuG 218 Neptun radar. Another candidate for top ace on the aircraft was Oberstleutnant
Oberstleutnant
Oberstleutnant is a German Army and Air Force rank equal to Lieutenant Colonel, above Major, and below Oberst.There are two paygrade associated to the rank of Oberstleutnant...

 Heinrich Bär
Heinrich Bär
Oskar-Heinz "Pritzl" Bär was a German Luftwaffe flying ace who served throughout World War II in Europe. A flying ace or fighter ace is a military aviator credited with shooting down five or more enemy aircraft during aerial combat...

, who claimed 16 enemy aircraft while flying the Me 262.

Anti-bomber tactics



The Me 262 was so fast that new tactics had to be devised to attack American bombers. In the head-on attack, the closing speed, of about 350 yd (320 m), was too high for accurate shooting. Even from astern, the closing speed was too great for the short-ranged 30 mm cannon to be used to maximum effect. Therefore, a roller-coaster attack was devised. The 262s approached from astern and about 6000 ft (1,828.8 m) than the bombers. From about 3 mi (4.8 km), they went into a shallow dive that took them through the escort fighters with little risk of interception. When they were about 1 mi (1.6 km) and 1500 feet (457.2 m) below the bombers, they pulled up sharply to reduce their excess speed. On levelling off, they were 1000 yd (0.9144 km) and overtaking the bombers at about 100 mph (160.9 km/h), well placed to attack them.

Since 30 mm cannon were not accurate above 650 yd (594.4 m), and since it was necessary to break off at 200 yd (182.9 m) to avoid colliding with the target, Me 262 pilots would normally commence firing at 550 yd (502.9 m). Allied bomber gunners found their electric gun turrets had problems tracking the jets. Target acquisition was difficult because the jets closed into firing range quickly and remained in firing position only briefly, using their standard attack profile which proved to be more effective.
Captain Eric Brown, Chief Naval Test Pilot and C.O. Captured Enemy Aircraft Flight Royal Aircraft Establishment
Royal Aircraft Establishment
The Royal Aircraft Establishment , was a British research establishment, known by several different names during its history, that eventually came under the aegis of the UK Ministry of Defence , before finally losing its identity in mergers with other institutions.The first site was at Farnborough...

, who tested the Me 262 noted: "This was a Blitzkrieg
Blitzkrieg
For other uses of the word, see: Blitzkrieg Blitzkrieg is an anglicized word describing all-motorised force concentration of tanks, infantry, artillery, combat engineers and air power, concentrating overwhelming force at high speed to break through enemy lines, and, once the lines are broken,...

 aircraft. You whack in at your bomber. It was never meant to be a dogfighter, it was meant to be a destroyer of bombers… The great problem with it was it did not have dive brake
Dive brake
Dive brakes or dive flaps are deployed to slow down an aircraft when in a dive. They usually consist of a metal flap that is raised against the air flow, thus creating drag and reducing dive speed....

s. For example, if you want to fight and destroy a B-17, you come in on a dive. The 30mm cannon were not so accurate above 650 yards. So you normally came in at 600 yards and would open fire on your B-17. And your closing speed was still high and since you had to break away at 200 yards to avoid a collision, you only had two seconds firing time. Now, in two seconds, you can’t sight. You can fire randomly and hope for the best. If you want to sight and fire, you need to double that time to four seconds. And with dive brakes, you could have done that."

Eventually, new combat tactics were developed to counter the Allied bombers' defences. Me 262s, equipped with R4M rockets, would approach from the side of a bomber formation, where their silhouettes were widest, and while still out of range of the bombers machine guns, fire a salvo
Salvo
A salvo is the simultaneous discharge of artillery or firearms including the firing of guns either to hit a target or to perform a salute.Troops armed with muzzleloaders required time in which to refill their arms with gun powder and shot...

 of rockets. The Hexogen
RDX
RDX, an initialism for Research Department Explosive, is an explosive nitroamine widely used in military and industrial applications. It was developed as an explosive which was more powerful than TNT, and it saw wide use in WWII. RDX is also known as cyclonite, hexogen , and T4...

 filled warhead of only one or two of these rockets was capable of downing even the famously rugged B-17 Flying Fortress; a strike on an enemy aircraft meant its total annihilation.

Although this tactic was effective, it came too late to have a real effect on the war, and only small numbers of Me 262s were actually equipped with the rocket packs. Most of those so equipped were Me 262A-1as, members of Jagdgeschwader 7
Jagdgeschwader 7
Jagdgeschwader 7 Nowotny was a Luftwaffe fighter-wing of World War II and the first operational jet fighter wing in the world.It was created late in 1944 and served until the end of the war in May 1945, and it operated the Messerschmitt Me 262 jet fighter exclusively.JG 7 was formed under the...

. This method of attacking bombers became the standard until the invention and mass deployment of guided missiles. Some nicknamed this tactic the "Luftwaffe's Wolf Pack", as the fighters would often make runs in groups of two or three, fire their rockets, then return to base.

On 1 September 1944, USAAF General
General
A general officer is an officer of high military rank, usually in the army, and in some nations, the air force. The term is widely used by many nations of the world, and when a country uses a different term, there is an equivalent title given....

 Carl Spaatz
Carl Spaatz
Carl Andrew "Tooey" Spaatz GBE was an American World War II general and the first Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force. He was of German descent.-Early life:...

 expressed the fear that if greater numbers of German jets appeared, they could inflict losses heavy enough to force cancellation of the Allied bombing offensive
Combined Bomber Offensive
The Combined Bomber Offensive was an Anglo-American offensive of strategic bombing during World War II in Europe. The primary portion of the CBO was against German Air Force targets which was the highest priority from June 1943 to 1944...

 by daylight.

Counter-jet tactics


The Me 262 was difficult for its opponents to counter, once in the air, because of its high speed and rate of climb which made it extremely hard to intercept. As with all other early jets, the Me 262's engines did not provide a lot of thrust at low air speeds (a key criterion for good turn performance), and throttle response was slow. Another disadvantage shared by all early jet engines was the relatively high risk of flameout
Flameout
A flameout refers to the failure of a jet engine caused by the extinction of the flame in the combustion chamber. It can be caused by a number of factors, including fuel exhaustion; compressor stall; insufficient oxygen supply; foreign object damage ; severe inclement weather; and mechanical...

 if the throttle was used too aggressively (such as was common in a dogfight
Dogfight
A dogfight, or dog fight, is a form of aerial combat between fighter aircraft; in particular, combat of maneuver at short range, where each side is aware of the other's presence. Dogfighting first appeared during World War I, shortly after the invention of the airplane...

). Pilots were therefore instructed to operate the throttle gently and avoid quick changes in setting. Later in the war, an automatic throttle regulator was introduced to try to solve this, but it only partly alleviated the problem. On the plus side, thrust at high speed was much greater than on propeller-driven aircraft.

Furthermore the Me 262 had, by contemporary standards, quite a high wing loading (60.2 lbs/ft2, 294.0 kg/m2) and its turn radius at low speeds was therefore correspondingly wide. This coupled with the slow throttle response and high chance of a flameout, resulted in Me 262 pilots being told to avoid low speed dogfights with the Allied piston engine fighters. The high speed of the Me 262 also presented problems when engaging enemy aircraft, the high speed convergence allowing Me 262 pilots little time to line up their targets or acquire the appropriate amount of deflection
Deflection (military)
Deflection is a technique used for effectively firing a ranged weapon at a moving target, that describes "leading the target"; that is, shooting ahead of a moving target so that the target and projectile will collide...

. This is a problem which faces any aircraft which is approaching another one from behind at much higher speed, as the slower going aircraft in front will always be able to pull a tighter turn, forcing the faster aircraft to overshoot. This was a problem the Me 262 faced a lot, as its cruising speed alone was up to 200 km/h (124.3 mph) faster than that of any piston-engine fighter of the period. Oberst Johannes Steinhoff
Johannes Steinhoff
Johannes Steinhoff was a German Luftwaffe fighter ace of World War II, and later a senior West German air force officer and military commander of NATO. Steinhoff was one of very few Luftwaffe pilots who survived to fly operationally through the whole of the war period 1939-45...

 experienced this problem when he encountered a dozen Russian fighters early in 1945, the much higher speed of his Me 262 making it extremely difficult for him to get his guns on the small Russian fighters. He recalled:


I passed one that looked as if it was hanging motionless in the air (I am too fast!). The one above me went into a steep right-hand turn, his pale blue underside standing out against the purple sky. Another banked right in front of the Me's nose. Violent jolt as I flew through his airscrew eddies. Maybe a wing's length away. That one in the gentle left-hand curve! Swing her round. I was coming from underneath, eye glued to the sight (pull her tighter!). A throbbing in the wings as my cannon pounded briefly. Missed him. Way behind his tail. It was exasperating. I would never be able to shoot one down like this. They were like a sack of fleas. A prick of doubt: is this really such a good fighter? Could one in fact, successfully attack a group of erratically banking fighters with the Me 262?


Luftwaffe pilots did however eventually learn how to handle the Me 262's higher speed, and the Me 262 soon proved a formidable air superiority fighter, with pilots such as Franz Schall managing to shoot down 12 enemy fighters in the Me 262, 10 of them American P-51 Mustangs. Other notable Me 262 aces included Georg-Peter Eder
Georg-Peter Eder
Georg-Peter Schorsch Eder was a German World War II fighter ace who served in the Luftwaffe from 1938 until the end of World War II in 1945. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves...

, also with 12 enemy fighters to his credit (including 9 P-51s), Walther Dahl
Walther Dahl
Walther Dahl was a German Oberst Luftwaffe fighter ace and recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves during World War II. The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military...

 with 11 (including three La-7s and six P-51s) and Heinz-Helmut Baudach
Helmut Baudach
Heinz-Helmut Baudach was a former German Luftwaffe fighter ace during World War II...

 with 6 (including 1 Spitfire and 2 P-51s) amongst many others.

Despite its high wing loading and lack of low-speed thrust, pilots soon learned that the Me 262 was quite maneuverable, especially if attention was drawn to its effective maneuvering speeds. The controls were light and effective right up to the maximum permissible speed and perfectly harmonized. The addition of full span leading edge slats, in three unconnected sections on each wing, helped increase the overall lift produced by the wing by as much as 25 to 35% in tight turns or at low speeds, greatly improving the aircraft's turn performance as well as its landing and take off characteristics. (The slats lowered the stalling speed of the aircraft to a respectable 160 km/h (81.6 kn; 99.4 mph) depending on load out. They deployed automatically below 300 km/h (153.1 kn; 186.4 mph) on takeoff or landing, where the innermost (between fuselage and nacelle) was normally deployed, and at 450 km/h (229.6 kn; 279.6 mph) in turn or climb.) And as many pilots soon found out, the Me 262's clean design also meant that it, like all jets, held its speed in tight turns much better than conventional propeller driven fighters, which was a great potential advantage in a dogfight as it meant better energy retention in maneuvers. Luftwaffe test pilot and flight instructor Hans Fey stated, "The 262 will turn much better at high than at slow speeds, and due to its clean design, will keep its speed in tight turns much longer than conventional type aircraft."

Too fast to catch for the escorting Allied fighters, the Me 262s were almost impossible to head off. As a result, Me 262 pilots were relatively safe from the Allied fighters, as long as they did not allow themselves to get drawn into low-speed turning contests and saved their maneuvering for higher speeds. Combating the Allied fighters could be effectively done the same way as the U.S. fighters fought the more nimble, but slower, Japanese fighters in the Pacific.

Allied pilots soon found the only reliable way of dealing with the jets, as with the even faster Me 163 Komet
Messerschmitt Me 163
The Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet, designed by Alexander Lippisch, was a German rocket-powered fighter aircraft. It is the only rocket-powered fighter aircraft ever to have been operational. Its design was revolutionary, and the Me 163 was capable of performance unrivaled at the time. Messerschmitt...

 rocket fighters, was to attack them on the ground and during takeoff or landing. Luftwaffe airfields identified as jet bases were frequently bombed by medium bomber
Medium bomber
A medium bomber is a bomber aircraft designed to operate with medium bombloads over medium distances; the name serves to distinguish them from the larger heavy bombers and smaller light bombers...

s, and Allied fighters patrolled over the fields to attack jets trying to land. The Luftwaffe countered by installing extensive flak
Anti-aircraft warfare
NATO defines air defence as "all measures designed to nullify or reduce the effectiveness of hostile air action." They include ground and air based weapon systems, associated sensor systems, command and control arrangements and passive measures. It may be to protect naval, ground and air forces...

 alleys of anti-aircraft guns along the approach lines in order to protect the Me 262s from the ground, and providing top cover during the jets' takeoff and landing with the most advanced Luftwaffe single-engined fighters, the Focke-Wulf Fw 190
Focke-Wulf Fw 190
The Focke-Wulf Fw 190 Würger was a German Second World War single-seat, single-engine fighter aircraft designed by Kurt Tank in the late 1930s. Powered by a radial engine, the 190 had ample power and was able to lift larger loads than its well-known counterpart, the Messerschmitt Bf 109...

D and (just becoming available in 1945) Focke-Wulf Ta 152
Focke-Wulf Ta 152
The Focke-Wulf Ta 152 was a World War II German high-altitude fighter-interceptor designed by Kurt Tank and produced by Focke-Wulf. The Ta 152 was a development of the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 aircraft...

H. Nevertheless, in March–April 1945, Allied fighter patrol patterns over Me 262 airfields resulted in numerous losses of jets and serious attrition of the force.

High speed research


Willy Messerschmitt regarded the Me 262 as only an interim type when it went into production.

Swept wings had been proposed as early as 1935 by Adolf Busemann
Adolf Busemann
Adolph Busemann was a German aerospace engineer and influential early pioneer in aerodynamics, specialising in supersonic airflows...

, and Messerschmitt had researched the topic from 1940. In April 1941, he proposed fitting a 35° swept wing (Pfeilflügel II, literally "arrow wing II") to the Me 262, the same wing sweep angle that would later be used on both the American F-86 Sabre and Soviet MiG-15 Fagot
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15
The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 was a jet fighter developed for the USSR by Artem Mikoyan and Mikhail Gurevich. The MiG-15 was one of the first successful swept-wing jet fighters, and it achieved fame in the skies over Korea, where early in the war, it outclassed all straight-winged enemy fighters in...

 fighter jets. Though this was not implemented, he continued with the projected HG II and HG III (Hochgeschwindigkeit, "high speed") derivatives in 1944, which were designed with a 35° and 45° wing sweep, respectively.

Interest in high-speed flight, which led him to initiate work on swept wings starting in 1940, is evident from the advanced developments Messerschmitt had on his drawing board in 1944. While the Me 262 HG I actually flight tested in 1944 had only small changes compared to combat aircraft, most notably a low-profile canopy (tried as the Rennkabine (literally "racing cabin") on the Me 262 V9 prototype for a short time) to reduce drag, the HG II and HG III designs were far more radical. The projected HG II combined the low-drag canopy with a 35° wing sweep and a butterfly tail. The HG III had a conventional tail, but a 45° wing sweep and turbines embedded in the wing root
Wing root
The wing root is the part of the wing on a fixed-wing aircraft that is closest to the fuselage. On a simple monoplane configuration, this is usually easy to identify...

s.

Messerschmitt also conducted a series of flight tests with the series production Me 262. In dive tests, it was determined that the Me 262 went out of control in a dive at Mach
Mach number
Mach number is the speed of an object moving through air, or any other fluid substance, divided by the speed of sound as it is in that substance for its particular physical conditions, including those of temperature and pressure...

 0.86, and that higher Mach numbers would lead to a nose-down trim that could not be countered by the pilot. The resulting steepening of the dive would lead to even higher speeds and disintegration of the airframe due to excessive negative g
G force
The g-force associated with an object is its acceleration relative to free-fall.It may also refer to:* G-Force , a 2009 film by Disney** G-Force , a 2009 video game based on the film...

 loads.

The HG series of Me 262 derivatives was estimated to be capable of reaching transonic Mach numbers in level flight, with the top speed of the HG III being projected as Mach 0.96 at 6,000 m (19,690 ft) altitude. Despite the necessity to gain experience in high-speed flight for the HG II and III designs, Messerschmitt undertook no attempts to exceed the Mach 0.86 limit for the Me 262.

After the war, the Royal Aircraft Establishment
Royal Aircraft Establishment
The Royal Aircraft Establishment , was a British research establishment, known by several different names during its history, that eventually came under the aegis of the UK Ministry of Defence , before finally losing its identity in mergers with other institutions.The first site was at Farnborough...

, at that time one of the leading institutions in high-speed research, re-tested the Me 262 to help with British attempts at exceeding Mach 1. The RAE achieved speeds of up to Mach 0.84 and confirmed the results from the Messerschmitt dive tests. Similar tests were run by the Soviets. No attempts were made to exceed the Mach limit established by Messerschmitt.

After Willy Messerschmitt's death, the former Me 262 pilot Hans Guido Mutke
Hans Guido Mutke
Dr Hans Guido Mutke was a fighter pilot for the German Luftwaffe during World War II. He was born in Neisse, Upper Silesia . He landed at Dubendorf, Switzerland on 25th April 1945, flying the Me262A-1c jet fighter, 'White 3', from 9 Staffel, Jagdgeschwader 7...

 claimed to be the first person to exceed Mach 1, on 9 April 1945 in a Me 262 in a "straight-down" 90° dive. This claim is disputed because it is only based on Mutke's memory of the incident, which recalls effects other Me 262 pilots observed below the speed of sound at high indicated airspeed, but with no altitude reading required to determine the actual speed. Furthermore, the pitot tube
Pitot tube
A pitot tube is a pressure measurement instrument used to measure fluid flow velocity. The pitot tube was invented by the French engineer Henri Pitot Ulo in the early 18th century and was modified to its modern form in the mid-19th century by French scientist Henry Darcy...

 used to measure airspeed in aircraft can give falsely elevated readings as the pressure builds up inside the tube at high speeds. Finally, the Me 262 wing had only a slight sweep incorporated for trim (center of gravity
Center of gravity
In physics, a center of gravity of a material body is a point that may be used for a summary description of gravitational interactions. In a uniform gravitational field, the center of mass serves as the center of gravity...

) reasons and likely would have suffered structural failure due to divergence at high transonic speeds. One airframe (Me 262 HG1 V9, Werknummer 130 004, with Stammkennzeichen of VI+AD) was prepared with the low-profile Rennkabine racing canopy and may have achieved an unofficial record speed for a turbojet-powered aircraft of 975 km/h (606 mph), altitude unspecified.

Production


While Germany was bombed intensively, production of the Me 262 was dispersed into low-profile production facilities, sometimes little more than clearings in the forests of Germany and occupied countries. Through the end of February to the end of March 1945, approximately 60 Me 262s were destroyed in attacks on Obertraubling
Obertraubling
Obertraubling is a municipality in Bavaria, Upper Palatinate , in the district of Regensburg.-Geographically Location:Obertraubling ist located directly on the southend of the City of Regensburg, the capital of Upper Palatinate....

 and 30 at Leipheim
Leipheim
Leipheim is a town in the district of Günzburg, in Bavaria, Germany. It is situated on the Danube, 5 km west of Günzburg, and 17 km northeast of Ulm. The village Riedheim and the hamlet Weissingen are districts of Leipheim...

 (the Neuberg
Neuberg
Neuberg may refer to:* Neuberg , a castle from 13th century in Podhradí, Czech Republic*Neuberg, Hesse, a municipality in the district Main-Kinzig-Kreis, Hesse, Germany*Neuberg an der Mürz, a municipality in Styria, Austria...

 jet plant was bombed on 19 March.) Large, heavily protected underground factories were constructed to take up production of the Me 262, safe from bomb attacks, but the war ended before they could be completed. At B8 Bergkristall-Esche II at St. Georgen/Gusen, Austria, forced labourers of Concentration Camp Gusen II produced fully equipped fuselages for the Me 262 at a monthly rate of 450 units on large assembly lines from early 1945.

Wings for the Me 262 were produced in Germany's oldest motorway tunnel at Engelberg
Engelberg tunnel
The Engelberg Tunnel is a motorway tunnel on the German A81 Autobahn just to the west of Stuttgart on the outskirts of Leonberg. During World War II it was used as a Nazi forced labor factory for the manufacture and storage of aircraft parts....

 to the west of Stuttgart
Stuttgart
Stuttgart is the capital of the state of Baden-Württemberg in southern Germany. The sixth-largest city in Germany, Stuttgart has a population of 600,038 while the metropolitan area has a population of 5.3 million ....

. In the end, slightly over 1,400 Me 262s of all versions were produced. As few as 200 Me 262s made it to combat units due to fuel shortages, pilot shortages, and the lack of airfields that could support the Me 262.

Postwar history


After the end of the war, the Me 262 and other advanced German technologies were quickly swept up by the Americans (as part of the USAAF's Operation Lusty
Operation Lusty
Operation LUSTY was the United States Army Air Forces effort to capture and evaluate German aeronautical technology during and after World War II.- Overview :During World War II, the U.S...

), British, and Soviets. Many Me 262s were found in readily-repairable condition and were confiscated.

During testing, the Me 262 was found to have advantages over the early models of the Gloster Meteor
Gloster Meteor
The Gloster Meteor was the first British jet fighter and the Allies' first operational jet. It first flew in 1943 and commenced operations on 27 July 1944 with 616 Squadron of the Royal Air Force...

. It was faster, had better cockpit visibility to the sides and rear (mostly due to the canopy frame and the discoloration caused by the plastics used in the Meteor's construction), and was a superior gun platform, as the early Meteors had a tendency to snake at high speed and exhibited "weak" aileron response. The Me 262 did have a shorter combat range than the Meteor.

The USAAF compared the P-80 Shooting Star and Me 262 concluding, "Despite a difference in gross weight of nearly 2000 lb (907.2 kg), the Me 262 was superior to the P-80 in acceleration, speed and approximately the same in climb performance. The Me 262 apparently has a higher critical Mach number, from a drag standpoint, than any current Army Air Force fighter."

The Army Air Force also tested an example of the Me 262A-1a/U3 (US flight evaluation serial FE-4012), an unarmed photo reconnaissance version, which was fitted with a fighter nose and given an overall smooth finish. It was used for performance comparisons against the P-80. During testing between May and August 1946, the aircraft completed eight flights, lasting four hours and 40 minutes. Testing was discontinued after four engine changes were required during the course of the tests, culminating in two single-engine landings.

These aircraft were extensively studied, aiding development of early U.S. and Soviet jet fighters. The F-86, designed by engineer
Aerospace engineering
Aerospace engineering is the primary branch of engineering concerned with the design, construction and science of aircraft and spacecraft. It is divided into two major and overlapping branches: aeronautical engineering and astronautical engineering...

 Edgar Schmued
Edgar Schmued
Edgar Schmued , German-American aircraft designer was famed for his design of the iconic North American P-51 Mustang and, later, the North American F-86 Sabre while at North American Aviation. He later worked on other aircraft designs as an aviation consultant.-Early life:Edgar Schmued was born in...

, used a slat design based on the Me 262's.

The Czechoslovak aircraft industry continued to produce single-seat (Avia S-92) and two-seat (Avia CS-92) variants of the Me 262 after World War II. From August 1946, a total of nine S-92s and three two-seater CS-92s were completed and test flown. They were introduced in 1947 and in 1950 were supplied to the 5th Fighter Squadron, becoming the first jet fighters to serve in the Czechoslovak Air Force
Czechoslovak Air Force
The Czechoslovak Air Force was the air force branch of the military of Czechoslovakia. It was known as the Czechoslovak Army Air Force from 1918–1939...

. These were kept flying until 1951 when they were replaced in service by more advanced jet fighters of Soviet origin. Both versions are on display at the Prague
Prague
Prague is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. Situated in the north-west of the country on the Vltava river, the city is home to about 1.3 million people, while its metropolitan area is estimated to have a population of over 2.3 million...

 Aviation museum in Kbely
Prague Aviation Museum, Kbely
Prague Aviation Museum, Kbely is a major aviation museum located at Prague's original airport at Kbely, north-east of the town centre near Route 10 .-History of Kbely Airfield:...

.

Flyable reproductions


In January 2003, the American Me 262 Project
Me 262 Project
The Me 262 Project is a company formed to build flyable reproductions of the Messerschmitt Me 262, the world's first operational jet fighter. The project was started with the Texas Airplane Factory and administered by Classic Fighter Industries. It is based at Paine Field in Everett, Washington,...

, based in Everett, Washington
Everett, Washington
Everett is the county seat of and the largest city in Snohomish County, Washington, United States. Named for Everett Colby, son of founder Charles L. Colby, it lies north of Seattle. The city had a total population of 103,019 at the 2010 census, making it the 6th largest in the state and...

, completed flight testing to allow for delivery of near-exact reproductions of several versions of the Me 262 including at least two B-1c two-seater variants, one A-1c single seater and two "convertibles" that could be switched between the A-1c and B-1c configurations. All are powered by General Electric J85
General Electric J85
-External links:**...

 engines and feature additional safety features, such as upgraded brakes and strengthened landing gear. The "c" suffix refers to the new J85 powerplant and has been informally assigned with the approval of the Messerschmitt Foundation in Germany (the Werk Number of the reproductions picked up where the last wartime produced Me 262 left off – a continuous airframe serial number run with a 50 year production break).

Flight testing of the first newly manufactured Me 262 A-1c (single-seat) variant (Werk Number 501244) was completed in August 2005. The first of these machines (Werk Number 501241) went to a private owner in the southwestern United States, while the second (Werk Number 501244) was delivered to the Messerschmitt Foundation at Manching, Germany. This aircraft conducted a private test flight in late April 2006, and made its public debut in May at the ILA 2006
Internationale Luft- und Raumfahrtausstellung
-ILA 2004:-ILA 2006:All previous attendance records had been broken at ILA2006. More than 250,000 visitors were recorded at the ILA2006 between 16 and 21 May, including 115,000 trade visitors...

. The new Me 262 flew during the public flight demonstrations. Me 262 Werk Number 501241 was delivered to the Collings Foundation as White 1 of JG 7. This aircraft will be offering ride-along flights starting in 2008. The third replica, a non-flyable Me 262 A-1c, was delivered to the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in May 2009.

Variants


Me 262 A-0
Pre-production aircraft fitted with two Jumo 004B turbojet engines, 23 built.

Me 262 A-1a "Schwalbe"
Production version, fighter and fighter/bomber.

Me 262 A-1a/R-1
Equipped with provisions for R4M air-to-air rockets

Me 262 A-1a/U1
Single prototype with a total of six nose mounted guns, two 20 mm MG 151/20 cannons
MG 151 cannon
The MG 151 was a 15 mm autocannon produced by Waffenfabrik Mauser starting in 1940. It was in 1941 developed into the 20 mm MG 151/20 cannon which was widely used on many types of German Luftwaffe fighters, fighter bombers, night fighters, ground attack and even bombers as part of or as...

, two 30 mm (1.18 in) MK 103 cannon
MK 103 cannon
The Rheinmetall-Borsig MK 103 was a German 30 mm caliber autocannon that was mounted in German combat aircraft during World War II. Intended to be a dual purpose weapon for anti-tank and air-to-air fighting, it was a development of the heavy MK 101. Compared to the MK 101, it was lighter,...

s, and two 30 mm (1.18 in) MK 108 cannon
MK 108 cannon
The MK 108 was a 30 mm caliber autocannon manufactured in Germany during World War II by Rheinmetall-Borsig for use in aircraft.-Development:...

s.

Me 262 A-1a/U2
Single prototype with FuG 220 Lichtenstein SN-2
Lichtenstein radar
Lichtenstein radar was a German airborne radar in use during World War II. It was available in at least four major revisions, the FuG 202 Lichtenstein B/C, FuG 212 Lichtenstein C-1, FuG 220 Lichtenstein SN-2 and FuG 228 Lichtenstein SN-3.- FuG 202 Lichtenstein B/C :Early FuG 202 Lichtenstein B/C...

 90 MHz radar transceiver and Hirschgeweih antenna array, for trials as a night-fighter.

Me 262 A-1a/U3
Reconnaissance version modified in small numbers, with Reihenbilder RB 20/30 cameras mounted in the nose (sometimes one RB 20/20 and one RB 75/30). Some retained one 30 mm (1.18 in) cannon, but most were unarmed.

Me 262 A-1a/U4
Bomber destroyer version, two prototypes with an adapted 50 mm (2 in) MK 214 (or BK-5) anti-tank gun in nose.

Me 262 A-1a/U5
Heavy jet fighter with six 30 mm (1.18 in) MK 108s in the nose

Me 262 A-1b
As A-1a but powered with BMW 003 engines. Few were built, two are known to have existed at experimental establishments; maximum speed of 800 km/h (500 mph).

Me 262 A-2a "Sturmvogel"
Definitive bomber version retaining only the two lower 30 mm (1.18 in) MK 108s.

Me 262 A-2a/U1
Single prototype with advanced bombsight
Bombsight
A bombsight is a device used by bomber aircraft to accurately drop bombs. In order to do this, the bombsight has to estimate the path the bomb will take after release from the aircraft. The two primary forces during its fall are gravity and air drag, which makes the path of the bomb through the air...

.

Me 262 A-2a/U2
Two prototypes with glazed nose for accommodating a bombardier
Bombardier (air force)
A bombardier , in the United States Army Air Forces and United States Air Force, or a bomb aimer, in the Royal Air Force and other Commonwealth air forces, was the crewman of a bomber responsible for assisting the navigator in guiding the plane to a bombing target and releasing the aircraft's bomb...

.

Me 262 A-3a
Proposed ground-attack version.

Me 262 A-4a
Reconnaissance version.

Me 262 A-5a
Definitive reconnaissance version used in small numbers at end of the war.

Me 262 B-1a
Two-seat trainer.

Me 262 B-1a/U1
Me 262 B-1a trainers converted into provisional night fighter
Night fighter
A night fighter is a fighter aircraft adapted for use at night or in other times of bad visibility...

s, FuG 218 Neptun radar, with Hirschgeweih antenna array.

Me 262 B-2
Proposed night fighter version with stretched fuselage.

Me 262 C-1a
Single prototype [made from Me 262A Werknummer 130 186] of rocket-boosted interceptor (Heimatschützer I) with Walter HWK 109-509
Walter HWK 109-509
-See also:-Bibliography:*Jane's Fighting Aircraft of World War II. London. Studio Editions Ltd, 1989. ISBN 0-517-67964-7-External links:*...

 rocket in tail, first flown with combined jet/rocket power on 27 February 1945.

Me 262 C-2b
Single prototype [made from Me 262A Werknummer 170 074] of rocket-boosted interceptor (Heimatschützer II) with two BMW 003R "combined" powerplants (BMW 003 jet, with a single 1000 kg thrust BMW 718 rocket engine mounted atop the rear of each jet exhaust) for boosted thrust, only flown once with combined jet/rocket power on 26 March 1945.

Me 262 C-3a
Never-completed. possible Heimatschützer III prototype of rocket-boosted interceptor with Walter rocket motor in belly pack.

Me 262 D-1
Proposed variant to carry Jagdfaust
Jagdfaust
The SG 500 Jagdfaust was an experimental airborne anti-bomber recoilless rifle designed for use in the Me 163 Komet rocket plane by the German Luftwaffe during World War II...

 mortars.

Me 262 E-1
Proposed cannon-armed variant based on A-1a/U4.

Me 262 E-2
Proposed rocket-armed variant carrying up to 48 × R4M rockets.

Me 262 S
Zero-series model for Me 262 A-1a

Me 262 W
Provisional designation for Me 262 with pulse jet engine
Pulse jet engine
A pulse jet engine is a type of jet engine in which combustion occurs in pulses. Pulsejet engines can be made with few or no moving parts, and are capable of running statically....

s

Postwar variants


Avia
Avia
Avia is a Czech aircraft and automotive company notable for producing biplane fighter aircraft, especially the B-534, and trucks.- History :...

 S-92
Czech-built Me 262 A-1a (fighter)

Avia CS-92
Czech-built Me 262 B-1a (fighter trainer, two seats)

Reproductions


These reproductions are constructed by Legend Flyers (later Me 262 Project
Me 262 Project
The Me 262 Project is a company formed to build flyable reproductions of the Messerschmitt Me 262, the world's first operational jet fighter. The project was started with the Texas Airplane Factory and administered by Classic Fighter Industries. It is based at Paine Field in Everett, Washington,...

) of Everett, Washington
Everett, Washington
Everett is the county seat of and the largest city in Snohomish County, Washington, United States. Named for Everett Colby, son of founder Charles L. Colby, it lies north of Seattle. The city had a total population of 103,019 at the 2010 census, making it the 6th largest in the state and...

. The Jumo 004 engines of the original are replaced by more reliable General Electric J85
General Electric J85
-External links:**...

 engines. The first Me 262 reproduction (a two-seater) took off for the first time in December 2002 and the second one in August 2005. This one was delivered to the Messerschmitt Foundation and was presented at the ILA airshow in 2006.

A-1c
American privately built, based on A-1a configuration.

B-1c
American privately built, based on B-1a configuration.

A/B-1c
American privately built, convertible between A-1c and B-1c configuration.

Operators

  • Luftwaffe
    Luftwaffe
    Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....

  • Czechoslovak Air Force
    Czechoslovak Air Force
    The Czechoslovak Air Force was the air force branch of the military of Czechoslovakia. It was known as the Czechoslovak Army Air Force from 1918–1939...

     (postwar, nine S-92 and three CS-92)

Survivors




Me 262A, W.Nr.500071 "White 3", III./JG 7
Deutsches Museum
Deutsches Museum
The Deutsches Museum in Munich, Germany, is the world's largest museum of technology and science, with approximately 1.5 million visitors per year and about 28,000 exhibited objects from 50 fields of science and technology. The museum was founded on June 28, 1903, at a meeting of the Association...

, Munich, Germany. This aircraft, flown by Hans Guido Mutke
Hans Guido Mutke
Dr Hans Guido Mutke was a fighter pilot for the German Luftwaffe during World War II. He was born in Neisse, Upper Silesia . He landed at Dubendorf, Switzerland on 25th April 1945, flying the Me262A-1c jet fighter, 'White 3', from 9 Staffel, Jagdgeschwader 7...

 while a pilot of 9. Staffel/JG 7, was confiscated by Swiss authorities on 25 April 1945 after Mutke made an emergency landing in Switzerland due to lack of fuel (80 litres were remaining, 35 litres were usually burnt in one minute).

Me 262 A-1a
Reconstructed from parts of crashed and incomplete Me 262s. Luftwaffenmuseum der Bundeswehr
Luftwaffenmuseum der Bundeswehr
The Luftwaffenmuseum der Bundeswehr , together with the Militärhistorisches Museum der Bundeswehr, is one of the major military history museums in Germany. The museum acts as an independent military department...

, Germany.

Me 262 A-1a W.Nr.501232 "Yellow 5", 3./KG(J)6
National Museum of the United States Air Force
National Museum of the United States Air Force
The National Museum of the United States Air Force is the official museum of the United States Air Force located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base northeast of Dayton, Ohio. The NMUSAF is the world's largest and oldest military aviation museum with more than 360 aircraft and missiles on display...

, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is a United States Air Force base in Greene and Montgomery counties in the state of Ohio. It includes both Wright and Patterson Fields, which were originally Wilbur Wright Field and Fairfield Aviation General Supply Depot. Patterson Field is located approximately...

, Dayton, Ohio, USA.

Me 262 A-1a/U3 W.Nr.500453
Flying Heritage Collection
Flying Heritage Collection
The Flying Heritage Collection is Paul G. Allen's collection of rare military aircraft, which comprises examples from Germany, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States...

, Arlington, Washington
Arlington, Washington
Arlington is a city in northern Snohomish County, Washington, United States, bordered by the city of Marysville to the south. The population was 17,926 at the 2010 census.-History:...

, USA, scheduled to reopen in Everett, Washington
Everett, Washington
Everett is the county seat of and the largest city in Snohomish County, Washington, United States. Named for Everett Colby, son of founder Charles L. Colby, it lies north of Seattle. The city had a total population of 103,019 at the 2010 census, making it the 6th largest in the state and...

 in Summer 2008, currently under restoration in England.

Me 262 A-1a W.Nr.500491 "Yellow 7", II./JG 7
National Air and Space Museum
National Air and Space Museum
The National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution holds the largest collection of historic aircraft and spacecraft in the world. It was established in 1976. Located in Washington, D.C., United States, it is a center for research into the history and science of aviation and...

, Smithsonian Institution
Smithsonian Institution
The Smithsonian Institution is an educational and research institute and associated museum complex, administered and funded by the government of the United States and by funds from its endowment, contributions, and profits from its retail operations, concessions, licensing activities, and magazines...

, Washington, DC, USA.

Me 262 A-2a W.Nr.112372
RAF Museum
RAF Museum
The Royal Air Force Museum London, commonly known as the RAF Museum, is a museum located on the former Hendon Aerodrome, dedicated to the history of aviation and the British Royal Air Force. The museum is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Ministry of Defence and a registered charity...

 RAF Hendon, United Kingdom.

Me 262 A-2a W.Nr.500200 "Black X 9K+XK", 2 Staffel./KG 51
Australian War Memorial
Australian War Memorial
The Australian War Memorial is Australia's national memorial to the members of all its armed forces and supporting organisations who have died or participated in the wars of the Commonwealth of Australia...

, Canberra, Australia.

Me 262 B-1a/U1, W.Nr.110305 "Red 8"
South African National Museum of Military History
South African National Museum of Military History
The South African National War Museum in Johannesburg was officially opened by Prime Minister Jan Smuts on 29 August 1947 to preserve the history of South Africa's involvement in the Second World War. In 1975 the museum was renamed the South African National Museum of Military History and its...

, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Me 262 B-1a, W.Nr.110639 "White 35"
National Museum of Naval Aviation
National Museum of Naval Aviation
The National Museum of Naval Aviation is a military and aerospace museum located at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida. The museum opened in 1962....

, Pensacola, Florida
Pensacola, Florida
Pensacola is the westernmost city in the Florida Panhandle and the county seat of Escambia County, Florida, United States of America. As of the 2000 census, the city had a total population of 56,255 and as of 2009, the estimated population was 53,752...

 (previously at NAS/JRB Willow Grove
Naval Air Station Willow Grove
Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove or NASJRB Willow Grove was a Naval Air Station owned by the U.S. Navy and located in Horsham Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, United States four miles northwest of the central business district of Willow Grove, which is north of...

, Willow Grove, Pennsylvania
Willow Grove, Pennsylvania
Willow Grove is a census-designated place in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. A community in Philadelphia's northern suburbs, the population was 15,726 at the 2010 census. It is located in Abington Township and Upper Moreland Township...

, USA)

Avia S-92
Prague Aviation Museum, Kbely
Prague Aviation Museum, Kbely
Prague Aviation Museum, Kbely is a major aviation museum located at Prague's original airport at Kbely, north-east of the town centre near Route 10 .-History of Kbely Airfield:...

, Prague
Prague
Prague is the capital and largest city of the Czech Republic. Situated in the north-west of the country on the Vltava river, the city is home to about 1.3 million people, while its metropolitan area is estimated to have a population of over 2.3 million...

, Czech Republic.

Avia CS-92
Aviation Museum Kbely, Prague, Czech Republic.

Popular culture

  • Clive Cussler
    Clive Cussler
    Clive Eric Cussler is an American adventure novelist and marine archaeologist. His thriller novels, many featuring the character Dirk Pitt, have reached The New York Times fiction best-seller list more than seventeen times...

    's famous fictional character Dirk Pitt
    Dirk Pitt
    Dirk Pitt is a fictional character, the protagonist of a series of bestselling adventure novels written by Clive Cussler. The name Dirk Pitt is a registered trademark of Clive Cussler.-Character information and the supporting cast:...

     owns an Me 262, which he acquired when he helped excavate a hidden airfield that held a number of the aircraft.
  • In the PC flight simulator Chuck Yeager's Air Combat
    Chuck Yeager's Air Combat
    Chuck Yeager's Air Combat is a 1991 computer aircraft simulation game produced by Electronic Arts. Famed pilot Chuck Yeager was a technical consultant in the game and his digitized voice is featured in the game, giving encouragement and praise before and after missions.The game is characterized for...

    , a virtual Chuck Yeager
    Chuck Yeager
    Charles Elwood "Chuck" Yeager is a retired major general in the United States Air Force and noted test pilot. He was the first pilot to travel faster than sound...

    , voiced by himself, accurately states Allied pilots used the term blow job as a nickname for the Me 262s.
  • The Blue Öyster Cult
    Blue Öyster Cult
    Blue Öyster Cult, often abbreviated BÖC, is an American rock band, most of whose members first came together in Long Island, NY in 1967 as the band Soft White Underbelly...

     1974 album Secret Treaties
    Secret Treaties
    Secret Treaties is Blue Öyster Cult's third studio album, released in 1974.In 1975, a Melody Maker poll of critics voted Secret Treaties as the "Top Rock Album of All Time." The album spent 14 weeks in the US charts, peaking at #53. It went gold in 1992...

     includes a song entitled "ME 262"; the cover art of the album is a drawing depicting the band posing on an Me 262 whose tail bears the band's hook-and-cross logo.

Specifications (Messerschmitt Me 262 A-1a)



See also



External links