Me 262 file photo

Me 262 Schwalbe

CountryGermany
ManufacturerMesserschmitt AG
Primary RoleJet Fighter
Maiden Flight18 July 1942

Contributor: C. Peter Chen

Me 262 Schwalbe 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. The first time the top German leadership were first introduced to the Me 262 jet fighter in May 1943, when Adolf Hitler, Erhard Milch, and others were invited to Messerschmitt's test field in Bavaria in southern Germany to witness a test flight. Although the performance was marred by minor mechanical failures, Hitler was impressed, though his enthusiasm would be misplaced; while this jet design was exactly 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 programs. The first 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.

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.

The aircraft that attacked Scheffel's ground formation was likely a jet from Luftwaffe's I Gruppe, Kampfgeschwader 54 (KG54) ground attack unit.

By the end of the war, 1,433 Me 262 jet fighters were built.

Sources:
Colin Heaton, The German Aces Speak
Charles Scheffel and Barry Basden, Crack! and Thump
Wikipedia

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.
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.

SPECIFICATIONS

A-1a
MachineryTwo 1,980 lb (900 kg) thrust Junkers Jumo 004B single-shaft axial turbojets
Armament4x30mm MK 108 cannons
Crew1
Span12.60 m
Length10.60 m
Height3.80 m
Weight, Empty4,000 kg
Weight, Maximum7,045 kg
Speed, Maximum870 km/h
Service Ceiling11,500 m
Range, Normal1,050 km

B-1a
MachineryTwo 1,980 lb (900 kg) thrust Junkers Jumo 004B single-shaft axial turbojets
Armament4x30mm MK 108 cannons
Crew1
Span12.60 m
Length10.60 m
Height3.80 m
Weight, Empty4,400 kg
Weight, Maximum6,400 kg
Speed, Maximum800 km/h
Service Ceiling11,500 m
Range, Normal1,050 km

A-2a
MachineryTwo 1,980 lb (900 kg) thrust Junkers Jumo 004B single-shaft axial turbojets
Armament4x30mm MK 108 cannons, 2x500kg bombs
Crew1
Span12.60 m
Length10.60 m
Height3.80 m
Weight, Empty4,000 kg
Weight, Maximum7,045 kg
Speed, Maximum755 km/h
Service Ceiling11,500 m
Range, Normal1,050 km

Photographs

Me 262 resting at an airfield, date unknownMe 262 aircraft viewed from atop; German propaganda photographUS test pilot assesses the German ME 262 jet fighter over Ohio, late 1945. This aircraft fell into Allied hands when the German pilot defected and landed the plane at a US held airfield in Germany.US troops inspecting the hulk of an Me 262 jet fighter, Germany, 1945
See all 12 photographs of Me 262 Schwalbe Jet Fighter



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Visitor Submitted Comments

  1. Bill is Mr. Anonymous says:
    18 Feb 2009 03:52:19 PM

    info on second photo: Me 262 V3 code (PC+UC)under tests at Leipheim 1942. Later aircraft would be nosewheel eqipped.
  2. Bill says:
    25 Oct 2009 04:45:36 PM

    Speed of Sound:

    On April 9,1945 Oberfahnrich (Leading Cadet)
    Dr. Hans-Guido Mutke took off for a planned
    high-altitude flight climbing to 12,000m or
    36,000ft. listening to radio conversations
    that P-51 Mustangs, were attacking the plane
    of another pilot. Mutke went into a steep
    40 degree dive passing through 12,000m the
    Me 262 started to vibrate, the speedometer
    stuck against its limit of 1,100km/h or
    682mph. The aircraft started buffening and
    shaking. He fought to regain control and
    reducing speed to 500km/h. After landing, it
    it was found that his plane was missing
    many rivits and the wings were distorted.
    Due to the nature of Mutke's flight, it is
    impossible to determine the exact speed of
    his aircraft, and it is also difficult to
    estimate the exact speed of sound at that altitude.
    It is not possible to either prove or disprove his claims. In 1999 at the Munich
    Technical University, a computer performance
    analysis of the Me 262, has shown that the
    Me 262 could exceed Mach I.

    Last Mission Landing in Switzerland
    On April 25, 1945 Hans-Gudio Mutke lands his
    Me 262 at Dubendorf, Switzerland with 80 liters or 21.13 gallons of J-2 fuel left,
    giving him about another two minutes flight time left.
    The Swiss kept the aircraft until 1957 and
    returned it to West Germany, it is now at
    the Deutsches Museum, Germany it is the most
    authentic Me 262 in the world.
  3. Bill says:
    25 Oct 2009 05:44:27 PM

    "Oberfahnrich"(Leading Cadet)Dr. Hans-Gudio
    Mutke. March 25, 1921-April 8,2004 Retired
    from the Lufwaffe in 1945,After the war,he
    worked as a Airline Pilot, and as a Doctor
    of Aviation Medicine.

    Dr. Ernest Mach: Austrian Physicist of the
    19th Century.
    The speed of an object,measured in multiples
    of the speed of sound Mach I (761mph) or 1,225km/h will experience shock waves, an object moving twice as fast as the speed of
    sound, is traveling at Mach II, and so on.
  4. Bill says:
    16 Oct 2010 06:46:24 PM

    "WUNDER WAFFEN" ME 262 PROJECT:

    Me 262 project is a company formed to build
    reproductions of the Messerschmitt Me 262. The project started with the Texas Airplane
    Company.
    Original drawings, plans and fixtures plus
    production jigs, many engineers, designers and technicians spent hours working on the
    aircraft.

    The jet is powered by two General Electric GE-J85 jet engines with 2,500 lb thrust each.
    equipped with new avionics the aircraft are
    for sale at $2,000,000 US Dollars each.
  5. Bill says:
    16 Jun 2012 01:05:20 PM

    I'm listing the Messerschmitt P.1101, this was a proposed single-seat, swept-wing, turbo
    jet-engine, supersonic fighter.

    THE WUNDERWAFFEN: THAT NEVER FLEW

    When US troops found this aircraft, it was like something out of Buck Rogers sleek with swept-back wings, no propellers and powered by a turbo-jet engine.
    The aircraft was 80% completed and was hidden
    at the Oberammergau facility in Bavaria found a few days before the end of the war in Europe. German engineers hid technicial data on microfilm However, the French found this information and the race was on to capture not only the wunderwaffen's but the engineer's, technicians and specialist who worked on these weapons.
    The P.1101 was powered by 1xHeinkel-Hirth
    He S 011 jet engine, the Junkers Jumo 004B was planned for flight testing, but this was never carried out.
    Armed w/20 or 30mm cannons, X-4 air-to-air wire guided missiles. A nighfighter version was also proposed, by never flew.


    ALLIES LIKE THESE, WHO NEEDS ENEMIES:

    The US, USSR, France and England raced against time to capture as much information as possible along with the personnel who worked on these projects. The Americans had the prototype P.1101 fighter but lacked the technicial information and the French were dragging their feet and after a while they weren't about to share anything with their Allies.

    WE'LL FIGURE IT OUT:

    The US shipped the P.1101 prototype back to Bell Aircraft for test and evaluation, but the fighter was damaged in handling and was never flown, and used only in static tests.

    SEEDS OF THE FUTURE: POST-WAR DESIGN

    Bell Aircraft used the P.1101 for their own
    experimental aircraft, called the Bell X-5 this aircraft looked like the Messerschmitt
    fighter in basic design and was test flown
    unlike the German design, where the wing could be swept back on the ground, the Bell X-5 could adjust its wings in flight this was called variable geometery.
    This design, was later used on the Grumman
    F-14 Tomcat, General Dynamics F-111 and the
    North American-Rockwell B-1 Bomber.

    I'm no expert, but do the best I can to provide ww2db with best information available
  6. Melvin Hoskins says:
    1 Apr 2014 04:49:01 PM

    Many have suggested that "only if" the Germans had introduced this aircraft earlier in the war, we would not have gained the near-absolute domination of the air over Germany that we did. But, what if we had perfected the atomic bomb in 1944, and dropped several on selected German targets?

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» Adolf Galland

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» The German Aces Speak


Me 262 Schwalbe Jet Fighter Photo Gallery
Me 262 resting at an airfield, date unknown
See all 12 photographs of Me 262 Schwalbe Jet Fighter



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