Me 262

Me 262 at Erprobungskommando 262

Messerschmitt Me 262 twin-jet fighters of the operational trial unit ‘Erprobungskommando 262’ at Lechfeld (Bavaria) in the summer of 1944.

German Messerschmitt jet fighter-bomber A2a and interceptor A1a

Messerschmitt Me 262
Type:
German jet fighter, interceptor, fighter-bomber and night-fighter.

History:

In the Messerschmitt Me 262 the German aircraft industry created a potentially war-winning aircraft which could have restored to the Luftwaffe command of the skies over Germany. Compared with Allied fighters of its day, including the first RAF jet fighter Meteor I, which entered service at the same time, it was much faster and packed a much heavier punch.
Radar-equipped night fighter versions and sub-types designed to stand off from large bomber formations and blast them out of the sky were also developments against which the Allies had no answer.
Yet for years the programme was held back by official disinterest, and by the personal insistence of Hitler that the world-beating jet fighter should be used only as a fighter-bomber to shatter the Allied invasion of 1944 (for which it was too late and not enough numbers were available).

It was in the autumn of 1938 that Messerschmitt was asked to study the design of a jet fighter, and the resulting Messerschmitt Me 262 was remarkably unerring. First flown on a piston engine in the nose, it then flew on its twin turbojets and finally, in July 1943, the fifth development aircraft flew with a nose wheel.
Despite numerous snags, production aircraft were being delivered in July 1944, but not before the beginning of 1945 in great numbers. Only 513 had been accepted by the Luftwaffe by the end of 1944, from the original 1,000 fighter-bombers which should have been in action in time of the Allied invasion in the summer !
But the Me 262’s fighting and flying qualities were excellent, and a pre-series batch of 23 A-0s was accepted in the spring of 1944. These were allocated to the Erprobungsstelle (Experiment unit) at Rechlin and the conversion unit EKdo 262, the latter unit becoming the first to fire jet fighter guns in anger (on 25 July 1944 shot down of a Mosquito reconnaissance bomber over Munich, which was until then nearly save from interceptions).
The two principal basic production versions to become operational were the Messerschmitt Me 262 A1a Schwalbe (swallow) interceptor and the Messerschmitt Me 262 A2a Sturmvogel (stormbird) fighter-bomber.

But the German axial engines were unreliable and casualties due to engine failure, fires or break-up were heavy. The MK 108 gun was also prone to jam, and the landing gear to collapse.

Yet the Me 262 was a beautiful machine to handle and, while Allied jets like the US Shooting Star or British Vampire, either never reached squadrons or never engaged enemy aircraft, the 100 or so Me 262s that flew on operations and had fuel available destroyed far more than 100 Allied bombers and fighters.
Their destruction of Allied bombers and fighters was greater than one for one, and JV44, the top-scoring Me 262 interceptor unit, achieved some 50 ‘kills’ in little more than a month’s operations before WW2 ended.
In air-to-air combat the Me 262 never engaged Allied jets, but conversely, a number of Me262s were destroyed by P-51 Mustang , Spitfire, Tempest and P-47 Thunderbolt piston-engined fighters, especially during take-off or landing.

Even remarkable, by end of WW2 total deliveries of this formidable aircraft reached 1.433, but probably less than a quarter of these saw front-line service.

Users: Germany.


Pictures of Me 262


Data for Messerschmitt Me 262 A-1a Schwalbe and A-2a Sturmvogel

Technical data
Messerschmitt Me 262 A-1a Schwalbe, A-2a Sturmvogel data
TypeA-1a: jet fighter and interceptor; A-2a: jet fighter-bomber
Power plantTwo 1,980 lb thrust Junkers Jumo 004B single-shaft axial turbojets"
Accommodation 1
Wing span40 ft 11.5 in
Length overall34 ft 9.5 in
Height overall12 ft 7 in
Wing area233.36 sq/ft
Weight empty8,820 lb
Weight loaded15,500 lb
Max. wing loading60.42 lb/sq ft
Max. power loading3.55 lb/lb st
Maximum speed540 mph (A-2a loaded: 470 mph)
at height19,685 ft
Initial climb3,940 ft/min
Time to 29.530 ft13.1 min
Service ceiling37,556 ft
Range 652 miles
Armament
Messerschmitt Me 262 A-1a Schwalbe, A-2a Sturmvogel data
in nosefour 30mm MK108 [650 rpm, velocity 1,705 ft.sec] cannon (two with 100 rounds each, two with 80 rounds each)
bomb load (only Me 262 A-2a fighter-bomber)additional two 1,100 lb bombs
Service statistics
Messerschmitt Me 262 A-1a Schwalbe, A-2a Sturmvogel data
First flight4 April 1941 (with piston engine); 18 July 1942 (with two Jumo 004-0 turbojets)
first deliveryJuly 1944 (May 1944 pre-series A-0)
Service delivery30 June 1944 (experimental combat unit EK262), September 1944 (first regular squadron)
First regular combat missionsfighter-bomber A-2a: August 28, 1944; fighter A-1a: October 3, 1944
Final delivery May 1945
Total production figure (all)Total: 1,433
Accepted by Luftwaffe 1/39-12/44 564
Production 1944 564
Production 1945 869
Me262's in First Line Units 10.1.45c. 67 (of these 52 Me 262 A2a fighter-bombers)

Animated 3D model of Messerschmitt Me 262 A-1a


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