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The Messerschmitt Me262

My Messerschmitt Aircraft Pages:

Birds of War: The Messerschmitt's Effect on World War II
Willy Messerschmitt: A Short Biography
The Messerschmitt Bf109
The Messerschmitt Komet
The Importance of the Messerschmitt
500 Word Essay
The Bibliography Page

    "The Me262 was the first operational turbojet powered aircraft. In addition to being jet powered, it brought forth many advancements in aircraft design. Although sometimes viewed as a last ditch Nazi super weapon, the Me262 was under development before the start of WWII. Though never available in quantity, it was effectively used by the Luftwaffe in a variety of roles and proved itself a potent weapon."

    "Development began on the Me262 in April 1939 which was code named Stormbird or Silver. A combination of excellent design and downright luck resulted in a very harmonious design while significantly stretching the known aeronautical boundaries. An example of this is the Me262's wing. The characteristic swept design was the result of a need to place the center of gravity aft to compensate for heavier then expected engines. It was only later that the benefits of swept wings were realized."

    "The Jumo 004 would prove to be the Me626's greatest weakness. The turbojet was still in its infancy and had many technological hurdles to overcome. A lengthy period of development led to a continued delay in the producation of the Me262. A lack of the materials necessary for proper heat proofing posed a major problem in war-torn Germany. Alternate materials were forced to be used, which resulted in engines that were less than reliable. In some cases, new engines would suffer catastrophic failures during the initial run-up. Even engines that worked correctly had a very short operation span. Most would only last for 12 hours. On many occasions, pilots were forced to land with one or both engines out." However, "the Me262 was especially vulnerable as the turbojet's relatively low thrust resulted in slow acceleration. It took some time for the jet to get up to speed, but once there, no Allied aircraft could touch it."

    "Towards the end of World War II, the German Me262 became the first operational jet fighter to out maneuver the Allied escorts while attacking in bomber formation. This led to the beginning of the jet age, in which aircraft soon flew at more than twice the speed of sound and easily climbed altitudes of 50,000 feet. At the same time, advancements in electronics removed the task of early warning from the pilots eye, and guided missiles extended the range of aerial combat."

Technical Details:

    "There were three main variants of the Me262, the A1-a (Schwalbe) fighter, the A-2a (Sturmvogel) fighter and the B-1a (fighter-bomber). All were single seat aircraft powered by a pair of Junkers Jumo 004B axial Turbojets developing 900kg (1,980lbs) of thrust. The maximum speeds were: Me262A1-a: 540mph (870km/h); Me262A-2a: 470mph (755km/h); Me262B-1a: 497mph (800km/h). They climbed at 1200M/Min. to a ceiling of 11,500M. Their operational range at cruising speed on internal fuel was 1050km (650mi), although in use it was considerably less. The fighter variants were armed with four 30mm Rheinmetal-Borsig cannons in the nose, two carried 100 rounds each, and the top two carried 80 rounds each. The 30mm cannon was extremely lethal, being capable of carrying 24-55mm rockets, 12 under each wing. Despite being designed as a fighter the A-2a could also carry a pari of 500lbs. bombs on the bottom of the fuselage. The B variants were variously armed with four cannons adn two MK108 20mm cannons inclined to the rear of the cockpit in Scharge Musik installation for attacking night bombers, a set of SG500 Jagadfaust with 12 rifled mortar barrels inclined in nose for attacking day bombers or 50mm MK114 gun or 48R4/M rockets for attacking bombers. Most of these last armament installations were not effective, especially the Jagdfaust mortars that created considerable drag and instability in the aircraft."