Messerschmitt Me 262

Country of originGermany
First flight18 April 1941 with piston engine

18 July 1942 with jet engines
IntroducedApril 1944
ProducedData is not available
Numbers built1,430
Unit costsData is not available
Max speed900 km/h (559 mph)
Max rangeRange: 1,050 km (652 mi)
Service ceiling: 11,450 m (37,565 ft)
DimensionsLength: 10.60 m (34 ft 9 in)

Wingspan: 12.60 m (41 ft 6 in)

Height: 3.50 m (11 ft 6 in)

Wing area: 21.7 m² (234 ft²)
WeightEmpty weight: 3,795 kg (8,366 lb)

Loaded weight: 6,473 kg (14,272 lb)

Max takeoff weight: 7,130 kg (15,720 lb)
Powerplant2 x Junkers Jumo 004 B-1 turbojets, 8.8 kN (1,980 lbf) each
ArmamentGuns: 4 × 30 mm MK 108 cannons (A-2a: two cannons)
Rockets: 24 × 55 mm (2.2 in) R4M rockets
Bombs: 2 × 250 kg (550 lb) bombs or 2 × 500 kg (1,100 lb) bombs (A-2a only)
OperatorsFormer operators:
Czechoslovakia, Germany

The Messerschmitt Me 262 was a jet-engined fighter aircraft designed in Germany and the development was originally started before the Second World War began, on April 1939. The fighter which had a nickname of Schwalbe, it means Swallow, was the first jet fighter aircraft operated in the world. This aircraft was the best fighter in its time with the best speed and armament, even better than the British-made jet fighter, the Gloster Meteor. Although designed earlier, the Me 262 was also reportedly comparable with Airacomet Bell P-59, Heinkel He 280, the Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star. During the action in the Second World War, at least Me 262 had shot down 542 Allied aircraft and about 100 Me 262 reportedly shot down. Because of its speed, it could be said kill and loss ratio of Me 262 was good.

By looking at the performance it had, it was natural when the design of Me 262 affected American military aircraft manufacturers when creating the North American F-86 Sabre and the Boeing B-47 Stratojet.

In further development, the Me 262 was also produced in several variants, including light bomber, reconnaissance and even experimental night fighter versions. It was recorded at least 1,430 units of Me 262 were built. The main operator of Me 262 was the Luftwaffe and another user was the Czechoslovak Air Force with the designation S-92.

The Messerschmitt Me 262 featured a swept wing design, controlled by one pilot and was capable of reaching the maximum speed of 900 km/h or 559 mph. The machines used for boosting Me 262 were two Junkers Jumo 004 B-1 turbojets.

Me 262 was armed with 4 units of 30 mm MK 108 cannons, 24 R4M rockets (55 mm or 2.2 inch) and two bombs weighing up to 1,000 kg overall.

The History of Me 262

In April 1939, Germany began designing an advanced aircraft of its time through Projekt 1065. Unfortunately, the project was delayed due to technical issues on the development of jet engines, which at that time a jet engine was something that had not been so popular. The technical problem coupled with funding issues that were not smooth because the German military leaders believed they would be able to win the war simply by using a conventional fighter aircraft.

Nonetheless, Willy Messerschmitt and 35 other engineers were still willing to run the 1065 Projekt which were aiming to create a more sophisticated combat aircraft that was a blend of Messerschmitt Bf 109 and Messerschmitt Me 209-II. Several other military officials also remain supporting this project, including Major General Adolf Galland.
In 1944, the mass production Me 262 finally approved by the German Nazi leader, Hitler. Hitler reportedly wanted the Me 262 to be an offensive fighter rather than just a defensive interceptor. But the truth about Hitler’s intervention in the design of the aircraft is still debated.

The Me 262 combat capability was firstly tested in April 1944, when Erprobungskommando 262 formed in Bavaria. Some of the air battle occurred in which the Me 262 fought against Allied bombers and reconnaissance aircrafts. The first battle occurred in July 1944 when a Me 262 faced with Mosquito reconnaissance aircraft of No. Squadron 540 Squadron RAF PR. The British aircraft suffered severe damage. The battle was recorded in history as the first victory for the jet-engined fighter aircraft.

Since then several German fighter squadrons were formed, including Jagdgeschwader 7 (JG 7), Kampfgeschwader 54 (KG 54) and Jagdverband 44 (JV 44). More battles took place between the Me 262 against the Allies aircrafts, including against the P-51 Mustang fighters. A Me 262 pilot who became an Ace was Hauptmann Franz Schall with 17 kills.

The main task of Me 262 was to destroy hostile aircraft bombers, but the absence of brake dive was one of the weaknesses of Me 262. Me 262 pilots only had 2 seconds to do a shot at an effective and safe distance because the cannon was not accurate when fired from a distance of more than 600 yards. With a practical high-speed there was a little time before the Me 262 collided with the target. So the pilot must conduct random fire and hoping to destroy the target.

Another disadvantage in the first-generation jet fighter aircraft like the Me 262 was inability to provide a lot of air thrust at low speeds (a turn key criterion for good performance), and throttle response was slow. Coupled with the risk of flameout when the throttle was used too aggressively, and this usually occurs when a pilot was in a very stressful dogfight situation. The ability to reduce all these weaknesses should be mastered by all pilots of Me 262.

However, the Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe was the first jet fighter and the best in his time. The USAAF admitted it: “Despite a difference in the gross weight of Nearly 2.000 lb (900 kg), the Me 262 was superior to the P-80 in acceleration, speed and approximately the same in climb performance. Apparently The Me 262 has a higher critical Mach number, from a drag standpoint, than any current Army Air Force fighter. ”

Messerschmitt Me-262 videos

The Messerschmitt Me-262 Schwalbe/Sturmvogel

Berlin Air Show 2008 – Messerschmitt Me-262

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