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 Messerschmitt Me 262

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Anglo-Norman
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PostSubject: Messerschmitt Me 262   Sat 05 May 2012, 21:29

The Messerschmitt Me 262 'Schwalbe' (Swallow) was, famously, the world's first operational jet-fighter. It was a formidable aircraft, fast and - with a typical armament of four 30mm cannon and up to twenty four rockets - could pack a powerful punch. However, it suffered from numerous problems. Technical problems first with the engines, then with the landing gear, caused major delays. Then political interference (including from Hitler himself) caused further diversions; Hitler and co. wanted the Me 262 to be a bomber, resulting in resources being diverted into developing what would become the 'Sturmvogel' (Stormbird) variant. Ultimately, although the project had begun in 1938, the 'Schwalbe' didn't enter service until July 1944. By then there were fuel shortages (real or imagined) and a severe lack of pilots sufficiently experienced or trained to utilise the fighter to its full potential. Numbers were never enough, and it seems likely that it was too late to make a real impression anyway.

I have seen it said more than once that if the Me 262 had been available earlier it could have been a much greater success, even turned the tide of the air war. I'm not sure.

I hope you can forgive a bit of counterfactual theorising. The airframe design was sound pretty much from the off. Let's assume that the BMW 003 engines worked properly, so the airframe didn't need to be redesigned to take the replacement Jumo 004 engines. That takes us up to November 1941. Four months more for redesigning the landing gear. So we're perhaps looking at March or April 1942 for the Me 262 to enter service. More pilots, more resources. Admittedly the MK 108 cannon wasn't available at this date, but there were alternatives (and I imagine the aircraft could be pretty easily upgraded once the MK 108 was in service from Autumn 1943).

So, could our hypothetical 1942 'Schwalbe' have really turned the tide of the airwar? Or was it already too late? Perhaps captured intelligence and/or examples might have allowed Allied projects like the Gloster Meteor to have advanced more rapidly. I daresay Allied countermeasures would have been evolved, though of course the Germans would have responded.
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Tim of Aclea
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PostSubject: Re: Messerschmitt Me 262   Sun 06 May 2012, 09:08

Hi Anglo-Norman

having a family interest in the Gloster Meteor I wondered how its performance compared with the ME262?

regards

Tim
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PostSubject: Re: Messerschmitt Me 262   Sun 06 May 2012, 18:32

I must admit I don't know much about the Meteor, and the two never met in combat. However:

Me 262A-1 (the first operational model):
Max Speed: 540mph/870kph
Service Ceiling: 37,564ft/11,450m
Range: 652 miles/1050km
Main armament: 4 x 30mm cannon; option of 24 rockets

Meteor F.3 (WWII operational model):
Max speed: 520mph/837kph
Service ceiling: 43,963ft/13,400m
Range: 1342 miles/2160km
Main armament: 4 x 20mm cannon; option of 16 rockets

So, overall the Me 262 could fly faster and packed a bigger punch, but the Meteor could go higher and further. Not sure how they compared in terms of manoeuvrability.
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PostSubject: Re: Messerschmitt Me 262   Sun 06 May 2012, 18:41

The Americans also found the 262 to be faster,with better acceleration and better rate of climb than the P-80 Shooting Star.
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PostSubject: Re: Messerschmitt Me 262   Sun 06 May 2012, 19:43



A-N, if the ME 262 had entered service in 1942, the daylight bomber offensive would have been unsustainable and this is well before the USAAF started using the P-51 as a long range escort [December 1943].
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Anglo-Norman
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PostSubject: Re: Messerschmitt Me 262   Tue 08 May 2012, 10:06

With consequent impact on Germany's ability to manufacture arms ect. Indeed. Interesting.
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Giraffe
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PostSubject: Re: Messerschmitt Me 262   Sun 13 May 2012, 20:51

I think if it had appeared earlier, the Western Allies would have just found an answer earlier. Air power is not enough alone, although the loss of the daylight bombing in 1943/44 would have made things more difficult, I think the die was cast by that time. Added a year to the war, maybe?
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