Messerschmitt Me 262A-2a Schwalbe
- Length: 34 ft. 9 in.
- Wingspan: 41 ft.
- Height: 11 ft. 6 in.
- Wing Area: 234 sq. ft.
- Empty Weight: 8,400 lbs.
- Loaded Weight: 15,720 lbs.
- Crew: 1
- Power Plant: 2 x Junkers Jumo 004B-1 turbojets, 8.8 kN (1,980 lbf) each
- Range: 652 miles
- Max Speed: 541 mph
- Ceiling: 37,565 ft.
- Guns: 4 x 30 mm MK 108 cannons
- Bombs/Rockets: 2 x 550 lb. bombs (A-2a only), 24 x 2.2 in. R4M rockets
The most advanced fighter of World War Two, too few Messerschmitt Me 262s were deployed by the Luftwaffe at too late a stage to affect the course of the air war over Europe.
Preliminary design work on what was to become the Messerschmitt Me 262 began in 1938. Persistent problems with the turbojets intended for the aircraft delayed the project and the first flight by a Messerschmitt Me 262 using only jet power did not take place until July 1942.
In December 1943 Hitler decreed that the Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe (Swallow) should only be manufactured as a fighter bomber. Senior Luftwaffe officers believed that the Messerschmitt Me 262 was more valuable as a fighter, and Hitler’s wishes were initially ignored much to his subsequent fury.
Small numbers of Messerschmitt Me 262 fighters and fighter bombers were used operationally by the Luftwaffe from mid 1944. Allied pilots found the Messerschmitt Me 262 a formidable opponent and special tactics were adopted to meet the new threat. However, chronic supply shortages meant that few Me 262s saw combat and the true potential of the Me 262 was never realised.
The Messerschmitt Me 262 was the only jet fighter to see air-to-air combat in World War Two and its appearance was a great shock to the Allies. It was a significantly more advanced design than its British contemporary and many of its aerodynamic secrets were eagerly incorporated in later post-war combat aircraft.