Me 262 Schwalbe (Swallow) was the world's first operational jet fighter, being
the most advanced aircraft of its time to fly and achieve operational status.
Design of Messerschmitt Me 262 was commenced in 1938 when the German air
ministry (RLM) issued Messerschmitt
with a design contract for an airframe capable of fitting two radical new axial
flow turbojets that BMW
at the design stage. It was thought that these new BMW
turbojets would produce in the region of 600 KG of thrust and would be available
for installation by December 1939. From the beginning the Messerschmitt
team envisaged that the design would be a possible candidate as, interceptor fighter,
and when presented to the technical office on the 7th of June 1939 as the project
1065, and the suitability of the proposal for the interceptor fighter role was
emphasised although no operational capability had been called for by the original
The project 1065 outlined an all metal low wing cantilever
monoplane with a fully retractable tailwheel and undercarriage and two BMW
turbojets in the wing roots. On the strength of of this proposal, Messerschmitt
was ordered to proceed with the construction of a mockup of project 1065, which
was duly inspected by the representatives of the technical office in January 1940,
and some weeks later, on the first of March 1940 a contract was awarded for detail
design and construction of three airframes flight testing and a static test airframe.
The official designation Me 262 been allocated to the project. At the same time,
received a prototype
contract Heinkel He 280
design, of which had been proceeding independently of work at Messerschmitt's
By this time it had become clear that BMW
had been over optimistic in its forecast of the time necessary to develop a turbojet
of sufficient reliability and power for actual flight testing. The BMW
powerplant itself, which had now been officially designated BMW
had a considerably larger diameter than originally expected, and in consequence,
it installation in the wing roots as planned by the Messerschmitt
team was no longer practical. Consequently a complete redesign of the project
was undertaken and submitted to the technical office on the 15th of May 1940.
The new proposal envisaged a larger aircraft with the turbojets housed in a centrally
mounted nacelles situated at approximately a quarter span. The fuselage was an
all metal semi-monocoque of near triangular section, with rounded corners, and
the wing, which passed through the wide fuselage base, was also an all metal structure
with a single built up I. section the mainspar and flush riveted, stressed skinning.
The mainspar embodied a few degrees of sweep back outboard of the turbojet nacelles.
The outer wing panels, being both swept and tapered and carrying automatic leading-edge
slots and Frise type ailerons. The main wheels retracted inwards into the underside
of the fuselage and the tailwheel retracted aft.
This new proposition
was acceptable to the technical office at the beginning of July 1940, and the
first metal cut was at Messerschmitt
Augsburg factory on the three Me 262 prototypes. During the following month, but
the results being obtained by BMW
with the proposed powerplant for the new aircraft were discouraging initial bench
running of the BMW 003
now revealed a maximum thrust of only 300 KG.
Nevertheless, in the summer
of 1939, Junkers
also been the recipient of a turbojet development contract, and this Jumbo
was foreseen as an alternative powerplant for the Me 262 in the event
, failing to overcome
the difficulties with the BMW
. The Jumbo
was being developed under Dr. Anselm
and embodied no novel or uncertain features in order that it could be
brought to production status as quickly as conceivable. Even at some sacrifice
in performance. Like the BMW 003
The prerequisite was for 600 KG of thrust.
was first run in November 1940, but quickly ran into severe difficulties,
and thus the availability of flight cleared turbojets could not be predicted,
in February 1941. The decision was taken to complete the first Me 262 prototype
with two Walter
HWK R II -203b
. rocket motors in stead of the BMW
turbojets. The Walter
HWK R II -203b
gave 650 KG of thrust. But as this powerplant also had to be
cleared for flying, the suggestion to perform the initial flight testing of the
Me 262 with rocket motors was discarded as it seemed likely that BMW
turbojets would be available almost as soon as the Walter
HWK R II -203b
rockets and little time would be saved.
This clip shows the Messerschmitt Me 262 on a Luftwaffe airfield, preparing to
of the Third Reich.
German Aircraft of the Second
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