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Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe (Swallow) Fighter

History

The Messerschmitt 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 had 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 contract.

The project 1065 outlined an all metal low wing cantilever monoplane with a fully retractable tailwheel and undercarriage and two BMW P 3302 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, Heinkel received a prototype contract Heinkel He 280 design, of which had been proceeding independently of work at Messerschmitt's Augsburg factory.

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 P 3302 powerplant itself, which had now been officially designated BMW 003 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 had now revealed a maximum thrust of only 300 KG.

Nevertheless, in the summer of 1939, Junkers, had also been the recipient of a turbojet development contract, and this Jumbo 004 was foreseen as an alternative powerplant for the Me 262 in the event of BMW, failing to overcome the difficulties with the BMW 003. The Jumbo 004 was being developed under Dr. Anselm Franz 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.

The Jumbo 004 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 003 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 003 turbojets would be available almost as soon as the Walter HWK R II -203b rockets and little time would be saved.

Gallery

Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe (Swallow) Fighter picture 2
Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe (Swallow) Fighter picture 3
Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe (Swallow) Fighter picture 4
Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe (Swallow) Fighter picture 5
Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe (Swallow) Fighter picture 6
Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe (Swallow) Fighter picture 7

Film Footage Gallery

This clip shows the Messerschmitt Me 262 on a Luftwaffe airfield, preparing to take off.











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Sources

The Warplanes of the Third Reich.
ISBN-10: 0385057822

German Aircraft of the Second World War.
ISBN-10: 0370000242

Hitler's Luftwaffe.
ISBN-10: 051718771X

For a complete list of sources
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