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Me-262: First Flight
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The historic Me 262 Schwalbe (Swallow) was the first jet-powered aircraft to see combat. The project began in 1938 when Messerschmitt was called upon to design a new fighter powered by two gas turbine engines being developed by B.M.W. The configuration eventually chosen featured a sleek streamlined fuselage with the two podded engines carried beneath a low-mounted wing. 

Although the airframe was ready to fly by 1941, the early B.M.W. turbojet engines were well behind schedule due to prolonged development delays. German designers instead chose to make the first flights using a single piston engine located in the nose. These early flights confirmed the good handling characteristics of the Me 262 and allowed other systems to be tested until the jet engines were finally ready a year later. Being conservative, the designers decided to keep the piston engine in the nose as a backup. Luckily, this move paid off. On its first jet-powered flight, the Me 262 had barely become airborne using the combined power of all three engines when both jets failed. The auxiliary piston engine provided just enough power to make a safe landing, thereby saving the plane for future testing. 

It is a common misconception that the Me 262 might have won the war if Adolf Hitler had not delayed the project by insisting the aircraft be used as a bomber. Though Hitler's demand did play a role in slowing the Me 262, as did the indifference of key Luftwaffe leaders, it was continuing problems developing the jet engines that provided the greatest impediment to the program. However, Junkers had finally developed engines of sufficient power and reliability by late 1943 to make the new fighter feasible. 

The successful flight took place early morning July 18th 1942 Fritz Wendell started the take-off run and after 800 m reached the take-off speed. Pilot found that elevator was totally ineffective and he could not get the aircraft's tail off ground, so he had to break. One of the members of the test flight team offered that Wendell should break quickly when reaching the take-off speed – that would make aircraft to “nod” and raise the tail. The idea worked just fine and at 8.40 am Me.262 took off successfully for the first time in history using jet thrust.  12 minutes later Wendell landed and reported: “Right after pressing brakes aircraft's tail raised and I “got the feeling” of the elevator. Turbojet engines were running like clockwork and aircraft sensitivity was great. I have never experienced such an enthusiasm during the first flight on any plane but Me.262”.

During the war the Me.262 (fighter modifications) killed about 150 air targets while own losses were about 100.  There are several reasons to this: low skill level and jet experience of most of the pilots flying it, the Jumo-004 engines were pretty unreliable, lack of supply – while Germany was suffering defeat, fighter squadrons did not receive enough supplies. The battle efficiency of the Me.262 was so low that it had not even been mentioned in battle reports kept.

From July 18th 6pm GMT (11am PDT) to July 19th 6pm GMT (11am PDT) War Thunder presents special event:

 

  • Experience bonus +50% for the following aircraft: Me-262, Yak-15, Me.163, ki-200, Meteor F.3

 

War Thunder Team

 

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