Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe 'Swallow'
National origin:- Germany Role:- Fighter aircraft and fighter-bomber Manufacturer:- Messerschmitt First flight:- 18 April 1941 with piston engine 18 July 1942 with jet engines Introduction:- April 1944 Retired:- Retired 1945, Germany 1951, Czechoslovakia Primary users:- Luftwaffe Czechoslovak Air Force (S-92) Produced between 1940â€“1945:- 3,514 Variants:- Nakajima Ki-116
The Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe ("Swallow") was the world's first operational jet-powered fighter aircraft. Design work started before World War II began, but engine problems meant the aircraft did not reach operational status until mid-1944. Compared with Allied fighters of its day, including the jet-powered Gloster Meteor, it was much faster and better armed.
In combat, when properly flown, it proved difficult to counter due to its speed. Me 262 pilots claimed a total of 509 Allied kills (although higher claims are sometimes made) against the loss of about 100 Me 262s. The design was pressed into a variety of roles, including light bomber, reconnaissance and even experimental night fighter versions.
The Me 262 is considered to have been the most advanced German aviation design in operational use during World War II. The Allies countered its potential effectiveness in the air by relentlessly attacking the aircraft on the ground, or while they were taking off or landing. Maintenance during the deteriorating war situation and a lack of fuel also reduced the effectiveness of the aircraft as a fighting force. In the end, the Me 262 had a negligible impact on the course of the war due to its late introduction and the small numbers that were deployed in operational service.
Editor for Asisbiz: Matthew Laird Acred
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