High speed German fighters that appeared in the skies over Europe in the final years of WW II that had no visible propellers perplexed and terrified the first bomber crews that encountered these fast new jets. The Me 262 was the first jet powered fighter in the world, making its maiden flight on July 18, 1942. Fortunately for the Allies, it took well over a year for the new jet to eventually reach active service in early 1944. Though the British had jets in development, none to this point were much of an improvement over what the best existing fighters had to offer. Hitler’s intervening to force the production of a bomber version of the Me 262, for which it was ill-conceived, was only one of the many reasons development took so long for the new jet.
Capable of attaining 870 km/h, the 262 dramatically outpaced anything the Allies had to offer. Armed with four 30 mm cannon it took only a few hits from the 262 to down a four engine bomber. Though the Me 262 accounted for some 542 aircraft shot down (some claims exceed that number), the reality was that by the time the new jet was serviceable, attrition among experienced pilots was such that few were qualified to handle these new aircraft. Also, specialized maintenance crews, adequate air bases from which to operate and dwindling fuel supplies were increasingly scarce in the last stages of the war. The situation was such that Hitler’s miracle weapon, despite its advanced design, was not going to have a major influence on the outcome. It was the classic story of ‘too little, too late’.
The model depicted is ‘White – 3’ and was flown by Oberfahnrich Hans Guido Mutke of Staffel III JG7 Furstenfildbruk, April, 1945.