A jet fighter that could affect the fate of World War II
In more than 100 years of aviation history, several innovations were real milestones that totally changed the image of aviation. One such example is without doubt introducing a jet engine. Messerschmitt Me 262 was the first combat aircraft used in this type of propulsion. A machine to help Hitler win World War II.
The early beginnings of jet technology
Contrary to popular opinion, jet engines were created relatively soon after the first Wright brothers plane crashed into the air. The first type of construction that can be classified as a full fledged jet engine is the work of English builder Sir Frank Whittle. In 1930 he designed and patented the first jet engine, initially designated as WU, and then W.1. This extremely simple from today’s perspective, the design with centrifugal compressor for its first flight onboard the Gloster E.28 / 39 jet had to wait more than 10 years. Faster, as already in August 1939, his first flight was made German experimental aircraft Heinkel He 178. It became the first jet aircraft in the world. Thus the German engineers overrun their English rivals. And real development of this type of construction was supposed to come only in times of World War II.
Messerschmitt Me-262 – how was the first mass-produced jet fighter of the world?
The experience gained during the design and flight study of He 178 was later added to the design of the Messerschmitt Me 262. Conceptual work on this plane began in 1938. The first hull pattern was presented a year later. After obtaining approval of the authorities of the Third Reich, the construction and testing of the first flight was commenced. The delay in the parallel-to-air engines of the Me-262 resulted in the Messerschmitt’s self-propelled fleets having flown with a 700 hp piston-type engine. Only jet engines powered by jet engines had to wait until July 1942. Junkers engines with the designation Jumo 004 were compliant with this version (previously the BMW gas turbines were abandoned due to their serious failure).
This innovative design still needed nearly a year to be fully ready for mass production. During this time, it was tested and tested on the fly. This process lasted for an additional six months, when unexpectedly Hitler ordered a change of concept and the fighter-bomber Me-262 was to become a bomber. This pointless time-saving decision by the German criminal had made this jet-set wonderfully enter the war arena much later.
And in order to have a few problems, after a few months of trial runs, another problem appeared. Fighting on several fronts of the Third Reich was struggling with the lack of certain strategic materials that hit other, more prominent targets. Here are heat resistant and heat resistant feet with tungsten, chromium or molybdenum. It was necessary to replace them with other less durable materials from which turbines and combustion chambers were built. This, in turn, resulted in numerous engine failures, which again shifted into Me 262.
What was the first mass-produced jet to stand out against other WWII fighter jets?
The jet engine made it possible to achieve immense speeds. Although the Me 262 cruise speed was estimated at 835 km / h, tests have shown that it can handle up to 900 km / h.
At these speeds began to appear the sound effects that aviation engineers learned to fight only after the war. For comparison, the P-51 Mustang, regarded by many as the best fighter of the World War II, flew at a speed of about 700 km / h.
The enormous thrust was not only the speed, but also the load. This aircraft could carry up to four heavy mortars of MK 108 caliber 30 mm, including 24 unmanned R4M air-to-air missiles. In some versions, there was also the possibility of transferring 500 kg of bomb load or additional installation of the bow of the 50 mm bow. It’s all about a “reasonable” range of about 1000 km. There is also a ceiling (ranging from 11.5 to 12 km). These three characteristics: speed, weight and ceiling made the Me 262 a perfect fit for the attacker’s surprise bomber team.
How did Me-262 terrorized the American bombers?
For Hitler’s baptism, Hitler’s miraculous jet had to wait until 1944. The first victim of this unusual machine was the British reconnaissance aircraft de Havilland Mosquito. Later it was only “better”. Literature says that until the end of the war, Me 262 pilots recorded between 700 and even a thousand shootings with the loss of just 100 machines in direct combat. This gives an impressive indicator of about 8-9 shots per plane. This is largely due to the huge flight speed, high lifting capacity (which translates to more parcels and ammunition) and high ceilings. These features have often been used to attack groups of bombers flying in strong escorts. The Allied pilots, unaware of the technical capabilities of the Me 262, were in every way subjected to the power of the flying wonders of German technology. The only noticeable advantage of American and English machines was the much greater maneuverability, which in the immediate clash afforded any chance of survival. The Messerschmitt Me-262, due to the high speed of flight, the shape of the fuselage and the distribution of masses was very heavy in flight and difficult to maneuver.
The most modern fighter of the Second World War could have changed a lot, but it came too late
So what made this machine not contribute to the victory of the weakening Third Reich? Reasons were at least a few. Among them can be distinguished … the bad decisions of Adolf Hitler himself. This had a vision in which the Me-262 would be an incredibly fast bomber blowing the defenseless cities of the Allies. Constructing an almost ready-made fighter consumed valuable time, which the country faced in the impending defeat, simply did not. It was only after some time that the concept of a fast fighter attacking a group of bombers came back.
The exploitation of new types of engines has also proved to be embarrassing. The imperfections of the German material technology of the time meant that Me-262 engines used materials that could not cope with the extreme conditions of the jet engine. These are mainly the components of combustion chambers and turbines, where the temperature was above 1700 degrees Celsius. This resulted in numerous deformations of the elements rotating at enormous speeds. Me-262 engines withstand from 25 to 50 hours of operation. After that time, they were usually replaced or refurbished.
The development of the Me 262 fleet has also stopped Allied raids. It was assumed that in the holiday 1945 Messerschmitta plants would be able to produce a whopping 1000 aircraft per month. Reality was quite different. The Allies, in the course of their raids, carefully selected targets, so often bombs fell on the Me 262 production sites. Effective production rates ranged from a dozen to several dozens of machines per month. The original production plans have destroyed the end of the war and the fall of the Third Reich.
A major problem was the lack of kerosene. The last 1.5 years of the war is the constant struggle of the Germans to keep fuel supplies. The first generations of jet propulsion consumed enormous amounts of fuel, and up to two engines were used for the Me 262. So huge quantities of raw material were needed for exploitation, which was very little.