No. 93 in the Warpaint series
By Kev Darling
It seems strange that the aircraft we recognise today as the Messerschmitt Me 262 nearly did not happen. Fortunately a need to change the selected engine and reconfigure the aircraft to maintain a viable centre of gravity created that unique shape. Having undergone a tortuous trial period the Me 262 would enter service with fighter units: its intended task being to shoot down as many of the aircraft in the USAAF bomber streams as possible. Unfortunately for the Luftwaffe Adolf Hitler decided to intervene and insisted that the Me 262 become a bomber - a wonder weapon. With airframes being diverted away from pure fighter duties the types impact in defending Germany was lessened. Other versions were mooted the most successful of which was the two seat night fighter that soon sprouted a forest of radar aerials on the nose. Further trials would see attempts to make the Me 262 more valuable in the ground attack role. To that end various heavy cannon were mounted in the nose to varying degrees of success while a visual bomber version with a revamped nose section complete with plexiglass nose was also tested. Reconnaissance was also another role that the Me 262 was configured for and to a certain degree it was successful. However, many of these efforts were symptomatic of a regime falling apart under great allied pressure and never came to full fruition. At the end of hostilities many intact examples were despatched to Britain and America where the survivors languish in museums. The Me 262 story is not quite over as modern flying examples with more reliable engines have since taken to the skies. This volume is fully illustrated and includes scale drawings and artwork by Richard J Caruana.