Messerschmitt Me 262: Development and Politics

Published on
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
Dan Sharp
ISBN
978-1-911658276
E-Book ISBN
1911658271
Other Publication Information
Hard Bound, 8.625” x 12”, 328 pages
MSRP
$45.00
Company: Mortons Books - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Casemate Publishers - Website: Visit Site
Cover

Mortons Media Group was established in the 19th century and has been producing book-length publications since the early 2000s. The company established a dedicated books division in 2019 and Mortons Books has already earned a reputation for publishing high-quality titles by authors who are true experts in their field. For the best reads on rail, aviation, nostalgia and history, look no further. This book is part of their imprint: Tempest Books addresses all aspects of aviation history are covered in authoritative detail. The aviators and aircraft of the Second World War are profiled by our titles alongside more modern fighters, bombers, reconnaissance aircraft and transports. 'Secret projects' and experimental designs are also an important part of the Tempest Books portfolio.

Dan Sharp studied history at the University of Liverpool and has worked as a writer and editor since 1998. Having spent several years as the news editor of a regional daily newspaper, he switched to motorcycle magazines. As a hobby he began doing primary source research that has resulted in quite a few historical aviation books. These include Cold War – Sex, Spies and Nuclear Missiles (2013), Messerschmitt Me 262: Secret Projects and Experimental Prototypes (2013), Messerschmitt Bf 109: Secret Projects and Experimental Prototypes (2013), Dueling Above the Trenches – Sopwith Aircraft of the Great War (2014), D-Day Operation Overlord and the Battle for Normandy (2014), Luftwaffe Secret Jets of the Third Reich (2015), Spitfires Over Berlin (2015), The Hated Volksjäger: Histories of the Heinkel He 162 (2015), and Luftwaffe – Secret Bombers of the Third Reich (2016). Dan Sharp currently lives in Nottinghamshire with his wife and two children.

This tome represents an outgrowth of Tempest Books Secret Projects of the Luftwaffe. Volume 1 by Dan Sharp covered Jet Fighters 1939-1945 (2020). Volume 2 in this series covers Bombers 1939 – 45, again by Dan Sharp. This Volume covering the Messerschmitt Me 262 was either released as Volume 3, or has been re-issued in the last year without the heading of “Secret Projects of the Luftwaffe”. This portrait hard cover book features a gorgeous cover painting of the Me 262 head-on by Piotr Forkasiewicz. The rear cover features four black and white photographs that are included within the book. I counted 295 black and white photographs, 19 color period pictures, and two tables.

Dan Sharp addresses the development of the Me 262, beginning with the Messerschmitt’s project P 65 initiation in 1938. Politics always affects the development of any aircraft, usually in the negative, and Dan certainly brings this element to the forefront. This latest released is based in Dan Sharp’s diligent research involving thousands of archival technical documents and avoids previous publications. Doing so provides a new look at the development of the Me 262.

Early designs, Projektubergabe P 65, looked at the engines mounted in the wings, as seen at the bottom of Page 33. A benefit of this approach was improved ground clearance that did not require the eventual tricycle landing gear. The wind tunnel model above is notable with its non-swept wing and its engine nacelles slung underneath the wing. The early vertical tail fin configuration is also interesting. The wing mounted engines continued to be explored into mid-1942, even after the Me 262 V1 had flown with its engine nacelles below the wings. Also notable is the 35-degree sweep of the wings that was in Project Office’s Hans Joachim Puffert’s report of July 20, 1942. Of course, at the time of the Me 262’s first flight, Messerschmitt was still in the dog-house do to the failure of the Me 210 heavy fighter.

Tail flutter continued to be a concern resulting in a second test in September 1943 at Lake Constance. The wingless Messerschmitt Me 262 V4 was fitted upside down to a bomb shackle on a Messerschmitt Me 263 Gigant [See Page 110]. The side profile drawing above the photograph describes some of the modification made to the Me 262 V4, including the 2,000-pound ballast weight in the nose and the deceleration rockets. A Heinkel He 111 Z helped the Gigant achieve 23,000’ in altitude where the Me 262 V4 was dropped. Mach 0.82 [560mph] in freef all was achieved and rocket assisted higher speeds were planned. Three parachutes were installed, however, only one functioned, resulting in the loss of the Me 262 V4. The loss of the Me 262 V4 negatively impacted the operational use of the Me 262 by nine-months as pilots were quite reluctant to fly the Me 262 at top speed due to the tail flutter concerns.

The drawings at the top of Page 185 show off the proposed V-Tail for the Me 262 HG ‘High Speed’ variant where the engines were to be relocated to the wing root and a 35-degree wing sweep was to be implemented. Wind tunnel testing did not support any improvements in stability for the V-Tail arrangement, and additional work on the Me 262 HG returned to the production tail design. The photograph at the bottom of the page depicts the Baldrian twin microphone antenna for acoustic location of prey. This system had originally been tested in the Me 262 V1. Testing in Me 262 w-n 170079 were surprisingly successful with the pilot being able to follow the cockpit display easily. Unfortunately for Messerschmitt, USAAF bombers returned to Lechfeld and 170079 sustained 60% damage. The Baldrian antennae system was also installed on w-n 110555 along with a ‘Lofte’ nose. Additional studies on the High Speed program led to the Me 262 HG III which is depicted on Page 246. This wind tunnel testing model shows off the wing root engines and the 45-degree wing sweep. Improved aerodynamics were expected to deliver improved fuel efficiency, higher top speed, and a higher operational ceiling.

The sections include:

  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction
  • Jets Versus Piston Engines
  • A Skewed History
  • Chapter 1: Origins: 1938 to January 1941
    • Projektubergabe P 65
    • Projektbaubeschreibung
    • Projektubergabe II P 65 [Page 033]
    • Projektubergabe III P 65
  • Chapter 2: Distractions: January 1941 to May 1942
    • The Biggest Distraction
    • First Flight With Jets
    • Messerschmitt’s Censure
  • Chapter 3: Turning Point: May 1942 to May 1943 [Page 059]
    • From Me 309 to Me 209
    • Complete Redesign
    • More Engines Than Airframes
    • Me 262 Fighter-Bomber
    • Beyond the Me 262
    • Projektubergabe IV
    • Galland’s Flight
  • Chapter 4: Messerschmitt Versus the Me 262: May 1943 to August 1943
    • Me 262 Replacement
    • Jumo’s Engine Programme
    • Jigs and the Altitude Question
    • The Altitude Question Persists
    • Messerschmitt Drags Its Heels
    • Electro-Acoustic Detection
    • Preparing for Production
    • Design Changes
    • Hitler’s First Intervention
    • Me 262 A-1
    • Me 262 A-2
  • Chapter 5: Hitler and the Me 262 Fighter-Bomber: August 1943 to December 1943
    • Making Jet Engines
    • Me 262 with BK 5 (or 5.5)
    • The Variants
    • Reconnaissance
    • Fast Bombers
    • Interceptors
    • Trainer
    • Flight Tests [Page 110]
    • Hitler Wants a Fighter-Bomber
    • Support From Goring
    • Every Me 262 A Fighter-Bomber
    • Insterburg Demo
    • Me 209 Cancelled Again
    • Conscription
    • Weapons Installation
    • Zwiebel Tests Continue
  • Chapter 6: Into Production: January 1944 to April 1944
    • SE 3 Action and Machine Tools
    • Flight Testing
    • High-Speed Research
    • Augsburg Bombed
    • Jagerstab
    • Ongoing Developments
    • Panzerflugzeug
    • P 1099
    • P 1100
  • Chapter 7: From Fighter-Bomber to Bomber: April 1944 to June 1944
    • Flight Testing Continues
    • Me 262 Heimatschutzer III
    • Letter To Cambeis
    • Me 262 D-1
    • Me 262 With HES 011
    • Me 262 Panzerflugzeug II
    • The Problem with Bombs
    • The Problem with Bombs Part II
    • Hitler’s Decision
    • The 14 Stages of Me 262 Production Set Out in April 1944
  • Chapter 8: Teething Pains: June 1944 to September 1944
    • Two-Seat Me 262 Bomber
    • Saur Takes Charge
    • Project Status
    • The Lotfe Kanzel
    • Bomb Rack Woes
    • Night Operations
    • High-Speed Developments
    • TSA 2 Computer
    • SE 4 Action
    • Low Build Quality
    • Me 609 At Regensburg
    • Manufacturing Defects
    • Production Shortfall
    • Me 262 B-2 Night Fighters
    • Baldrian Flights [Page 185]
    • Bombing Raid
  • Chapter 9: Finally A Fighter: September 1944 to December 1944
    • Wooden Parts
    • Hitler Relents – A Little
    • Another HG Plea
    • Interim Night Fighter
    • Complaints
    • Nosewheel Problems
    • Me 262 HG I Conversion
    • More Complaints
    • New Test Vehicles
    • Me 262 Variants As Of November 1944
    • Hitler Finally Gives In
    • Me 262 With X-4 or Hs 298
    • 26 Out Of 30 Aircraft Lost
    • Further Testing
    • Me 262 With M-Wing
    • Me 262 A-3 Testing
    • Night Fighter Mock-Up
    • Me 262 HG III Design
    • Engine Shortage
    • Winter Testing
    • The Future of Fighters
    • Mistel 4
  • Chapter 10: To The Limit: January to February 1945
    • Night Fighter Competition
    • Hitler’s Micromanagement
    • Project In January
    • Mk 108 Versus Mk 103 + MG 151
    • Emergency Programme
    • Me 262 With Ramjets
    • Production Cutbacks
    • More Bad Weather
    • Me 262 For Extreme Range
    • ME 262 HG II [Page 246]
    • Me 262 Nachtjager Mit HeS 011
    • Me 262 A-5A (Serie)
    • Gollob’s Night Fighter Demands
    • New Commissioner
  • Chapter 11: The End: March to May 1945
    • 3-Seather Night Fighter
    • Leadership Changes
    • Me 262 Sturmvogel
    • Final Reports
    • The End of Development
  • Appendix I: Me 262 ‘Snaking’
    • Personnel Interviewed:
      • Hoffman
      • Hoerstke
      • Baur
      • Tilch
      • Eisenmann
      • Doetsch
  • Appendix II: The Me 262 As A Combat Aircraft
    • Technical Features
    • Tankage
    • Modified Control Stick
    • Gyroscopic Gun Sight – EZ 42
    • Automatic Throttle Control
    • Rocket Assisted Start
    • Performance Calculator
    • New Type Parachutes
    • Flying Qualities
    • Take-Off and Landing Distances
    • Service Ceiling
    • Servicing
    • Operation On One Jet Unit
    • Armament
    • Tactical Employment of the Me 262
    • Employment of the Me 262 By J.V.44 To Attack U.S.A.A.F. Bombers
    • The Use of the Me 262 To Combat Allied Fighters and Fighter-Bombers
    • Use of the Me 262 As A Shallow Dive-Bomber and Ground Strafing Aircraft
    • Air-To-Air Bombing With the Me 262
    • Bombs Tested
    • Fuses
    • Bomb Sight
    • Tactics
    • Fighter Pilot Training for the Me 262
  • Appendix III: Postwar Notes on Me 262 Development
    • Fuselages
    • Pressure Cabins
    • Engine Nacelles
    • Wings
    • Ailerons and Elevators
    • Stabilizing Fins
    • Undercarriages-Tricycle Types
    • Retraction Problems
    • Tyres
    • Wheels
    • Gun Mountings
    • Cavitation Research
  • Appendix IV: Me 262 Production
  • Appendix V: Handling the Me 262
    • Pilot’s Notes on the Me 262 by Pflug Kapitan Wendel
  • Appendix VI: A Note About the ‘New’ V-Series
  • Appendix VII: Me 262 For Japan
    • The Me 262
  • Endnotes
  • Bibliography
  • Index

I have to admit I have no shortage of Me 262 books, including the Classic Publication’s 5-Volume series. I still find that this new book adds a lot to the story of the Me 262. What I really enjoyed were the plentiful first-person accounts and the affect that politics had on the development pipeline. While you may have seen some of the topics before, the way Dan Sharp interweaves the development path with the inevitable political drama was fantastic. This book took me a full week to read and I enjoyed every minute of it. Model wise, there is no shortage of the many variants discussed in both 1/72 and 1/48. Amusing Hobby even has a 1/48 scale model kit of the Me 262 HG III that was recently released. If you are interested in the Messerschmitt Me 262, this is an essential volume for both the aviation historian and the scale modeler.

My thanks to Casemate, Mortons Books, and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great book.

Highly recommended!

Comments

Submitted by Dennis Wallentin (not verified) on Tue, 2023-02-28 08:54

Permalink

Many thanks for this excellent review. Although I have read several books on the subject it appears that the author brings new information and knowledge to the Light. Not many new books do that today.

Best Regards, 

Dennis 

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