Stormbirds storming again

Me 262 Project

Efforts to build five operational Me 262 replicas are nearing fruition. The first plane, called White 1, has flown about a dozen times since January of 2003. The next plane (and first single-seater), called Tango-Tango, should make its first flight soon.

This incredible project is the result of a decade of privately-administered effort to create flight worthy examples of the Messerschmitt 262 fighter, and is now entering its final stages. Formerly subcontracted to the Texas Airplane Factory and administered by Classic Fighter Industries, Inc. the WTMF owner’s group has now assumed watch over the final, and most critical, phase of the project. Our Seattle-based team of expert designers, engineers and technicians recently completed the flight test program for the first of our five jets, while the second machine is rapidly approaching similar tests.

If you are seeking accurate, timely information from those within the project itself, you’ve come to the right place. We will be updating this site at least monthly (see the LATEST UPDATES), and adding new features throughout the year.

I don’t understand why these guys don’t have a blog. Come on…everybody’s doing it!

Here’s more info from the intro page:

The Me 262 Project was launched in 1993 with a single objective: to reproduce flying examples of the legendary Me 262. Classic Fighter Industries, Incorporated (CFII) was incorporated specifically to administer this effort, and exercised direct control over the project from 1993 until early 2001, when all assets were transferred to the owner’s group in preparation for final assembly, the test flight programs, and delivery.

Production has been strictly limited to five aircraft: once these five are complete, no more will ever be produced, now or in the future.

The airplanes are being manufactured as a continuation of the basic Me 262 design. In fact, they have even been assigned factory serial numbers drawn from the werknummern sequences used on the original 1945 production lines.

Great pains are being taken to produce aircraft which are not simply replicas, but rather true serial production representative aircraft in every possible respect. Virtually rivet for rivet, the new aircraft are duplicates of the original Me 262. With the ability to examine and copy components from a vintage source, the standard of authenticity has been exactingly maintained.

Of course, the original design suffered from some well-known weaknesses, most notably dealing with the engines and landing gear systems. These areas were studied carefully, and certain subtle modifications have been directed for operator safety and reliability. A cursory visual inspection would never reveal them, however, as these internal modifications have been tightly integrated into the original design characteristics of the aircraft.

In essence, the new Me 262s are simply representative of a natural evolution of the airframe. They are being manufactured using many of the same techniques as the originals (by hand from raw materials), and are to be precision duplicates, even down to the four nose-mounted Mk 108 cannons. The only noteworthy concession will be in the area of engine selection.

Their Photo Recon page has a number of interesting pictures taken in the late days of the war. I know air enthusiasts will probably cringe over seeing these planes wrecked or grounded, but that’s the way Murdoc likes enemy aircraft.

checkingout262.jpg

While looking for news on this project, I came across a recent story on NorthJersey.com about some USAAF mechanics at the end of the war:

After hostilities were over, a few squadron mechanics were given a hush-hush mission worthy of a movie script: find the German jets that had played havoc with Air Force bombers.

“We knew something was in the air, but we didn’t know what it was,” DeScisciolo said, referring to the Messerschmitt Me-262, the world’s first combat turbojet.

“All we were told was they [Air Force intelligence] wanted to see what made that thing tick, because they were way ahead of us,” DeScisciolo said.

“Our tech sergeant said just don’t say anything to anybody about it [the mission],” he added. “Just keep it to yourself.”

And they were successful.

On their first Me-262 recovery mission in July 1945, DeScisciolo and four mechanics struck the mother lode.

In a wooded area a half-mile from the 887th’s base in Stuttgart, Germany, the men found 30 abandoned jets.

Painted in tan and green camouflage, they resembled giant insects fast asleep in the woods.

“I was taken aback,” DeScisciolo said. “I thought, ‘My God, if all these planes had gone up, they would have raised holy hell with us.’Ÿ”

To the men’s astonishment, the jets were the Me-262A models, known as the Schwalbe, or swallow. They were fully armed and loaded with bombs.

“But there was not a drop of gas in any one of them,” DeScisciolo said. “They were bone dry.”

The men spent days methodically taking apart one of the jets and loading its parts onto a 40-foot flatbed truck.

One day, the men couldn’t retract the landing gear, so a mechanic from Chicago named Nonneman climbed into the cockpit.

As the jet’s fuselage was held off the ground by a crane, Nonneman grabbed a handle in the cockpit. There was an explosion, and Nonneman was blown 20 feet into the air.

“He grabbed the ejection handle by mistake,” DeScisciolo said. “I hit the deck. I thought the damn thing was booby-trapped.”

Nonneman, who broke his wrists when he landed on soft ground, was awarded a Purple Heart.

The men were on cloud nine after their mission.

“We were finally going to learn what made them tick,” DeScisciolo said.

The jet was shipped back to the States for evaluation, and today is on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base outside Dayton, Ohio.

Comments

  1. Well I am glad the ME-262 production run is finally coming together, but only five aircraft? Dang what a pity. Want to hear more. The writer has it wrong as to where the NASM Me-262 came from. Yellow 7, FE-111, was returned to the United States aboard HMS Reaper along with 8 other Me-262s. These aircraft were part of the tenchical windfall of Operation Lusty, the mad scramble by allies to recover Germany’s aeronautical secrets. Source: Messerschmitt Me 262: Arrow to the Future by Walter J. Boyne. 1980 Smithsonian Institution Press.

  2. And I think I need sleep. The USAF Me-262 also was part of Operation Lusty just as FE-4012 from Planes of Fame. There I go again, haring off on a tangent. Mea culpa.