Playing Devils Advocate - Why was the M262 so "advanced"?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Waynos, Jul 24, 2009.

  1. Waynos

    Waynos Active Member

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    #1 Waynos, Jul 24, 2009
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2009
    It is often said, and rarely argued or even properly explained, that the Me 262 was a massive technological leap forward over all other contemporary fighters.

    I wanted to quantify this and know there are many on the forum who have researched it far more deeply than me (you know who you are :) )

    So the question I simply put is 'Why?'

    Just to put a bit of meat on the bones of the topic I'll give voice some of my 'objections'.

    Was it the swept wing?

    I would say no. The 262, like the Me 163, did not employ a swept wing for transonic drag alleviation, which would be the 'advanced' reason. It was just a balance an control feature, exactly the same as the Westland Pterodactyl, or even the Monospar ST 18 we had in the ID thread recently.

    Of course Germany did know about the benefits of swept wings for high speed aircraft and was working to use it long before anyone else, but this was on the Ta 183 and P.1101, not this.

    Was it the engines?

    They were flawed due to the materials used (out of necessity) but they were of the modern concept, being axial flow rather than centrifugal. However they were not unique as they followed the same pattern as the Metrovick Beryl which was tested on a Meteor prototype and ulitmately developed into the Sapphire and J65. I know the engines were the basis of the Russian turbojet programme but am not aware of any real influence in the west.

    What about the general configuration?

    Actually I think this is one of the Me262's LEAST advanced features. The general design still follows the 1930's pattern and features the pilot being accomodated on the cg, just like all the combatant piston fighters that preceded it. It was even designed to have a tailwheel until the design was modified. At a stretch, and only in this respect, you could say that Gloster were more advanced as a tricycle undercarriage and 'pilot in the nose' layout that was universdally adopted later on was not only a feature of the Meteor from the start, but also of the E28/39 as well.

    So there are the roots of my question. There is certainly more to the 262 than the three questions I have posed, but they are the reasons I often see given for its 'advancement' and which therefore lead me to question it overall.

    Educate me guys!:twisted:
     
  2. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    Its performance and its firepower gave it a very convincing edge
     
  3. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    Had it been put to use as a fighter earlier, I think it would have had a significant effect on the daylight bomber formations. It's speed was unmatched by other fighters of the day and the benefit of that is that it can get you out of trouble fast when needed. And in air combat, getting out of a bad situation fast could mean the difference between life and death.

    The metals that were used in the engine were because of what was available. If they had the needed tungsten, would it have been better? Likely so.

    The Me-262 ushered in the age of jet fighter designs. While not perfect, it was the start. It was used more than any other jet fighter of the second world war. I know part of that was out of necessity, but the fact remains that the Me-262 was a tough opponent for the allies.
     
  4. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    #4 drgondog, Jul 24, 2009
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2009
    The Me 262 combined very clean aerodynamic design with the swept wing and the jet engines to achieve its deserved status as the best fighter of the war.

    It in fact did have the sweep for the design purpose of increasing its critical mach number - at least there is signigicant body of documentation that the sweep was not there simply to alter the aerordynamic center of the wing. They could have moved the wing aft to achieve that purpose.

    The Me 262 and P-80 both were very clean and had slightly lower parasite drag than the Mustang.

    As flawed as the materials in the jet engines were, they enabled tremendous perforformance when combined with the aerodynamics. Had the 262 been equipped with twin Jumo (or Merlins) it may have certainly achieved high 400mph, maybe low 500mph level flight - but the jet engines it flew with gave it a threshold level flight of the contemporary fighter in an all out dive (at least design limit dives).
     
  5. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    The Me-262 entered combat (albeit in limited numbers) during 1944. At that time it was about 100 mph faster then contemporary fighter aircraft. How many other WWII era fighter aircraft can claim a 100 mph advantage over their rivals?
     
  6. beaupower32

    beaupower32 Well-Known Member

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    #6 beaupower32, Jul 24, 2009
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2009
    Just some info I have found.

    Although it is often stated the Me 262 is a "swept wing" Designthe production Me 262 had a leading edge sweep of only 18.5°. This was done primarily to properly position the center of lift relative to the centre of mass and not for the aerodynamic benefit of increasing the critical Mach number of the wing. The sweep was too slight to achieve any significant advantage. This happened after the initial design of the aircraft, when the engines proved to be heavier than originally expected. On 1 March 1940, instead of moving the wing forward on its mount, the outer wing was positioned slightly backwards to the same end. The middle section of the wing remained unswept.. Based on data from the AVA Göttingen and windtunnel results, the middle section was later swept.


    As IS THE CASE with the airframe of the Me-262, the Junkers Jumo 004 axial flow gas turbine jet power plant is a compromise between design desire and available materials and production facilities. Outstanding evidence of compromises resulting from lack of materials is the fact that more than 7% of the air taken in is bled off for cooling purposes. Despite this, however, most engines were found to have a service life of about only 10 hr., against a “design life” of 25 – 35 hr. Additional compromises are evident in the design, which shows that the production engineer – undoubtedly hampered by lack of both plant facilities and adequate skilled labor – has been as important a factor in its construction as was the designer. But the Germans had made real progress in overcoming materials difficulties, for just after they capitulated that development of a new alloy of excellent heatresistant qualities had made it possible to get up to 150 hr. service in actual flight tests, and up to 500 hr. on the test stand.
     
  7. Waynos

    Waynos Active Member

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    #7 Waynos, Jul 24, 2009
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2009
    Apart from drgondog you chaps all seem to be answering a question I'm not asking. I am not questioing its performance, its firepower or its potential. I even noted the engine materials in my first post too. All of that is a matter of record and plain to see.

    I am not asking if, or even why, it was the best fighter. It plainly was and certainly made the Meteor I look very predestrian.

    The adjective that always gets thrown about though is that it was 'advanced'. That is my question.

    drgndog - every single source I have seen (which I admit can only be a small fraction of those available) specifically details that the wing was NOT swept for that reason. I am not sure they could have simply moved the wing as you say, that would certainly be a much more involved redesign than simply cranking the angle a bit. Also, I don't know if this is a red herring or not, but I am struck at how, on examination, there is nothing specifically 'swept' about the design of the wing outboard of the engines. For instance the tip shape and aileron shape etc, it looks as if it would have been perfectly happy if also fitted straight . You could not say this of the F-86 or P.1101 wing for example as they are clearly designed with sweep in mind. Does that makes sense as an explanation of what I'm trying to say, as I'm not particularyl technical?

    As I understand it the first use by Messerschmitt of swept wing aerodynamics to increase performance was the P.1070, the 262 was the P.1065.The P.1070''s nosewheel was incorporated into the later tricycle 262's following the earlier prototypes, but how about the wing design? Did that also change between the tailwheel and nosewheel versions?

    Maybe I should also add that I think the the P.1101 and the Ta 183 were extremely advanced designs in the true sense and certainly contributed a great deal to the general advancement of fighter design. I just think that the level of advancement in the 262 (and 163) is a bit overstated.

    edit; Beaupower 32, thats what I was getting at too.
     
  8. Messy1

    Messy1 Well-Known Member

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    Looking back on it 60 plus year later, it may not seem all that revolutionary of a design. We have had 6 decades of advancement and design evolution to compare it too. But for early 1940's technology, this was on the cutting edge. But to those pilots who had grown up with piston powered planes, can you imagine their surprise the first time they encountered one of these in the air over Europe. It must have been both shocking, scary, and also something to be admired. 100 mph advantage over it's opponents finest front line fighters at the time? That was unheard of. What would that speed advantage amount to in today's world of mach 2 plus aircraft? Mach 3 or 4 for a fighter in comparison?
     
  9. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    My sentiments too.
     
  10. Waynos

    Waynos Active Member

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    #10 Waynos, Jul 24, 2009
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2009
    And mine.

    Messy. I don't even mean from todays perspective. I mean from its contemporaries.

    Yes, it was faster and more capable, but what was it specifically that made it really advanced in comparison with its contemporaries? Is the 'fact' of its being so that ingrained on us all that the question is beyond comprehension?

    I'll try to illustrate my question with a different example;

    In modern fighter performance and general capability the Typhoon, the Rafale, The Su 35 and the Raptor are all broadly comparable. However the F-22 is much more advanced than any of the other three. This is entirely because of its unique low observable design and the exotic materials used in its construction, also the aerodynamics of the aircraft are far more refined than any of its rivals and contribute greatly to this LO aspect that all the others lack. Such has been the impact of this that it is now inconceivable that a fighter today could be desifgned any other way (look at the Sukhoi Pak Fa)

    In the case of the Me 262 its performance and firepower make it stand head and shoulders above all its enemies (most respondants so far seem to be missing this point and think I am trying to say it wasn't all that good. If you think this is what the thread is about, please go back to post 1 and start again).

    It was not however the only, or even the first, with a trike undercart or jet engines and it didn't have a 'proper' swept wing (one WAS designed for it but that version never flew). So what exactly was so advanced? My own feeling is that it was the ultimate expression of the current state of the art (as exemplified by the existing Meteor, He 280, P-59 etc) rather than being genuinely an advancement in design. I think the real advances were just on the cusp of completion but the Me 262, by being impressive in its own right, has inherited the mantle by default.
     
  11. Messy1

    Messy1 Well-Known Member

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    Maybe the design was not that advanced. But too me it's greatest advance is the performance advantage it had over it's enemies fighters it encountered. I know that is not where you are wanting this to go, but for me it's speed is what made it advanced, it's what made the plane. It took the whole design of the plane to achieve that. Was it a huge step technically? Maybe not. Was it a big step, it has to be. If the Me262 did not have such a speed advantage, if it was only capable of say high or mid 400 mph flight, would it remembered as such a historic plane and such a wonder weapon of Germany as it has been made out to be? Probably not and it would not have been put on as a high pedestal as it has been. It was not a dogfigther in the traditional sense of the word, it did have it's faults. But it was the first step into a whole new realm of air combat. I also think that if it had not been that advanced of a design, so many of it's attributes would not have found their way into other planes, or influenced designs. Interesting thread too by the way.
     
  12. Waynos

    Waynos Active Member

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    #12 Waynos, Jul 24, 2009
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2009
    Yes, that is exactly the way I am thinking. I am not questioing anyone that says its level of performance and capability was a huge improvement over everything else, for that is how I see it. The best performing fighter of the entire war, and by some margin.

    Its the description of it as 'technologically advanced' that I cannot reconcile.

    What, from the 262, would you say influenced or found its way onto future types? This is something I've tried to work out for myself but the ones I can think of were all done before somewhere else.

    Thanks, I don't do many. Maybe this will end up showing why :D
     
  13. red admiral

    red admiral Member

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    #13 red admiral, Jul 24, 2009
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2009
    The Me 262 isn't particularly advanced over contemporary aircraft. There were some incremental improvements over previous generation piston engined aircraft in the aerodynamics (thinner wings for higher Mcrit), but pretty much everything else is technology you'd find on a piston engined aircraft. The jets engines gave it a performance advantage, but this doesn't make it advanced as such. The Meteor is in exactly the same position.

    Tungsten was for armour piercing projectiles. Nickel and Chromium were of more concern for jet engines. Its worth pointing out that the Germans stuck with high temperature stainless steels for turbine blades (like Whittle's W.1), they never developed nickel superalloys like Nimonic and Inconel. It wasn't from lack of materials, it just wasn't done, it was only done (at first) by a single British company. Nickel superalloys were a British advancement, something new and better. The Germans started developing hollow air cooled blades, this was also an advancement.

    I think it's worth noting that the German technological advances with regards to aviation are widely publicised, whereas very similar contemporary work elsewhere is hardly known about.

    Pretty much only the MiG I-260 and Su-9/11/13 were influenced directly by the Me 262, the first wasn't built, the second family didn't see much success. Its more a case of "the Me 262 has jets. I've got to get me some of those". Aside from being a jet aircraft, there were no other special advanced features to adopt.
     
  14. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    I think the only area that it was really more advanced (other than the obvious stuff such as engines, etc) is the design itself. I mean the design was the future. Does that make sense? :lol:

    Take a contemporary piston aircraft and compare the design to the Me 262. The Me 262 is a lot cleaner and more "advanced" design. Was it more advanced electrically, avionics, etc.. Not really.
     
  15. Waynos

    Waynos Active Member

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    At the risk of looking like I'm contradicting myself, wouldn't you say that the narrow chord wings of the Me 262 were more modern in design than those of the Meteor? This in itself is not an advancement as narrow chord wings hwere already in fairly widespread use but aI did always think the wing of the Meteor was slightly 'backward'.


    Thanks for that, it is a point I had entirely missed.

    Quoted for truth.



    I disagree on the Sukhoi (I haven't really looked at the MiG you mentioned) The only reason the Su-9 resembles the Me 262 is its engine nacelles and nosewheel, and even then only side on. If you look at the rest of the Su-9 it is not only different, but entirely different in concept and execution from the Me 262 (it has a completely straight, broad chord wing, narrow oval fuselage section, round tail etc) If you hang 262 style nacelles (and they were exactly the same because the engines were the same) under the wing of any fighter it will look like a 262 instantly.

    Adler, its true, the airframe of the 262 looked like nothing else before it, but I don't think it has looked much like anything since either :|
     
  16. Clay_Allison

    Clay_Allison Active Member

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    #16 Clay_Allison, Jul 24, 2009
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2009
    I always liked the meteor better, probably because it looks so much better.
     

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  17. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    I should have been more precise. The original swept wing outboard of engine nacelles was a direct result of having to make a late prototype development design change due to the unanticipated increased weight of the engines. Later, due to results obtained at Gottingen wind tunnel, the production design include sweep on the inboard wing also. The Advanced design versions Me 262 HG I used the improved high speed 'racing' canopy to reduce drag and the unbuilt HGII version incorporated both the canopy and a 35 degree sweep wing. IIRC the HGII would have next imbedded the engines next to the fuselage to further reduce drag (a la F-89) with the same 35 degree sweep.

    What I should have been clearer about, is that expensive or not, the swept wing could have reverted back to original planform had the German aeros not validated the benefit to the 'accidental' sweep design', and further faound the benefits of sweeping the inboard section also.

    Another design feature, not necessarily unique, was the low wing combined with triangular fuselage cross section was a nice low drag configuration with the added benifit of integrating the fuselage with the lower wing surface between the engine nacelles

    So, planned or not, the resulting sweep did delay drag rise, and the overall parasite drag - despite two large engine nacelles - resulted in slightly better drag characteristics than either the Mustang or the P-80.
     
  18. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    The armament was advanced. Very few other aircraft boasted 4 x 30mm Mk 108 cannons, grouped in the nose. No aircraft of that time could have withstood that concentration of firepower. The Mosquito had 4 x 20mm Hispano cannon plus 4 x ,303mg. again concentrated in the nose. So compared to most other fighters, the Me 262 was extremely heavily armed, and with the armament so concentrated its going to bring down a heavy bomber with a very short burst.

    The armament issue does not stop there however, the 262 also is reported to have been armed with 2 x 8.5 in heavy rocket launcher tubes, in addition to the heavy nose armament.

    Compare this to the meteor, the vampre or the P-80.....the Meteor was armed with 4 x 20mm cannon, the Vampire also had 4 x 20mm cannon. The P-80 had just 6 x 0.5 in mgs. In firepower the Me 262 far out gunned any of its contemporaries.

    Performance also impressive. Just for straight line speed, the 262 is quoted as having a top speed of 540 mph, and a ceiling of 37500 feet, the Meteor 415 and 40k altitude , the vampire 548 and 42000 feet, and the P-80A was 480 mph and 40000. The 262 held an advantage over all of them, except altitude.

    In terms of the wing, I am no expert, but it looks more swept to me than any of its rivals. I would describe as a fairly clean looking design
     
  19. red admiral

    red admiral Member

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    As fighter speed went up, aspect ratio went down. The Meteor wing is fairly normal, thinner than contemporary piston engined aircraft to allow for higher speed flight. Most of the drag increase that led to a low Mcrit was from the nacelles, which where then lengthened to raise this. The wing itself is fairly normal. The later projects with swept and delta wings look pretty good.

    The Su-9/MiG I-260 designs actually were technically influenced by the Me 262, not a simple "looks sort of like that" but the design itself was influenced. End product looked different after their own designers had played with it.

    [​IMG]

    Doesn't look much like the Me-262. I wish I had some performance figures for the Meteor with F.2 engines to compare to the Mk III but haven't found any yet.
     
  20. Butters

    Butters Member

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    Waynos,

    It seems to me that you are using 'advanced' more in the sense of a revolution than an evolution in regards to fighter design. The Me 262 was both.

    The power plants were a true revolution, whereas the very clean airframe was more of an evolution. Both can be legitimately considered to be advances in fighter technology of the era.

    The long-range P-51 represents the apex of evolutionary advances in WWII fighter design, but the two most revolutionary advances in fighter design of WWII were the development of radar-equipped, all-weather intercepters and the jet intercepter. That makes the Me 262-B nightfighter the single most 'advanced' aircraft of the war. The B-29 may have been the most complex, but it was not the quantum leap that the Messerschmitt was. IMO, anyway...

    JL
     
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