Questions about the Me-262

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by syscom3, Sep 20, 2008.

  1. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    There's some things about the Me-262 that I am still not clear on.

    1) Was the delay in the introduction of the jet really due to political interference, or the engines were still unreliable enough for a single sortie?

    2) Why were so few actually employed?

    3) How come the kill rate was so low for such a jet that was a generation ahead of the allied escort fighters?
     
  2. comiso90

    comiso90 Active Member

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    I would surmise that the 262 spent much of it's time engaging bombers and dodging swarms of fighters. It's easier to rack up kills on a fighter sweep with numerical superiority then bomber destroying and having 6 Jugs diving on your ass.

    If a CAP or 100 P-51's and a CAP of 100 262's ran into each other, I'm sure the ME 262 would have a higher kill ratio.
     
  3. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    I think its due to the high closing rate meant the pilot only had time for one shot, then had to use its high speed to run away.

    I could be wrong .....
     
  4. Gnomey

    Gnomey World Travelling Doctor
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    It would partly correct sys. The other reason would be the lack of expert pilots to fly them at the end of the war and also the fact that you have swarms of escorting fighters diving on you as you make your attack run probably doesn't really help matters either. And with the low muzzle velocity of the 30mm cannons for a good shot it has to be close to hit accurately. With the conditions listed above to get close enough for a good accurate shot whilst being chased by escorting fighters when your not a expert pilot with the aircraft all results in the number of kills being lower than expected (in addition to the fact they were attacking bombers mainly not fighters). If they had been in operation with air superiority the kills would of been higher and likely the losses lower as well.
     
  5. KrazyKraut

    KrazyKraut Banned

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    1) no single reason, both had their share

    2) again I'd say there's multiple reasons: lack of pilots, constant pressure making conversions from piston to jet squadrons pretty hard, political intervention on their use, overall bad situation in terms of logistics and production...

    3) its kill ratio was okay and i'd even say pretty good cosidering it only really saw extensive service from late '44 on. They were often manned by inexperienced pilots and usually vastly outnumbered and down low they rather were easy targets for fighter sweeps.
     
  6. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Hi Syscom. Gnomey has answered the second question for you. Regarding the delay, it was a number of factors that prevented the 262 entering service sooner, and in greater numbers. Yes, the political interferance had something to do with it to an extent, with the well-known fact that old Adolph virtually insisted on the aircraft being employed as a high-speed bomber. And the reliability of the engines played a large part also. Added to that were the problems of materials and fuel, plus actual production and logistics. As far as materials were concerned, due to the war situation at the time, certain metals required in the production of the engines were in short supply, and physically getting those metals to the factories was a problem due to disruption of the transport system and general infrastructure, not only in Germany, but the occupied countries. (This is a point very often overlooked by critics of the allied bombing campaign.) Also, the German aircraft industry was dispersed, with various companies trying to fulfil requirements for a number of different aircraft, and armaments manufacturers (tanks, guns ,small-arms etc.) all competing for materials, labour, transport and so on. Then of course there was the fuel problem. Even by the end of 1943, fuel in general was a problem for Germany's forces, and the correct grade required for this new generation of (jet) engines was no doubt heaping more strain in demand on an already struggling industry.
    Considering the actual period, from design through development and into service, it's a wonder any 262's actually got into operational use. compare that with the standards of today, or even, say, the 1950's!
    On top of all this, there was the physical requiremnts of not only learning to fly the aircraft, convert onto type and training, but then having to take it into combat!
    Perhaps, in fact almost certainly, it's a good job the Germans DIDN'T get things moving quicker; we might not be in a position to be discussing this now if they had!
    I admit that this is a fairly general overview of the reasons, and no doubt someone will provide a far better explanation, but, hopefully, it's answered at least part of your question.
    Regards, Terry.
     
  7. Erich

    Erich the old Sage
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    the unit was designed to kill US/RAF bombers not engage in a hand to hand struggle in the air with opposing fighters..............look how wide the turns were of the 262 allowing Allied fighters to close within and deal the lethal blows
     
  8. Soren

    Soren Banned

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    1.) Hitler's insistance on it being a fighter-bomber or nothing at all (Willi had to design a new model)

    2.) Low production, low fuel few good pilots.

    3.) IMO a roughly 7:1 to 10:1 kill ratio is pretty darn good, pretty spectacular infact.
     
  9. Soren

    Soren Banned

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    Well it all depends on at what speed the Me-262 turns. If at low speed, then yes you're right, but if at high speed the piston engined fighters will be left behind unable to anything. The Me-262 turns better than any of the WW2 propjobs at high speed, but at medium to low speeds it is at a distinct disadvantage.

    Only an unwise jet pilot will enter a tight turn at low speed when enemy propjobs are near, the turn radius is simply too wide and acceleration too low.

    The Me-262 was designed as a pure fighter, so it was definitely designed with dogfighting in mind, just at different speed regimes, that's all. Getting slow in a fight with a propjob is a very bad idea in any jet.
     
  10. HoHun

    HoHun Active Member

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    Hi Syscom,

    >1) Was the delay in the introduction of the jet really due to political interference, or the engines were still unreliable enough for a single sortie?

    From the strength reports at The Luftwaffe, 1933-45, listing the Me 262 aircraft with the different units:

    07/1944: 6 @ KG 51
    08/1944: 20 @ KG 51
    09/1944: 32 @ KG 51
    10/1944: 52 @ KG 51, 5 @ KG 54
    11/1944: 72 @ KG 51, 8 @ KG 54, 38 @ JG 7
    12/1944: 100 @ KG 51, 21 @ KG 54, 14 @ JG 7, 23 @ EJG 2, 6 @ Kommando Braunegg

    (Note that Kommando Nowottny is not listed until it becomes JG 7.)

    So one could say that there was a delay of about three to four months in getting the Me 262 into service as a fighter.

    However, note that the strength of JG 7 drops after its initial establishment - they transferred 15 aircraft to "different units", which I believe must have meant EJG 2 primarily which was a jet fighter conversion unit. From single-engine piston fighter to twin-engine jet fighter it was a great step, and the Luftwaffe found that the pilots had to be re-trained in order to be able to use the jets properly.

    The materials question, on the other hand, had introduced a delay of about one year. It's hard to quantify that exactly since it was clear from the beginning that the Jumo 004A was not suitable for mass production, but as a rough benchmark, we can look at the first flight with Jumo 004A engines in July 1942 compared to the first flight with Jumo 004B engines in October 1943.

    The Jumo 004A engine went into small-scale series production in 1942 (40 examples ordered), and while it was not as mature as the later Jumo 004B-2, being somewhat heavier and slightly less powerful, it had made a successful 100-hour run in 1943 (and in late 1942 it had even been bench-tested with an afterburner, by the way).

    The work that resulted in the Jumo 004B was begun in early 1943, and it first flew in the Me 262 in October of the same year. As the main difficulties encountered with the Jumo 004B were caused by the problems resulting from insufficient supplies of temperature-resistant materials (that had been used liberally in the Jumo 004A engines), it appears that it might have been possible to save some six to nine months in getting the jets into combat if these materials could have been supplied somehow.

    For the delay through the Blitzbomber orders, I'd still say it's three to four months as otherwise, JG 7 might have been in its confused status in 07 to 08/1944 instead of the historical 11 to 12/1944.

    Also of interest might be a look at the genesis of the jet fighter and its interaction with the propeller fighter Messerschmitt and his arch-enemy Milch were striving to build instead. Here is a timeline I based on Irving's Milch biography (so be cautious about its accuracy):

    xx.02.1943 German comparison report is prepared
    xx.04.1943 Milch considers Me 209 and Me 410 to be the most important next-generation aircraft
    22.05.1943 Galland test-flies a Me 262 prototype and reports to Milch
    25.05.1943 Milch decides to cancel the Me 209 in favour of the Me 262, and not to build a new generation of piston-engined fighters at all
    02.06.1943 Messerschmitt claims high fuel usage and doubtful altitude performance as disadvantages of the jet fighter
    27.06.1943 Messerschmitt repeats comment on jet fighter fuel usage to Hitler
    xx.06.1943 Messerschmitt claims Me 209 is 95% production-ready
    xx.08.1943 Me 209 cancellation is revoked
    07.09.1943 Messerschmitt suggests to Hitler to produce the Me 209 as fighter and the Me 262 as bomber
    xx.09.1943 RLM staff and Galland oppose Me 209 after asked for opinion by Milch
    27.09.1943 US troops occupy Foggia, Milch regrets that this ends his hopes of building the Fiat G.55
    21.11.1943 Me 209 cancelled by Göring.

    Regards,

    Henning (HoHun)
     
  11. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Where did you come up with those kill ratio?

    Oh JoeB!!!!!!!
     
  12. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    Let me rephrase "kill ratio" ....

    I meant kills per sortie.

    It seemed like the -262 was only shooting down one bomber per sortie or less.

    Erich, regarding the quality of the pilots, didn't the LW have a couple hundred "quality" pilots at any given time, dispersed among the various fighter groups? Couldn't they have been tapped to fully man the jet groups if the order was given?
     
  13. runningdog

    runningdog Member

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    The really important stat would be how many 262's were left after each engagement and how quickly could they be replaced. Then you have to ask, how quickly could the Allies replace their losses. I'm talking aircrew here as well as equipment..........
     
  14. Erich

    Erich the old Sage
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    Note that JG 7 as a whole with only 2 gruppen does not become of much importance until after January 15, 1945 when the bulk of the day-time JG's move to the Ost front. III./JG 7 over and over again is fitted out with more than 30-35 jets at a time about 1/2 to 25 jets will be in action on a daily basis not counting it's sister I./JG 7 who flew daily averages of 7-10 jets on a mission maybe more, will have to hunt in my data base.

    sys there was not the time nor means to take away needed pilots from the JG's to fit into the small and existing 262 JG's. Had the so-called squad of experten in JV 44 really flown together enmasse they may have been felt but with only sending up some 5-7 jets on a few missions they were nothing and a total pin-prick, and there has been a noterity that Gallands bunch of RK experts retreated from thew ar by joining his outfit as his select group no more than 15-20 ever flew the jet operationally

    more coming and as to JG 7 some very young boys became men and aces in a short time, unknown names even till today
     
  15. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    HoHun, look at your figures for November and December 1944.

    Why were there so many 262's available for use, yet so little to show for it.

    I am not disparaging the aircraft or pilots, but something has to be explained.

    Could it be in fact that the jets in those squadrons were hanger queens with engine issues?
     
  16. Erich

    Erich the old Sage
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    not armed for combat nor enough combat hours or flight training-pre-flight for the pilots

    April 10, 1945 ~ JG 7 as a whole puts up 55 Me 262's the largest jet armada ever flown on one mission. the date is a death struggle for both sides........
     
  17. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    As always, I'm interested in your accounts of that aerial encounter.

    Erich, I am also curious in the pilot losses per sortie for non combat accidents. Do you have any figures?
     
  18. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    I don't think that is entirely correct, Soren. While visiting the new jet Hitler asked Willi if it could carry bombs. Without thinking Willi said yes to which Hitler replied something to the effect, "Here is my Blitz bomber!" Several months later Hitler asked how many 262s were bombers and when told none, he went into a rage and ordered all to be made bombers. Shortly after Galland was able to get Hitler to conceded to making one fighter from every 3 or 4 bombers IIRC.

    It wasn't so much as new design but adding racks and all the other little pieces that convert to bomber status. The fifteen or so fighters available then had to brought back and converted. But only for a very short time as Galland did get at least a few fighters and then later production of fighter version was increased. But the special 262 fighter schools at least had a few to use in the beginning.

    This added to the problems but wasn't the only one or the nail in the coffin.
     
  19. kool kitty89

    kool kitty89 Well-Known Member

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    Fuel supply problems did not extend to jets as they ran on J2 (diesel) fuel which (according to the US Strategic Bombing Survey) was still stockpiles of diesel oil on the order of 100,000 tons in reserve at the end of the war. (while there was almost no Avgas left)

    THere were problems with supply due to the damaged trasportations system and the frequent movement of the Jet groups.



    An important note on Jet engines (particularly noticed by the British air ministry) is that jet engines can be made to run on practically any fuel (the Derwent I could run on anything from 100 Octane Avgas to heavy paraffin oil). Paraffin provides the longest range/gallon due to the higher energy content per volume, but has problems with gelling at low temps, so aviation kerosene was fuel of choice. (AvGas has the lowest energy density of the 3 and poses more of a fire hazard in addition to being more expensive)

    The USN required all their early jets to be capable of running on AvGas as well to have interchangable fuel with their piston-engined a/c. (and of course, for their mixed-powered aircraft)
     
  20. kool kitty89

    kool kitty89 Well-Known Member

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    Only 38 (in Nov) and 31 (in Dec) of those are in fighter units, the rest are fighter-bombers.

     
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