Messerschmitt Me-262 photographed in-flight by US B-17 gunner

Messerschmitt Me-262

A Messerschmitt Me-262 aircraft photographed in-flight by an American B-17 gunner. Further details about this rare image are unknown, except from the fact that it was taken between 1944 and 1945.

The Messerschmitt Me 262, aka Me 262 Schwalbe (Swallow) in the fighter version, or Sturmvogel (Stormbird) in the fighter-bomber version, was introduced in the Luftwaffe during April 1944 and was the world’s first operational jet powered fighter aircraft.

It was also used as a light bomber, for reconnaissance missions, or as a night fighter aircraft. It was faster and more heavily armed than any Allied fighter plane (including the only jet-powered Allied aircraft, the Gloster Meteor).

The Me 262 was so fast, that German pilots struggled to effectively attack enemy aircraft, and needed to develop new tactics. Luftwaffe ace Johannes Steinhoff was quoted as saying “I am too fast”.

Me 262’s impact was also affected by some reliability issues and by the problems and shortages Germany was facing at the time it was introduced late in the war. The Allies were also successful in attacking it from the ground during takeoffs and landings.

All in all, a total of 542 Allied aircraft were claimed to have been shot down by Me-262 pilots, although higher claims have also been made.

A technological marvel, ahead of its time, the Me 262 inspired and influenced many future post war aircraft.

Book suggestion ⤵️

📖 The Me 262 Stormbird: From the Pilots Who Flew, Fought and Survived It (Colin D. Heaton, Anne-Marie Lewis, 2012)

Note: This image is quite rare and hard to find, with next to no information available, which makes it hard to verify its authenticity. As such, there’s always the possibility that it might not be genuine, although certain details suggest that it is (for example, the damaged negative of the photograph).

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