The object of our photo essay as it
looked in May 1945, shortly after being handed over to the British.
The paint scheme is still the original 10./NJG11 pattern.
...and here it is today residing at
the South African National Museum of Military History in Johannesburg.
During the recent years, the museum did a commendable restoration job on
this aircraft so that even the paint scheme is a faithful reconstruction of
the original pattern.
Looking at any full-size Messerschmitt fighter of the era, it is worth paying attention to the quality of the surface finish. It was invariably excellent with very nice flush-riveted skin and neat, almost invisible panel lines. Messerchmitt has perfected this production technique as early as mid-1930s with their Bf 108. For the high-speed airframe of the 262, the Messeschmitt's technology came very handy contributing to the outstanding aerodynamic performance of this aircraft.
The major difference of the B
variant was, of course, the canopy. Actually, the remainder of the airframe
was virtually identical to the Me 262A, so that the majority of photo
material contained in this essay applies equally to both types.
The front and rear
portions of the canopy opened independently. In a typical Messerschmitt
fashion, the heavy canopy sections were hinged to the right and required
considerable manual force to lift. Note the retaining wire and spring preventing
the rear canopy from tipping over, and a massive handle attached to
its inner frame.
The windscreen was identical to that
Another fuelling point in fromt of
the windscreen covered with an elongated lock and market with yellow
triangle stencil stating Flug Diesel Triebstoff - aircraft diesel
As the second cockpit was installed
in the place normally occupied by the main fuselage fuel tank, the twin-seater
Swallow lacked sufficient fuel capacity. To offset this, most aircraft flew with permanently
attached external fuel tanks like the one shown here. It was carried on the
standard Wikingerschiff pylon, the same as used for bombs on the JaBo
versions of the aircraft. Its name came from the aerodynamic shape
remaining of the ancient Viking ships.
A peek into the front opening of the Jumo 004, showing the front turbine.
The visible central cone of the jet
housed a gasoline-powered Riedel starter engine. This engine, which
produced 10 horsepower at 6,000 rpm, had its own electric starter motor, but
for emergencies it also had a pull starter in the nose cone, with pull
string protruding through the visible circular opening. On some close-up
photos of the 262 a ring handle of the pull starter can be seen
residing in the opening, but this detail appears to be missing on the
The business end of the Jumo
turbojet. The power of the jet efflux could be regulated by the moveable
rear cone, at the time nicknamed die Zwiebel (the onion) because of
The cutaway of the Jumo 004 and the engine nacelle clearly illustrates its principle of operation. The engine was designed by Junkers engineer Anselm Franz. Bringing the 004 design from the concept to production in a span of four years was a pioneering achievement matching that of the Messerchmitt itself.
The engine specifications were deliberately kept conservative to allow for timely resolution of the numerous other development problems with this revolutionary powerplant. As is widely known, the 004 was dogged by unresolved teething troubles, particularly short between-service life and a tendency for flame-out during rapid throttle movements. In the end, it was small and efficient, but developed less power and was nowhere near as reliable as British jet constructions of the period.
The Jumo 004 compressor was an
eight-stage unit with an outer casing of uniform diameter. The diameter of
the intake was 20 inches. The upper forward cowling contained two annular
gas tanks, containing fuel for the Riedel starter and the starter fuel for
the combustion chambers.
At the upper front of the nacelle was one of the many detachable service panels surrounding the engine, here revealing more details of the engine installation.