The introduction of the Me 262 Stormbird jet fighter was a potential game changer for the Germans in World War II, but production delays and a shortage of pilots minimized its impact on the war. Nevertheless, jet engines were the way of the future, and the Stormbird loomed large in the experiences of the World War II pilots who flew and fought the first jet fighter.
In The Me 262 Stormbird, Colin D. Heaton (The German Aces Speak) covers the iconic fighter in detail, often in the words of the men who flew it or fought it. From Willi Messerschmitt’s original designs, through the early technical difficulties and flight tests, and eventual introduction of the aircraft into the war, Heaton covers the Stormbird’s history in detail alongside fascinating anecdotes from many of Germany’s top aces—and the Allied airmen who went head to head with the futuristic jet while flying their prop-driven planes.
Heaton also covers the political machinations involved in getting approval for the jet—Hitler was personally involved—as well as the infighting among the Luftwaffe’s senior officers, some of whom wanted the aircraft designed as a fighter and others who wanted it designed as a bomber.
The first Me 262 squadron, ultimately designated as JG-7, and Adolf Galland’s squadron, JV-44, are covered extensively, along with the two-seater Me 262 night fighter. Heaton rounds out his narrative with the American perspective of Allied airmen who faced the 262, as well as an analysis of the Stormbird program and its post-war impact. The Me 262 Stormbird is a definitive account of this state-of-the-art aircraft.