Unimax 35089 German Messerschmitt Me 262A-1a Jet Fighter - Oberfeldwebel Heinz Arnold, Jagdgeschwader 7, Lechfeld, Germany, 1945 (1:72 Scale)
"Guns before butter. Guns will make us powerful; butter will only make us fat."
- Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering, Head of the German Luftwaffe
The jet-powered Me 262 Sturmvogel ("Stormbird") has long since gained its place in the annals of international aeronautical history. With its sleek aerodynamic design and high performance jet engines, the Me 262 radically changed the way in which air combat was waged.
The first design work on the Me 262 began in October 1938, with the first test flight, piloted by Fritz Wendel, occuring on April 18th, 1942. Tests continued well into 1942, although by this time the Me 262 was outfitted with two highly-efficient BMW turbojet engines. When he saw the aircraft for the first time in early 1943, Hitler insisted that the plane be designed as a low-level bomber instead of a fighter, which undermined the sleek aerodynamic properties of the jet aircraft. After much in-fighting among the Luftwaffe's upper echelons, the plane was eventually converted back into a high level interceptor, with series production beginning in the spring of 1944. The first jet fighter unit, commanded by Major Walter Nowotny, was formed in the summer of 1944 and was composed of many of the Luftwaffe's leading aces.
By war's end, 1,433 Me 262s had been produced, far too few a number to have much of an impact on the Allies strategic bombing campaign. In the end, the Allies' superiority in numbers overcame the tremendous technical achievements ushered in by the Me 262 program.
Pictured here is a 1:72 scale replica of a German Messerschmitt Me 262A-1a Jet Fighter that was piloted by Oberfeldwebel Heinz Arnold, who was attached to Jagdgeschwader 7, then deployed to Lechfeld, Germany, during 1945. Now in stock!
Wingspan: 6.75 inches
Length: 5.75 inches
Release Date: February 2013
Historical Account: "Enter the Jet Age" - The museum's aircraft was captured at Lechfeld, Germany, by a special USAAF team led by Col. (later Maj. Gen.) Harold M. Watson. Watson directed Operation Lusty, the discovery and seizure of advanced German aircraft. Watson's men brought the airplanes, including the Museum's Me-262, to Cherbourg, France, loaded them aboard the British aircraft carrier HMS "Reaper," and sailed to the United States.
The NASM Me-262A-1a offloaded at Newark, New Jersey, and an Army Air Forces pilot flew it to Freeman Field, Indiana, with a stop in Pittsburgh. The Technical Intelligence staff assigned the inventory and tracking number FE-111 to this airplane.
At some time during the testing process, the standard fighter nose on FE-111 was swapped for a reconnaissance nose removed from FE-4012, a Messerschmitt Me 262A-la/U3. This aircraft was sent to the Hughes Aircraft Company for rebuilding and for comparison with the Lockheed XP-80, while FE-111 was sent to Park Ridge, Illinois, for storage. It arrived at the Silver Hill Facility in 1950, and restoration work began in 1978.
The biggest challenge in the restoration project was to remove the corrosion that had built up over thirty-four years. The second-biggest problem was the restoration of the fighter nose, which involved much tedious but skillful metal work. After 6,077 man-hours, the aircraft appeared as it did when it served with the famous JG 7 (Fighter Wing 7), complete with unit insignia and victory markings. The latter show forty-two victories over Soviet aircraft by Oberfeldwebel Heinz Arnold in piston-engine fighters, and seven (perhaps not all by Arnold) over American bombers and fighters in NASM's Me 262.