Corgi AA35710 German Messerschmitt Me 262A-1A Fighter - Plt.Ofz. Franz Gapp, "Red 7", 8./Kampfgeschwader 6, Podersam, Saaz, Germany, May 1945 (1:72 Scale)
"It was as if an angel is pushing you..."
- Adolf Galland, discussing his first flight in the Me 262 jet fighter
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 fighter that was flown by Plt.Ofz. Franz Gapp, who was attached to 8./Kampfgeschwader 6, then deployed to Podersam, Saaz, Germany, during May 1945.
Release Date: September 2016
Historical Account: "The Final Days of the Luftwaffe" - Direct interference from senior military commanders severely restricted the effectiveness of the Messerschmitt Me 262 jet, as they procrastinated about whether it should be used as a fighter, or a bomber. Luftwaffe pilot Franz Gapp perfectly illustrated this problem - a highly decorated bomber pilot, who flew more than 400 missions, mainly in the Ju-88 fighter-bomber, Gapp transferred to an Me 262 attack unit, where it was hoped the speed of the new jet would see significant strategic bombing successes.
Heavy losses and a shortage of experienced pilots dictated that surviving Me 262 bomber units were amalgamated into ad hoc fighter units, required to defend the Reich against Allied air attacks - despite his bombing credentials, Gapp went on to score a number of victories against US heavy bombers. On May 7th, 1945, Gapp flew his Messerschmitt Me 262 jet fighter towards the west, in an attempt to avoid capture by advancing Soviet forces. He crash-landed his jet into a newly ploughed field near Podersam (Saaz), before destroying his aircraft, thus denying its use by Allied forces.
During the closing stages of the Second World War, the beleaguered Luftwaffe were left hoping that one of Hitler's wonder weapons would help to stem the tide of increasing Allied attacks, which were taking a withering toll on their numbers. Unfortunately for them, their defeat was simply a matter of time, but not before the German aviation industry managed to show their technological prowess with the introduction of the first operational jet fighter in the world - the sinister looking Messerschmitt Me 262. Even though the Me 262 was highly advanced, it never had the chance to make a significant difference, as Allied air superiority was so significant, that any Luftwaffe airfields still operating aircraft were subjected to almost constant attack - they were literally unable to safely take off, or land.