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Messerschmitt Me 262B in Detail

The airframe, engines and canopy

n Photos by Graeme Adamson and Charles Hugo
Text by Martin Waligorski


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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.

As can be seen, the aircraft is stored under the open shed which unfortunately makes photography very difficult. Because of the high contrast between the sun and shadow areas it is almost impossible for the camera to make a well-exposed  overall picture of the aircraft. The authors do not apologize for this as the same nasty light effects can be seen on photographs of Red 8 coming from other sources.
 

Photo: Graeme Adamson
 


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.


 

Photo: Charles Hugo
 


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.
 

Photo: Charles Hugo
 


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.
   

Photo: Charles Hugo
 


The windscreen was identical to that of the Me 262A.
 

Photo: Charles Hugo
 


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 fuel.
 
 

Photo: Graeme Adamson
 


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.
 

Photo: Charles Hugo
 


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 Johannesburg machine.
 

Photo: Graeme Adamson
 


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 its shape.
 

Photo: Graeme Adamson
 


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.
 

Photo: Charles Hugo
 


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.


 

Photo: Charles Hugo
 

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