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In 1938, Project P.1065 was presented to the German high command in response to a request for concept to utilize a new type of engine – the turbojet. Three prototypes were ordered in 1940, but these were ready well before the engines, so the airframes were test-flown with piston engines.

By 1942, the Jumos were ready for flight and the Me 262 took to the air for the first time under jet power. By the time the aircraft had entered production and initial quantities were available for operations, there was only ten months left in the war. To delay matters further, Hitler himself protected many US bomber crews by demanding that these aircraft be used as high-speed bombers, despite Willy Messerschmitt, Adolf Galland, and others pleading to the contrary. Thanks Adolf!

Adolf Galland was allocated some Me 262s for air defense and these went to JV 44, which used the Me 262s to attack the daylight bombing and used Fw 190D-9s to protect the Me 262s from the allied fighters that waited for these jets to return home low on airspeed, altitude, fuel, and armament.

One of the late-war modifications to the Me 262 interceptors was the addition of the R4M rocket launchers. This was little more than a wood rack that was mounted to the undersurface of the wings and could carry 12 small rockets per rack. In order to extend the aircraft’s range/on-station intercept time, two external tanks were fitted under the nose, and the additional weight would usually mean a RATO bottle needed to be used to get the aircraft off the ground in the available runway length.

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