DC -- Natl Air and Space Museum -- Gallery 205: World War II Aviation:
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SIAIW2_101219_30.JPG: The Messerschmitt Me 262 A-1a Schwalbe:
World's First Operational Jet Fighter:
The Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe (Swallow) fighter was the first operational jet airplane. Its appearance over Europe during the summer of 1944 signaled the advent of the jet age.
The Me 262's influence on aircraft design was immense. Its jet engines, swept wings, and extremely high speed set the pattern for the future of aeronautical technology.
The Messerschmitt Me 262 was a sleek, low-wing, all-metal monoplane powered by two jet engines. It carried a powerful armament of four 30 mm cannons. Its most distinctive features were its swept-back wings, underslung nacelles (engine enclosures), triangular-shaped fuselage, and use of wing slats, or movable airfoils, along the leading edge of the wings.
The Air Defense of Germany:
The German Luftwaffe's interest in the Me 262 program increased progressively as the tide of war turned in favor of the Allies. The revolutionary performance of the Me 262 appeared to be Germany's only hope of combating the seemingly endless bomber formations and their fighter escorts.
Me 262 Development:
The Schwalbe underwent a long development period. The original design concept from 1938 featured straight wings, conventional landing gear with a tail wheel, and engines mounted in the center of the wings. Continuous changes i both airframe and engine design delayed the program. The first flight of the Me 262 on pure jet power occurred on July 18, 1942, before adoption of the aircraft's now familiar tricycle-type landing gear.
The First Production Jet Engines:
A key to the Me 262's high performance was its Junkers Jumo 004 engines. Designed by Dr. Anselm Franz, the 004 was the world's first mass-produced, operational turbojet engine, and the first turbojet with axial-flow compressors, afterburning, and a variable area exhaust nozzle. Making the 004 a reliable production engine was an important factor in delaying the Me 262's service introduction.
Galland Flies the Me 262:
German pilots, particularly Maj. Gen. Adolf Galland, the quintessential German ace, saw in the Me 262 a weapon of almost miraculous performance if flown correctly. Galland flew the prototype Me 262 on May 22, 1943, and immediately called for its quantity production. He described the flight "as if an angel were pushing" him through the air.
The Me 262 Enters Combat:
The Luftwaffe had enough Me 262s by early 1944 to begin training the world's first operational jet squadrons. The Me 262 entered combat on July 25, 1944, when a Schwalbe made five separate by unsuccessful attacks on a Royal Air Force de Havilland Mosquito flying a reconnaissance mission over Europe.
Me 262 Variants:
Germany produced many variants of the Me 262, including radar-equipped night fighters and attack bombers. Adolph Hitler believed a high-speed Sturmvogel (Stormy Petrel) fighter bomber could penetrate Allied fighter screens to assist German troops on the ground. His infamous order favoring the production of the Sturmvogel, at the expense of the Schwalbe fighter and the air defense of Germany, raised the concern of many Luftwaffe fighter pilots.
Maj. Walter Nowotny, an Austrian who scored 258 victories before his death in November 1944, led Kommando Nowotny, a special unit that developed Me 262 tactics in actual combat. Pilots from Kommando Nowotny eventually formed the nucleus of Jagdgeschwader (Fighter Wing) 7, the unit that flew the Museum's Me 262.
The End Draws Near:
By 1945, the Luftwaffe was largely ineffective against Allied air attacks, due to disruption of communications and overall lack of supplies, fuel, and qualified pilots. One jet unit, Jagdverband 44, fought almost to the very end under the leadership of Adolf Galland.
Messerschmitt Me 262 A-1a Schwalbe:
Nicknamed Schwalbe (Swallow), the Messerschmitt Me 262 surpassed the performance of every other World War II fighter. Faster than the North American P-51 Mustang by 190 kilometers (120 miles) per hour, the Schwalbe restored to the faltering German Luftwaffe a short-lived qualitative superiority that it had enjoyed earlier in the war.
The Me 262 appeared in only relatively small numbers in the closing year of World War II. Messerschmitt factories produced 1,443 Me 262s, but only about 300 saw combat. The others were destroyed in training accidents or by Allied bombing attacks. The almost absolute Allied dominance of the air, and the development of fighter sweep tactics that offset the Me 262's performance advantage, ensured that the revolutionary fighter did not affect Allied air operations.
Only nine Me 262s survive in museums around the world. This one served with the famous Jagdgeschwader (Fighter Wing) 7. According to the tally on the fuselage, the Schwalbe's pilot, Heinz Arnold, scored 42 victories over Soviet piston-engine fighters and 7 over American bombers and fighters.
Wilhelm "Willy" Messerschmitt:
Professor Willy Messerschmitt was one of the most famous German aircraft designers of World War II. His firm produced some of the Luftwaffe's best aircraft, including the Bf 109 fighter and Me 262. Born in 1898, Messerschmitt immersed himself in aviation early, and he enjoyed a fascinating and profitable 56-year aviation career before his death in 1978.
He was both an extremely capable engineer and exceptional leader known for obtaining outstanding results from his staff. Nazi leaders criticized his tendency to promise more than he could deliver, but his factories, under increasingly severe bombing attacks 1942 on, turned out thousands of military aircraft.
Factories in Forests:
Messerschmitt continued producing aircraft long after Allied aircraft destroyed his company's factories. Engineers and workers built Me 262s in forest clearings, fueled them, and then taxied them out to the German autobahn for delivery to combat units
Messerschmitt Bf 109:
The aircraft that first brought Messerschmitt fame [???] and increasing fortune was the Bf 109. His company produced more than 33,000 of these aircraft from 1936 to 1945 in seven different variants. A Bf 109 is on display in the Museum's World War II Aviation gallery.
Bringing German Jets to America:
At the end of World War II, the Allies were eager to capture flyable examples of highly advanced German aircraft. The US Army Air Forces executed Operation LUSTY (Luftwaffe Secret Technology) to recover these aircraft from German airfields, fly them across Europe, and transport them to the United States by sea. Col. Harold Watson led the operation and succeeded in capturing a large number of these revolutionary aircraft.
Popularly known as "Watson's Whizzers", the young pilots participating in Operation LUSTY removed the propellers from their standard insignia to symbolize their status as America's first unofficial fighter jet squadron.
Other Captured Treasures:
In addition to 10 Me 262s, Watson's Whizzers recovered other German jet aircraft, including an Arado Ar 234 B-2 Blitz, the world's first operational jet bomber, and another get fighter, the Heinkel He-162 A-2 Spatz (Sparrow). Both as in the collection of the National Air and Space Museum.
The insignia for the Whizzers' leather flying jackets featured the Walt Disney character Donald Duck holding on to a Junkers Jumo 004 engine as it circled the world.
The Me 262's Legacy:
The Me 262, along with other German high speed aircraft and aerodynamic research, influenced the design of early US military jet aircraft. The North American F-86E Sabre featured swept wings, wing slats, and an adjustable stabilizer. Even the much larger Boeing B-47 Stratojet resembled the German jet fighter.
SIAIW2_101219_45.JPG: Lockheed XP-80 Lulu-Belle:
Prototype for America's First Practical Jet Airplane:
Lagging behind Germany and Great Britain in jet aircraft development during World War II, the United States urgently needed to get a combat-worthy jet into the air. Lockheed Aircraft received a contract to build a fighter powered by the British de Havilland Goblin H-1B turbojet engine. Clarence L. "Kelly" Johnson, chief research engineer for Lockheed, and a group of engineers and technicians collectively nicknamed the "Skunk Works," designed and constructed the fighter in a remarkable 143 days.
Designated the XP-80 and named Lulu-Belle after a character in Al Capp's Li'l Abner comic strip, the airplane first flew on January 8, 1944. It became the first US aircraft to exceed 800 kilometers (500 miles) per hour on level flight.
Lulu-Belle was the prototype for the P-80 Shooting Star, the first operational US turbojet fighter committed to full production. By the end of 1945, the XP-80 proved to be one of the most significant US aeronautically designs in history, and a resounding success for Johnson and his team. Flying the XP-80 gave the US military and the industry valuable experience in designing, manufacturing, and operating military jet fighters.
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Description of Subject Matter: World War II Aviation
July 1, 1976 – Permanent
This gallery highlights land-based aviation during World War II and features fighter aircraft from each of 5 countries.
* North American P-51D Mustang: an outstanding fighter plane used in every theater of war
* Mitsubishi A6M5 Zero: maneuverability and range were excellent; the Japanese navy used it in almost every action throughout the war
* Supermarine Spitfire Mark VII: the legendary British fighter used to defeat the Germans in the Battle of Britain, along with the Hurricane
* Messerschmitt Bf 109G: the principle Luftwaffe fighter; major opponent of the Spitfires and American bombers
* Macchi C.202 Folgore: the most successful Italian fighter to see extensive service; used in the African campaign and in Italy and Russia
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2010 photos: Equipment this year: I mostly used the Fuji S100fs until the third one broke and I started sending them back for repairs. Then I used either the Fuji S200EHX or the Nikon D90 until I got the S100fs ones repaired. At the end of the year I bought a Nikon D5000 but I returned it pretty quickly.
Trips this year:
Civil War Trust conferences (Lexington, KY and Nashville, TN), and
my 5th consecutive San Diego Comic-Con trip (including Los Angeles).
My office at the main Commerce Department building closed in October and I was shifted out to the Bureau of the Census in Suitland Maryland. It's good to have a job of course but that killed being able to see basically any cultural events during the day. There's basically nothing of interest that you can see around the Census building.
Number of photos taken this year: about 395,000..