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Messerschmitt Me 262A - 1a Schwalbe of Jagdgeschwader 7

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This very fine poster shows a Messerschmitt Me 262 A - 1a Schwalbe ( Jagdgeschwader 7 ), the fighter variant of the well - known jet - powered fighter aircraft flown by the Luftwaffe towards the end of the Second World War.


Format 88,1 x 60,2 cm
Auteur John Jahr Verlag KG
Editeur Orbis Publishing Limited
Année d’édition 1976


Several years before the Second World War, the Germans foresaw the great potential for aircraft that used the jet engine constructed by Hans Joachim Pabst von Ohain ( 1911 - 1998 ) in 1936. After the successful test flights of the world's first jet aircraft - the Heinkel He 178 - within a week of the Invasion of Poland to start the war, they adopted the jet engine for an advanced fighter aircraft. As a result, the Me 262 was already under development as Projekt 1065 ( P.1065 ) before the start of the Second World War. The project originated with a request by the Reichsluftfahrtministerium ( R.L.M., Ministry of Aviation ) for a jet aircraft capable of one hour's endurance and a speed of at least 850 km / h ( 530 mph ; 460 kn ). Dr Waldemar Voigt headed the design team, with Willy Messerschmitt's chief of development, Robert Lusser ( 1899 - 1969 ), overseeing. Plans were first drawn up in April 1939, and the original design was very different from the aircraft that eventually entered service.
The progression of the original design was delayed greatly by technical issues involving the new jet engine. Funding for the jet engine program was also initially lacking as many high - ranking officials thought the war could easily be won with conventional aircraft. Among those were Hermann Göring ( 1893 - 1946 ), head of the Luftwaffe, who cut the engine development program to just 35 engineers in February 1940 ( the month before the first wooden mock - up was completed ).
The aircraft made its first successful flight entirely on jet power on July 18th, 1942, powered by a pair of Jumo 004 engines, after a November 1941 flight ( with BMW 003's ) ended in a double flameout. In mid - 1943, Adolf Hitler ( 1889 - 1945 ) envisioned the Me 262 as a ground - attack / bomber aircraft rather than a defensive interceptor. It is debatable to what extent Adolf Hitler's interference extended the delay in bringing the Schwalbe into operation ; it appears engine vibration issues were at least as costly, if not more so. The Nazi dictator rejected arguments the aircraft would be more effective as a fighter against the Allied bombers destroying large parts of Germany, and wanted it as a bomber for revenge attacks.
On April 19, 1944, Erprobungskommando 262 was formed at Lechfeld just south of Augsburg ( Bavaria, Germany ), as a test unit ( Jäger Erprobungskommando Thierfelder, commanded by Hauptmann Werner Thierfelder ) to introduce the Me 262 into service and train a corps of pilots to fly it. Major Walter Nowotny ( 1920 - 1944 ) was assigned as commander after the death of Werner Thierfelder in July 1944, and the unit redesignated Kommando Nowotny. Essentially a trials and development unit, it mounted the world's first jet fighter operations. Trials continued slowly, with initial operational missions against the Allies in August 1944, and the unit made claims for 19 Allied aircraft in exchange of 6 Me 262's lost.
On November 8th, 1944, despite orders to stay grounded, Walter Nowotny chose to fly a mission against an enemy bomber formation. He claimed two P - 51D Mustangs of the fighter escort destroyed before suffering engine failure at high altitude. Then, while diving and trying to restart his engines, he was attacked by other Mustangs, forced to bail out, and died. The Kommando was then withdrawn for further flight training and a revision of combat tactics to optimise the Me 262's strengths.
On November 26th, 1944, a Me 262A - 2a Sturmvogel was the first confirmed ground - to - air kill of a jet combat aircraft. It was shot down by a Bofors gun of B.11 Detachment of No. 2875 Squadron, R.A.F. Regiment, at the R.A.F. forward airfield of Helmond, near Eindhoven ( province of North Brabant, the Netherlands ).
By January 1945, Jagdgeschwader 7 ( JG 7 ) had been formed as a pure jet fighter wing, partly based at Parchim ( located in what is now Mecklenburg - Vorpommern, Germany ) although it was several weeks before it was operational. During March, Me 262 fighter units were able, for the first time, to mount large - scale attacks on Allied bomber formations. On March 18th, 1945, 37 Me 262's of JG 7 intercepted a force of 1,221 bombers and 632 escorting fighters. They shot down 12 bombers and 1 fighter for the loss of 3 Me 262's. Although a 4 : 1 ratio was exactly what the Luftwaffe would have needed to make an impact on the war, the absolute scale of their success was minor, as it represented only 1 % of the attacking force.
In the last days of the war, Me 262's from JG 7 and other units were committed in ground assault missions, in an attempt to support German troops fighting Red Army forces.
Postwar history
After the end of the war, the Me 262 and other advanced German technologies were quickly swept up by the Soviets, British and Americans, as part of the U.S.A.A.F.'s " Operation Lusty ". Many Me 262's were found in readily repairable condition and were confiscated. The Soviets, British and Americans wished to evaluate the technology, particularly the engines.
The Czechoslovak aircraft industry continued to produce single - seat ( Avia S - 92 ) and two - seat ( Avia CS - 92 ) variants of the Me 262 after the Second World War. From August 1946, a total of 9 S - 92's and 3 two - seater CS - 92's were completed and test flown. They were introduced in 1947 and in 1950 were supplied to the 5th Fighter Squadron, becoming the first jet fighters to serve in the Czechoslovak Air Force. These were kept flying until 1951, when they were replaced in service by Soviet jet fighters.
( source : Wikipedia )
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