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Modern German airforce roundel.

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MENS SIZES   S     M     L   XL 2XL 3XL
WIDTH INCHES 18 20 22 24 26 28
LENGTH INCHES 28 29 30 31 32 33
WIDTH INCHES 18 20 22 24 26  
LENGTH INCHES 25.5 26.5 27.5 28.5 30  
WIDTH INCHES 15 17 18 20    
LENGTH INCHES 20 22 24 26


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The Me262 Schwalbe (German for "swallow") was the world's 1st operational turbojet fighter aircraft. It was produced in World War Two and saw action starting in 1944 as a multi-role Fighter/bomber/reconnaissance/interceptor warplane for the Luftwaffe.   German pilots nicknamed this cutting edge aircraft the Sturmvogel (Stormbird).  The Me262 had a negligible impact on the course of the war due to its late launch, with 509 claimed Allied kills against the loss of more than 100 Me 262s. The Me262 was already being developed as Projekt P.1065 before the start of World War 2. Plans were first started in Spring 1939, and the original model was very similar to the plane that eventually entered service. The progression of the primary model into service was delayed greatly by technical issues involving the new jet engines. Funding for the Messerschmitt jet program was also initially lacking, as many high-ranking officials thought the war could easily be won with conventional aircraft.  Hermann Göring, commnader of the Luftwaffe, was one of these doubters who cut back the engine advancement program to just 35 engineers in February 1940, Willy Messerschmitt, who desired to maintain mass assembly of the Messerschmitt Bf109 and the projected Me209; and Major General Adolf Galland, who supported Messerschmitt through the early development years, until flying the Me262 himself on 22 April 1943. By that time problems with engine development had slowed manufacture of the aircraft considerably.  In 1943, Adolf Hitler envisioned the Me262 not as a defensive interceptor, but as an offensive ground attack/bomber, practically as a very high speed, light payload Schnellbomber (Fast Bomber), to penetrate Allied air superiority during the expected invasion of France. His edict resulted in the development of the Sturmvogel (Stormbird) variant. It is debatable to what extent Hitler's interference extended the delay in bringing the Swallow into operation.  The aircraft was originally created with a tail wheel undercarriage and the first four prototypes Messerschmitt (Me262 V1-V4) were built with this configuration, but it was discovered on an early test run that the engines and wings "blanked" the stabilizers, giving nearly no control on the ground, as well as serious runway surface damage from the hot jet exhaust. Changing to a tricycle undercarriage arrangement, initially a fixed undercarriage on the "V5" fifth prototype, then fully retractable on the sixth (V6, with code VI+AA) and succeeding aircraft, corrected this problem. Although it is often stated the Me262 is a "swept wing" structure , the development Me262 had a leading edge sweep of only 18.5°. This was done primarily to properly position the center of lift relative to the center of mass and not for the aerodynamic benefit of increasing the critical Mach number of the Messerschmitt  wing. The sweep was too slight to achieve any significant advantage. This happened after the initial style  of the aircraft, when the engines proved to be heavier than originally expected. On 1 March 1940, instead of moving the wing forward on its mount, the outer wing was positioned slightly backwards to the same end. The middle section of the wing remained un-swept. Based on data from the AVA Göttingen and wind-tunnel results, the middle section was later swept. The first test flights began on 18 April 1941, with the Me262 V1 example, bearing its Stammkennzeichen radio code letters of PC+UA, but since its intended BMW 003 turbojets were not ready for fitting, a conventional Junkers Jumo 210 engine was mounted in the V1 prototype's nose, driving a propeller, to test the Me262 V1 airframe. When the BMW 003 engines were finally installed, the Jumo was retained for safety, which proved wise as both 003s failed during the first flight and the pilot had to land using the nose mounted engine alone.  The V3 third prototype airframe, with the code PC+UC, became a true "jet" when it flew on 18 July 1942 in Leipheim near Günzburg, Germany, piloted by Fritz Wendel. This was nearly nine months ahead of the British Gloster Meteor's first flight on 5 March 1943. The tail-heavy attitude of the Me262 caused its jet exhaust to deflect off the runway, negating the effects of the elevators, and the first attempt was cut short. On the second attempt, Wendel solved the problem by tapping the aircraft's brakes at takeoff speed, lowering the nose and lifting the tail.  The Messerschmitt   003 engines, which were proving unreliable, were replaced by the newly available Junkers Jumo 004. Test flights continued over the next year, but the engines continued to be unreliable. Airframe modifications were complete by 1942, but hampered by the lack of engines, serial production did not begin until 1944. This delay in engine availability was in part due to the shortage of strategic materials, especially metals and alloys able to handle the extreme temperatures produced by the jet engine. Even when the engines were completed, they had an expected operational lifetime of approximately 50 hours; in fact, most 004s lasted just 12 hours. A pilot familiar with the Messerschmitt Me262 and its engines could expect approximately 20 to 25 hours of life from the 004s. Changing a 004 engine was intended to require three hours, but typically took eight to nine due to poorly made parts and inadequate training of ground crews. Turbojet engines have less thrust at low speed than propellers and as a result, low-speed acceleration is relatively poor. It was more noticeable for the Messerschmitt  Me262 as early jet engines (before the invention of afterburners) responded slowly to throttle changes. The introduction of a primitive autothrottle late in the war only helped slightly. Conversely, the higher power of jet engines at higher speeds meant the Messerschmitt Me262 enjoyed a much higher climb speed. Used tactically, this gave the jet fighter an even greater speed advantage in climb rate than level flight at top speed. With one engine out, the Me262 still flew well, with speeds of 450 to 500 km/h (280 to 310 mph), but pilots were warned never to fly slower than 300 km/h (186 mph) on one engine, as the asymmetrical thrust would cause serious problems.


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