Aviation of Word War II
Night Fighter - Interceptor
Although the Me 262 was not a problem for an experienced pilot to master, but like any other aircraft, it had its own characteristics, which caused difficulties in training beginners who had limited flight time even on piston aircraft. The 262nd test team in Lekfeld was just responsible for the development of new technology. However, it was obvious that the training would go easier when using a two-seat aircraft, and the Messerschmitt developed such a variant - the Me 262V-1a.
In November 1944 the new aircraft was delivered to III (Erg.)/JG 2 (reserve group - former 262nd test team). The Me 262V-1 differed from a conventional aircraft by installing a second pilot's seat in place of the rear main tank, which required the so-called "Vikingerschiff" - pylons for two 300-liter tanks to be mounted on the aircraft. Management has become dual. The cannon armament was retained. In total, 15 such aircraft were delivered, and the subsequent ones were already being converted into a two-seat night interceptor, which received the designation Me 262B-la / Ul.
The possibility of using the Me 262 as a night interceptor was demonstrated in a series of tests carried out at Rechlin in October 1944 by Colonel Hajo German and Lieutenant Behrens on a Me 262A-la (V056) with "deer antlers" antennas from the Liechtenstein locator "SN-2 (FuG 220). After successful tests, it was decided to convert the Me 262B-la into a temporary night fighter, differing only in the installation of the FuG 218 Neptune locator and the FuG 350 ZC Naxos direction finder. Even before the appearance of the Me 262B-la / Ul, an experimental unit of night fighters was formed on the basis of the Me 262 under the command of Major Gerhard Stamp. This unit used "Wild Boar" tactics, using conventional Me 262A-la. It was originally known as "Team Stamp". All the pilots of the "team" were experienced night fighters, and one of them, Lieutenant Kurt Welter, who had a large number of victories, later became its commander, and part was renamed the "Welter team". During February-March 1945, the "team" received the first two double Me 262B-1a / U1, which were used to cover Berlin. In April, the unit was redesignated 10./NJG 11. It remained the only night fighter unit armed with the Me 262, receiving about a dozen Me 262B-la/U1s.
If the Me 262B-la/Ul was only a conversion of a training vehicle, then the Me 262B-2a was considered a real night fighter, which was expected to enter service from the middle of 1945. Structurally, the aircraft was distinguished by the insertion of two fuselage sections before and after a two-seat cockpit, which increased the overall length by 1.2 m. This made it possible to place 900-l and 600-l rear tanks in the fuselage, which were replaced by 300-l and 260-l on the V-1. At the same time, the capacity of the front auxiliary tank was increased from 170 liters to 500 liters, but the suspension of two 300-liter tanks was preserved. It was even planned to use a 900-liter tank in a rigid tow behind the aircraft. Just like the bombs previously tested on the aircraft, the tank was equipped with a wooden wing, and a drop cart was used for takeoff. The towed tank increased the total fuel capacity to 4400 liters, allowing the Me 262B-2a to patrol for quite some time. The fuel from this tank was consumed first, after which the tank was dumped.
The first Me 262B-2a received a locator like the Me 262B-1a/U1. He first took to the air in March 1945. "Deer antlers" antennas reduced the maximum speed by 60 km / h. This problem has been repeatedly tried to solve. The result was the "Morning Star" antenna installed in the nose of the aircraft. This made it possible to obtain an increase in speed of 50 km / h. But in the end, they decided to stop at the FuG 240 "Berlin" centimeter range locator, the antenna of which was located under a plastic fairing. The increase in air resistance with this locator was negligible, if any. By the time of the complete collapse of the Third Reich, the Me 262B-2a with the Berlin locator was at the final stage of assembly. It was supposed to retain the standard armament of four 30-mm MK 108 cannons, in addition, it was planned to install two such cannons at an angle to the horizon in the "shrage music" type. This made it possible to hit enemy bombers from below in their most vulnerable part - engines and bomb bays.
Modifications Weights: Empty: 4000kg (B-1a 4400kg); Loaded: 7045kg (B-1a 6400kg)
Performance: Maximum speed: Me 262A-1a: 540mph (870km/h); Me 262A-2a: 470 mph (755km/h); Me 262B-1a: 497 mph (800km/h)
Armament: Me 262A-1a: Four 30mm MK 108 cannon in nose -two with 100 rounds each, two with 80
Me 262A-1a/U1: two 30mm MK 103; two MK 108; two 20mm MG 151/20
Me 262A-1b: as A-1a plus 24 spin-stabilised R4/M 55mm rockets
Me 262A-2a: as A-1a plus bomb load of two 500kg bombs
Me 262B-1a: as A-1a
Me 262B-2a: as A-1A plus two inclined MK 108 behind the cockpit in Schrage Musik installation
(D) SG 500 Jagdfaust with 12 rifled mortar barrels inclined in nose
(E) 50mm MK 114 gun or 48 R4/M rockets
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