Aviation of Word War II
Night Fighter - Interceptor
The high performance of the Me-262 made a tandem-seat operational conversion trainer version desireable, and such an aircraft, the "Me-262B-1a", was introduced in the summer of 1944. The trainer of course had dual controls, with the second seat replacing one of the fuel tanks. Range was extended by fitting two 300 liter (80 US gallon) external tanks under the forward fuselage. About fifteen were built.
The trainer led to the impressive "Me-262B-1a/U1" night fighter, with "FuG-218 Neptun" long-wavelength radar and "Naxos" centimetric-radar-homing gear, plus armament of two MK-108 30 millimeter cannon and two MG-151 20 millimeter cannon. The type was put through trials in October 1944 by the well-known Hajo Hermann. The Neptun "antler" antennas slowed the aircraft down, but it was still faster than the hated British Mosquito, which preyed on German night-fighters.
During the following winter, Kurt Welter, head of "Kommando Stamp", used Me-262A-1a day fighters for "Wilde Sau (Wild Boar)" night fighting, and in April the unit obtained a few of the Me-262B-1a/U1 night-fighter variants. Despite all the difficulties, Welter claimed 20 kills, making him one of the first jet aces and likely the highest-scoring jet ace in all history.
By the end of the war, Messerschmitt was working on a prototype of the improved "Me-262B-2a" night fighter with a longer fuselage and increased fuel capacity. It was fitted with the Neptun radar at the outset, but there were plans to fit it with the "Berlin" centimetric radar, with improved range and resolutions and a dish hidden in the nose, instead of the clumsy and drag-inducing "antlers" of the long-wavelength radar. There was also consideration of fitting the Me-262B-2a with upward-firing cannon installed in the rear fuselage to allow it to attack RAF bombers from their belly blind spot.
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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