In early 1999, the Me 262 Project
was "peacefully recovered" from the Texas Airplane Factory
after repeated efforts to restart the production line (idle
throughout 1997) failed. The net result of this action was
that Classic Fighter Industries Inc., was forced to physically
relocate the project, in it's entirety, for completion elsewhere.
The incomplete fuselages -- and
all related materiel to include special tools, subassemblies
and parts -- were transferred to a holding facility in Fort
Worth, pending overland shipment to a pair of CFII-leased
hangars at Paine Field, Washington.
Located just outside of Seattle,
Paine Field (a.k.a. Snohomish County Airport) provides the
perfect setting for project completion and flight-testing.
The field's proximity to the Boeing production facilities
also means that the team with have a wealth of local expertise
and subcontracting options.
The logistics of relocating the
entire production line required careful preparation and planning,
as the process involved not only the movement of the five
main fuselages, but also a number of wing assemblies, engine
castings, fuel cells, seat frames, horizontal and vertical
stabilizers, landing gear components and literally thousands
of related parts. Many of these components were still
in their support frames and specialized jigs, and presented
unique challenges as the loadout began.
In Seattle, the project has been
entrusted to the capable hands of Bob Hammer. Hammer has experience
in building and/or restoring a number of exceptional aircraft,
and will coordinate all aspects of the effort, to include
engineering support and actual construction on the shop floor.
The airframe shown in the third
and fourth photos (at right) is the original pattern machine,
captured in Germany in 1945, and flown by the American team
Whizzers. This plane has been undergoing concurrent
duplication and restoration and will be returned to U.S. Navy
control upon completion in late 1999. Prior to this
effort, this was the only unrestored Me 262 left in the United
States, and one of only two non-preserved examples of the
type in the entire world (the other being in Australia).
Also shown is a two-seater
jet that has progressed to the joining of wing and fuselage
assemblies. It is resting on its landing gear, waiting
to be towed to the loading point.
The next view shows an incomplete
wing, awaiting transport in its supporting structure.
Construction of the wing assembly constitutes nearly 50% of
any airplane building effort, and completion of the wings
will be among the most important tasks to be performed in
Seattle. As noted above, compounding the transportation difficulties
is the fact that these wings-in-progress must be shipped within
the jig assemblies.
The camera has captured a number
of subassemblies and components in the succeeding image.
Included among the parts are a pair of fuel cells, a Mk-108
cannon mockup and several seat frames (in the background). There
are literally thousands of such parts associated with
this production effort.
In the last photograph,
one of the Jumo 004 engine castings is shown mounted
to a frame which duplicates the actual wing mounting points.
This impressively engineered shroud will contain a GE J-85
/ CJ-610 engine, allowing a completely authentic appearance
to be maintained when the cowlings of the engine nacelle are
opened for display.
More importantly, these housings
will insure that the wing moments and weight distribution
of the original Me 262 design are preserved with the new powerplants,
which are far smaller and lighter. For
additional information on the design and engineering of these
castings, see the technical