INITIAL FABRICATION & ASSEMBLY

The Early Days: work begins on the new Me 262s.

 

Work began at the Texas Airplane Factory in July of 1993.  After a thorough examination of the pattern aircraft, technicians first set about to create the jigs and fixtures necessary to support the project.

Technical drawings were available for some of the major sub-components, but most of the templates and design specifications had to be derived from the original aircraft in a labor intensive reverse- engineering process.

Concurrent fabrication of the fuselage, wings and cockpit tubs began almost immediately.  Due to the varying degrees of complexity associated with these components, each presented a different set of challenges.

Fuselage components were among the first parts to be fabricated.  For the most part, stringers could be readily copied from the originals, while supporting bulkheads required more tedious measurement before duplication.

Credit: David Oliver

Credit: David Oliver

Credit: David Oliver

 

In general, the work on the fuselage sections was quite involved due to the large number of parts involved and extensive custom fitting requirements. Many of the wing fixtures and jigs were completed early in the project, although the actual assembly of the wing was an extended and complex process.  Parts such as the aluminum ribs took shape much more quickly than the steel spars, which took several months, and hundreds of steps to complete.

Each of the modular cockpit inserts or "tubs" contains countless small parts in addition to critical control assemblies.  Special attention was given to the flight control systems and instrument panel blanks.  Related parts, such as the pilots seats were also fabricated during this time. Other major ongoing projects at TAF involved the custom manufacture of the improved brake and wheel assemblies, landing gear components (see the TECHNICAL section for more information on these two changes), and various flight surfaces.  

Considerable effort was required to faithfully duplicate complex parts which had not been built in more than five decades.  Not surprisingly, minor deficiencies were discovered throughout the process which required later correction and/or remanufacture.  Still, overall, the work progressed was progressing steadily.

Credit: David Oliver

Credit: David Oliver

By mid 1996, the classic lines of the Me 262 were clearly in evidence, and the fuselage structures were nearly complete.  As these photographs show, the jets progressed to a fairly advanced state, although much work remained -- especially on the wings, engines, and aircraft systems.  This work would later be completed at the Paine Field facility.

Photo credit: (first three images) David Oliver in FlyPast's Luftwaffe Eagles (1997)

 

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