SPECIAL FEATURE: A FIGHTER PILOT REPORTS

Former USAAF Me 262 pilot Roy W. Brown reviews the project.

 

MARCH 1997.  The pattern aircraft is the only two-seater in the USA, and is the plane that we were checked out in at Lechfeld.  It was flown from Lechfeld to Cherbourg by way of Melun and brought to this country in 1945.

The fuselage of this aircraft is at one side of the hangar and is being restored.  It was stored outside at Willow Grove and had suffered considerable weathering and corrosion.  The use of both aluminum and steel in its construction contributed to corrosion due to galvanic effects.

The five fuselage shells of the reproduction aircraft are lined up nearby. Two of the planes will be two-seaters, two will be convertible between single-seater and two-seater and one will be a single-seater.  One fuselage has a two-seater cockpit installed. I was invited to climb in and sit in this one - which I did.

There are usually about twenty skilled mechanics there working on different things: cockpits, canopies, tails, landing gears, etc.

There are also thousands of parts.   As the original Me 262 was disassembled each part had to be identified and replicated five or six times. Many of the parts are complicated fittings and the new jets have to be hand made to exact dimensions.

The fuselage is quite wide because it was designed to hold the main landing wheels by their being swung up and inward when the gear was retracted.  The fuselage, therefore, had to be wide enough to hold the two tires, on their sides, side by side.    

On the main wheels, disc brakes were made to sit inside of  the wheels to replace the original drum brakes. The nose gear was also strengthened because of a reported weakness of the original nose gear. 

The original four machine guns were still in the nose of the Me 262 when it was obtained at Willow Grove.  The cockpit had been stripped of instruments but the guns had been covered by Fiberglas and were not noticed.  They are still in the Me 262 fuselage.  Dummy machine guns have been made and will be installed in the nose of the replicas. Since the dummy guns are much lighter, a weight is installed in each of the noses to make up for the extra weight of the guns.

 

The original pattern aircraft (#555).  Credit: Brown

New production fuselages.   Credit: Brown

Roy Brown in the new 262B.  Credit: Brown

The shop floor at TAF.  Credit: Brown

Roy Brown and Steve Snyder examine the Jumo 004 engine castings.  Credit: Brown

The well-known General Electric J-85/CJ 610 jet engines will replace the original Jumo 004 engines. The J-85 engine has a smaller diameter, is much shorter, much lighter and each one has a thousand pounds more thrust than the Jumo 004. The engine nacelles will be the same shape and size as the original nacelles. This is not only for appearance, but also to duplicate the aerodynamic characteristics.

A false engine housing will be installed so that if one opens the nacelle it will appear as if the original Jumo 004 is inside. The J-85 engine will be installed inside the aft end of this housing and a metal tube will be installed in the housing forward of the engine to direct incoming air to the engine inlet. The housing and tube are designed so that the weight of the nacelle will be the same as the weight of the original nacelle. This will result in the same forces on the wing as the original Me 262 and will reduce the forces at the wing root in conditions of high wing lift forces. In addition, the weight distribution, fore and aft, will be the same as in the original nacelle in order to keep the same force moment on the wing.

The workmanship is excellent and the planes look good.    

-- Roy W. Brown, "Watson's Whizzers" Project Pilot, 1945

Editor's note:  Although the author makes use of the term "machine guns" when discussing the Me 262's armament package, it has been called to our attention that the term "cannons" is more correct for a 30mm weapon.  The Mk 108 was technically an electrically fired automatic cannon.

 

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