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Influence of the Me262 on Post-War Aircraft

It is a generally well known fact that German designs for advanced jet aircraft (and rockets, for that matter) influenced postwar aircraft development to varying degrees. While the Allies preferred to copy from the very advanced German projects because they already had some experience with jet power, the Soviets had no such experience. Therefore, they took from already completed and proven designs. Primary among these were the Arado Ar234, Me163, and the Me262, the worlds first operational jet fighter.
        How exactly can we pin down the influence of the Me 262 in particular then? Well, we can start by ascertaining that the various high - speed trials with the Me 262 proved without a doubt the advantage of the swept wing over the straight wing (such as those featured on the Gloster Meteor and the Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star). Also, problems with compressibility were noted at speeds approaching the speed of sound. In layman's terms, because of the aircraft's speed, the air flow would increase pressure on the nose and start pushing it down. While it is true (as some writers seem intent on repeating loudly and often) that the Me 262s swept wing design was due to the need to adjust the center of gravity for the aircraft, it is also true that the Germans were aware of the advantages of the swept wing since the 30s! It is also true that design aesthetics by the design team, irrespective of any initial misgivings about practicality, influenced the wing shape of the 262.

        Here are the details; in 1933, the German aerodynamicists Busemann and O. Walchner published a scientific essay titled "Profile Characteristics at Supersonic Speed". By the next year, space flight pioneer Professor Eugen Sanger connected their research with his own rocket research writing a paper titled "Rocket Aircraft in Active Air Defense", pointing the way to the supersonic interceptor. And finally, a conference on high speed fight was held in Rome from September 8th to October 6th 1935. There the above mentioned Adolf Busemann from the Aviation Research Organization (LFA) in Braunschweig gave a lecture titled "Aerodynamic Lift at Supersonic Speed". In this historic lecture he described the swept wing effect to the aviation community. The story continues with many more interesting events over the years.

         But I digress. Back to the Me 262. The real surprise then is why was this knowledge of the swept wing not taken advantage of worldwide before it was experimentally proven on the Me 262. The only plausible (if somewhat vague) explanation was the resistance to new ideas found in all scientific circles. What concrete connections can we show between later aircraft and the Me 262 and later aircraft you ask? Don't worry, there is enough circumstantial and material evidence....

         The best way to approach this subject is to split it into subsections, highlighting the use of 262 technology by general countries and superpowers.




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