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The Me 262 Stormbird: From the Pilots Who Flew, Fought, and Survived Itby Colin D. Heaton
Synopses & Reviews
The introduction of the Me 262 Stormbird jet fighter was a potential game changer for the Germans in World War II, but production delays and a shortage of pilots minimized its impact on the war. Nevertheless, jet engines were the way of the future, and the Stormbird loomed large in the experiences of the World War II pilots who flew and fought the first jet fighter.
In The Me 262 Stormbird, Colin D. Heaton (The German Aces Speak) covers the iconic fighter in detail, often in the words of the men who flew it or fought it. From Willi Messerschmitt’s original designs, through the early technical difficulties and flight tests, and eventual introduction of the aircraft into the war, Heaton covers the Stormbird’s history in detail alongside fascinating anecdotes from many of Germany’s top aces—and the Allied airmen who went head to head with the futuristic jet while flying their prop-driven planes.
Heaton also covers the political machinations involved in getting approval for the jet—Hitler was personally involved—as well as the infighting among the Luftwaffe’s senior officers, some of whom wanted the aircraft designed as a fighter and others who wanted it designed as a bomber.
The first Me 262 squadron, ultimately designated as JG-7, and Adolf Galland’s squadron, JV-44, are covered extensively, along with the two-seater Me 262 night fighter. Heaton rounds out his narrative with the American perspective of Allied airmen who faced the 262, as well as an analysis of the Stormbird program and its post-war impact. The Me 262 Stormbird is a definitive account of this state-of-the-art aircraft.
“We were flying the most advanced aircraft in the world, but were on a short leash. We were outnumbered perhaps one hundred to one every time we went up, and that does not count the bombers. Sometimes we had five or six jets for a mission. There were that many American or British fighters hanging around our airfields during daylight and maybe four to five hundred enemy fighters passed by during the day, every day. It was incredible, and morale was still high among all of us.” —Georg-Peter Eder, German Fighter Ace
The Me 262 Stormbird covers the complete history of the cutting-edge German jet fighter from original design until it went into battle late in World War II, as well as its legacy in the age of jet propulsion in the mid-twentieth century. Colin D. Heaton (The German Aces Speak) interviewed many of the people involved with the Stormbird, including the men who flew it and the Allied airmen who fought against it, creating a personal yet detailed account of this iconic aircraft.
The Me 262 was the first of its kind, the first jet-powered aircraft. Although conceived before the war, with the initial plans being drawn in April 1939, the Stormbird was beset with technological (particularly the revolutionary engines) and political difficulties, resulting in it not entering combat until August 1944, with claims of nineteen downed Allied aircraft. The performance of the Me 262 so far exceeded that of Allied aircraft that on 1 Sepember 1944, USAAF General Carl Spaatz remarked that if greater numbers of German jets appeared, they could inflict losses heavy enough to force cancellation of the Allied daylight bombing offensive.
The story of how the Stormbird came to be is fascinating history, and it comes to life in the hands of noted historian Colin Heaton. Told largely in the words of the German aces who flew it, The Me 262 Stormbird provides the complete history of this remarkable airplane from the drawing boards to combat in the skies over the Third Reich. Features two forewords, one by Jorg Czypionka, Me 262 night fighter pilot, and another by historian and author Barrett Tillman.
About the Author
Professor Colin D. Heaton served in the U.S. Army and later the U.S. Marines. He was a guest historian on the History Channel program Dogfights: "Secret Weapons," and he has authored several books of military history, including German Anti-Partisan Warfare in Europe 1939--1945 and Night Fighters: The Luftwaffe and RAF Air Combat over Europe, 1939--1945, which he coauthored with Anne-Marie Lewis. He has taught history and military history at American Military University. Anne-Marie Lewis received her BA with honors and MA from American Military University in international relations and is also a professional photographer. She coauthored Night Fighters: The Luftwaffe and RAF Air Combat over Europe 1939--1945 with Colin Heaton, and also Noble Warrior: The Story of Maj. Gen. James E. Livingston, USMC (Ret.), Medal of Honor with Colin Heaton and Maj. Gen. James E. Livingston.
Anne-Marie Lewis received her BA with honors and MA from American Military University in international relations and is also a professional photographer. Anne-Marie lives in Southport, North Carolina.Professor Colin D. Heaton served in the U.S. Army and later the U.S. Marines as a scout sniper under Livingston's command. He was a guest historian on the History Channel program Dogfights: Secret Weapons and has authored several books of military history: German Anti-Partisan Warfare in Europe 1939--1945 (Schiffer Publishing 2001); Night Fighters: The Luftwaffe and RAF Air Combat over Europe, 1939--1945 (Naval Inst. Press, 2008), which he coauthored with Anne-Marie Lewis; and Occupation and Insurgency: A Selective Examination of The Hague and Geneva Conventions on the Eastern Front (Algora, 2008). He has taught history and military history at American Military University. Anne-Marie Lewis (Southport, NC) has coauthored Night Fighters: The Luftwaffe and RAF Air Combat over Europe 1939--1945, The German Aces Speak, Noble Warrior, and is working on a biography of Hans Marseille with Colin Heaton.
Barrett Tillman is the author of Whirlwind in addition to more than 40 books and 550 articles. Tillman's work has been cited in dozens of history books and has been used as course work by the air force, the navy, and Marine Corps. He lives in Arizona with his wife, Sally.
Table of Contents
List of Tables
Forewords by Jorg Czypionka and Barrett Tillman
Chapter 1 Too Little, Too Late
Chapter 2 On the Drawing Board
Chapter 3 Test Flights
Chapter 4 In the Field
Chapter 5 Competition and Innovation
Chapter 6 The Stormbird Takes Wing
Chapter 7 A Questionable Political Decision
Chapter 8 First Encounters
Chapter 9 Challenges of the Jet
Chapter 10 Night and Day
Chapter 11 Fighting the Fighters
Chapter 12 Fighting the Bombers
Chapter 13 <I>Kommando Nowotny
Chapter 14 The Death of Nowotny
Chapter 15 <I>Kommando Nowotny Carries On
Chapter 16 Victories in the Face of Defeat
Chapter 17 Allied Forces Fight Back
Chapter 18 The Last Death Throes of JG-7
Chapter 19 Galland and the Squadron of Experts
Chapter 20 The Loss of Steinhoff
Chapter 21 Back in the Air
Chapter 22 Galland’s Last Mission
Chapter 23 The End of the War and JV-44
Chapter 24 Operations Lusty and Paperclip: The Postwar Scramble for Jets
Appendix 1 “My Last Mission” by Joe Petersbur
Appendix 2 German Ranks and Medals
Appendix 3 Additional Me 262 Data
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