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.
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.
“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.
About the Author
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.
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.Barrett Tillman is a military expert with nearly forty books to his credit. He has contributed more than five hundred articles to aviation, military, and defense journals such as International Defense Review, Naval Institute Proceedings, and USAF Fighter Weapons Review. His recent works include a D-Day encyclopedia, a history of the Air Force, and a biography of Curtis LeMay. He has received five writing awards, including the second Admiral Radford Award for Naval History and Literature, and is an honorary member of three Navy squadrons. He has been honored by the Air Force Historical Foundation, the American Aviation Historical Society, and remains the youngest recipient of the Tailhook Association’s lifetime achievement award. He resides in Mesa, Arizona.
Table of Contents
List of TablesForewords by Jorg Czypionka and Barrett TillmanAcknowledgmentsIntroduction Chapter 1 Too Little, Too LateChapter 2 On the Drawing BoardChapter 3 Test FlightsChapter 4 In the FieldChapter 5 Competition and InnovationChapter 6 The Stormbird Takes WingChapter 7 A Questionable Political DecisionChapter 8 First EncountersChapter 9 Challenges of the JetChapter 10 Night and DayChapter 11 Fighting the FightersChapter 12 Fighting the BombersChapter 13 Kommando NowotnyChapter 14 The Death of NowotnyChapter 15 Kommando Nowotny Carries OnChapter 16 Victories in the Face of DefeatChapter 17 Allied Forces Fight BackChapter 18 The Last Death Throes of JG-7Chapter 19 Galland and the Squadron of ExpertsChapter 20 The Loss of SteinhoffChapter 21 Back in the AirChapter 22 Galland’s Last MissionChapter 23 The End of the War and JV-44Chapter 24 Operations Lusty and Paperclip: The Postwar Scramble for Jets Appendix 1 “My Last Mission” by Joe PetersburAppendix 2 German Ranks and MedalsAppendix 3 Additional Me 262 Data BibliographyNotes