The Me 262 Stormbird

The Me 262 Stormbird: From the Pilots Who Flew, Fought, and Survived It (2012) by Colin Heaton describes the development of the Me 262 and how it was used and how some of the more famous units that flew it fared. The book also has appendices that catalog Me 262 pilots.

The Me 262 was a remarkable aircraft, it was the first operation jet fighter and was developed by the Germans during WWII when they were under incredible strain. After the war with far greater resources at their disposal it would take the US and the Soviets five years to build axial flow jets with swept wings like the Me 262. However, the Me 262 was incredibly unreliable with engines that lasted on average 10 hours and flamed out if the throttle was moved in any way but very gently. The Me 262 also had R4M rockets which were remarkably destructive but again, only when they worked. The electrical systems on the plane were also incredibly fragile. In addition while the 262 was almost unbeatable once it was flying comfortably it was also very vulnerable on take off and landing.The 262 was also flown against incredible odds. It was common for 50 to 1 or 100 to 1 to be the ratio of German aircraft to Allied aircraft when it was in service.

The book’s chapters on development are really interesting and discuss why a number of senior German officials didn’t fully support the program. While the Me 262 was an eventual success it wasn’t clear it always would have been. The book also discusses what would have happened if the Germans had brought the plane into service a year earlier and in numbers. It could, potentially have halted the Allied bombing campaign and possibly lengthened the war. The possibility that this would have resulted in Atomic Weapons being used against Germany is not discussed.

The chapters of the book on the operational use of the Me 262 are definitely interesting initially but become repetitive. The book also seems to collate information available in other books, however it provides an informative and interesting summary on the Kindle. The book also has a short interesting discussion on how the Allies scoured Germany for pilots and Me 262s after the war in order to strengthen their own militaries.

It’s a good book on a fascinating subject. It could have done with better editing. There are some really poor sentences in the book. The book is also padded with Me 262 pilot records that would be better just be kept online somewhere. But overall the book is an interesting account of the development of an incredible fighter and its operational history.







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