The Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe is an important innovation in aviation history, representing German weapons technologies during WWII in 1944, known as the year of the Wunderwaffen.
Beating the Allies to the Punch
Me 262 was the first operational jet fighter, engaged in air-to-air combat, beat Gloster Meteor in maiden and operational debut by 8 and 3 months, and was the fastest of the three jets.
Messing with the Messerschmitt
The German Me 262 jet fighter's development and deployment during WWII were hindered by bureaucratic meddling, with Hermann Göring's cut of expenditures for jet engine research being one of the setbacks.
Finally Getting Into the Fight
The Me 262 was better suited for attacking heavy bombers than dogfighting prop-driven fighters, and was vulnerable when landing; it had a kill-to-loss ratio of 542:100.
Where Are They Now?
Me 262s were built and some survive in museums worldwide, including the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, with one even appearing in a Clive Cussler novel.