Hitler’s Jet Planes - The Me 262 Story
By Mano Ziegler
Pen and Sword (www.pen-and-sword.co.uk )
RRP GBP £12.99
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The history of both World War 2 and aviation ignite the attention and interest of many members of the general public. In some ways those holidays in far flung destinations in which jet aircraft are used to travel owe their origins to the designers of Hitler’s Jet Planes. The jet engine was developed almost concurrently in both Germany and Great Britain but the Germans were first with a jet aircraft.
The origins of all post-war jets can be traced to the aeronautical research efforts of Nazi Germany. The Me 262 was the world’s first operational military jet and its importance as an aeronautical milestone cannot be understated. There were high-hopes in the upper echelons of Nazi Germany (including Hitler himself) who thought that it would be a “miracle weapon” but sadly it was a little too late in the war for its true significance could be achieved.
Hitler took a personal interest in the Me 262 and the author was involved (often from a pilot’s perspective) from the inception of the project, through its design and its testing. The stories of the planes in the book are fascinating and there are excellent descriptions of the maiden flights flown by the brave test pilots.
The author’s eloquent text describes the history of the planes and how the internal politics of the Third Reich caused significant delays to the programme. The fighter versus the bomber configuration caused massive delays to the programme and re-designs.
The book not only examines the design and development of the jet planes but also their operational usage. These pages “suck” you into the text and make you feel that you too are involved in the “dog-fights”.
It concludes with a description of the last flight of a Me 262 by a German. This flight was most poignant because it was a new prototype version with special armament and the pilot flying it had to abandon the plane. This specific plane had been “commandeered” by the Americans for technical evaluation.
The outstanding history of the planes is highly captivating and I can state with confidence that you will not want to put the book down until you have finished reading it. It is superb and the histories of these planes are a major milestone in the development of aeronautical technology. The author deserves recognition for this volume which commemorates such major technical developments.