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O'Connell, Dan. Messerschmitt Me 262: The Production Log, 1941-1945. Hinckley, UK: Classic Publications, 2005
Introduction; Preface; Glossary and Abbreviations; Source References; photos; maps
Not many World War II aircraft exude as much glamor and mystique as the Me 262. In addition to being the most advanced Luftwaffe aircraft of the war (the most advanced aircraft of any air force during the war, some might argue), the relative paucity of records surviving the war means the Me 262 can't be completely documented in primary source materials. Nevertheless, for years authors and researchers have labored to assemble the full story of the development of the aircraft and its operational employment. Among the strongest efforts in that regard, Classic has also published the four-volume Me 262 series by J. Richard Smith and Eddie Creek. (Volumes of that series won awards here as some of the top books of 1998.)
As Smith and Creek explain in their Introduction to this book, they had originally intended to include a plane-by-plane listing of data in their series, but the information was squeezed out due to space limitations. Subsequently Dan O'Connell appeared on the scene with his own massive database of Me 262 aircraft, and the eventual result was this separate Me 262 volume from Classic, The Production Log.
Where Smith and Creek (and most of the other Me 262 historians) took a more traditional narrative approach to their topic, O'Connell approaches the jets from another direction. This volume is almost entirely comprised of tabular data arranged on an aircraft-by-aircraft basis.
To begin with, the author explains the manner in which Me 262s were manufactured and identified:
The majority of the Me 262 aircraft built during the war were
primarily assembled from sub-components shipped to dispersed
forest locations known as Waldwerk. Three of these, Leipheim,
Schwabisch-Hall and Kuno I, operated under the control of the parent
Messerschmitt GmbH at Augsburg. The other two, Obertraubling and
Neuburg am Donau (Zell), operated under the 'shadow' factory of the
Messerschmitt AG at Regensburg. An additional assembly operation,
Kuno II at Riedheim across the Donau River from Leipheim was planned,
but no current evidence exists that it was built. In addition to this a small
number of Me 262s, perhaps 27, were completed by REIMAHG at
Kahla/Thuringen. REIMAHG was an abbreviation of Reichsmarschall
Hermann Goring, an underground plant designed specifically to produce
Me 262s using a large proportion of slave labour. There is also additional
evidence that perhaps a number of Me 262s were produced at Eger-Cheb
in Czechoslovakia although the Werknummer blocks of these aircraft
have not been established with certainty at this point. LBB (Leichtbau
Budweis) in Budweis, Czechoslovakia, additionally assembled at least
six, and possibly up to 30 aircraft.
Aircraft produced under the control of Messerschmitt GmbH at
Augsburg had Werknummern in the 130000, 170000, 110000, 111000,
112000 and 113000 series, those under the control of Regensburg in the
500000, and 501000 series, and those at Kahla in the low 110 series (and
possibly 100000). Documents exist defining the 130000, 170000, 110000,
111000, 112000, 113000, 500000, and 501000 Werknummer series. In
some instances, deviations were made, and in these cases the author has
attempted to outline these consistent with available information.
At the end of the list that follows, the author has included
Werknummern of which some may be from unknown production blocks.
These numbers have been recorded in Flugbucher (flight logbooks) or
official documents, but may well be inaccurately recorded. It is also thought
that possibly aircraft that were rebuilt, i.e. some B-1a two seat trainers, may
have received Werknummern outside the original production blocks.
After arming readers with that knowledge, O'Connell launches into about 175 pages of data. The Me 262s are listed by werknummern (serial numbers) and for each aircraft the author lists its call sign (when known), a series of three-letter codes identifying the source of the data, and one or more paragraphs of text providing all known details about that particular machine. For some planes (especially the early prototypes) the text can amount to a page a or more. For others, information is limited to a brief sentence or two. Here's a typical page of entries:
110806 Call sign GW+ZZ. Me 262 A-1a. Uffz. Sepp Gerstmayr test-flew it three times at Memmingen on 7
December 1944 between 10:13 and 10:30, 15:19 and 15:33, and an acceptance flight between 16:30 and
16:45. It was then transferred to Lechfeld before being transferred to I./JG 7. The ferry flight from Lechfeld
to Neumunster was made by Oblt. Fritz Stehle of 2./JG 7 on 13 January 1945. Stehle continued the transfer
the next day, delivering it to Kaltenkirchen on the 14th.
[aby afo agp]
110807 Me 262 A-1a. Uffz. Sepp Gerstmayr made a series of test flights in this aircraft at Memmingen. The first
was on 7 December 1944 between 09:15 and 09:30, the second and third on the 10th between 09:30 and
09:45, and 15:25 and 15:38. On 11 December he flew it between 14:34 and 14:40 and twice the next day,
between 14:34 and 14:44 and again between 16:02 and 16:22. It then was assigned to III./JG 7, where it
made an emergency landing due to engine failure on 28 February 1945 at Oranienburg airfield with 30 per
cent damage. Another document assigns it to I./JG 7 at this time.
[aao aby afo]
110808 Me 262 A-1a. On 15 December 1944 Ofw. Otto Kaiser made a Werkflug in this aircraft between 14:38 at
14:48 at Memmingen. It was quickly returned to Leipheim where it was tested between 15:46 to 16:06 by
Lt. Herbert Wagner later that day.
Delivered to 9./JG 7, it was flown on a 46 minute combat flight by Ofw. Hermann Buchner on 8
February 1945. He took off from Parchim at 15:29. Buchner continued to fly combat sorties from Parchim
in this aircraft, on 10 February between 09:13 and 09:54, and on the 16th between 16:06 until 16:38. At 12:29
on 17 February he took off from Parchim with Major Eder and Ofw. Zander. Heading north, they met a
bomber formation south of Bremen. As they attempted to attack from the rear they were confronted by
hundreds of defensive guns firing at them from long range. Unable to get into an attack position, Buchner
returned to Parchim and landed at 13:00.
Buchner continued to fly combat sorties, making a Schwarmflug on the 18th between 14:33 and 15:15.
On the 21st he attempted to bring down a reconnaissance aircraft between 12:04 and 12:58. Later that day
he flew an Alarmstart between 15:50 until 16:35. On the 22nd, Buchner took off as part of a Schwarm from
Parchim at 11:41. Near Stendal he succeeded in bringing down a P-51, returning at 12:45. On 25 February,
Buchner took off as part of a Schwarm from Parchim at 10:45 to intercept a reconnaissance aircraft. After
reaching 6,000 metres, the jets were recalled, landing at 10:53. Buchner took the jet up on the 26th for a
test flight between 17:08 and 17:15, and a practice flight on the 28th between 15:24 and 15:47. A further
combat mission was flown on 3 March between 09:49 when Buchner took off from Parchim with a
Schwarm in an attempt to engage enemy aircraft, returning at 10:38. His last known flight in this aircraft
took place later that day, between 15:29 until 16:25.
On 18 March 1945 Oblt. Gunther Wegmann, Staffelkapitan of 9./JG 7, took off from Parchim with a
Schwarm comprising Oblt. Seeler, Ofhr. Windisch and Lt. Schnorrer, to intercept US bombers in the vicinity
of Berlin. After closing to 400 metres Wegmann fired his R4M rockets at the B-17s of the 457th BG near
Rathenow at 11:20. The Schwarm returned for another pass, but near Glowen, Wegmann's aircraft was hit
by defensive fire. He was badly wounded, broke off the attack and headed for Parchim. As he descended
to 4,000 metres, the starboard engine caught fire, forcing Wegmann to bale out near Glowen/Wittenberge
Wast. The aircraft crashed and was totally destroyed near Wittenberge and Wegmann lost a leg. The
aircraft was normally flown by another pilot and had just had an engine change. Coded 'yellow 11'.
[aby afo agp ahl]
110809 Me 262 A-1a. This Me 262 took off from Giebelstadt with two others, one piloted by Obstlt. Riedesel, on 9
February but was badly shot up by bombers south of Limburg. The unnamed Ofw. pilot was unhurt, but
the aircraft was 50 per cent damaged. See W.Nr. 110609.
[aby afo agp]
110810 Me 262 A-1a. Einflieger Lt. Hans Munsterer made an orientation flight at Leipheim on 8 December 1944
between 12:20 and 12:39. Flown the same day by Einflieger Lt. Herbert Wagner between 15:30 and 15:40,
also an orientation flight. Delivered to III./JG 7 at Parchim. Flown by Ofw. Hermann Buchner of 9./JG 7 in
a Schwarmflug to Luneburg between 15:17 and 16:17 on 17 February 1945. Buchner returned to Parchim
the next day, leaving Luneburg at 09:35 and landing at 09:50. It was 70 per cent damaged on 21 February
when the Technical Officer of 9./JG 7, Lt. Karl Schnorrer, attempted to take off from Parchim, but the port
tyre burst. Coded 'yellow 14'.
[aao aby afo agp aku]
In the second part of the book, O'Connell turns his attention to references to Me 262s which remain as yet unidentified. Amounting to about thirty-five pages, these entries use the same three-letter codes to identify the source of the material. In this part of the book, however, because no serial number can be identified, the entries are listed by date, beginning with February 1944 and ending in May 1945, plus some unknown dates. These listingsunderstandablymostly prove to be brief and cryptic. Here are some examples:
27/04 Lt. (Oblt) Henning Guide (or Staka), Staffelkapitan of
7./KG(J) 6 was KIA in an Me 262 A-1a after he was shot down
by fighters west of Prag.
27/04 Hptm. Walache of III./KG(J) 6 crashed at Teplitz-Grosachoau
after attacking USSR forces south of Cottbus.
27/04 Lt. Pirchan (or Pircham) of JV 44 crashed at Oberwiesenfeld
airfield after both engines flamed out. He later died from his
27/04 Oblt. Leopold Beck of 1./KG(J) 54 (attached to Gefechtsverband
Hogeback) made a emergency landing in an Me 262 A at
Bohmen or Pardubitz (Pardubice), Czechoslovakia due to fuel
shortage and damage after attacking USSR forces. He was
unhurt but the aircraft was 30 per cent damaged, [adi]
27/04 Two Me 262 A-1a pilots of JG 7 were declared MIA after they
were shot down by the Soviet IL-2 Sturmoviks they were
attacking in the vicinity of Prag.
27/04 Ofw. Franz Gapp of 8./KG(J) 6 flew a combat mission in 'red 7'
from Prag-Rusin between 14:05 and 14:38. [ajm]
28/04 Lt. Georg Adam flying 'red 13', an Me 262 A-1a of JG 7, was
forced to crash-land at Warendorf due to lack of fuel and was
captured by US forces. He had just shot down an American
28/04 Three Me 262s of JG 7 were shot down while attacking Soviet
29/04 An Me 262 was claimed damaged and possibly destroyed
west of Hamburg by W/Cdr James Francis Edwards, 127
Wing, RCAF, flying a Spitfire XVI.
29/04 Three unknown jets of JG 7 were shot down while attacking
So concludes Messerschmitt Me 262: The Production Log, 1941-1945.
The book itself might not exude as much glamor and mystique as the aircraft, but Dan O'Connell has accomplished an impressive feat of research which must be considered the most complete and credible database of Me 262 knowledge to date. Hardcore fans of air research in general, the Luftwaffe, and in particular the Me 262 will find this work an indispensable reference tool, although it will probably hold less appeal for those with a casual interest. The only element missing from this book is an index, an unfortunate but forgivable oversight.
Available from online booksellers, local bookshops, or directly from Classic (an imprint of Ian Allan) or its US distributor, Specialty Press.
Thanks to Specialty for providing this review copy.
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Reviewed 5 February 2006
Copyright © 2006 by Bill Stone
May not be reproduced in any form without written permission of Stone & Stone