Military Aviation

Watch the Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe WW II jet fighter displaying for the first time in the UK

Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe displaying for the first time in the UK

Filmed at RAF Fairford during Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) 2023 by our friend Dafydd Phillips, the video in this post shows Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe jet fighter displaying for the first time in the UK.

Phillips explains;

‘To see the first design operational jet fighter do a demonstration was going to be the holy grail for the Royal International Air Tattoo. Here we have the Me 262 Project, it’s a reproduction of the original Messerschmitt Me 262 that was designed by the Germans at the beginning of the Second World War.’

Developed from a 1938 design by the Messerschmitt company, the Me 262 Schwalbe was the world’s first operational turbojet aircraft. First flown under jet power on Jul. 18, 1942, it proved much faster than conventional airplanes. Development problems (particularly its temperamental engines), Allied bombings and cautious Luftwaffe leadership contributed to delays in quantity production.

The Schwalbe

On Jul. 25, 1944, an Me 262 became the first jet airplane used in combat when it attacked a British photo-reconnaissance Mosquito flying over Munich. As a fighter, the German jet scored heavily against Allied bomber formations. US Army Air Forces bombers, however, destroyed hundreds of Me 262s on the ground. Of the more than 1,400 Me 262s produced, fewer than 300 saw combat. Most Me 262s did not make it to operational units because of the destruction of Germany’s surface transportation system. Many of those that did were unable to fly because of lack of fuel, spare parts or trained pilots.

In 1993, the Me 262 project was created in Texas to produce replica airworthy examples of the Me 262 based off a genuine two-seat Me 262B-1 borrowed from the US Navy. The project was to build five aircraft, one single seat Me 262A-1, a pair of Me 262B-1 two seat examples, and a final pair which were capable of being converted from A-1 to B-1 as required. These replicas differed from the original aircraft by having strengthened undercarriage plus the use of modern reliable General Electric CJ610 Turbojet engines, disguised to look like the original Junkers Jumo 004B engines.

According to the Royal International Air Tattoo website, four of these replicas are airworthy and one took part in the flying display at RIAT 2023. This aircraft, registration D-IMTT is operated by Flugmuseum Messerschmitt and supported by the Airbus Heritage Flight. It has been based at Manching in Germany since its delivery in 2006. This marked the UK debut of one of these modern Me 262s and the first time a Me 262 has flown in UK skies since the 1940s.

Photo credit: Dafydd Phillips

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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