Germany's Messerschmitt Me 262 was by far the fastest fighter of World War II. In addition to its Jumo 004 turbojet powerplants, its swept wings were a further innovation that made the Me 262 one of the most extraordinary designs of World War II. The Me 262 A-1a achieved the incredible speed for its time of 497 mph - almost 125 mph faster than the North American P-51 Mustang. The Me 262 not only enjoyed superior speed, but it also had deadly firepower: a total of (4) Mk.108 30 mm cannon were mounted in the nose of the fighter variant. Its operational service, however, was hampered by its temperamental engines and under-strength undercarriage.

About 1,400 Me 262s were produced, but a maximum of 200 were operational at the same time. According to sources they destroyed from 300 to 450 enemy planes, with the Allies destroying about 100 Me 262s in the air. While Germany was bombed intensively, production of the Me 262 was dispersed into low-profile production facilities, sometimes little more than clearings in the forests of Germany and occupied countries. Through the end of February to the end of March 1945, approximately 60 Me 262s were destroyed in attacks on Obertraubling and 30 at Leipheim; the Neuburg jet plant itself was bombed on 19 March 1945.


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