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Ta 152H and Me 262A

By Sakhal

These two aircraft, very different technically, were the pinnacle of what aeronautical technology could deliver in their time. The Ta 152H was one of the last piston-engine fighters ever designed, because in 1945 these were already saying their last words to welcome the all-new turbojets, represented here by the Me 262A, the first turbojet fighter that operated in a battlefield. Both aircraft were excellent albeit very different: while one of them represented the most refined of a traditional technology the other represented the material realization of an experimental technology. Ironically, the turbojet aircraft arrived first to - and excelled in - the battlefield while the piston-engine aircraft had no chance to prove itself due to severe mechanical problems.

Focke-Wulf Ta 152H

Created by Kurt Tank, the Ta 152 was essentially a development, with larger wingspan and an engine Junkers Jumo 213E, of the former Fw 190C. The first Ta 152H were delivered to a special trials unit in the first weeks of 1945, taking part in combat very few exemplars (mainly - and curiously - in the defense of the bases of the Me 262), being the largest part of the roughly 200 aircraft built, destroyed in land before being commissioned by the Luftwaffe. The versions of lesser wingspan Ta 152B and Ta 152C, of escort at mid altitude and heavy fighter, respectively, did not go further the stages of prototype and development, also respectively, before the capitulation of Germany.

The development prototypes of the Ta 152H (denominated Fw 190 V18/U2, V29/U1, V30/U1, V32/U2 and V33/U1, former prototypes of the Fw 190C) were for a fighter able to operate at high altitudes, propelled with an in-line engine Junkers Jumo 213E. The lighter density of the air at high altitudes was the reason for the increase of wingspan in respect of previous models. Besides, the Jumo 213E was an engine specially adapted for operating at high altitudes. Different configurations for the armament were considered, and the final prototypes (denominated Ta 152 V3, V4, V5, V25 and V26) had installed one MK 108 30-millimeter cannon firing through the axis of the propeller and one MG 151 20-millimeter cannon in each wing. This heavy armament was required to destroy efficiently the heavy bombers that were attacking massively Germany during 1944-45. These prototypes were fitted with the same engine Jumo 213E and the V25 was not completed.

The pre-series model Ta 152H-0 included a pressurized cockpit and an auxiliary droppable fuel tank and the variant Ta 152H-0/R11 was equipped with all-weather flight instrumental. The series model Ta 152H-1 had increased fuel capacity and overpower systems MW 50 and GM 1, which injected water-methanol and nitrous oxide, respectively, in the engine, increasing its power output to up to 2050 horsepower. The largest part of these aircraft (version Ta 152H-0/R11) had installed all-weather flight instrumental. Of the version Ta 152H-1 more than 190 exemplars were built. The versions Ta 152H-2, H-10 and H-12 were left in project stage. In total, more than 215 exemplars of the Ta 152 were built.

Ta 152H and Me 262A

The cockpit instruments of the Ta 152H showing the typical gauges: altitude, airspeed, artificial horizon, compass, engine RPM, engine temperature, fuel load, etc...

Ta 152H and Me 262A

The Ta 152H had a particularly slender silhouette and not surprisingly it was the one of the fastest piston-engine fighters existing in 1945.

Ta 152H and Me 262A

Ta 152H and Me 262A

The Ta 152H firing its three guns.

Specifications for Ta 152H-1

Type: High-altitude fighter

Propulsion plant: One Junkers Jumo 213E of 1750 horsepower

Maximum speed at sea level: 535 kilometers/hour

Maximum speed at an altitude of 12500 meters: 760 kilometers/hour

Cruising speed: 500 kilometers/hour

Maximum operational range: 2000 kilometers

Initial climb rate: 1050 meters/minute

Service ceiling: 14800 meters

Weight (empty): 3920 kilograms

Weight (maximum): 5220 kilograms

Wingspan: 14.44 meters

Length: 10.71 meters

Height: 3.30 meters

Wing area: 23.30 square meters

Armament: One MK 108 30-millimeter cannon firing through the propeller axis and two MG 151 20-millimeter cannons in the wings

Messerschmitt Me 262

The Messerschmitt Me 262 was the first turbojet fighter that took part in operations ever, entering service, as an experimental unit, in the early summer of 1944. Given the insistence from Hitler regarding its development as "Blitz-bomber", it was initially used as such in the Western Front, from August 1944; however soon after it was allowed, parallely, its normal development as fighter, equipping several units during the last months of the war, including an elite one composed of veteran pilots with great experience. Parallely it was used by some specialized Staffeln of short-range reconnaissance and even as night fighter in the defense of Berlin. The program started to convert four KG (Bomber Wings) in fighter units equipped with the Me 262 was interrupted by the end of the war, happening the same to the development of the version Me 262C "Heimatschutzer" (Protector of the Homeland), which used an additional engine. After the war the Me 262 was produced in small scale by Avia in Czechoslovakia, in single and two-seater versions (denominated S-92 and CS-92, respectively), serving these until the mid 1950s.

Five initial prototypes were made for the Me 262 (V1 to V5), fitted with turbojet engines Jumo004A of 840 kg of thrust; the V1 was initially fitted with a piston engine Jumo 210G of 1200 horsepower. These first prototypes were unarmed. The Me 262A-0 was the pre-series model (and prototypes), with modified canopy and cockpit (pressurized); some of them armed with 1000 kilograms of bombs or rockets; 23 exemplars built. The initial series model was the Me 262A-1a, armed with four MK 108 30-millimeter cannons. The variant Me 262A-1a/U1 was armed with two MG 151 20 millimeters cannons, two MK 108 30-millimeter cannons and two MK 103 30-millimeter cannons, at prow; only three units built. The Me 262A-1a/U3 was the variant for reconnaissance, equipped with two photographic cameras in the nose and with the armament reduced to two MK 108 30-millimeter cannons. The Me 262A-1b was like the Me 262A-1a but with 24 R4M 55-millimeter rockets under the wings. The Me 262A-2a was the fighter-bomber version, like the Me 262A-1a, but with two bomb supports with capacity for 500 kilograms. The Me 262A-2a/U1 was a variant for dive bombing, fitted with TSA device for low-altitude and dive flight, and with the armament reduced to two Mk 108 30-millimeter cannons; only two exemplars were built, as trials models. The Me 262A-2a/U2 was a bomber variant with glazed prow and bombsight Lofte 7H; unarmed and with bombs load as in the Me 262A-2a; only one exemplar built for tests.

The Me 262A-3a was a version projected for ground strike. The Me 262A-5a was a fighter-reconnaissance version, with cameras and armament like the Me 262A-1a/U3, and two auxiliary droppable fuel tanks. The Me 262B-1a was the two-seater training version fitted with dual controls. The Me 262B-1a/U1 was a two-seater night fight version, with armament like the Me 262A-1a, and equipped with radars FuG 218 Neptun and FuG 350 Naxos. The Me 262B-2a was another night fighter version, with elongated fuselage and increased fuel capacity; radars and armament like in the Me 262B-1a/U1, and also two MK 108 30-millimeter cannons installed in oblique position in the fuselage ("Schrage Musik"); only one exemplar built. The Me 262C-1a or "Heimatschutzer I" was a variant with an additional rocket engine Walter RII-211/3 in the rear part of the fuselage; only one was built, by conversion from a Me 262A-1a. The Me 262C-2b or "Heimatschutzer II" was propelled by two turbojet engines BMW 003A of 800 kilograms of thrust, with an additional rocket engine BMW 718 each, for a combined thrust of 1225 kilograms. The Me 262C-3 was a modification of the Me 262C-1a, with an additional rocket engine R11-211/3 installed externally in ventral position; project only. Total production for the Me 262 reached more than 1100 exemplars.

Ta 152H and Me 262A

The cockpit of the Me 262 offered nothing special in comparison with a piston-engine aircraft. In this case we can see the gauges for each of the two engines in the right part of the instruments panel while flight indicators are in the left part. The gunsight is displaced to the right to ease frontal visibility.

Ta 152H and Me 262A

This view shows the particular shape of the fuselage and the four cavities of the cannons. The first prototypes of the Me 262 were built with landing gear in rear tricycle, like the traditional piston-engine aircraft, but it was soon seen that a fore tricycle layout would benefit visibility during takeoff and landing maneuvers.

Ta 152H and Me 262A

Ta 152H and Me 262A

Ta 152H and Me 262A

This view shows the swept edges on the wings and stabilizers specially designed for high speed flight. The Me 262 was unique as well in this regard, for no other contemporary aircraft in service had such feature. However, the high speed developed by the turbojets had a disadvantage: an increased turning radius in comparison to piston-engine fighters, an unwelcome feature in a time when air combat was mostly "aerobatic". But this inconvenience was attenuated by the fact that the Me 262 had been prepared to destroy bombers and not other fighters.

Ta 152H and Me 262A

The armament installed in the Me 262 was the heavier one seen in any aircraft of its type until then. Such a heavy armament was intended for the prompt destruction of large bombers. The counterpart was that the 30 millimeters ammunition takes much space and hence the Me 262 suffered from ammunition shortage in comparison to the other fighters.

Specifications for Me 262A-1a

Type: Interceptor fighter

Propulsion plant: Two turbojet engines Junkers Jumo 004B-1/-2/-3 of 900 kilograms of thrust each

Maximum speed at an altitude of 6000 meters: 870 kilometers/hour

Normal operational range: 845 kilometers

Time to reach to an altitude of 6000 meters: 6 minutes 48 seconds

Service ceiling: 11500 meters

Weight (empty): 3800 kilograms

Weight (full load): 6400 kilograms

Wingspan: 12.48 meters

Length: 10.60 meters

Height: 3.83 meters

Wing area: 21.70 square meters

Armament: Four MK 108 30-millimeter cannons at prow

Article updated: 2015-07-05

Categories: Aircraft - World War Two - 20th Century - [General] - [General]


Website: Military History

Article submitted: 2014-10-27

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