Arguably, the Me262 left behind the greatest legacy of any WWII-era aircraft: the Jet Age. Entering combat in 1944, the Me262 could outrun anything in the Allied inventory, including the mighty P-51 Mustang. Unfortunately for the Luftwaffe, it was too little, too late.

The Me262A has one primary advantage: speed. It's not very maneuverable at slow speed and suffers from rather poor acceleration, making it extremely vulnerable during takeoffs and landings. In fact, by the end of the war, the Luftwaffe positioned Fw190s and Bf109s over Me262 bases for protection. The Me262 pilot must climb to altitude and accelerate well outside of the combat arena. In combat, the Me262 must perform hit-and-run attacks, taking a snapshot, then extending away from the target and repositioning for a new attack.

Naturally, flying 500 mph. reduces the length of each attack run. Consequently, there's less time to aim the guns before the jet goes screaming past the target. The pilot must resist the urge to turn with his opponent; turning quickly bleeds speed, leaving the Me262 a sitting duck for the target's wingman. Flying the Me262 takes great discipline, great patience, and great aim. It takes a lot of practice to become proficient with the Me262.

Messerschmitt Me.262A-1 Schwalbe (View Cockpit)

Wingspan: 40 ft. 11 in.
Length: 34 ft. 9 in.
Height: 12 ft. 7 in.
Wing Area: 234 sq. ft.
Engine: 2 x Junkers Jumo 109-004B turbojets, 1,980 lb. thrust
Fuel: 440 gal. internal
Loaded Weight: 14,100 lb.
Wing Loading: 60 lb./sq. ft.
Maximum Speed: 540 mph.
Service Ceiling: 37,560 ft.
Rate of Climb: 3,940 ft./min
Combat Radius: 150 miles
Armaments: 4 x 30mm MK-108 cannons
Ammunition: 100 rds/gun (above), 80 rds/gun (below)

Notes: Dramatic throttle changes frequently caused engine fires or flame outs, so fly the Me262 with care. The Me262a should be flown clean in all but one instance. For intercept missions, which was the most common tactical employment of the Me262a, add the 24 R4M Missiles. These are extremely useful in breaking up formations of bombers so that individual stragglers can be more easily attacked. When using R4M Missiles, make sure you are firing at a point above the bombers. The missiles are affected by gravity much more swiftly than higher speed machine-gun or cannon fire, so you must compensate for their arc of flight to be effective.