According to the Collings Foundation, the Me 262 did not begin its life as a jet at all. For its creators, Messerschmitt, its initial development was similar to that of any other aircraft. The P.1065, as it was known at the beginning of the process in 1939, went through technical issues that will be infinitely familiar to anyone developing … absolutely anything today. Jet tech is especially volatile; remember Jay Leno’s jet car?
It was intended to be jet-propelled, but this only became possible several years later. During early testing, the Foundation explains, Junkers Jumo 210 engines powered it, as they had Messerschmidt models that preceded it: the Me 109 and Me 110. The aircraft’s development was hindered by a lack of resources, as the German command seemed to consider expensive jet technology unnecessary to prevail. Early Axis successes may very well have reinforced this view; 1942 and 1943 saw test flights, tweaks to the system, and scrambles for increasingly scarce materials that could be used in production, but the following year it finally joined the ranks of the Luftwaffe as a true jet fighter.
The revolutionary aircraft was equipped with frightful weapons, including a quartet of 30mm Mk108 cannons and mighty 250 kg bombs. Able to fly at up to 540 mph (around 869 kph), it was both speedy and formidable, a devastating opponent for the Allies to face.