What if the first jet-versus-jet combat occurred five or six years before the Korean War? It could have happened. The Luftwaffe fielded the first Messerschmitt 262s in the summer and fall of 1944, within
weeks of the RAF’s initial deployment of Gloster Meteors.
First flown in July 1942, the 540mph Messerschmitt jet
equipped fighter, bomber, and reconnaissance units starting
in mid-1944. Meanwhile, the twin-engine Gloster enjoyed a far
quicker path to service, barely 16 months from March 1943 to
Though the Meteor represented a revolutionary advance in
Allied aircraft design, its performance was comparable to or
even inferior to most piston fighters.
The Me 262A was rated some 100mph faster than the
Meteor Mk I and easily outclimbed the British fighter. The
German Jumo engines produced nearly 2,000 pounds of thrust
versus the 1,700 pounds of Rolls-Royce jets, affording a lower
power loading. The Meteor’s far lighter wing loading, however,
would have permitted it to outmaneuver the German at any
altitude. Both had cannon armament: The Germans had 30mm
weapons and the British 20mm.
Meteors flew with only No. 616 Squadron during the war,
occasionally chasing down V-1 buzz bombs.
Meteor versus Me 262
SCHWALBE AND METEOR, SIDE BY SIDE
Me-262A-1 Meteor Mk I
Length 34. 7 feet 41.2 feet
Wingspan 41.0 feet 43.0 feet
Wing area 234.0 sq. feet 374.0 sq. feet
Weight, empty 8,400 lb. 8,139 lb.
Weight, loaded 15,720 lb. 13,819 lb.
Engines Jumo 004B turbos (1,980 lb. each) Rolls-Royce W.2B turbos (1,700 lb. each)
Velocity (max) 540mph 436mph (at 15,000 feet)
Range 650 miles 500(?) miles
Service ceiling 37,500 feet 34,000 feet
Climb rate 3,900fpm 2,500fpm (at 10,000 feet)
Wing loading 67.1 lb./sq. ft. 36. 9 lb./sq. ft.
Thrust-to-weight ratio 0.28 0.40
Armament Four 30mm cannon Four 20mm cannon
Amount produced 1,430 3,940
First flight April 18, 1941 (piston)/July 18, 1942 (jets) March 5, 1943
GLOSTER ME TEOR, OWNED BY TEMORA GROUP
;PHOTO BY JOHN DIBBS/PLANEPIC TURE.COM;
ME 262, OWNED BY FLUGMUSEUM MESSERSCHMI T T,
MANCHING, GERMANY ;PHOTO BY BRIAN SILCOX;