The Messerschmitt Me 262 A-1a/U4 was a standard Me 262 modified to carry a Mk 214 50 mm cannon in the nose. The intention was to provide a weapon capable of destroying an American heavy bomber while remaining outside the range of the bomber formation’s defensive armament. Two prototypes were built. The aircraft was assigned to JV 44 and was flown operationally twice against American bomber streams on 16APR45; the cannon jammed on both flights.
Major Wilhelm “Willi” Herget began the war as a Bf 110 Zerstörer pilot and fought in the Battle of France and the Battle of Britain. He then transitioned to nightfighters. He scored a total of 57 night victories, his best night was on 20DEC44 when he was credited with downing eight RAF bombers. He trained to fly the Messerschmitt Me 262 and was assigned to JV 44. He finished the war with the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and was credited with a total of 73 victories and over 700 operational sorties. He died in Stuttgart in 1974.
Messerschmitt Me 262A-1a of Hans Waldmann, 3. / JG 7, Kaltenkirchen, Germany, March 1945. Revell of Germany kit.
Hans Peter Waldmann scored the majority of his 134 victories flying the Bf 109 with JG 52 on the Eastern Front. In early July 1944 Waldmann and the rest of 4./JG 52 had been transferred to the West in Defence of the Reich, flying with II./JG 3 over the Invasion front. He flew Jabo missions along with fighter sweeps, adding seven American and RAF aircraft to his score. In November II./JG 3 was retrained to fly the Me 262 and became I./JG 7. Waldmann claimed two Mustangs on the Me 262. On 18MAR45 JG 7 was ordered to intercept American bombers raiding Germany despite heavy cloud cover. Waldmann collided with one of his wingmen in the clouds and was killed.
Walter Nowotny scored his first two victories on 19JUL41 against Soviet Polikarpov I-153s but was shot down by a third. He subsequently spent three days in a raft in the Gulf of Riga until he washed ashore in Latvia. Most of his subsequent victories came while flying the Fw 190 with JG 54. He became the first Luftwaffe pilot to be credited with 250 victories, and was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds. Nowotny was given command of a unit tasked with developing tactics for the new Messerschmitt Me 262 jet fighter. The type had been rushed into service and suffered from several “bugs”. On 08NOV44 Nowotny claimed an American P-51 and B-24, but crashed in his Me 262, possibly due to an engine fire. He was 23 at the time.
Nowotny had a superstition and insisted on wearing his lucky “victory pants” whenever he flew, the same pants he had worn after his first victories and three days afloat in the raft in the Gulf of Riga. The only time he failed to wear them was on his last sortie when he was killed.
Johannes “Macky” Steinhoff was one of the legends of the Luftwaffe, having flown throughout the entire war on every major front. He flew a total of 993 sorties and was credited with 176 victories. He was shot down himself on twelve occasions but only bailed out once, preferring to crash land his aircraft due to a mis-trust of parachutes. He scored six of his victories while flying the Me 262 with JV 44, but two weeks before the end of the war his jet crashed during take-off, leaving Steinhoff with severe burns. After the war he became a General in the West German Air Force. He died in February 1994 at the age of 80.
Messerschmitt Me 262A-1a of Rudolf Rademacher, 9. / JG 7.
Revell of Germany kit. Rudolf “Rudi” Rademacher opened his account flying with 3./JG 54 “Green Hearts” on the Eastern Front. He flew as a wingman to Walter Nowotny with 1./JG 54. His best day was 05JUL43 when he was credited with seven victories. He was transferred to 1./Jagdgruppe Nord as an instructor where he continued to score and was wounded while attacking a B-17 in September. He was awarded the Knight’s Cross and after recovering from his injuries he joined 11./JG 7 and learned to fly the Me 262. He scored at least sixteen victories with the Me 262, Toliver places his final tally at 126.