Introduction to the 262 and Its History
The Schwalbe (Swallow); the Sturmvogel (Stormbird); the Turbo; the Blowjob. The illustrious Me—Messerschmitt—two sixty two. Quite a sleek and swift looking aero plane with graceful lines, slightly swept wings, unusually mid-mounted horizontal stabilizer, and of course, those low slung under-wing mounted jet engines. What many say to be the first jet powered aircraft.
Contrary to popular belief, the 262 was not the first jet powered aircraft. In fact, the first jet powered aircraft—which also came from the Germans—was the Heinkel He 178, which first flew on August 27, 1939. The 262 was actually the first operational, or active duty jet powered aircraft. It saw its first active duty over the flak ridden skies of Europe during the Second World War. A superior machine indicating the beginning of the end of propeller driven fighter aircraft.
Compared to the piston engine fighters of the time, the 262’s climb performance, top speed—“93 MPH faster than any Allied Fighter in the European Theater,” (n.d., Messerschmitt Me 262)—acceleration, general high altitude performance and armament were undoubtedly top par. The 262’s armament alone is worthy of examination. The 262 had 4 thirty millimeter cannons. Those four cannons fired ammunition approximately one inch in diameter that exploded upon impact, tearing through metal as if it were paper…nasty. Can you imagine the havoc that was wreaked upon bomber formations?
However, many machines have drawbacks, and the 262 was no different. Due to a lack of precious metals and alloys to build the 262’s engines, they proved to be unreliable and lasted, on average, approximately 12 hours. That’s unheard of for any piston engine fighter, even during that period of aviation. Pilots also had to be very slow and smooth when increasing the throttle when engine RPM was below 6,000. If the throttle was increased too aggressively, the air flowing through the engine smoothly would be disrupted. The air would stall on a section of compressor blades, just like stalling an aircraft wing. The result of this would be an excessively rich mixture, and thus there would be much less power.
Less power because all that fuel wouldn’t burn, for it didn’t have the necessary oxygen from the air. Not only was there less power, but more heat as well due to the lack of airflow. This excessive heat buildup, if allowed to go on, caused some engine components to melt, and thus caused engine failures. A good number of inexperienced pilots suffered failed engines due to their liberal throttle control. They were also prone to catch fire when shot.
The 262 was also less maneuverable than the average piston engine fighter of the time. Perhaps the most frightening of drawbacks to the pilot was poor structural build quality. According to Major Ernst Englander, “Fay says that the structural workmanship on the Me-262 is not as good as that on the Me-109. When testing the Me-262, it was not infrequent for parts to be stripped off in steep, fast dives, and Fay has himself lost cockpit covers, bomb racks, and the needle valve of the tail pipe during dives. In fact, because of these uncertainties, the pilots rarely did a roll or any similar maneuvers during acceptance flights,” (1945, p. 4).
In the end, the Me-262 proved too little, and far too late to turn the direction of the war in favor of the Germans. Due to constant bombing by the Allies “the production of the 262 was dispersed into low-profile production facilities, sometimes little more than clearings in the forests of Germany and occupied nations… slightly over 1,400 Me-262s of all versions were produced. As few as 200 Me-262s made it to combat units due to fuel shortages, pilot shortages, and the lack of airfields that could support the Me-262 (concrete runways were recommended as the jet engines would melt tar runways),” (n.d., Messerschmitt Me 262).
I spent about two days doing research on the Me-262 before I even obtained the installation files. I found three documents dating back to the late forties with a wealth of information on the 262. Sources are cited at the bottom of the review in the “references,” section.
Development of Flight Replicas’ 262
Michael Flahault of Flight Replica tells me, “The air files were developed to the best of my ability from the actual pilot's notes and written descriptions of the handling, plus the available performance data. If you follow the manual, I think they're pretty close. Factory acceptance performance figures are met. Some have complained about it being over-powered at low altitude, but if the throttle is properly managed on takeoff and RPM kept to within max continuous power (or less) once off the ground, keeping in mind the fragility of the original 004's, it should be ok.
The person who's opinion I valued the most regarding the flight characteristics was a retired British Airways 747 Captain and former RAF fighter pilot, who while in the service, flew military jets: From Vampires to BAe Lightnings. He has also co-authored at least one aviation book that I know of and published other data regarding the Luftwaffe in WWII. He initially reviewed the FS2004 version's performance, and this has been subsequently upgraded for the new FSX model.” Magnificent! Just what I love to hear! ? How did Michael get all the data? He says, “All information was scoured from the web and books, plus the help of some folks who supplied additional photos. From the web and other sources, it was possible to put together over 1000 photos and drawings of the Me-262.”
Flight Replicas’ FS9-262 in Comparison With the New FSX-262
Michael developed the 262 in the past for FS2004 and later released a compatibility update for FSX. That aircraft was reviewed by Alan Bradbury. Quite a well written review with some more info on the 262, including its testing and development. I learned a good deal more about the 262 from it. I want to quote a paragraph from his conclusion of the review:
"A score of 75 percent. Three out of four ain’t bad, but I think I’d up that score somewhat, because you do get quite a lot of bang for your bucks in this package. And if you aren’t bothered about the unreliability element of the engines not being simulated, then my chief complaint will not bother you, consequently you could rate it even higher if that’s your preference."
In preparation for this review, I contacted Flight Replicas by email with some questions about this new FSX-262. Specifically I asked about the problems reviewer Bradbury noted in his review, whether or not they fixed these problems, and if they didn’t, why not? What I have done is quote reviewer Bradbury’s review and added Michael’s responses regarding the new FSX-262:
The main manual is fairly brief, however it does provide pretty much all the data you need to fly the Me-262 in the correct manner…not quite as comprehensive or convenient as some of the start menu types of manuals seen in a lot of add-on packages.
Michael says, “Yes, the new Manual is much better than the old. I think the old was about 7 pages long, the new one is 20. It reflects the vastly more interactive VC, plus histories of the aircraft depicted in the package, and more.”
The ring pulls for the Riedel two-stroke starter motors, located in the center of the shock cones of each engine on the real thing, are not there either, with merely a black texture spot marking their location…these ring-pulls are quite a prominent and fairly unique feature of the aircraft. On the plus side though, the rear ends of the Jumo engines are animated, although the start sequence lacks the notoriously common flames shooting out of the engines, as was often the case on the real thing, owing to fuel pooling up in the bottom of the engines and igniting.
Michael says, “Yes, the Reidel pull-rings are now there, although inoperative. Regarding the flames, they were too hard to do realistically, and didn't look good at all given the limitations of FS-effects, so rather than have poor effects, I opted to leave them out. Also regarding effects, there is no smoke from the engines, as there is absolutely no account anywhere, by either Allies or German pilots, of 262's leaving a trail in the sky. It seems the Jumo 004 were quite clean burning.”
The brake line—prominent on the real thing—was absent from the nose gear.
Michael says, “The nose brake line could not be properly animated to reflect both the compression of the strut plus the turning at[sic] [of] the nose wheel steered [sic], so rather than do something clumsy on the FS9 version it was simply left out. On the FSX version, when you make the pilots disappear by clicking the visibility bolt in the VC, the nose wheel brake line does appear. As it's usually when the aircraft is parked that the most time is spent looking at the external model with gear extended, I thought this might be appropriate.”
Starting the FR Me-262 up in Flight Simulator is greatly simplified in comparison to the real thing…the engine start-up sounds are not very convincing. The start up and running sounds for the Me-262 in Combat Flight Simulator 3, for example, are far superior, having been recorded from one of the recently reproduced ‘new’ Me-262s, when it was performing an engine test…Likewise, the running engine sounds on the FR Me-262 are somewhat disappointing. Although well produced, with seamless looping, they don’t sound remotely like a screaming turbojet, and are an obvious candidate for early replacement in my opinion.
Michael says, “The manual explains why the starting process still remains somewhat simplified, although it's much better than the FS9 version. The sounds come from two sources: The VC sounds were mixed by myself, and Scott Gentile at A2A kindly donated the exterior sounds, although there has been some minor changes there, again by me. It was a judgment call as to what the original Jumo 004's sounded like.
The Me-262 was indeed called the ‘Screaming Meemie’ by the US forces who captured them, but as they were primarily used to piston engines, I think any jet would have sounded like that to them. The sound levels, etc., have been primarily based on my experience listening to the real F-86 Sabre and Mig-15, two older jets. The VC sounds were mixed according to the only description I could find of the sound by an actual Me-262 pilot, who described it as a ‘quiet hum’ compared to piston fighters—and the rest is an educated guess (I have been involved with real-world aviation, in one form or another (including as a GA pilot), for many years, so perhaps that helps).
There are no recording of the originals, as far as I know. As I mentioned, I based everything on jet engines from just after that period, those of the Sabre and Mig 15, which I've had plenty of opportunity to hear in real life. These are not high-powered engines. I believe the notion of a ‘screaming turbojet’ is a myth, based on the name ‘Screaming Meemie’ given to the 262 my [sic] [by] US forces.”
Unlike the real Me-262, you can be as wild and ham-fisted as you like with the throttles on the FR Me-262. Nothing you do will induce the engines to emulate the real Junkers Jumo, in terms of how prone to [sic] it actually was to failure or catastrophic fire.
Michael says, “Engine management: If you follow the Manual, you'll get a pretty good idea of what it was like to use the real Me-262. RPM limits for given flight regimes are all laid out. Above 7000 RPM, the pilot could ‘slam the throttles’ all he wanted—it was below that that care was needed. Given that at lower RPM's applying power too quickly could produce a fire, and pulling power too quickly a flame-out—two different results—and given my limitations with XML—my reasoning was that if you really want to fly the Me-262 properly, you can, and if you want to crash and burn, there is CFS3.”
If you get too low on the approach, you’ll hear some distinctly un-Germanic Flight Simulator audio piping up, with things like the 'Sink rate' and ‘Too low, Gear’ call outs from the default big Boeings chiming in. It’s really something of a mood breaker for this aircraft, and I’d recommend editing these sounds out, as it is really very silly to hear these on what is supposed to be a WW2 Luftwaffe interceptor!
Michael says, “Yes, the warning sounds, which were accidentally left in the FS9 version, are no longer there. The gear warning buzzer is there, because Messerschmitt did use that on their aircraft, including the Bf-109, based on flap angle.”
And although I did not ask he also provided some info on the model: Incidentally, the FS9-Me-262 model was an FSDS2.4 model, while the FSX one is a Gmax model. They may look the same, as many textures were kept in the new version, and a few vertices are the same from the initial importing into Gmax, [but] this is by-and-large a mostly brand new (and better) model.
Well, that’s a lot of good info. All Michael’s answers and solutions to previous problems suffice and please me immensely, with the exception of one (there’s always an exception right?), engine management. I believe he is right when he says that, “If you follow the manual you’ll get a pretty good idea of what it was like to use the real Me-262.” But you know what? I don’t want to get a “pretty good idea.” I want the real deal!
I want to know, that if I push those engines too hard, I will end up buying the farm! If I make a mistake, I want to be punished by the airplane just as you would in real life. Now I realize there are limitations to everything such as Michael’s “limitations with XML.” It very well may be that Michael does not have the time, resources, or—I am not trying to be insulting as I probably don’t either—maybe the aptitude to create the code for the engines. However, there are people out there with the coding skills and knowledge.
Just take a look at Aerosoft’s H-1. Failure modeling written right into that big radial engine’s coding; it’s beautiful. Perhaps Michael could hire a coder/programmer to help him out? I suggested this to Michael, and this is what he said, “The reason I don't hire anyone is purely that I want to keep this simple, enjoyable and affordable. I can charge $25.95, and not feel obliged to get into the $35/$45 range, etc. This will never earn enough to be a job, not by a long shot, and as such there has to be a balance between the effort it takes and the satisfaction it brings. The more people involved, the more pressures, etc., and for now I'm just not ready to do that. I've also turned down several requests to do work for other developers.” ‘Nuff’ said; completely understandable.
Next I shot this at him: Have you ever thought of allowing another developer (freeware or payware) to develop an add-on for your aircraft? Such as the engine management we talked about? His response, “If someone wanted to develop their own add-on, freeware or payware, for the Me-262 or any other Flight Replicas model, I'd be happy to help them. For example, Rob Barendregt has already made an excellent cannon effects package for the Me-262, which can be download at Avsim (rcbmc-20.zip), which I helped with by doing research and adapting the model to his needs (needed a light code available), and now owners of the Flight Replicas-Me-262's can experience the actual firing rate of the Rheinmetall-Borsig Mk108 30mm cannons (650 rounds/min), which the Allies called the ‘pneumatic hammer’.” Splendid information!
Perhaps in the future we can see an add-on for more realistic engines on this Me-262! I asked Michael if there was anything else he might like to include in the review. He said, “You may want to mention that any Luftwaffe models made by Flight Replicas are available with and without the swastikas on the fin, depending on the distributor. I can respect both those who want historical accuracy and those who find the symbol distasteful. Incidentally, as some people do ask, I just fell into doing German aircraft as there seemed to be a hole in the market—but it has been a truly fascinating research experience.”
Installation and Documentation
Installation was straightforward and I had no problems. No documentation was provided, but it isn’t needed. It is an .exe file and it will find your FSX installation and install the 262 in the correct folders. It installed an uninstall link into the start menu but no link for the manual. I had to dig into the 262’s folders to find it.
The manual is quite accurate in comparison with my sources, is of good quality and is offered in word format or .pdf format. As stated in the features, a history of each aircraft included in the package is written in the manual. This is a very nice touch that increases the immersion factor to a good degree.
There are approximately three pictures of the virtual cockpit with gauges, knobs, and levers numbered and named. It states next to some of the names that they are inoperable. However, everything that is inoperable is not listed as such; i.e. external stores release lever or the fuel transfer switch. The manual also lacks a good bit of explanation regarding some of the cockpit controls and gauges such as the O2 blinker, exhaust gas diff, or engine shutdown fuel cutoff. The manual does not state that you can retract the tinted glass on the gun sight by clicking on the upper right side of the gun sight.
There is a checklist included for flying the 262 with some explanations for certain settings/profiles. It provides the information that you need to know such as RPM’s, V speeds etc. It is good for an inexperienced 262 pilot, but can become somewhat cumbersome for someone that has become experienced with the 262. I believe—and this goes for all aircraft add-ons—that there should be two checklists provided. One for a novice that teaches and explains things, and one for an experienced flier that is brief, to the point, and only lists the information that is pertinent to flight.
The manual also lacks a reference file of V speeds and runway length requirements—just as does the in-sim kneeboard. This most certainly should be included. The manual explains that the real radio was far too complex to implement in FSX, so Michael installed a default 2D radio. However, the manual does not state how to open it. You have to click “Views,” “Instrument View,” “Radio.” Overall the manual is ok; satisfactory.
The exterior is quite good overall, and the level of detail is rather impressive. Included in the package are the 262A-1a, 262A-1b, 262A-2a, and 262B trainer. I couldn’t tell you the exact differences in each model, for I have not found any information regarding them.
The models look quite good and I couldn’t notice anything particularly wrong except for the underside of the tail. The bottom of the tail area looks a bit geometrical or polygonal compared to the real aircraft which is very nicely curved and smooth. I believe it to be quite minor and rather unnoticeable. The only reason I noticed, is because I was looking closely.
There are six different textures included in the package as you can see below.
They are quite nice to look at. I didn’t notice any abnormalities with any of them. They look very good from about twenty feet, but once you start to get closer, they begin to look a little bit substandard. I think the tires looked a bit too reflective, as well as a bit too light in color. I think they should probably be a bit more flat black in color.
As you read previously, some publishers wanted the swastika removed from the tail before they would sell it, but some did not. I received my package from Flight 1 and it has no swastikas. Michael mailed me recently to tell me that he just released a new repaint at the Sim Outhouse website which has the swastika on it. That repaint is the first picture you see in this review. He also said that he is working on releasing both versions of the textures on the internet but is quite busy so it may take awhile.
The animations are good—fluid and smooth. Nothing looks abnormal or improper. When you raise the landing gear, it operates slowly as it should; the mains come up completely first, followed by the nose; when you extend the gear the mains drop completely followed by the nose gear.
There is no 2D panel provided with the aircraft. I quote the product’s website, “This aircraft has a beautifully rendered [virtual] cockpit that is designed to be flown in at all times. For this reason no 2D panel is included at this time.” They are right in a way about not needing a 2D panel.
For those with higher end systems that can support a good frame rate in a virtual cockpit, will find no use for a 2D panel. However the lack of a 2D panel will undoubtedly disappoint those with lower end systems that cannot support a decent frame rate in a virtual cockpit.
The virtual cockpit models are impressively detailed; lots of things to grab your eye and attention. Even the windshield heat wires are modeled; quite a nice touch which increases the immersion level of this add-on. One thing that I think is missing is a model of a pilot in the trainer. You sit in the rear seat and you can see the front seat and all the gauges. In spot view you see a pilot in each seat, but you do not see a pilot in the front seat when in virtual cockpit mode.
The textures inside the virtual cockpit are good; they please me. They are not above par but do the job easily and are not hard on the eyes. However, when you are in virtual cockpit view and you look at the wings, they look rather blurry and substandard. This was somewhat of a strong buzz kill for me. I have included pictures of RealAir’s SF260 to compare with Flight Replicas’ 262.
The SF260’s VC wing textures look quite clear, crisp and detailed. The 262’s…don’t. I contacted Michael about this as I wondered if it looked substandard because of my high resolution. He said it looked the same on his computer. I sent him the pictures of the SF260 to compare. Hopefully, we can see some improvement in this area in the future.
Everything that should be animated is animated; such as the rudder pedals, stick, elevator trim, rudder trim, landing gear buttons and then some. Even things that are not operational are animated.
The gauges can easily be read and utilized, along with everything else in the cockpit that is operable.
To reiterate and quote Michael again, “The sounds come from two sources: The VC sounds were mixed by myself, and Scott Gentile at A2A kindly donated the exterior sounds, although there has been some minor changes there, again by me. It was a judgment call as to what the original Jumo 004's sounded like. The Me-262 was indeed called the ‘Screaming Meemie’ by the US forces who captured them, but as they were primarily used to piston engines, I think any jet would have sounded like that to them.
The sound levels, etc., have been primarily based on my experience listening to the real F-86 Sabre and Mig-15, two older jets. The VC sounds were mixed according to the only description I could find of the sound by an actual Me-262 pilot, who described it as a "quiet hum" compared to piston fighters—and the rest is an educated guess (I have been involved with real-world aviation, in one form or another (including as a GA pilot), for many years, so perhaps that helps).”
That being said, I thought the sounds are quite good. The engine sound does not loop like the reviewer of the FS9 version stated. The engines sound good including the startup and shutdown effects. However, I think it would be nice if you could hear the Riedel two stroke motors running before/during startup. It would be a very nice touch, adding a good bit of immersion.
The sounds are a bit lacking in depth. When you open the canopy there is no difference in volume of the engines, nor is there any wind noise when traveling at a high rate of speed. The opening sound for the canopy is rather quiet as well. There really isn’t any sound coming from the tires when you touch down either. The sounds from the engine appear to be correctly positioned in both stereo mode (two speakers) and 5.1 surround sound mode in the virtual cockpit and spot view.
To reiterate and quote Michael again, “The air files were developed to the best of my ability from the actual pilot's notes and written descriptions of the handling, plus the available performance data. If you follow the manual, I think they're pretty close. Factory acceptance performance figures are met. Some have complained about it being over-powered at low altitude, but if the throttle is properly managed on takeoff and rpm kept to within max continuous power (or less) once off the ground, keeping in mind the fragility of the original 004's, it should be ok.
The person who's opinion I valued the most regarding the flight characteristics was a retired British Airways 747 Captain and former RAF fighter pilot, who while in the service flew military jets: From Vampires to BAe Lightnings. He has also co-authored at least one aviation book that I know of and published other data regarding the Luftwaffe in WWII. He initially reviewed the FS2004 version's performance, and this has been subsequently upgraded for the new FSX model.”
Overall the air-file is quite accurate as you will see below. Some of the
things I did note were:
Notes from Sources and Manual Tested
! Most rearward position of gravity is 30% MAC (Mean Aerodynamic Chord). If this position is exceeded, the airplane becomes unstable about the lateral axis, and is apt to yaw about the vertical axis. (Somewhat confirmed, was unable to calculate that Center of Gravity, but was able to set a very tail heavy CoG that resulted in the above performance).
! Flight duration at altitudes above 12,000 ft is 60-90 min.
! Slats open
at 300 KPH when the airplane is in a gliding angle.
! If the stick
is pulled back too fast or too soon during takeoff there is only a rise
in resistance, but no increase in lift, in fact, there may be a
lessening of lift.
× Most rearward position of gravity is 30% MAC. If this position is exceeded,
the airplane automatically stalls in a turn.
! For 262B
rotate at 200-220 KPH.
! Airfield boundary
speed should be approximately 200 KPH.
Hmm, this is a bit of a tough one. There are a fair amount of systems somewhat implemented, such as the engines—although not completely (no damage model). The gear operates correctly (mains first, then nose); all the engine instruments are operable as well as the ILS (glideslope, localizer), and all other primary flight instruments.
In the trainer when you click to open the canopy, it opens the front canopy instead of the rear; the gun sight is completely operable; there is no HSI or similar gauge/system for navigation by radio—making navigation in this airplane restricted to pilotage—and thus in my opinion, severely restricts its usefulness/capability in FSX.
It is my firm belief that flying by pilotage in FSX severely restricts your choices of locations to fly to and from as there are just not enough details for pilotage on most flights in FSX. I’m not saying it can’t be done, I’m simply saying you have far less choices of where you can fly from and to. Therefore, I vehemently believe all add-on aircraft should be able to navigate at least by the use of radio nav aids (NDBs, VORs).
Emergency flaps and gear extension are inoperable; fuel transfer is inoperable; there was only one hydraulic pump—installed on the number one (left) engine—if the engine failed you would have to use the emergency extension for gear and flaps; however, if the engine is not in operation you still can cycle your gear and flaps up and down indefinitely. Overall, I would say I’m a bit disappointed with the systems; there is much room for improvement.
Computer System Performance Impact
Graphic Card Settings and FSX Graphics Settings
These are my normal settings for FSX. I gather a number of people will notice that I do not have autogen enabled. I find autogen a very huge resource-hog, therefore, I do not enable it no matter how great it makes FSX look. The 262’s exterior was very frame rate friendly; the VC was friendly too, although when scanning quickly from left to right or vice versa, the frame rate seemed to lag or drop. I’m not sure if this is the 262 or my setup, for I seem to experience this on some other aircraft as well.
This aircraft at times has been a joy to fly, and at other times has been a bit disappointing. I must say the things about this aircraft that turn me off are: The instability about the vertical (yaw) axis, the substandard VC wing textures, lack of ability to navigate by radio aids, and most of all the ability to command the engine hastily and wildly. There were numerous times that I obliviously and unintentionally slammed the throttles to the firewall and then said to myself, “Crap, I would have bought the farm on that one…alas no engine failure/damage modeling…”
However, I believe this reproduction of the Messerschmitt Me-262 to be extremely valiant and commendable. For goodness sake, it is the product of mostly one man’s hard work alone! Again, I say I commend Michael for his valiant effort!
Overall, Flight Replicas’ Messerschmitt Me-262 package gives a good feel and idea of what it is like to pilot the Me-262. I quite liked the substantial immersion provided by the aircraft histories, detailed virtual cockpit, detailed exterior and noteworthy air-file.
What’s my final say? I think that if you’re not a real stickler for, “As real as it gets,” and/or you’re a fan of the 262, WWII aircraft, or fighter aircraft, this is one you will want to add to your collection.
I wouldn’t recommend this aircraft for more serious and nit picky ‘simmers’, such as myself. Is it worth the price? Yes. Yes I believe so. Will I keep it in my hangar? Yes, I think I will. Will I fly it often? No. I’ll probably take it out occasionally when I feel like flying a hot rod around the aerodrome.
Summary of debriefing German pilot Hans Fey on operational performance & late
war deployment of the Me 262 jet
What I Like About The Me-262
What I Don't Like About The Me-262
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