The Messerschmitt Me-262 "Schwalbe" (German: "Swallow") was the world's first operational turbojet
fighter aircraft. It was produced in World War II and saw action starting in 1944 as a multi-role fighter-
bomber-reconnaissance-interceptor warplane for the German Luftwaffe. It was officially named
"Schwalbe" because the swallow, when in a dive, is one of the fastest birds known. German pilots
nicknamed it the Turbo, while the Allies called it the "Stormbird". With speeds in excess of 540 MPH
the 262 was 100 MPH faster then any Allied plane. While the 262 had a negligible impact on the course
of the war its design had a strong influence on postwar aircraft development. Had the aircraft been
introduced in large numbers in 1939, (when originally designed), it is conceivable that the "Battle of
Britain" might have ended as Hitler envisioned, and every pub in England would today be known as "die
Bierstube." Although there were 1,433 Me 262s built, fewer than 300 were actually used in combat.
The 262 is one of the most rare and esoteric aircraft of World War II. With only 6 surviving Original
Me-262s in the world, they are considered far too historically valuable to fly and are therefore kept in
museums (only 2 replicas are currently airworthy).
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