Classic Publications | Me 262 Volume 3

Reviewed by Tony Oliver

ISBN: 1 903223 00 8
Soft cover 220pages
46 colour photographs
282 b/w photographs
38 technical illustrations
28 colour profiles / three quarter illustrations (digital)
1 Appendices, glossary of terms

This is the third title in a collection of four volumes covering the Messerschmitt Me 262 by Eddie J. Creek and J Richard Smith.

It is the end product of over thirty years worth of research and not surprisingly is an absorbing and fascinating book. Not only does it provide a definitive resource on what is arguably the worlds first successful operational jet combat aircraft, but it manages also to captivate the reader with a gripping account of the final days in the air defence of the Third Reich.

"Crickey, it's a cracking read Grommit!"

The attraction of this volume for me is the detailed analysis of the nightfighter variants including the projected B2 designs which never materialised. Supporting the technical investigation of the aircraft is an in depth narrative on the exploits of Kommando Welter and the operational use by NJG11 of the interim version, the B1a/U1.

This book is just full of so much great stuff, that it is hard to actually be objective about it. From the superb photographic images to Arthur Bentley and Tom Tullis' superlative artworks this volume just provides the modeller and the aviation historian with so much to get engrossed in. I found myself reading the book from cover to cover and then sneaking back to dip into it again and again. Not because I wanted to look at a particular image or illustration, but purely because you can open it at any page and be greeted with something that just grabs your interest.

If all this sounds a bit over enthusiastic, then it is! It's been a long time since anything in aviation/modelling has captured my imagination in this way and I'm going to have to obtain a few more kits to build some of the more obscure aircraft seen on the pages of this book…

"Fly that thing in the dark, AND chase Mosquitoes, you gotta be kiddin' me right?"

Looking at the book in greater detail, it is the first two chapters that look at the nightfighter variants. The 262 saw limited operational use in this role, being confined to radar trials with Kdo. Welter and the limited operational sorties by NJG11, but the book does look at the projected B2 designs from the viewpoint of detailed technical illustrations as well as the interim variant, the Me 262B-1a/U1. That said the chapters are interspersed with accounts of nocturnal combats and several resulting 'abschusse' proving that given more development, the Me 262 could have excelled in its role against the menace that was the DeHavilland Mosquito.

The aircraft that were evaluated at the war's end by the Allied Air Intelligence units come in for scrutiny and the sole surviving B1a/U1, 110305 also reveals some secrets of its own in the shape of a wooden nose cone with a peculiar aluminium foil lining.

Detail pictures of red 8 abound on the internet, but this book has a selection that has not been published before with detailed cockpit information included. The text highlights many of the subtle differences between the two seat variants proving that the B1a/U1's were separately produced and modified from A-1a airframes and not as previously thought, modified from the two seat trainer airframes.

Following chapters have a similar format, interspersing a war diary narrative with technical detail and Luftwaffe history where it impacts upon the 262. Perhaps most pointedly when Adolf Galland was removed from his post by Goring, under the influence of Gordon Gollob.

The historical information highlighting just why the Me262 was given to Bomber units under the instigation of Peltz and Gollob, Galland's bitter rival and staunch Nazi; how this ultimately brought about Goring's accusation of cowardice levelled at the Luftwaffe's fighter arm, shows that Creek and Smith have not only written a technically adept appraisal of this superb aircraft but have included the wider subject of Nazi political manoeuvring and its effect on the production and use of the 262.

The book finally swings back to the technical description with an appendix on the 'Achilles heel' of the design, the undercarriage. Although some might argue that the powerplant was equally a source of frustration, statistics show that landing gear failure was responsible for more accidents and losses. Illustrations and detail shots abound in the appendix with drawings of W.Nr 130167 which trialled a Bf109K-4 main wheel as an alternative nose wheel, as well as some superb detail photo's of the wheel well and main oleo units. Attention to detail being illustrated by the inclusion of Arado test reports on the use of two scissor links to solve the problem of collapsed oleo units. Something to consider if you are modelling one of the final production batch machines.


There really is so much here, that a short review such as this cannot hope to cover the entire contents of what is really an essential piece of reference work for any Luftwaffe modeller. I suspect that the scarcity of this particular volume is down to the fact that most if not all Me262 fanatics will have grabbed a copy on its initial release way back in 2000. It is still available but requires a bit of searching via the web. Prices vary and whilst it seems to be increasing in value, there are still copies available at reasonable cost, although I would hesitate to suggest that it's worth getting a copy whatever the price, it really would be a tough decision to turn down a copy.

I believe its one of those rare books that will become something of an aviation 'bible' in future years.

Images throughout the book are of a consistently high quality both in terms of resolution, clarity and originality. Granted there are only so many 262 pictures around and what remains must surely now be sliding towards the realms of the unprintable, but the writers are to be congratulated on the choice of images collected for this volume.

Likewise the standard of illustration doesn't let the title down and Arthur Bentley's technical illustrations are both clear and informative whilst Tom Tullis's colour artwork is impeccable. If any fault can be found it is perhaps the exclusive use of computer generated profile images that are perhaps too uniform in their rendering. The subject might better be served and realistically presented with the inclusion of some airbrushed/hand painted media, although this is an observation rather than a criticism.

However this said, there is nothing wrong with the profiles and in terms of research and representation of the original, they are just another aspect of this book that makes it such a joy to look at.

Building large scale 262s is now so much easier thanks to the volumes in this series and hopefully this format can be adapted to cover other worthy causes such as the Focke-Wulf 190. One thing's for sure, I can't wait another thirty years!

Highly recommended historical/reference source work

© Tony Oliver 2004

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This review was published on Saturday, July 02 2011; Last modified on Wednesday, May 18 2016