Thursday, July 9, 2015

Hmm. Where Did I See That Plane Before?

I visited the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida in late April, and amongst the dazzling collection (for an airplane fanboy like me) was a Messerschmitt 262 B-1a jet from World War 2. The Wikipedia entry on the Me 262 is here. Scrolling down you will find that the two-seat B-1a variant was a trainer, and some other B-1s were used as radar-equipped night fighters. Most Me 262s were single-seat fighters or fighter-bombers.

These are two photos I took of the Aviation Museum's 262. It is nicely restored, but the fighter aspect is stressed on the information card seen in front of the plane in the upper photo. The museum's web site page for the Me 262 (here) states: "The model on display, 'White 35,' was captured in Schleswig, Germany in 1945." No mention is made of its trainer status, as best I recall.

Only a small proportion of 262s were two-seaters, and all the 262s I've seen in various museums aside from this one were single-seat planes.

Well, I did see a two-place Me 262 once. It was March, 1969 at the Willow Grove Naval Air Station in Pennsylvania. Here are photos I took then:

There is now an air museum at Willow Grove, and its web page indicating planes in the collection is here. Missing is that 262 "Red 13" (as they say in the aircraft ID trade).

So I wonder if "White 30" and "Red 13" might be the same airplane. Few were built, few survived the war, and how many fewer still were in the hands of the U.S. Navy after the war? It's entirely possible that "Red 13" was passed over to Pensacola at some point since 1969. But its also possible that the Navy indeed acquired two Me 262 B-1a aircraft. Feel free to let us know which supposition is correct.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

They are indeed the same aircraft. The Me262 was borrowed in the early 2000s by "The Me262 Project" to be used as a pattern in making their replica Me262s. In exchange for the Navy loaning them the aircraft, it was restored to the static display you see today.

Once the restoration was completed it was returned to Willow Grove and remained on display (indoors) at the Wings of History Museum until the base official closed in 2011. At that time the aircraft was moved to Pensacola. This despite the museum remaining open and vibrant.