An American test pilot buzzes the field while flying one of the Me 262s captured at the end of the war, while other captured planes are examined and disassembled. Getting their hands on examples of the German jet fighter, the Allies were duly impressed by its capabilities, and quite critical of the German misuse of the plane, tactically, in light of what they learned.
XP-80 Shooting Stars sit on the runway at Muroc airfield in early 1945, undergoing the final trials - just over a year after the first flight in Jan. 1944 - before its acceptance for service. In comparison to the Bell XP-59 Airacomet, Lockheed’s design was much better received, and quickly shepherded through the testing process, and accepted for service by the USAAF in February of 1945. A handful had been built and delivered before the war in Europe ended, and while some were in theater before Germany surrendered, none saw combat.
The Shooting Star would have to wait until Korea to see action, by which point it was second rate compared to the F-86 Sabre, and on unequal ground with the opposing MiG-15.
The Me 163 ‘Komet’ was the first - and only - rocket-powered fighter to go operational. Topping out at 700 mph, it was the fastest thing in the air during World War II, but that is about the only praise it deserved. Tough to fly, and quite unforgiving of mistakes, it was credited with only 16 victories during the war, despite over 300 examples being built.
The Bereznyak-Isayev BI-1 was an attempt at a rocket intercepter by the Soviet Union. First flown on May 15th, 1942, it never saw service - only 9 prototypes were built - but was quite useful for Soviet designers looking to gain experience with rocket and jet aircraft.
A ground-crew fuels up an Me 163 rocket intercepter.
A barebones design, constructed mostly of wood, the Me 163 lacked even proper landing gear. To launch, the rocket plane attached to a dolly which detached upon take-off. Upon landing (assuming it survived) it would land on a skid, requiring a tractor rig to tow it off the runway.
A-12 #06938, on display at the USS Alabama Battleship Museum, is shown along side a pristine J-58 engine with less than an hour test run time, and a very worn landing gear tire. Because the landing gear had to fit in such a low aspect ratio wing, they had to be extremely compact. For the small landing gear to support the enormous landing weight of the 52,000 lb aircraft, the tires were inflated to 415 Psi with nitrogen. Comparatively, your car tires are probably inflated to somewhere around 40 Psi.
The skin of the aircraft heated up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit in flight. To keep the tires from melting, they were constructed from aluminium powder and latex, which gave the tires their distinctive silver color. If the tires were pressurized with air, they would have exploded under such intense heating. Thus, the tires are inflated with nitrogen.
Because of the high tire pressure, if the aircraft ran over any debris, the tire would cut rather than give. This had the potential to cause a mission abort before the aircraft even left the ground. To avoid tire damage, a car driven by the mobile crew (backup crew) preceded the aircraft everywhere it went on the ground searching for FOD (foreign object debris). It drove along the taxi way in front of the aircraft and down the length of the takeoff roll down the runway runway before each flight. Regardless, each tire was replaced after just 10 flights. Each tire cost $2,000.
The final two photos in the set were shot with my cell phone camera. It’s important to remember that the photographer makes the photo. Not the camera.
A USAAF B-17G dedicated to newly promoted United States European Allied Commander, General Dwight D. Eisenhower
US Apache wipes out a group of Taliban insurgents.