For the new year, the Scale Plastic & Rail forums are hosting a Messerschmitt group build that’s been gaining some crazy interest.
My first thought, as I started pondering which Bf 109 I was going to build, was “there goes my resolution” – as for 2013 I’m planning to step back from World War II props to play in some different genres. Then, seeing a few people planning 262s, I started researching them a bit, and kind of fell into the rabbit hole.
The Me 262A-1a/U4
I’m not going to bother recounting the full history of the Messerschmitt Me 262. If you’re reading this blog, you’re no doubt already familiar with the first operational jet fighter and its significance. Instead, I’ll briefly touch on the U4 variant.
The U4 was designed to do one thing and do it extremely well – destroy allied bombers. To that end it was equipped with a massive 50mm autocannon that could fire more than 40 rounds per minute. Of course, it was only equipped with 22 rounds, so it had to make each shot count. But a 2-inch gun isn’t far off from what many tanks were packing at the start of the war, and contained enough kinetic energy to make things really, really bad for anything unlucky enough to get in its way.
Ultimately, the U4 came at least a year too late to make an appreciable difference, and only two prototypes were built by the time the Messerschmitt plant at Augsburg was captured by advancing American forces on April 29, 1945.
V083 was named “Wilma Jeanne” after the wife of Colonel Harold Watson, who had been sent to oversee an operation to retrieve advanced technology from Messerschmitt and transport it back to the US. “Wilma Jeanne” was taken on several test flights by Messerschmitt test pilot Karl Baur, and her massive armament was fired on the ground range, where apparently the U.S. team was amazed at the effectiveness of the gun’s recoil system.
“Wilma Jeanne” – later renamed “Happy Hunter II” – was soon thereafter lost when a turbine blade failed during a ferry flight to Cherbourg.
I’ll be building Hobby Boss’ 1/48 Me 262A-1a/U4, which by the accounts I’ve managed to find is a great kit. It should be, since it draws its lineage from Trumpeter’s 1/32 Me 262, which has a reputation as the best Schwalbe in any scale. The kit helpfully includes markings for “Wilma Jeanne”, though it appears from online perusals that they didn’t bother with the US stars and bars that were painted over the German crosses on the fuselage. I’m sure I can find some that will suffice…
It’s tough for me to build out of the box, and this time around I’m not even trying. There’s too much fun to be had in aftermarket land, particularly with that giant cannon in the nose.
First up is a set of Aires wheels and wheel masks. I was very impressed with the Aires wheels I used on my Swiss 109, so had no qualms going with these.
And last, but certainly not at all anywhere near least, a metal Mk 214 5cm Bordkanone from Master:
Stay tuned – I’m focused on the P-47 right now, and the 262 was only ordered today…but it should be here by the end of the week.