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The Me 262 Stormbird: From the Pilots Who Flew, Fought, and Survived It Hardcover – May 27, 2012


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The Me 262 Stormbird: From the Pilots Who Flew, Fought, and Survived It + The German Aces Speak: World War II Through the Eyes of Four of the Luftwaffe's Most Important Commanders
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"This is both an intensely factual book about the famed Messerschmitt and a love story. The love story comes in from the authors' obvious fascination with the short-lived Stormbird . . . Even if you're an Me-262 expert, you're certain to find much that is new here. It's particularly interesting to read how various German pilots learned to use it in combat . . . If all this sounds intriguing, this is certainly the book for you." - Aviation History



"…as operational history, the book is both informative and strongly recommended." - Air Power History

From the Inside Flap

The introduction of the Me 262 Stormbird jet fighter was a potential game changer for the Germans in World War II, but production delays and a shortage of pilots minimized its impact on the war. Nevertheless, jet engines were the way of the future, and the Stormbird loomed large in the experiences of the World War II pilots who flew and fought the first jet fighter.
 
In The Me 262 Stormbird, Colin D. Heaton (The German Aces Speak) covers the iconic fighter in detail, often in the words of the men who flew it or fought it. From Willi Messerschmitt’s original designs, through the early technical difficulties and flight tests, and eventual introduction of the aircraft into the war, Heaton covers the Stormbird’s history in detail alongside fascinating anecdotes from many of Germany’s top aces—and the Allied airmen who went head to head with the futuristic jet while flying their prop-driven planes.
 
Heaton also covers the political machinations involved in getting approval for the jet—Hitler was personally involved—as well as the infighting among the Luftwaffe’s senior officers, some of whom wanted the aircraft designed as a  fighter and others who wanted it designed as  a bomber.
The first Me 262 squadron, ultimately designated as JG-7, and Adolf Galland’s squadron, JV-44, are covered extensively, along with the two-seater Me 262 night fighter. Heaton rounds out his narrative with the American perspective of Allied airmen who faced the 262, as well as an analysis of the Stormbird program and its post-war impact. The Me 262 Stormbird is a definitive account of this state-of-the-art aircraft.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Zenith Press; First edition (May 27, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0760342636
  • ISBN-13: 978-0760342633
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.1 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #201,113 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Very good story, well researched and well written.
Charles H. Farley
Though believed by some, it is known to be a myth that the unit JV 44 "had most of its members wearing the Knight's Cross".
Kirk R. Lowry
A great reference work for aviation historians and enthusiasts.
Erik Gilg

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Kirk R. Lowry on September 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The Me 262 Stormbird was purchased with the expectation of reading an informative and interesting history of the legendary aircraft. What a disappointment the book was. I would not recommend the book to anyone.
Me 262 Stormbird is in need of serious editing. Gramatical errors, such as "The U.S. 1st Air Division headed toward Berlin and were attacked" are rife and information is repeated in the text. Basic facts about the Luftwaffe are, it seems, not known by the authors and, thus, one reads comments such as "the He 177 was never produced in large numbers and was rarely flown in combat operations" and "few [Messerschmitt 323s] were built and it was rarely used".
There are also numerous errors, unsubstantiated claims and significant omissions in respect of the history of the Me 262. Though believed by some, it is known to be a myth that the unit JV 44 "had most of its members wearing the Knight's Cross". It is claimed that "III./JG-7 and KG-51 ... destroyed hundreds of aircraft and tanks" while operating against the Soviet forces. Such a supposed fact is one of the only references to KG-51 and other units using the Me 262 receive even less mention such as KG(J) 54 and EJG 2.
Particularly bothersome is the perpetuation of the noble knights of the fatherland mythology; JV 44, led by Adolf Galland, is described as a "kommando of stars led by their patron saint, a defrocked lieutenant general". Such writing reduces the skill and the dedication of the pilots to pathetic stereotype. Most disagreeable of all is hokum about benevolence of Nazi party members who, along with Luftwaffe pilots "played a role in the future of world peace" ... such are the last words of the book!
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Michael OConnor TOP 500 REVIEWER on June 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Aside from revolutionizing air warfare in the 1940s, the Messerschmitt 262 could also lay claim to being the greatest "what-if" story in military aviation history. If the Me 262 hadn't been delayed due to early engine problems, political machinations and infighting, etc., what impact could the jet have had on the Allied bombing campaign against Germany? Fortunately, the Messerschmitt fighter wasn't introduced till late in the war and its impact was neglible. The history of this fascinating a/c is chronicled in Colin Heaton's THE ME 262 STORMBIRD, FROM THE PILOTS WHO FLEW, FOUGHT AND SURVIVED IT, a 2012 Zenith Press release.

Various books on the Me 262 story have been published over the years, the best being Smith and Creek's ME 262 four-volume set published by Ian Allan/Classic Publications. Heaton's book is almost an oral history of the aircraft, the author utilizing extensive excerpts from interviews, combat reports, etc. from numerous Luftwaffe and Allied pilots and commanders. Reminiscences from Adolf Galland, Walter Krupinski, Johannes Steinhoff, Wolfgang Schenck, Georg-Peter Eder, Klaus Neumann, Erich Hohagen and other GAF personnel are included along with their Allied counterparts including Jimmy Doolittle, Robin Olds, etc. If anything the book seems over-stuffed with commentary. A little pruning of repetitive information would have helped.

In any case, THE ME 262 STORMBIRD is a wide-ranging, informative and entertaining 'from-the-cockpit' summary of Willi Messerschmitt's swept-wing wonder. Recommended.

*****
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14 of 20 people found the following review helpful By N. Page on July 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I had fairly low expectations for this book when I ordered it, certainly Amazon's blurb is not a good start: "The Me 262 was the first of its kind, the first jet-powered aircraft." Joe Peterburs assessment, 'an interesting and informative account of the significance and development of the Me 262' features on the front cover blurb. Love the dust-jacket and the general design - very classy, and the jacket has a marvellous velvety feel to it as well. As for the contents, it is mostly of interest for the numerous first-person accounts. Most of Heaton's interviewees especially Galland, Steinhoff etc etc have of course published their own memoirs, usually good translations from the original German. Here they are interviewed in English so really don't offer very much more than " ..and there I was at 20,000 ft..". However there are a number of Me 262 pilots here who haven't told their stories and their accounts are valuable additions to the literature. I do get the impression though that Heaton is somewhat in awe of these high-ranking and highly decorated pilots - he may have shot down lots of (mostly) poor quality Russian pilots on the Eastern Front, but to describe Nowotny as a tactical innovator is rather wide of the mark - see Manfred Boehme's benchmark history of JG 7 (Schiffer Publishing) for Messerschmitt's own deep concerns about Nowotny's 'qualities' to be entrusted with the Me 262 trials unit. The relative unknowns, pilots like Georg Czypionka (10./ NJG 11) unfortunately get only brief - and not terribly insightful - passages.." the Me 262 was not a great night fighter as high speeds made accuracy an issue.." The author also fills his text with cringe-worthy 'colloquialisms' too - sentences such as "the Me 262 was a potential game-changer for the Germans" make me wince every time.Read more ›
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