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Test flights began on 18 April 1941, with the Me 262 V1 example, bearing its Stammkennzeichen radio code letters of PC UA, but since its intended BMW 003 turbojets were not ready for fitting, a conventional Junkers Jumo 210 engine was mounted in the V1 prototype's nose, driving a propeller, to test the Me 262 V1 airframe.
In the end, the Me 262 had a negligible impact on the course of the war as a result of its late introduction and the consequently small numbers put in operational service.This was almost nine months ahead of the British Gloster Meteor's first flight on 5 March 1943.Its retracting conventional tail wheel gear (similar to other contemporary piston powered propeller aircraft), a feature shared with the first four Me 262 V-series airframes, caused its jet exhaust to deflect off the runway, with the wing's turbulence negating the effects of the elevators, and the first takeoff attempt was cut short.While German use of the aircraft ended with the close of World War II, a small number were operated by the Czechoslovak Air Force until 1951.Captured Me 262s were studied and flight tested by the major powers, and ultimately influenced the designs of a number of post-war aircraft such as the North American F-86 Sabre and Boeing B-47 Stratojet.Wings were of single-spar cantilever construction, with stressed skins, varying from 3 mm (0.12 in) skin thickness at the root to 1 mm (0.039 in) at the tip.
In mid-1943, Adolf Hitler envisioned the Me 262 as a ground-attack/bomber aircraft rather than a defensive interceptor.The aforementioned initial four prototypes (V1-V4) were built with the conventional gear configuration.Changing to a tricycle arrangement—a permanently fixed undercarriage on the fifth prototype (V5, code PC UE), with the definitive fully retractable nosewheel gear on the V6 (with Stammkennzeichen code VI AA, from a new code block) and subsequent aircraft corrected this problem.As a result, the Me 262 was already under development as Projekt 1065 (P.1065) before the start of World War II.The project originated with a request by the Reichsluftfahrtministerium (RLM, Ministry of Aviation) for a jet aircraft capable of one hour's endurance and a speed of at least 850 km/h (530 mph; 460 kn).Willy Messerschmitt, who desired to maintain mass production of the piston-powered, 1935-origin Bf 109 and the projected Me 209; and Major General Adolf Galland, who had initially supported Messerschmitt through the early development years, flying the Me 262 himself on 22 April 1943.