The Messerschmitt Me 262 was the world’s first operational jet-powered fighter aircraft. While it was one of the most technologically advanced aviation designs in use during the war, as few as 200 actually made it to combat units because of fuel shortages, pilot shortages, and lack of airfields that could support the aircraft.
The museum’s Me 262 was reconstructed by Legend Flyers of Seattle, Washington, working from plans developed by Classic Fighter Industries, Inc. This aircraft, along with several others, was built using an original Me 262 from Willow Grove Naval Air Station in eastern Pennsylvania as a template.
The museum’s Me 262 completed its test flight in the fall of 2011 and arrived at the Fighter Factory’s Suffolk facility in October of that year. It is powered by modern General Electric jet engines like those in Lear jets. It is painted to match the color scheme of the aircraft flown by famed Luftwaffe pilot Hans Guido Mutke, “White 3”. Mutke believed he had exceeded Mach 1 breaking the sound barrier in a straight down, 90-degree dive on April 9, 1945, as he was protecting another Me 262 from attack. This is widely disputed, though, and most regard Chuck Yeager as being the first to break the sound barrier in 1947. Mutke went on to end his war career by landing his Me 262 two weeks later in Dubendorf, Switzerland on April 25, 1945. The aircraft is now on display in the Deutsches Museum in Munich, Germany.