Messerschmitt Me 262B Swallow Specifications:
Length: 34 feet, 9 inches
This very rare 2 seater Messerschmitt Me 262B Stormbird was captured by US forces at the end of WWII and brought back to the US for flight evaluation. There is another 2 seat Me 262 in South Africa and a third ME 262 B Schwalbe in the Czech Aviation Museum Kelby in Prague. The Czech version was actually built in Czechlosovokia and has been recently restored. The museum hopes to get photos of the Schwalbe restoration on their website soon.
After the US military finished its evaluation of this WWII German jet, it sat outside on display at Patuxent River Naval Air Station in MD until 1947 when it was saved from the scrap yard and transported up to the Willow Grove Naval Air Station for display. In the 1990 the Me 262 began undergoing restoration by Stormbirds, a company in TX that agreed to restore the Messerschmitt in return for using it as a template for building new reproductions of the Swallow. The company encountered financial problems along the way and the Me 262 was shipped to Washington state where the restoration was completed by Classic Fighter Industries who took over the reproduction production from failing Stormbirds. The restoration was completed in 2000 and the jet returned to Willow Grove.
The restoration is excellent, with much of the airframe looking like new although the fit of the 30mm cannon access doors is not up to the original's. The paint is a bit glossier than the Luftwaffe would have preferred but it still looks pretty good. The nose wheel tire is original, but the main gear tires are actually landscaping tractor tires. A few panels that were too far gone to restore are on display beside the Messerschmitt. This example sits much higher than the single seat Me 262 located at the US Air Force Museum in Dayton, OH. A good 10 inches higher to my eye.
There is still a link up for the original firm in TX that began the restoration. It does not look like it has been updated recently:
An even more interesting article from Smithsonian Air & Space magazine gives some background on the transition from the TX company to Washington state. Apparently the transition did not go well and some jigs for building fuselage and wing parts were somehow lost, so no new airframes will be built. But there are enough parts left to build 3 more Me 262s. It was fortunate that this Me-262B made it back to Willow Grove.
Although I was not able to photograph the cockpit of this Messerschmitt Me 262 the DVHAA museum has an excellent overhead photo of the tandem cockpit layout on their website (warning, it is a large file).