INITIAL FABRICATION & ASSEMBLY
The Early Days: work
begins on the new Me 262s.
Work began at the Texas Airplane Factory in July of
1993. After a thorough examination of the pattern aircraft, technicians
first set about to create the jigs and fixtures necessary to support
Technical drawings were available for some of the major
sub-components, but most of the templates and design specifications
had to be derived from the original aircraft in a labor intensive reverse-
Concurrent fabrication of the fuselage, wings and cockpit
tubs began almost immediately. Due to the varying degrees of complexity
associated with these components, each presented a different set of
Fuselage components were among the first parts to be
fabricated. For the most part, stringers could be readily copied
from the originals, while supporting bulkheads required more tedious
measurement before duplication.
In general, the work on the fuselage sections was
quite involved due to the large number of parts involved and extensive
custom fitting requirements. Many of the wing fixtures and jigs
were completed early in the project, although the actual assembly of
the wing was an extended and complex process. Parts such as the
aluminum ribs took shape much more quickly than the steel spars, which
took several months, and hundreds of steps to complete.
Each of the modular cockpit inserts or "tubs"
contains countless small parts in addition to critical control assemblies.
Special attention was given to the flight control systems and instrument
panel blanks. Related parts, such as the pilots seats were also
fabricated during this time. Other major ongoing projects at TAF involved
the custom manufacture of the improved brake and wheel assemblies, landing
gear components (see the TECHNICAL
section for more information on these two changes), and various flight
Considerable effort was required to faithfully duplicate
complex parts which had not been built in more than five decades.
Not surprisingly, minor deficiencies were discovered throughout the
process which required later correction and/or remanufacture.
Still, overall, the work progressed was progressing steadily.
By mid 1996, the classic lines of the Me 262 were clearly
in evidence, and the fuselage structures were nearly complete.
As these photographs show, the jets progressed to a fairly advanced
state, although much work remained -- especially on the wings, engines,
and aircraft systems. This work would later be completed at the
Paine Field facility.
Photo credit: (first three images) David Oliver in FlyPast's
Luftwaffe Eagles (1997)