The pattern aircraft is the only two-seater in the USA, and
is the plane that we were checked out in at Lechfeld.
It was flown from Lechfeld to Cherbourg by way of Melun and
brought to this country in 1945.
The fuselage of this aircraft
is at one side of the hangar and is being restored. It
was stored outside at Willow Grove and had suffered considerable
weathering and corrosion. The use of both aluminum and
steel in its construction contributed to corrosion due to galvanic
The five fuselage shells of
the reproduction aircraft are lined up nearby. Two of the planes
will be two-seaters, two will be convertible between single-seater
and two-seater and one will be a single-seater. One fuselage
has a two-seater cockpit installed. I was invited to climb in
and sit in this one - which I did.
There are usually about twenty
skilled mechanics there working on different things: cockpits,
canopies, tails, landing gears, etc.
There are also thousands of parts. As
the original Me 262 was disassembled each part had to be identified
and replicated five or six times. Many of the parts are complicated
fittings and the new jets have to be hand made to exact dimensions.
The fuselage is quite wide because it was designed
to hold the main landing wheels by their being swung up and
inward when the gear was retracted. The fuselage, therefore,
had to be wide enough to hold the two tires, on their sides,
side by side.
On the main wheels, disc brakes
were made to sit inside of the wheels to replace the original
drum brakes. The nose gear was also strengthened because of
a reported weakness of the original nose gear.
The original four machine guns
were still in the nose of the Me 262 when it was obtained at
Willow Grove. The cockpit had been stripped of instruments
but the guns had been covered by Fiberglas and were not noticed.
They are still in the Me 262 fuselage. Dummy machine guns
have been made and will be installed in the nose of the replicas.
Since the dummy guns are much lighter, a weight is installed
in each of the noses to make up for the extra weight of the