First Jet Fighter
A couple of minor corrections to Jon Guttman’s otherwise excellent article on the Messerschmitt 262 in the July issue: Test pilot Wendel’s first name was Fritz, not Paul; Munich’s airport was spelled Riem, not Reim.
Note that to keep the center of gravity within limits due to the heavy engines on the original Me-262, the wings had to be swept back, which resulted—as an added benefit—in a higher critical Mach number. In the reproduction Me-262s with the much lighter J-85 or CJ610 engines we had to add 400 pounds of lead in the nose to stay within CG limits.
The first five test airplanes were equipped with a tail wheel, as (so the thinking went at the time) a nose gear would have added extra weight, and would have taken up space that could have been better used for armament or fuel. But as was apparent during the first, aborted takeoff attempt, in the tail wheel configuration the horizontal stabilizer and elevator were blanked out by turbulent air from the wings and fuselage, and could only be made effective by tapping the brakes at liftoff speed, forcing the empennage up into undisturbed flow. Besides being an operationally unacceptable procedure, it lengthened the takeoff distance. For these reasons Messerschmitt reluctantly, after Me-262 V5, changed to the tricycle gear configuration.
A short addendum to “Watson’s Whizzers,” in the same issue. Eugene Freiburger named the airplane now at Willow Grove Vera after his sister-in-law. They both visited our project in 2000 during restoration of that airplane. Pilot Roy Brown has come to visit us at Paine Field several times. The airplane he ferried to Cherbourg now belongs to Paul Allen’s Flying Heritage Collection. After restoration—now ongoing for a decade—this airplane is supposed to fly with original Jumo 004 engines!
Test pilot, Me-262 Project
Paine Field, Everett, Wash.
There are a couple of errors in “Homebuilt Visionary” (July), about Bernard Pietenpol. The Airpower Museum mentioned in the article is at Antique Airfield near Blakesburg, Iowa—not Farmingdale, N.Y. [home of the American Airpower Museum –Ed.]. The Pietenpol fly-in at Brodhead, Wis., is sponsored by the Brodhead Pietenpol Association, not the Buckeye Pietenpol Club. Interest in Pietenpols remains strong, even today.
Junior Birdmen Look Back
In honoring Roscoe Turner (“A Showman Takes the Lead,” May issue), whom I recall in my personal Valhalla of airmen heroes, I wondered what I had done with my membership card in the Junior Birdmen of America. At age 12 I organized a squadron of classmates and set up an HQ in my father’s barn, where we did all the things you list in the article and also passed around pulp magazines about World War I. From that time forward I saw myself as a pursuit pilot and a future ace. I was glad when World War II began! Eventually I became an aviation cadet and later an ace with the Pioneer Mustang Group.
General F. Michael Rogers
U.S. Air Force (ret.)
Santa Barbara, Calif.
I was a Junior Birdman (woman) of America, joining through the New York Journal American, which long published a column for youngsters on flying. The Birdmen held contests for the models they offered plans for in Central Park and armories around the city—a terrific opportunity for youngsters to learn about flying. To this day, if an airplane goes over, I fly out of the kitchen to get a glimpse of it.
Marguerite C. Ajootian
White Stone, Va.
Another Bearcat Tale
The article on F8Fs brought back memories of flying Bearcats at Turner Field, Quantico, in 1951-52. The Bearcat did not have a separate control on the quadrant for the throttle and supercharger; it had an automatic engine control (AEC) that combined the two. On preflight you would reach up under the cowling and pull on the linkage. If for some reason the throttle was not pulled back all the way in the cockpit, when the engine was warm the oil in the unit would congeal. When cool the throttle would still be open when pulling it back in the cockpit. This was the reason for checking the linkage.
A photo I have shows what can happen in this situation. The Bearcat pictured had 0 hours on the engine. The mag switch became inoperable immediately. The fuel selector had to be turned off to kill the engine. That pilot had quite a ride.
John J. Thomas
Bird Dog Corrections
Reader Joseph Holden wrote to correct a misstatement in Stephan Wilkinson’s “The First Bird Dog” in the May “Briefing” section, which referred to the Cessna O-1 as “one of the least appreciated airplanes in the U.S. Air Force inventory during the Korea and Vietnam wars.” In fact, the earliest FAC airplanes in Korea were flown by the U.S. Army, not the Air Force. Indeed the Army originally ordered the L-19s, which weren’t turned over to the Air Force and renamed O-1s until the mid-1960s. And several readers pointed out that a reference in the same item to the Cessna 170’s “145-hp 4” is incorrect; 170s are powered by a 145-hp 6-cylinder Continental O-300.
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