Kagero | Me 262 Units

Reviewed by Matt Gannon

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Minatury Lotnicze No 33
Author : Marek J Murawski
ISBN 83-89088-58-4

Specs at a glance

Whilst not a new book having been published in 2005, I thought I’d run over the details of this book for anyone considering a purchase of the new 1/32 Trumpeter kit, the Me262A-1a with Heavy Armament.

This, like all Kagero’s books, begins with a story that puts you in the cockpit of one of these planes. I think this company excels at these stories as they convey something readily identifiable about the plane being written about. In the case of the Me262 it is speed. I almost found myself reading faster and faster.

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Following an entertaining opening the book then digresses into what may prove to be one of the greatest perpetuated myths of all time. It has a well written section on Hitler’s interference in the development of the Me262 to ensure it could carry bombs. This has and is still touted as a significant issue in the planes operational deployment. Whilst the facts as they are presented in isolation and without context are not inaccurate, the reader and the author are without supplementary data on events and which would allow a more balanced opinion. Nevertheless, there are some great photos and it is an entertaining well written section.

The book then breaks up into several major chapters. The first is on Einstaztkommando Schenk on which there is a good amount of background to both Schenk himself, to the unit and to the development of bombing sights and the specific techniques that would allow bombing from a Me 262. There a number of nice action photos and an interesting piece by an American P47 pilot who happened to encounter and shoot down one of the new German jet planes. Finally it describes how the unit Kommando Schenk was rolled into 1. /KG 51.

The next chapter on KG 51 describes their acquisition of Me 262s and relinquishing of Me410’s as well as forming up with Kommando Schenk. There are several good photos of a Luftwaffe Bomb trolley (with white wall tyres) operating in the snow loading 250kg bombs onto a Me 262. Following this are a number of entertaining combat reports that describe the gradual attrition in the Me 262 ranks.

It’s clear that the performance superiority of the Me 262 meant that the German pilots were confident and brave. However, it’s also clear the Allied fighter pilots were intent on hunting the Me 262 wherever they could and were equally as aggressive. Interspersed throughout this section are some great clear black and white photographs.

In a confusing layout choice though, there are some pictures of the Me 262B-1a in this KG 51 section. There are a variety a great photos including; one of the open and elongated canopy; the FuG218 radar array; the instrument panels for pilot and RIO, squadron lineups; and a captured Me 262 night fighter.

Luckily though, there are also a number of great photos of Me 262A-1a Jabos from KG 51 which will serve any builder well if constructing the new Trumpeter kit. One amazing statistic from the read on KG 51 was the heavy attrition rate on personnel and materiel. Of the 234 planes lost by KG 51, only 88 were due to enemy action whereas 146 were destroyed due to accidents. Perhaps that statistic lends further support to then notion that any delay in the deployment of the Me 262 was more due to the planes sheer uniqueness and lingering technical issues rather than purely political interference.

The following chapter on Kommando Welter 10. / NJG 11 describes how the Me 262 was evolved to counter the threat that night flying Mosquitos. One has to bear in mind that many Mosquito’s were ‘Pathfinders’ whose incredible accuracy and courage created the accuracy for subsequent night area bombing by the heavies. The difficulties of night interception both in terms of technical issues and teamwork requirements are described well in the many combat accounts. It was very clear that Mosquito pilots now had a very serious foe to contend with.

Again in this chapter a set of irrelevant photos crops up. The photo of the Me 262 with the U4 long 50mm Mauser cannon in allied hands appears in detail Given this has nothing to do with nightfighters a different section of the book would have perhaps been more appropriate. Mind you, I did consider that the splitting the text between Polish and English, interspersed with photos might force this compromised arrangement.

In the next chapter the political background and details surrounding Jagdverband 44 are discussed in detail. Combat reports and perceptions from neighbouring units are included in detail and are particularly entertaining although they are light reading. Rather than any specific photos of materiel associated with JV 44 the book has a number of photos focusing on the Me 262A-1a/U3 photo recon jet and its equipment.

Following this entertaining chapter there is another section on other units. It is brief with only a couple of lines on each unit. There are no specific photos and this section is at best a quick and general read that may serve useful for directing further research efforts.

The book winds up with a bibliography, some notes on camo patterns pertinent to the Me 262 squadrons, notes specific to the colour profiles in the book and a great walkaround of a Me 262A-1a in the National Aero and space Museum. The walkaround covers the major external features of the 262 in full glossy colour.

Included in the book are some decals for the various profiles provided. Whilst all the major markings appear to be present in 1/72 and 1/48 scale, the 1/32 decals are missing national insignias and fuselage theatre marking band. All the other markings, except stencils are present. The decals like most of the Techmod decals I have seen appear to be in perfect register and lovely and thin. I have included a scan for you to peruse.

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In Summary

The Me 262 Units ML 33 by Kagero is a light reading book. It has some excellent combat accounts and great black and white pictures. There is some reference information on camouflage used by various Me 262s that will provide a start point for further research. There are some colour profiles, decals to boot and a colour walkaround.

Given that it’s A5 sized and has just as much Polish as English text, it tries to do an awful lot. The cost of trying to do so much in such a small amount of space is decreasing the amount of detail. I enjoyed the book given the light reading is entertaining and aspects of the walkaround were perfect for my latest build as well as providing some well summarized information on the major Me 262 units. In that context I’d recommend it wholeheartedly.

Many thanks again to Ian McPherson of Janterpol books for the chance to review this sample.


© Matt Gannon 2007

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This review was published on Saturday, July 02 2011; Last modified on Wednesday, May 18 2016