The first rule of all air combat is to see the opponent first. Like the hunter who stalks his prey and maneuvers himself unnoticed into the most favourable position for the kill, the fighter in the opening of a dogfight must detect the opponent as early as possible in order to attain a superior position for the attack.
I would like to mention that I have flown the 262 first in May ‘43. At this time, the aircraft was completely secret. I first knew of the existence of this aircraft only early in ‘42 - even in my position. This aircraft didn’t have any priority in design or production.
Their element is to attack, to track, to hunt, and to destroy the enemy. Only in this way can the eager and skillful fighter pilot display his ability. Tie him to a narrow and confined task, rob him of his initiative, and you take away from him the best and most valuable qualities he posses: aggressive spirit, joy of action, and the passion of the hunter.
During the Battle of Britain the question "fighter or fighter-bomber?" had been decided once and for all: The fighter can only be used as a bomb carrier with lasting effect when sufficient air superiority has been won.
For the first time I was flying by jet propulsion. No engine vibrations. No torque and no lashing sound of the propeller. Accompanied by a whistling sound, my jet shot through the air. Later when asked what it felt like, I said, "It felt as though angels were pushing".
If we would have had the 262 at our disposal - even with all the delays - if we could have had in '44, ah, let's say three hundred operational, that day we could have stopped the American daytime bombing offensive, that's for sure.
It is true to say that the first kill can influence the whole future career of a fighter pilot. Many to whom the first victory over the opponent has been long denied either by unfortunate circumstances or by bad luck can suffer from frustration or develop complexes they may never rid themselves of again.
We have built a total of about 1250 of this aircraft, but only fifty were allowed to be used as fighters – as interceptors. And out of this fifty, there were never more than 25 operational. So we had only a very, very few.
I made a written report which is still today in existence. I have a photocopy of it, and I am saying that in production this aircraft could perhaps substitute for three propeller- driven aircraft of the best existing type. This was my impression.
If we would have had the 262 at our disposal – even with all the delays – if we could have had in ’44, ah, let’s say three hundred operational, that day we could have stopped the American daytime bombing offensive, that’s for sure.
I would like to mention that I have flown the 262 first in May ’43. At this time, the aircraft was completely secret. I first knew of the existence of this aircraft only early in ’42 – even in my position. This aircraft didn’t have any priority in design or production.