Messerschmitt Me262A-1a 'White 3'
Jagdverband 44 Generalleutnant Adolf Galland, Munich-Riem, April 1945.
The Messerschmitt Me 262 was the first jet fighter to see air-to-air combat; Jagdverband 44
was an almost impromptu assembly of Luftwaffe fighter Experten. The two came together in the
final months of World War II, and have become the stuff of legend.
The Me 262 programme was underway in 1940, but problems with the development of jet engines resulted
in its introduction to service being in 1944. Conceived as an interceptor, there was more delay in
implementing this role fully while it was adapted for ground attack tasks, prompted by the Allied
invasion of Europe, and it served with trials units with mixed operational success while establishing
new techniques and tactics. After a four month delay the first full fighter Geschwader, JG7, was
established in November 1944, to be led by the Kommodore, appointed by General der Jagdflieger
Adolf Galland, Oberst Johannes Steinhoff. Around this time considerable unrest among a number of
more experienced fighter pilots resulted in a meeting of a group of them in Berlin that was seen
as being almost a mutiny; as a consequence, several of those who were known to have taken part
were appointed to other posts and Reichsmarschall Goering, expressing dissatisfaction with the
performance of the fighter arm, dismissed Galland from his post.
In January Adolf Hitler required to know why the jet fighter was not achieving the expected results
in the interception of Allied bombers, and as a result of his intervention Galland was tasked with
changing this state of affairs with a dedicated unit, substantially independent of the Luftwaffe
command structure. Given the title Jagdverband 44, it gradually assembled a number of aircraft,
some already in service and some fresh from a production line, from a variety of sources, and
staffed it in much the same way either from personal knowledge of pilots' capabilities or through
recommendation. Several of those connected with, or on the fringe of, the November meeting joined
him, notably "Macki" Steinhoff and Gunter Lutzow, and the unit was formed at Brandenburg-Briest
in February 1945.
White 3 was a standard Me262A-1a, with four 30.mm cannon, and many of this variant also had the
capability to carry twenty four R4M air-to-air rockets; the purpose of these was to break up bomber
formations from a longer range than that needed for cannon use, and JV44 used this weapon and tactic
to some effect. This aircraft was almost anonymous, not carrying any rank markings, or indeed
anything beyond the plain number; there appears to have been no unit badge for JV44, though one
- perhaps jealous - non-member remarked that it could well have been a "Knight's Cross". While
the aircraft were in a variety of finishes that of White 3 was the familiar green mottle over
grey/blue, and with the varying number of serviceable aircraft available it was flown by others
as well as the Generalleutnant. Galland himself was wounded in the knee in an engagement with
B-26 Marauders on 26 April, and did not fly again in the war. By the end of the conflict JV44,
belatedly assigned as part of JG7, had moved most of its aircraft to Salzburg where under the
direction of Heinz Bar and Walter Krupinski many were disabled in the face of the imminent
arrival of advancing American ground troops.
A number of 262s were taken over by the Allies, with a few flight-tested in France, America and
Great Britain; and several of the Aces gathered in JV44 were to take a leading part in establishing
the post-war Luftwaffe.
Scale 1:72 Wingspan 6.84" (174 mm)
Base size 7.71" (196 mm) square (No. 5)
Weight not including base 12 ozs (337 grams) Limited edition of 25 only
Price £92.00 plus delivery