“The thing would be much too heavy,” continued Speer, “much too slow, and moreover could only be built from the autumn of 1944 on. We—that is Professor Porsche, General Guderian, Chief of Staff Zeitzler, and I—had agreed before the beginning of the inspection to express our skepticism, at least by extreme reserve. In keeping with our arrangement, Porsche, when asked by Hitler what he thought of the vehicle, replied tersely in a noncommittal tone, ‘Of course, mein Führer, we can build such tanks. The rest of us stood silently in a circle.’”
During Germany’s early string of victories between 1939 and 1941, Hitler informed the members of the nation’s aerospace industry that he had decided to impose new restrictions on aircraft research and development. However, by 1942 the Führer and his Air Force High Command (Oberkommando der Luftwaffe) had recognized their mistake. With the increasing weakness in the fighter arm, Hitler saw that his old faithful aircraft like the Messerschmitt Me-109 were losing ground to the new Allied long-range fighters, such as the North American P-51 Mustang, used to escort U.S. and British bombers that were devastating Germany with little resistance.
The Me-262 Hitler’s Jet Fighter
The constant barrage of Allied bombing finally forced Hitler to invest in producing airplanes at the cutting edge of technology. These included bombers capable of carrying the war as far as America and beyond the Ural Mountains into Russia. To the German warlord, these new “wonder weapons” would mean the life or death of his Third Reich. What he wanted was a cheap, revolutionary aircraft of such advanced technology that it could be mass produced quickly and efficiently. One such aircraft pressed for by the designers was the jet fighter.
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The engines of the new jet types stemmed from work carried out before the war by Britain’s Sir Frank Whittle and Germany’s Hans-Joachim Pabst von Ohain. Both inventors created centrifugal and axial flow turbojets, which became the obvious step forward in aircraft design and the arrival of the operational jet aircraft.