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Liveblogging World War II: July 18, 1942

Tony Long:

uly 18, 1942: World's First Operational Jet Fighter Takes Wing: 1942: The third prototype of the Messerschmitt 262 becomes the first true operational jet plane when it takes to the skies over Bavaria at the height of World War II.

Engine problems, other teething difficulties and political bungling delayed its debut as a combat aircraft until 1944, but when it arrived, the twin-jet Me 262 showed that with an experienced pilot at the controls, it was more than a match for the best Allied fighters, including Britain's own jet, the Gloster Meteor.

In truth, the Me 262 should have been ready for front-line service much earlier. The original design, which, in the end, looked a lot like the finished product, existed as early as April 1939. But high costs and the belief of many high-ranking Luftwaffe officers that conventional aircraft could win the war prevented Germany from making the Me 262 a priority.

: http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2007/07/dayintech_0718