During research to the 436th Troop Carrier Group in World War 2, the webmaster received some photos of German jet planes. Not one, but a couple of them from different sources.
One wondered, where and when did the Troop Carrier men encounter those German jets. Some research on the internet revealed this.
German Jet Planes
The German jet planes in the pictures were mainly Me 262 planes. The one that is not such a plane is a Arado Ar 234 bomber.
The M2e 262 was the world’s first operational jet powered fighter aircraft. Designing started before the war but the plane became operational halfway 1944. It was the best jet powered fighter plane of World War 2.
The Arado Ar 234 was the first operational jet powered bomber. It was built during the end of the war. It was used as reconnaissance plane more then as a bomber. Such a plane was the last German plane to fly over England during the war.
The Melun airfield, situated north of that city near the hamlet Villaroche, was a civil airport built prior before the war.
After the fall of France, German Luftwaffe units used the field. German Junkers Ju 88s and Heinkel He 111’s used this field. At 1 August 1944 it was subject to an American attack with B-17s of the 398th Bombardment Group.
After the Normandy invasion and the Allied advance through France, the airfield and surrounding area was liberated at about 1 September. The US IX Engineer Command 830th and 833rd Engineer Aviation Battalions and the 878th Airborne Engineer Aviation Battalion cleared the field of mines and destroyed Luftwaffe planes.
The runways were recovered and two weeks after the liberation, the airfield went into service for the US IXth Air Force, designated as A-55.
First to arrive were B-26 Marauder’s and they left in Febrauary 1945. The 436th Troop Carrier Group replaced the bombers.
Beside numerous resupply and air-evacuation missions, the field was also used by the 436th TCG during Operation Varsity, towing gliders to Landing Zone S near Wesel.
The 436th Troop Carrier Group, consisting out of four squadrons, 79th, 80th, 81st and 82nd Troop Carrier Squadrons, stayed at the field until the end of the war. In the summer of 1945 the 436th moved back to the USA.
German Jets at a US Troop Carrier Group base
Melun Airfield (A-55) - home of the 436th Troop Carrier Group
Situated north of Melun, at the hamlet Villaroche, is the airfield used by the 436th Troop Carrier Group. It was used from February 1945 until the end of the war. The 436th TCG used this field on the Rhine mission, which was a glider double tow mission.
Among the spoils of war was the German technology. The Me 262 was already in action while other jet planes were still being in process of being born.
The Army Air Force created the Air Technical Intelligence division. One of the main targets for the ATI was finding complete and intact Me 262 planes. Several Me 262’s had been found at a Bavarian airfield.
A team led by Col. Howard Watson was formed to learn how to operate the Me 262 and to fly them out of Germany.
Some Me 262’s fell intact into Allied hands. They were collected at Lechfeld airfield in Germany. With co-operation of German mechanics and pilots, the American became familiar with the German jet planes.
On June 10th, the German jet planes were flown to Melun, France. Eight American pilots and two German pilots did the job.
On the 27th, the planes were lined up for review by AAF General Spaatz.
While at Melun, the team also continued to investigate reports of other flight-worthy examples in the area. Roy Brown recalls one of these missions:
We had a P-47 assigned to our group, and I remember flying in it to Schleswig, Germany and then on to Grove, Denmark, checking on German planes. The airfields at both places were under British control, and the British were very helpful. At Schleswig we found a second two-seater trainer Me 262 and a night-fighter version. At Grove there were two Arado Ar 234s which had come from Norway. The four planes were flown to Melun to add to the collection. Later, two more Ar 234s were flown from Norway by way of Grove. (http://www.stormbirds.com/squadron/mission/airshow.htm)
On June 30 and July 6, the planes flew to Cherbourg for shipment to the USA.
Webmasters note: Almost all information was found at the following website:
This Me 262 is named Happy Hunter II, after the son of Col. Watson who flew this plane to Melun. En route to Cherbourg the plane crashed.
This is a special Me 262 nightfighter.
Men of the 79th Troop Carrier Squadron marvel around one of the Me 262 jet planes. This is Me 262 V555.
The Arado Ar 234 bomber at Melun.
Photo credits: Mr. R. Franklin, and Mr. G. Behe.