ON THE TAIL OF THE KOMET

THE RAF VS THE JETS

In the last months of World War Two, R AF pilots reported encounters with the Luftwaffe’s ‘wonder weapons’ – including its pocket rocket and its own ‘wooden wonder.’

Flying Officer Johnny Haslop chased a Me 163 Komet after he spotted it infiltrate a bomber force. He became the first RAF pilot to bring down the novel German type
ANTONIS KARIDIS

In the middle of World War Two, Allied intelligence was well aware of Germany’s development of jet-powered aircraft. While it might have been a shock for those Allied pilots who first encountered jets streaking across the sky in mid1944, leaders of industry, military intelligence and in the Allied air forces were hardly moved.

They knew work on the jet engine had progressed in Britain and Germany for years, that British and American jet prototypes had first flown in May 1941 and October 1942 respectively, and that Germany’s first jet concept had flown in 1939. By the end of 1943 they had knowledge of the Arado Ar 234 bomber and the Messerschmitt Me 262 and Me 163 fighters – each of which was still in testing prior to entering service with the Luftwaffe.

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