Recently we posted an article about the F4U-1D Corsair, and its possible inclusion on the Storm of War server (link). But what about the Messerschmitt Me 262?
The short answer: Yes, as Kommando Schenck, KG51
The long answer:
Deciding whether or not a module makes sense on the Storm of War Normandy missions is mostly driven by historical concerns. However, in the absence of a matching historical plane-set, some compromises have already been made so there are at least SOME aircraft for players to fly, and to vary the missions to keep things interesting.
The Me 262 has been oft requested for Digital Combat Simulator (DCS). It was included in the original Kickstarter project, and has since been formally adopted by Eagle Dynamics (ED). However, in December 2020, it was announced that it would not be the next module after the DH.98 Mosquito. At the time of writing this, it is not clear if it would be produced in the future. Plans and priorities can change, of course.
Its inclusion in online combat flight simulators is a complex and highly emotive topic. The aircraft has near mythical status as a result of limited original historical sources (due to the rapidly-evolving war situation), misleading propaganda, over-simplistic interpretation and ill-informed commentators. But if it is brought to DCS, the question has been raised regarding whether or not it would make sense to add this module in to the SoW missions as a flyable aircraft.
To answer this question, we have turned to historically-based sources. There are two areas of interests from where we might be able to shed light on whether or not the Me 262 was in any way involved in the Normandy campaign, or, if they were present in the air space of the DCS Normandy map during the relevant time period.
The answer is, yes, although it was only at the very end of the campaign, after the collapse of the Falais pocket and as the Allies reached the Seine river.
During the initial deployment of the Me 262, there were three combat-trial units, as bomber (Schenck), fighter (Nowotny) and reconnaissance (Braunegg). The first Me 262s of Kommando Schenck reached Châteaudun on 20 July 1944. They were there for a few weeks, preparing for operations before the decision was made to pull back from an encroaching front line. They then moved to Étampes on 12 August, and were there for 3 days before moving again to Creil and, then Juvincourt. From Juvincourt, the first sorties were carried out.
Between 09.34 and 09.42 hrs. on the 26 August 1944, three of the Einsatzkommando’s aircraft, each carrying a single AB500 canister of SD10 fragmentation bombs, took off from Juvincourt to attack troop concentrations on the left bank of the Seine in the loop northeast of Bonnières.
During the next 3-4 days, the unit carried out 4-5 sorties per day against Allied ground targets, using AB500 and SC500 ordnance. On the 29 August, the unit finally abandoned the front line and moved to Belgium.
However, the Storm of War campaign has ended by this stage (we can probably extend to somewhere between 10-17 August).
To put this into context, we show the positions of the DCS airfields (blue dots) and the historical airfields used by the Me 262 (yellow dots). Of the latter, only Étampes is on the DCS map area (and, even then, it is in the low-resolution terrain area; this is similar to the situation we have with the Corsair).
The attack operations were flown on 26 August against Bonnières (the red dot) from Juvincourt, about 1-2 weeks after the Storm of War campaign ends. Also in the image is the historical US Twelfth Army Group map, showing the position of the front line approx. 2 hours after the attack. By this stage, the SoW campaign is over, as the last blue airfield has been overrun.
However, for the very last day or so of our campaign, the Me 262s were at Étampes, which is on-map (just!), and thus meet the same criteria we used for the Corsair.
How would the Me 262 be included?
The inclusion of the Me 262 if and when it is released will likely take the form of a single section of 1-3 spawn-able player aircraft only. If possible, these aircraft will adopt I./KG51 squadron markings and the most applicable livery. They will be based at the closest airfield to Étampes, which is Évreux on the DCS Normandy map.
As the aircraft was historically used for ground attack, it would be deployed in a similar manner on the server. AB500 and SC500 munitions would be fitted. And, if possible, the cannons (or at least cannon ammunition) would be removed.
It would be a feature point of a single mission, and would probably be limited to only part of the mission (late or conditional spawn).
If the Normandy map is upgraded again (like the massive upgrade it got in December 2019), it may warrant revisiting this assessment. If the map expanded to the east, that would change things a lot.
But, for now, we recognise that this is a somewhat academic exercise. We have no indication what the next DCS WW2 aircraft (if any) would be and, even if it is the Me 262, whether we’ll still be around to implement it. Still, like all the things for the server, we consider them very carefully and the research involved is interesting in its own right.
For those interested, our full report (including all the references that were used) can be found here: http://stormofwar.info/documents/SoW-078-Me262inNormandy_v01.pdf