In July 1944 the Allies were stunned by the appearance of the Messerschmitt Me-262, the world's first operational jet warplane. This new German fighter was more than 100mph faster than any other aircraft in the skies. Although always greatly outnumbered, the Me-262 gained scores of victories over Allied fighters and bombers, and by the end of the war, many of the Luftwaffe's greatest aces had clamoured to be in their cockpits. No wonder military leaders believed that if it had been introduced earlier, this jet could have changed the outcome of the war.Sharks of the Air tells the story of Willi Messerschmitt's life, and shows how this aeronautical genius built many revolutionary aeroplanes-not excluding the Luftwaffe's mainstay, the Me-109-and culminating in the Me-262. It describes how his various warplanes fought in Spain, Poland, France, Britain, the U.S.S.R., and over Germany, and it provides thrilling accounts of air battles drawn from combat reports and interviews with veterans. This book also shows how Messerschmitt-like other geniuses such as Porsche, von Braun, and Speer- was affected by cut-throat Nazi politics, and describes his intense rivalries with other aircraft designers. It reveals aspects of his life never before made public, including his love affair with the beautiful Baroness Lilly Michel-Rolino, a rich aristocrat who left her husband to live with Willi. Finally, it shows how in Word War II Messerschmitt believed he was loyally supporting the Fatherland, until he realised too late that Hitler was a madman. Like many of the technical innovations of Nazi Germany in the war, production arrived too late in order to change the final outcome.

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