Battle of Britain Memorial Flight News

Reproduction Messerschmitt Me 262 visits the BBMF

The eagerly anticipated visit to the UK and to the BBMF at RAF Coningsby by reproduction Messerschmitt Me 262 D-IMTT was one of the most remarkable events for aviation enthusiasts for many years. It was the first time that a Me 262 had been seen in the skies over England since a captured example was flown shortly after the end of the Second World War.

Reproduction Messerschmitt Me 262 D-IMTT being escorted over the white cliffs of the English Channel coast by BBMF Spitfire Mk Vb AB910 on 12th July 2023. (Photo: Darren Harbar)

When the Me 262, piloted by Swiss Airbus test pilot Gerhardt “Geri” Kraehenbuehl, entered UK airspace on 12th July, it was met by BBMF Spitfire Mk Vb AB910, flown by OC BBMF Squadron Leader Mark ‘Suggs’ Sugden, ensuring a proper welcome. Darren Harbar took air-to-air photos of the two iconic aircraft together.
Having attended the Royal International Air Tattoo at Fairford from 14-16th July, the Me 262 was flown to the BBMF’s home at RAF Coningsby, arriving on the afternoon of 17th July. The Rolls-Royce operated P-51D Mustang and Spitfire PR Mk XIX PS853, once part of the BBMF and a founding aircraft of the Flight, also flew into Coningsby to join in the event. Unfortunately, due to unserviceability, the DH Vampire T.11, which had been planned to attend, was unable to do so.

OC BBMF, Sqn Ldr Mark ‘Suggs’ Sugden, greets the replica Messerschmitt Me 262’s pilot, Gerhardt “Geri” Kraehenbuehl, when the jet arrived at Coningsby on 17th July. (Photo: BBMF)

On Tuesday 18th July, the Me 262 and the other two visiting aircraft, along with the BBMF’s aircraft in the hangar, were available for the public to view via the BBMF Visitor Centre. During the day the Visitor Centre hosted guided tours for 509 visitors on 20 tours, an all-time record for a single day.

During the morning the BBMF hosted a 'First Jets' seminar with Airbus and Rolls-Royce company guests at the Petwood Hotel at Woodhall Spa, with speakers presenting on early jet operations and technology, and the operation of historic aircraft in the twenty-first century. In the afternoon a remarkable four-ship formation made several passes over the airfield with the Me 262 leading Spitfire PR.XIX PS853, BBMF Spitfire Mk Vb AB901 and the P-51 Mustang ‘in the box’. This was a formation which has probably never been seen before; a real bonus for onlookers.

The Messerschmitt Me 262 leads Rolls-Royce Spitfire PR.XIX PS853, the Rolls-Royce P-51D Mustang and BBMF Spitfire Mk Vb AB910 over Coningsby on 18th July. (Photo: Claire Hartley)

A special visitor on the day was 102-year-old wartime DH Mosquito pilot, Squadron Leader Colin Bell DFC AE. Flying Mosquito XXs with 608 (Pathfinder) Squadron from Downham Market in Norfolk, as part of the Light Night Striking Force, Colin completed 50 bombing raids (13 of them to Berlin). He found that the Mosquito could out-run any of the German propeller driven fighter aircraft, but one night over Berlin he had what he described as a “tussle” with a Me 262 night-fighter which was faster. The electronic radar warning receiver in the Mosquito warned him that the Me 262 radar was ‘painting’ him and he had to evade hard and dive 10,000 feet to shake it off. He and his navigator never actually saw the 262, so this was, therefore, the first time he had actually seen one and certainly the first time he had touched one. He announced that once was enough and he wouldn’t mind if he never saw one again!

Wartime DH Mosquito pilot, Colin Bell DFC AE, aged 102, with the Messerschmitt Me 262 at Coningsby on 18th July. His previous encounter with a Me 262 jet was over Berlin!  (Photo: Lisa Harding)

The German operators of the Me 262 were surprised at the huge level of interest in the jet’s visit to Coningsby and the enthusiastic reception it received from the air-minded British public. The CEO of Airbus Defence and Space, Michael Schoellhorn, who was present on the day said: “The Messerschmitt Me 262 represents one of the most significant milestones in aviation as the world's first operational jet fighter. Today, on the anniversary of its first jet-powered test flight, we have had the pleasure of uniting it with its British and US contemporaries, which were equally impressive aircraft of their time. I commend the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight for putting this together. What fills me with most gratitude though is the fact that the formation flight takes place among allies who share a strong bond and the same values for our security going forward."
It was a very special day, which made great memories by those who were part of it.
The Me 262 returned to its base at Manching, Germany, on Thursday 20th July.

The Messerschmitt Me 262 airborne over RAF Coningsby with BBMF Spitfire Mk Vb AB910 on 18th July. (Photo: Sqn Ldr Keith Watson)


Connect with Battle of Britain Memorial Flight