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The Me 262 was faster and more heavily armed than any Allied fighter, including the British jet-powered Gloster Meteor.

The elliptical nose derivatives of the NACA airfoils were used on the horizontal and vertical tail surfaces.The Messerschmitt Me 262, nicknamed Schwalbe (German: "Swallow") in fighter versions, or Sturmvogel (German: "Storm Bird") in fighter-bomber versions, was the world's first operational jet-powered fighter aircraft.Design work started before World War II began, but problems with engines, metallurgy and top-level interference kept the aircraft from operational status with the Luftwaffe until mid-1944.Willy Messerschmitt, who desired to maintain mass production of the piston-powered, 1935-origin Bf 109 and the projected Me 209; and Major General Adolf Galland, who had initially supported Messerschmitt through the early development years, flying the Me 262 himself on 22 April 1943.By that time, problems with engine development had slowed production of the aircraft considerably.Several years before World War II, the Germans foresaw the great potential for aircraft that used the jet engine constructed by Hans Joachim Pabst von Ohain in 1936.

After the successful test flights of the world's first jet aircraft—the Heinkel He 178—within a week of the Invasion of Poland to start the war, they adopted the jet engine for an advanced fighter aircraft.

While BMW's and Junkers' axial compressor turbojet engines were characterised by a sophisticated design that could offer considerable advantage – also used in a generalized form for the contemporary American Westinghouse J30 turbojet – the lack of rare materials for the Jumo 004 design put it at a severe disadvantage compared to the "partly axial-flow" Power Jets W.2/700 turbojet engine which, despite its own largely centrifugal compressor-influenced design, provided (between operating overhaul interval of 60–65 hour) an operational life span of 125 hours.

Frank Whittle concludes in his final assessment over the two engines: "it was in the quality of high temperature materials that the difference between German and British engines was most marked" Operationally, carrying 2,000 litres (440 imperial gallons; 530 US gallons) of fuel in two 900-litre (200-imperial-gallon; 240-US-gallon) tanks, one each fore and aft the cockpit, and a 200-litre (44-imperial-gallon; 53-US-gallon) tank beneath, Fuel consumption was double the rate of typical twin-engine fighter aircraft of the era, which led to the installation of a low-fuel warning indicator in the cockpit that notified pilots when remaining fuel fell below 250 l (55 imp gal; 66 US gal).

This was almost nine months ahead of the British Gloster Meteor's first flight on 5 March 1943.

Its retracting conventional tail wheel gear (similar to other contemporary piston powered propeller aircraft), a feature shared with the first four Me 262 V-series airframes, caused its jet exhaust to deflect off the runway, with the wing's turbulence negating the effects of the elevators, and the first takeoff attempt was cut short.

As a result, the Me 262 was already under development as Projekt 1065 (P.1065) before the start of World War II.

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