In retrospect, it is clear that Hitler's edict regarding the use of the Me 262 as a fighter-bomber caused no appreciable delay in the type's operational introduction in the fighter role. Nor can the Luftwaffe reasonably be censured for not rushing the aircraft into production soon enough. Indeed, if anything, production was initiated too soon, for Me 262 airframes started to come off the assembly lines several months before the Jumo 004 engine that powered it was ready for mass production. As we have seen, the failure of the Me 262 in action had much more to do with its unreliable new powerplant, coupled with the direct and indirect pressures imposed by the Allied air attacks, than to shortcomings on the part of the German leadership.

By the beginning of April 1945 the Luftwaffe had taken delivery of more than 1,200 Me 262s. Yet there were never more than 200 of these aircraft in service with combat units. During the final months of the war, the Luftwaffe faced such intractable problems that its fighter units were quite unable to exploit the superior performance of the Me 262. In combat they suffered heavy losses and achieved little. Given the numerical superiority and the quality of the forces arraigned against them, it could hardly have been otherwise.

 

From SKY BATTLES DRAMATIC AIR WARFARE ACTIONS by ALFRED PRICE