The Messerschmidt Me-262 was the first operational jet-propelled fighter aircraft, designed principally for air superiority. It was superior to any Allied aircraft in the strategic bombing offensive against Germany, but was underutilized and late in being available. Adolf Hitler, who saw aircraft primarily as offensive weapons, refused to let it be produced until it had the ability to deliver bombs, although it was never particularly capable in that role. Had it been produced earlier, as an interceptor, it could have had a dramatic effect on the Allied bombing campaign.
When the Me-262s appeared, they could dash into an Allied bomber formation, generally evade defensive bomber guns due to their speed, attack bombers, and pull away from any pursuing escort fighter. Very few were defeated in direct air combat once in full flight, although a number were destroyed when taking off or landing. Most were destroyed by air attacks on their bases, or by Germans destroying them to avoid capture by advancing Allied ground forces.