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  Messerschmitt Bf 109


History of the Messerschmitt Bf 109

The Bf 109E was the Luftwaffe's standard single-seat fighter for the first three years of the war and was able to outfight or outrun virtually all opposition. From the summer of 1942 the Bf 109G powered by a Daimler-Benz DB605D Producing 1,800 hp with water-methanol injection and giving a speed of 685 km/h (428 mph), entered service in Russia and North Africa before being deployed in every other theater. With its standard armament of a cannon and two machine guns the Bf 109, like the Spitfire , saw action throughout the war.

Bearing in mind that the Bf 109 was to become one of the Royal Air Force's major opponents in the Second World War, it is ironic that the prototype had a British Rolls-Royce Kestrel engine when it made its first flight in September 1935. The power plant was, however, soon changed. In any case, Rolls-Royce was using a German built Heinkel He 70 to flight test some of its latest engines at about the same time.

On September 1,1939 Germany attacked Poland, including in the aerial spearhead of its forces with about 200 Bf 109s, which quickly destroyed the obsolescent Polish PZL fighters. The standard version of the German fighter at that time was the Bf 109E, which was still the major variant when the Battle of Britain began in August 1940. During this battle, which lasted many weeks, RAF Hurricane and Spitfire fighters were directed mainly against incoming German bombers, although escorting Bf 110 twin-engined fighters and Bf 109s were necessarily engaged. Fighter losses on both sides were comparable, but the battle ended in victory for the RAF, as it had prevented the achievement of German air superiority which might have heralded a sea invasion of Britain.

The fact that the Bf 109 had too limited a range to be fully effective as a bomber escort during this battle persuaded the German authorities to consider the type most useful as a defensive fighter in Europe. This was reflected in the more refined but relatively lightly-armed next production version of the fighter, the Bf 109F. Not until the arrival of the Bf 109G was faith in the type fully restored; and this version was then built in huge numbers for many varied roles. It was in a Bf 109G-14 that Major Erich Hartmann of the Luftwaffe reached his unrivaled total of 352 confirmed victories, although these were gained on the Eastern Front where German fighters easily outclassed the early Soviet fighters.

In September 1939 the Luftwaffe had a front line strength of 1,200 fighters, including the formidable Messerschmitt Bf l09. As the war progressed, and the advantage swung away from Germany. Greater emphasis was placed on interceptors and night fighters than on bomber escorts, and in the last year output was concentrated almost entirely on last-ditch defenders.

The Bf 109G remained the major version right up to the end of hostilities in May 1945; it is thought that some 35,000 Bf 109s of all versions were produced. Others were built in Czechoslovakia, and many went into Czech Air Force service after the war. Another post-war operator was Israel, while Bf 109s built by Hispano in Spain as HA-1109s and HA-1112s, were still active into the seventies. With the last of them the wheel turned full circle. Like the original prototype they were powered by a Rolls-Royce engine - this time the Merlin.



Bf 109 B, C, D, E, F, G, H and K

Manufacturer: Bayerishe Flugzeugverke (1938 change of name to Messerschmitt AG)

Type: One-seated fighter or fighter/bomber

Engine: (B, C) one 635 hp Junkers Jumo 210D inverted liquid cooled V-12 (D) 1,000 hp Daimler-Benz 600 Aa inverted liquid cooled V-12 (E) 1,100 hp DB 601 A, 1,200 hp DB 601 N or 1,300 hp DB 601 E (F) DB 601 E (G) 1,475 hp DB 605 A-1 or subtype up to DB 605 D, 1,800 hp with MW50 methanol-waterinjection (H-1) DB 601 E (K) usually 1,550 hp DB 605 ASCM/DCM; 2,000 hp with MW50.

Measurements: Wingspan (A to E) 9.87 m (others) 9.92 m, lenght (B, C) 8.51 m (D, E typical version) 8.64 m (F) 8.85 m (G) 9.04 m (K) 8.95 m, height (E) 2.28 m (others) 2.59 m.

Weight: Empty (B-1) 1,580 kg (E) 1,900 kg to 2,005 kg (F) about 1,965 kg (G) 2,667 kg to 2,800 kg (K) usually 2,722 kg, with maximum payload(B-1) 2,200 kg (E) 2,505 kg to 2,665 kg (F-3) 2,746 kg (G) usually 3,400 kg (K) usually 3,375 kg.

Performance: Maximum speed (B-1) 470 km/h (D) 520 km/h (E) 560-570 km/h (F-3) 628 km/h (G) 569-690 km/h (K-4) 729 km/h. Maximum vertical speed at sealevel (B-1) 670 m/min (E) 1,000 m/min (G) 825-1,220 m/min (K-4) 1,470 m/min. Service ceiling (B-1) 8,100 m (E) 10,500 m to 11,000 m (F, G) about 11,600 m (K-4) 12,500 m. Range with internal fuel (all) 585 km to 740 km (usually 700 km)

Armament: (B) three 7.92 mm Rheinmetall-Borsig MG 17 machine guns, two over the engine and two in the wings (C-2) in additionone through the center of the propeller (early E-1) four MG 17 plus four 50 kg bombs or one 250 kg bomb (later E-1 and most others) two MG 17 over the engine with 1000 rounds each or two MG 17 with 500 rounds plus one 20 mm MG FF through the center of the propeller, and two MG FF in the wings (F-1) two MG 17 and one MG FF (F-2) two 14 mm MG 151 and one MG FF (F-4) two MG 151, one MG FF and two 20 mm MG 151 below the wings (G-1) two MG 17 or 13 mm MG 131 over the engine and one MG 151 (G-6) one 30 mm MK 108, two MG 131 over the engine and two MG 151 below the wings (K-4) two MG 151 over the engine and one MK 103 or 108 and two MK 108 below the wings (many G and K) in addition two 210 mm rockettubes below the wings or different bomb payload.

History: Flew for the first time (Bf 190 V-1) the beginning of September 1935. Manufacturung began (B-1) February 1937 (E) January 1939 (G) May 1942. Totally was about 35,000 planes built, of which about 24,500 Bf 109 G

Used by: Bulgaria, Kroatia, Finland, Germany, Hungaria, Italy, Japan, Jugoslavia, Rumania, Slovakia, Soviet Union, Sanien, Schweiz.