Messerschmitt Bf 109

nazi germany flag Nazi Germany (1937)
Fighter Plane – 33,984 Built

The Messerschmitt (Me) BF – 109 ‘Emil’ is the most renowned fighter of the Axis countries, and a clear symbol of its air power during World War II. Its performance gave Germany at the earlier stages of the war the upper hand, and it took part in every front until the very end of the conflict in Europe: The Polish campaign, The Invasion of Norway, the Battle of France, The Battle of England, Operation Barbarossa (Invasion of Russia), the North African Theatre, Italy, D-Day, defending the German skies against the Allies’ bombing raids and the ’44 winter Luftwaffe’s Last Offensive. The Bf – 109 was the main fighter of the Luftwaffe in every aspect, being latter on complemented by the Focke Wulf Fw – 190. Yet the Bf – 109 did not served only under German flag, and not only during WWII: The Spanish Civil War was the first conflict where this fighter saw its first combat action, and it flew also with other nations: Finland, Bulgaria, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Hungary. And after the war, it kept fighting specially under Israeli flag, serving also in the Yugoslavian, Romanian and Czechoslovakian air forces. Interestingly, the adaptability of the fighter was one of the main factors that allowed it to serve until 1965, having many variants.

me109-400f-s

The Messerschmitt Bf – 109 is single-seat and single engine fighter, tasked also with air superiority, interceptor, escort fighter and fighter-bomber capable of all-weather and day- and night-fighter. It was entirely a light all-metal monocoque design with the rudder being covered with cloth. The wing was a low cantilever design fitted with flaps, while the canopy was an enclosed one, featuring a retractable landing gear and a tailwheel, armed with machine guns and guns. As a result, the Me – 109 was a pretty modern design by the time it was introduced. Its development began back in 1934, following a 1933 Reichsluftfarhtministerium study in which it was considered that a single-seat fighter was needed to replace the Arado Ar 64 and Heinkel He 51 biplanes that were the German first-line fighters. Furthermore, it was required for the fighter to develop speeds of up to 400 Km/h (250 mph) at 6000m (19,690 ft) for 20 minutes, having an autonomy of 90 minutes. The power plant was intended to be the Junkers Jumo 210 engine of 700 hp, while the armament was intended to be comprised of a mixture of a 20 mm gun and 2 X 7,92mm guns, or be armed by either the cannon or the two machine guns only. In addition, as Willy Messerschmitt was not authorized by the Reichsluftfarhtministerium to build small passenger planes for Romania, the request of building a fighter came also as a sort of compensation.

Development

bf109-straight-on

Bayerische FlugWerke began its work as it was awarded with the development contract in 1934, with the prototype flying for the first time in 1935, receiving the designation of Bf – 109 by the aviation ministry and powered with a Rolls-Royce Kestrel IV engine, as new German-made engines were not yet available. Willy Messerschmitt was the designer behind the Messerchmit Bf – 109, hence the name of the aircraft, and the ‘Bf’ denomination. Taking as a basis the 4-seat light passenger Bf – 108, the development of the new fighter began, initially powered with the Rolls Royce Kestrel engine. The following two prototypes were powered with the Jumo 210A 600hp engines, and the last one was fitted with guns. Reportedly, 10 more prototypes followed in order to test the model. The result was a cantilever low-wing, single engine fighter capable of reaching speeds of up to 470 Km/h (Bf – 109B) thanks to it Junkers Jumo 210Ga engine. Further models received a Daimler Benz inverted V-12 engine Models fitted with racing engines even yielded speeds of 610.95 Km/h (379,62 mph) and of 755.14 Km/h (463,92 mph), being the last a speed record for piston-engine aircraft until 1969. The fighter was very modern and advanced, equal to any fighter in service at the times at tactical point, even being over the Supermarine Spitfire, its most renown rival at the Battle of England. The earlier versions were armed with an array of 2 X 7,92mm machine guns in the forward cowl above the engine (Bf – 109B), and later models armed with two additional 7,92mm machine guns at the wings (Bf – 109C), and a 20 mm gun at the nose of the plane instead of the machine guns placed previously at the same place (Bf – 109D).

Presented in public during the 1936 Berlin Olympics as a propagandistic act, it debuted for the first time during the Spanish Civil War with the German Condor Legion, where it gained quickly air superiority over its Soviet-made rival Polikarkov I-15 and Polikarkov I-16 fighters, with Werner Mölders, a future WWII ace scoring 14 victories. This conflict also served to test in combat the new fighter and to detect the shortcomings and needed improvements, as well as to test the Luftwaffe’s tactics and doctrines that would be implemented in WWII. When it came to an end, 40 fighters were gifted to Spain following the withdrawal of the Condor Legion.

me109-413f-s

But the Messerschmitt Bf – 109 was a victim of its own success and the Luftwaffe’s own overestimate. The Messerschmitt Bf – 109 was considered enough for the operational needs of Germany until 1941, year when it would have fulfilled its objectives. However, as the conflict progressed, the high Command realized that the Bf – 109 needed further upgrades. As a result, the versions Bf – 109E, Bf – 109F, Bf – 109G, and the less known Bf – 109K. Yet the model kept many shortcomings that would affect its performance during the conflict, putting it in disadvantage to its rivals.

The Bf – 109 had many advantages: Its good initial autonomy – for tactical purposes; which was the type of war it was prepared for – and the powerful engine alongside a small structure (and size); its agility; high speed; climbing angle and rate; diving speed; good turning rate; good manoeuvrability; and cheap price. But there were also other problems that prevailed during its service: First, the ‘legs’ of the landing gear were rather fragile and narrow, retracting outwards and not beneath the fuselage. Second, the same Blitzkrieg tactics made the fighter to fight for such scenario at the expense of greater autonomy, playing against it during the Battle of England. This problem was solved after the Battle with the addition of extra drop fuel oil tanks. Third, it tended to swing sideways during landing or taking off. Fourth, it had a poor lateral controlling at high speed. Fifth, during combat when executing very close turning, the wings grooves tended to open, preventing stalling but often acting against the ailerons. And sixth, the length and ground angle of the landing gear ‘legs’ was so that it restricted forward visibility while on ground, forcing pilots to taxi in such a way that the undercarriage was put into heavy stress. This posed a problem for rookie pilots. The narrow wheel track also made the fighter to be unstable while on ground, with the solution for this problem resulted in transferring load up through the legs while taking off and landing manoeuvres.

A total of c.a. 34000 Bf – 109 were built in Germany from 1936 to 1945, in addition to the 239 made by Hispano Aviacion, 75 built in Romania by IAR and the 603 made by Avia, increasing the production time until 1958. Some 20 Bf – 109 remain now as museum displays.

Design

bf109-engine-bay

The Messerschmitt Bf – 109 is a very interesting fighter with equally interesting design characteristics. A light weight was the main concept of its design, development and construction. It was also a single engine, single seat fighter with a low cantilever wing, whose monocoque sleek fuselage was entirely made out of light-weight metal. Easy access to the powerplant, weaponry at the fuselage and other systems was considered also as important during design process, and especially when operating from forward airfields. As a result, the engine cowling was made up of large and easily removable panels, with specific panels allowing access to devices such as the fuel tank, the cooling system and electrical equipment. The devices containing and holding the engine made easy to remove or replace it as a unit. The powerplant tended to differ from version to version: the early versions were powered by a Junkers Jumo 210g inverted V-12 700 hp, the following versions were powered by a Daimler Benz DB 600A of 986 hp and other – more powerful – Daimler Benz engines (for further information, please see the variants). As the engine was of an inverted type, it was reportedly hard to knock out from below. And it also featured an electrical pith regulator.

The wing was also full of remarkable details. One of them was the I-beam main spar, placed rather aft than usually placed, with the idea of opening space for the retracted wheel, and creating a D-shaped torsion box. This box had more stiffness of torsion and also removed the need for a second spar. In addition, the thickness of the wing was slightly varied, with a cord ratio of 14.2% at the root, and a cord ratio of 11.35% at the tip. The wing was also a high-loading one. Another feature was the introduction of advanced high-lift devices, with automatic leading edge slats and large camber-changing flaps on the trailing edge. These slats increased the lift of the wing, improving horizontal manoeuvrability. Ailerons that drooped slightly when the flaps were lowered were also fitted in the wings, increasing the effective flap area, especially on the F series. The result was an increase on the wings’ lift. As the armament was placed in the fuselage in the earlier versions, the wing was kept very thin and light.

Another remarkable feature, which was a standard one in the F, G and K versions, were the introduction of two coolant radiators with a cut-off system so to reduce vulnerability of the cooling system after receiving a hit. For instance, if one radiator leaked as a consequence of an impact, the other made possible to fly, and even a 5-minute flight was possible with both radiators closed.

bf-109-hispano-built

The canopy of the Bf – 109 was a closed, bird-cage design, opening sideways, and having armour protection plates from the back, protecting also the main fuel tanks as it was partially placed under the cockpit floor and partially behind the rear cockpit bulkhead, having an L-shape. Some variants of the G version even featured pressurized cockpits.

me109f2-jg26-adolf-galland-france1942-7f-s

In regards to the armament, it tended to vary from version to version, in type of weaponry, caliber and location. The earlier versions normally featured an array of two machine guns mounted in the cowling, and also a 20mm cannon firing through a blast tube between the cylinders. This display was to be changed after the Luftwaffe got a word about the RAF’s plans to equip its new fighters with a battery of 8 guns. This made the additional guns to be installed at the wings, either a 7,92mm MG 17 machine guns or a 20mm MG FF or MG FF/M cannon, at the space between the wheel well and slats. The C version began to feature the additional two 7,92mm machineguns, where a device – a continuous belt – was installed to avoid redesigning the wing and ammunition boxes and access hatches. The gun barrel was placed in a tube between the spar and leading edge.

When cannons were installed at the wings, being longer and heavier, made them to be placed at a farther area in an outer bay, and forcing the spar to be cut with holes so to allow feeding the weapon. Also, a small hatch was incorporated to allow access to the gun, which was able to be removed through a removable leading edge panel. The F version and the following versions had the gun changed from the wings to the nosecone, firing through the propeller shaft. Additional 20mm MG 151/20 cannons were installed in pods under the wings, which were easy to install but also forced a reduction of speed by 8 km/h (5 mph). The last version (Bf – 109K) was armed with a MK 108 30mm cannon in each wing.

And, noteworthy to remark, the additional armament, while increasing the Messerschmitt Bf – 109’s firepower, it also reduced its performance. Handling qualities and dogfighting capabilities were severely affected, while a tendency to swing on a pendulum-fashion way while flying emerged.

The Reich’s Warrior of the Skies

me109taxisideview-4f-s

 

When the war started in 1939 with the invasion of Poland by Germany, around 320 Bf – 109 took part in the invasion under two units (I/JG 21 and I/ZG 2). During that operation, the Bf – 109s gained air superiority by destroying either on the ground or on air combats the Polish air force, providing also escort to ground attack airplanes and dive bombers, such as the Junkers Ju 87 Stuka. When the invasion of Norway took place, they faced considerable resistance from the outdated Gloster Gladiatiors of the Norwegian Air Force, which were reinforced by British fighters from HMS Glorious and two more aircraft carriers. During the Battle of France and the invasion of the Netherlands and Belgium, the Messerschmitt Bf – 109s encountered weak adversaries and an ill prepared Armee de l’air, which was unable to face the force of the Luftwaffe and the Bf – 109, while the German fighters gained air supremacy rather quickly and controlled the French skies. But the Battle of Dunkirk began to highlight the limitations of the BF – 109, especially in regards to autonomy, as many were coming from bases within Germany, facing also a strong opposition from the Royal Air Force.

The Battle of England was the first battle where the Bf – 109 began to show their limits, especially that of autonomy, having little time to provide effective escort and air supremacy over the British skies. It also found fitting rival in the Supermarine Spitfire and Hawker Hurricane, which were able to face the Messerschmitt Bf – 109 and even were able to overweight it. And the radar installations the RAF had, also played its role in defeating the BF – 109. Moreover, the attrition suffered during the Battle of France paid its toll over the Bf – 109 that took part in the campaign. As a result, the Luftwaffe – and namely the Bf – 109 – was unable to achieve air supremacy and control the skies of Britain, let alone to defeat the RAF, despite the numerical superiority the Luftwaffe had over the RAF (3000 vs. 700 airplanes).

Russia would be a scenario where the fighter would have some redemption, at least for the first stages. As the Soviet Air Force had inferior assets, quality, organization and training, the Bf – 109 achieved an impressive rate of aerial victories (approximately 9200 in total), breeding many aces. In addition, the pilots on-board the Bf – 109 were already having accumulated experience from the previous campaigns – Spain, Poland, Norway, France and England, to name a few – while the Bf – 109 was comparatively superior to its Soviet-made rivals. However, the superiority in numbers of the Soviet Air Force began to pay its toll on the fighters. It was during this campaign when it was gradually replaced by the more advanced and robust Focke Wulf FW 190 by Summer 1942.

They also took part in the bombing of Malta, with the mission of countering the Spitfires and Fulmar fighters the British managed to sneak into the island. Although they managed to reduce the losses on the bombers by increasing the attrition of the adversary’s fighters and ground services, the campaign had a considerable cost for the Bf-109: 400 were lost in action. At the same time, the BF – 109 was seeing action in North Africa, achieving air supremacy at the beginning but facing adverse conditions later on, as fuel shortages and a superior number of adversaries, alongside attrition imposed by the Luftwaffe’s own organization and training systems.

The Bf – 109 also performed as one of the main air defence assets when the Allies began to wage air and bombing campaigns over Germany, targeting mainly the bombers and being benefited by dispersed ammunition and fuel storages all around Germany. Yet the defence imposed high attrition to the fighter units, reaching a staggering 141%, as well as the fact that the German air industry did not updated its models on time or it was simply unable to produce fighters enough to tackle the Allies’ air power. As a result, by 1944 the Bf – 109 and other fighters were simply unable to counter the Allies’ air campaign. The Bf – 109 career with the Luftwaffe came to an end in 1945, when Germany was defeated.

bf-109-crashed-exhibit

During and after WWII, the Bf – 109 was used by other nations, achieving considerable feats while piloting this aircraft and remaining in service for a long period of time. Finland use the Bf – 109 during the Continuation War, claiming a victory ratio of 25:1, operating with them until 1954. Switzerland received a batch of Bf – 109 during the war, using them until 1955. The Bf – 109 donated by Germany or built under license by Spanish air company Hispano Aviacion during and after the war, remained in service until 1965. Many took part in the film Battle of England. Israel also used Czech-made Bf – 109 that fought during the Independence War, scoring 8 victories.

Variants

The Messerschmitt Bf – 109 featured quite a few variants and sub-variants, thanks to the fighter’s capacity to receive updates and any other needed modifications during its career. Such modifications were normally about the engine, some structural features – like air intakes – and the array and type of weaponry the fighters would feature. Noteworthy to remark, those modifications were mostly the product of operational needs and field experiences the Luftwaffe had throughout the conflict and even in Spain, during the German intervention in such conflict. Even the size among the versions tended to differ.

Prototypes

  • Bf – 109V1 – Powered with a Rolls Royce Kestrel and with a two-blade Härzel propeller, awarding the fighter contest. Unarmed.
  • Bf – 109V2 – Powered with a Junkers Jumo 210A of 610 hp, armed with 2 X 7.92 machineguns over the engine cowling.
  • Bf – 109V3 – Similar to the Bf – 109V2, becoming the Bf – 109B-0

Production Versions

  • Bf – 109AThe A-0 was powered by a Junkers Jumo 210D 661 hp engine, armed with 2 X 7,92 MG 17 machine guns at the engine cowling, with a third added experimentally at the propeller shaft.  Many saw action in the Spanish Civil War with the Condor Legion.
  • Bf – 109B – This constitutes the first series version, delivered on February 1937, featuring a shortened nose cone. Powered by a Junkers Jumo 210D inverted V-12 cylinder of 635 hp, liquid refrigerated and capable of reaching a speed of 467 km/h, with two propellers. It was fitted with a variable-pitch propeller. Its armament consisted of two 7,92mm machineguns Rheinmetal-Borsig MG 17 above the engine. They saw action in the Spanish Civil War.
  • Bf – 109C – The second series version. Powered by a Junkers Jumo 210G 690 hp engine, reaching similar speeds as well. The armament consisted of 2 X 7,92mm MG 17 machine guns with two installed over the engine and two at the wings (thanks to the reinforced wing), having the 20mm MG FF cannon added for the first time on the C-2 at the propeller shaft. They also saw action in the Spanish Civil War.
  • Bf – 109D  – The third series had a Daimler Benz DB 600Aa of 986 hp, being the first series in having this engine as powerplant, yielding a speed of 516 km/h. however, D-0 and D-1 were powered by a Junkers Jumo 210D engine. It was the standard fighter prior the war. The armament was the same as of the C series. Initially transferred to nigh fighter units, it was assigned to training tasks.
  • Bf – 109E – The fourth series of the Bf – 109, of which more than 4000 units built were built. The E-1 was powered by a Daimler Benz DB 601A-1 of 1075 hp with three propellers, which required to move the main radiators beneath the wingroots. The E-3 was powered with a Daimler Benz DB 601A of 1100 hp. The E4 had a Daimler Benz DB 601Aa inverted V-12 of 1175 hp, receiving latter a Daimbler Benz BD601N engine especial for high altitudes. As a result, this series could reach speeds of 560 km/h or 570 km/h. The Bf – 109E5 and E-6 were powered by a Daimler Benz 601N of 1200 hp. The E-7 received Daimler Benz DB 601A, DB 601Aa and DB 601N engines. The E-8 had had a Daimler Benz DB 601E of 1350 hp. The armament consisted of four 7,92mm MG 17 machine guns and 4 X 50kg bombs or one of 250kg, normally on the earlier E variants (E-1 to E-4), yet the E-2 had the 20mm engine-mounted cannon. The E-4, however lacked the engine gun, armed instead with the 2 X 7,92mm machine guns at the engine cowling and two 20mm guns at the wings. The following Bf – 109E (E-5 to E-9) were normally used as fighter bombers, carrying a 250 kg bomb. The E-5 and E-6 were reconnaissance fighters lacking the 20mm guns and having the cameras behind the cockpit. The E-7 was armed with 2 X 7,92mm MG 17 machine guns on the engine cowling and 2 X 20mm MG FF guns at the wings. The E-8 was armed with 4 X 7,92mm machineguns, while the E-9 had only the two 7,92mm machineguns at the engine cowling, being a reconnaissance fighter. Noteworthy to point out, the E-4 had four important sub-variants: E-4/B with a 250 kg (550 lb) bomb, as it was a fighter bomber; E-4 trop, fitted for tropical service; the E-4/N with the Daimler Benz 601N engine; and the E-4/BN, with the 250 kg (550 lb) bomb and the same engine as of the E-4/N. The E-7 also had as remarkable sub-variants: E-7/Trop, fitted for service in the tropics; E-7/U2, fitted for ground attack and with more armour; and the E-7/Z, with nitrous oxide injection system.
  • Bf – 109F – The fifth series were powered by the Daimler Benz DB 601N of 1159 hp (F-1 and F-2), and a DB601E of 1300 hp (F-3 and F-4), with the F-3 reaching speeds of 620 km/h. The F-1 was armed with 2 X 7,92 mm MG 17 machineguns and a slow firing 20mm gun firing through the nose and propeller cone. The F-2 as armed with rapid firing 2 X 15mm MG 151 and the 20mm MG FF at the nose. The F-3 was powered with a Daimler Benz DB 601E of 1350 hp, with a 20mm gun of rapid firing and with enhanced armour. The F-4 was armed with 2 X 13mm MG 151, and a 20mm MG FF and a 15mm MG 151 each on pods under the wing, featuring enhanced armour. The F-5 was lacking the 20mm gun, as it was a reconnaissance fighter, the F-6 having the same mission and having no weapons whatsoever, but reportedly never came to service. The F series normally featured a drop air fuel tank. It was the most advanced in terms of manoeuvrability and aerodynamics.
    • The F-4 had two important sub-variants: F-4/R1, armed with 2 X 20mm MG 151 cannons in underwing gondolas; F-4/Z with a GM-1 boost. There was also a F-4 trop, fitted for service in the tropics.
  • Bf – 109G – The most important version with 23500 fighters built by the end of the war. It was powered by a Daimler Benz DB 605A-1 of 1475 hp, a Daimler Benz DB 605D of 1800 hp with a MW50 injection. It could reach speeds of 469 km/h to 690 km/h. The armament consisted of 2 X 7,92mm MG 17 or 2 X 13mm MG 131 over the engine cowling and a 15mm MG 151 on the G-1 series. The G-2 was powered by the same engine and a similar armament, except that it was armed with the 20mm MG FF cannon. The G-3 and G-4 were having the same powerplant, having a different radio, and the G-3 a pressurized cockpit. The G-5 (pressurized fighter) and G-6 were armed with a 20 or 30mm MK 108 at the nose cone, 2 X 15mm MG 151 at the wings. They had a rudder made out of wood. The G-8 was a reconnaissance fighter, the G-10 was powered with a Daimler Benz DB 605D of 1850 hp, the G-12 was a training version with double controls, two-seat with a tandem cockpit, and the G-15 and G-16, which were enhanced versions of the G-6 and the G-14 respectively. The G-14 was a version armed a 20 mm MG 151 cannon, and two 13 mm MG 131 machineguns, capable of receiving two extra underwing 20mm MG 151 cannons or rocket launcher tubes. Of the G series, many were armed with 2 X 210mm rocket launchpads under the wings or bombs.
    • The G-1 had the G-1/R2 and G-1/U2 sub-variants, a reconnaissance fighter and a high altitude fighter, respectively.
    • The G-2 had the G-2/R1 (A long-range fighter-bomber with a 500 kg (1100 lb) bomb, the G-2/R2 (reconnaissance fighter, and the G-2 trop, for the tropics. The G-4 also had the G-2/R2 (reconnaissance), G-2/R3 (long range reconnaissance fighter), G4 trop (tropicalized), G-4/U3 (reconnaissance) and G-4y (command fighter).
    • The G-5 had the G-5/U2 (high altitude fighter with a GM-1 boost), G-5/U2/R2 (high altitude reconnaissance fighter with the GM-1 boost), G-5/AS (high altitude fighter with a Daimler Benz DB 605AS engine, and G-5y (command fighter) sub-variants. The G-6 had, in turn, the G-6/R2 (reconnaissance fighter), G-6/R-3 high-altitude reconnaissance fighter with GM-1 boost), G-6 trop (tropicalized), G-6/U2 (with a GM-1 boost), G-6/U3 (reconnaissance fighter), G-6/U4 (light fighter with a 30mm cannon at the propeller shaft), G-6y (command fighter), G-6/AS (high-altitude fighter with Daimler Benz DB 605AS engine), G-6/ASy (high-altitude command fighter), G-6N (night fighter with two underwing 20mm MG 151 cannons), and G-6/4U N (night fighter with a 30mm cannon at the propeller shaft) sub-variants.
    • The G-10 and G-14 each has also their own sub-variants. The G-10 had the G-10/R2 (reconnaissance), G-10/R6 (bad-weather fighter with a PKS 12 autopilot) and G-10/U4 (with a 30 mm cannon at the engine) sub-variants. The G-14 had the G-14/AS (High altitude with a Daimler Benz DB 605ASM engine), G-14/ASy (high-altitude command fighter), G-14y (command fighter), and G-14/U4 (with a 30mm engine-mounted cannon).
  • Bf – 109HThis version was powered with a Daimler Benz DB 601E and DB 605A, reaching speeds of 620 km/h. discarded after operational problems.
  • Bf – 109K – Powered with a Daimler Benz DB 605 ACM/DCM of 1550 hp stabilized at 2000 hp with a MW 50 injection. The armament consisted of 2 X 15mm MG 151 on the engine cowling, and a 30 mm MK 108 or 103 cannon. Many were armed with 2 X 210mm rocket launchpads under the wings or bombs. Other proposed version never came to service.
  • Bf – 109T – Attempted version for use in aircraft carrier, made out from modified existing versions and equipped with a tail-hook and catapult-devices, increased ailerons, slats and flaps. The armament consisted of 2 X 7,92 machine guns mounted above the engine and 2 X 20mm guns at the wings. Never operated in the carrier, and were reassigned to training missions.
  • Bf – 109X – Experimental aircraft.
  • Licensed-built versions
  • The Bf – 109 was also built in other countries, such as Romania, Spain, Switzerland and Czechoslovakia, having also different powerplants and armament.
  • S-199 – Powered with a Junkers Jumo 21 1F of 1350 hp and armed with 2 X 13mm MG 131 machine guns on the engine cowling and 2 X 13mm MG 151 machineguns under the wings.

The Spanish Series

  • HA-1109 and HA-1112 Buchon – The Spanish made versions of the Bf – 109. The HA-1109 (also denominated HS-1109-J1L) was powered by a Hispano-Suiza 12Z-89 V-12 of 1300 hp engine, armed with 2 X 12,7mm machineguns at the wings or 20mm Hispano 404 guns. The HA-1109-K1 had a De Havilland Hydromatic propeller, armed with 2 X 20mm cannons and underwing rockets, followed by the HA-1109-K1L. The HA-1112-K1L seemingly featured a three-bladed propeller, powered by a Rolls Royce Merlin engine.
  • HA-1112-M1L Buchon – Powered with a Rolls Royce Merlin 500-45 of 1400 hp engine.

Operators

  • Germany – The main builder and user of the Bf – 109, being its standard fighter up to 1942, when the Focke Wulf began to steadily replace it as main fighter of the Luftwaffe, mainly in the Russian Front. It served in basically all of the German campaigns during the war, as well as in the defence of Germany against the Allied incursions and the Spanish Civil War. Many famous German aces, such as Werner Mölders, Adolf Galland and others fought with the BF – 109, scoring most of their victories. Its most excruciating test was at the Battle of England, were its limitations became evident thus being unable to fully control the skies over Britain. At the Russian Front, it scored the largest amount of air and land kills against their Soviet counterparts.
  • Finland – The Scandinavian nation operated with 159 Bf – 109, after it ordered initially 162 fighters: 48 G – 2s, 11 G-6s and 3 G-8s). Three were destroyed on-route. They were used during the Continuation War, achieving notable feats. The Bf – 109 were intended to replace the Fokker D.XXI, Brewster Buffalo and Morane MS-406 fighter it had by those days. Remained in service until 1954.
  • Switzerland – The Swiss Air Force operated 10 D-1s, 83 E-3a variants, 2 F-4s and 14 G-6s, using them to safeguard its neutrality and to fight off many German and Allied airplanes that violated the Swiss air space.
  • Spain – Spain operated D-1s, E-3s, 15 F-4s and possibly B versions of the Bf – 109. A Spanish volunteer detachment – Escuadrilla Azul – operated in Russia in assistance to Germany and operating under German units and command, using E-4, E-7, E-7/B, F-2, F-4, G-4 and G-6 variants. The Hispano Aviacion HA-1112 is the Spanish-built version of the Messerschmitt Bf – 109. In service after the war until the mid-Sixties, many Spanish Bf – 109 featured in some WWII movies, such as The Battle of England.
  • Israel – The recently formed Israel Air Force operated the Avia-built version of the Messerschmitt Bf – 109, as it bought some fighters from Czech Republic. Operated during the Independence War, it scored 8 kills.
  • Italy – By 1943, a considerable amount of Bf – 109 were operated by the Regia Aeronautica, while the established Italian Social Republic after the fall of the fascist government operated with 300 G-6, G-10, G-14, 2 G-12 and three K-4.
  • Bulgaria – Being an ally of Germany, it received 19 E-3 and 145 fighters of the G-2, G-6 and G-10 versions were operated by the Bulgarian Air Force.
  • Romania – The Royal Romanian Air Force operated with 50 E-3 and E-4, 19 E-7, 2 F-2 and 5 F-4. In addition, it operated with around 235 G-2, G-4, G-6, G-8 and 75 locally built IAR 109-6a. The Bf – 109 were used after the war, until 1953.
  • Hungary – Being an ally of Germany, the Royal Hungarian Air Force co-operated with the Luftwaffe using around 500 Bf – 109G.
  • Croatia – The Independent State of Croatia operated with 50 Bf – 109 of the E-4, F-2, G-2, G-6, G-10 and K versions. Initially operating on the Eastern Front, they were re-deployed to defend their national territory against allied fighters.
  • Czechoslovakia – Operated with captured and built by Avia (S-99/S-199), unable to produce it any longer following an explosion at the warehouse were many Daimler Benz DB 605 engines were storage, destroyed at the incident. 603 were built and after the war, the Junkers Jumo 211F engine was used as powerplant. Reportedly, the Czechoslovakian made versions had a tendency to suffer accidents while landing.
  • Slovak Republic – Two air forces within the nation operated with the Bf – 109: The Slovak Air Force, loyal to the Axis, operated 16 E-3, 14 E-7 and 30 G-6. The Slovak Insurgent Air Force, loyal to the Allies, operated 3 G-6s.
  • Yugoslavia – The Royal Serbian Air Force operated 73 E-3, and the post-war Yugoslav Air Force operated many Bf – 109 that belonged to the Independent State of Croatia, and many from Bulgaria.
  • Japan – 5 E-7 were purchased in 1941, used mainly for trials and tests.
  • United States – Some captured Bf – 109 served with the US.
  • United Kingdom – Some Bf – 109 captured operated with the RAF.
  • Soviet Union – Bf – 109 that met a similar fate (capture) operated with the soviet Air Force.

Specifications (Bf-109 G-6)

Wingspan  9,92 m / 32 ft 6 in
Length  8,95 m / 29 ft 7 in
Height  2,60 m / 8 ft 2 in
Wing Area  16,05 m² / 173,3 ft²
Propeller Diameter  3 m/ 9 ft 10 in
Engine  1 Daimler Benz DB 605A-1 liquid-cooled inverted V-12 of 1,455 hp
Maximum Take-Off Weight  3400 Kg / 7,495 lb
Empty Weight  2247 kg / 5,893 lb
Loaded Weight  3148 kg / 6,940 lb
Climb Rate  17 m/s ; 3,345 ft/min
Maximum Speed  640 km/h / 398 mph
Range  850 Km / 528 miles; 1000 Km / 621 miles with a droptank
Maximum Service Ceiling  12000 m /39,370 ft
Crew  1 (pilot)
Armament  

  • 2 X 13mm (0.51 caliber) MG 131 machine guns
  • 1 X 20mm MG 151/20 cannon at the nose cone of the engine
  • 1 X 30mm Mk108 cannon at the nose cone of the engine
  • 2 X 20mm MG 151/20 cannons at pod installed on the wings (optional)
  • 2 X 7,92 MG 17  machine guns at the engine cowling
  • 2 X 210mm Wfr. Gr. 21 rockets
  • 1 X 250 kg (550 lb) or 4 X 50 (110 lb). 1 X 300 litre (79 gallons) fuel drop tank

Gallery

messerschmitt bf109b_2_farbe2
Bf 109 B-2, II/JG 132 “Richthofen”
messerschmitt bf109_wespe
Bf 109 E-7/B, Zerstörergeschwader 1
messerschmitt bf109_g10_eskorte
Bf 109 G-10, JG 3 “Udet”, Eskortflugzeug für Sturmbockstaffeln
messerschmitt bf109_e3_neu2_eingezogen
Bf 109 E-3
messerschmitt bf109_e3_farbe
Bf 109 E-3, III./JG 2, Frankreich 1940
messerschmitt bf109_e1_eingezogen
Bf 109 E-1
messerschmitt bf109_e_frankreich
Bf 109 E-3, III./JG 27, France 1940
messerschmitt bf109_2_farbe
Bf 109 E-3, III/JG 26

bf109-straight-on bf109-engine-bay bf-109-underside-flight bf-109-hispano-built bf-109-crashed-exhibit

Sources

Berger, R (Ed.). Aviones [Flugzeuge, Vicenç Prat, trans.]. Colonia, Alemania: Naumann & Göbel Verlagsgessellschaft mbH., Braas, N., & Bradic, S. (n.d.). Profile: Messerschmitt Bf 109G. LET LET LET Warplanes., Cau, P. (2011). Batallas del Mundo. [Battaglie, Maria Pilar Queralt, trans.]. Madrid, Spain: Editorial Tikal (Original work published in 2006)., Chant, C (2001). Aviones de la Segunda Guerra Mundial [Aircraft of World War II, Fabian Remo Tamayo & Fernando Tamayo, trans.]. Madrid, Spain: Editorial LIBSA (Original work published in 2001)., Chant, C. (1999). La Maquinaria de Guerra Nazi. [The Nazi War Machine, Macarena Rojo Gonzalez, trans.]. Madrid, Spain: Editorial Agata (Original work published in 1996)., Donald. D. (2009). Aviones Militares, Guia Visual [Military Aircraft. Visual Guide, Seconsat, trans.]. Madrid, Spain: Editorial Libsa (Original work published in 2008)., Elting, J. R., vonLuttichau, C. V. P., & Murray, W. (1996a). El Tercer Reich, Guerra Relampago, (11-1). [Lighting War, Domingo Santos, trans.]. Madrid, Spain: Editorial Rombo (Original work published in 1978)., Elting, J. R., vonLuttichau, C. V. P., & Murray, W. (1996b). El Tercer Reich, Guerra Relampago, (11-2). [Lighting War, Domingo Santos, trans.]. Madrid, Spain: Editorial Rombo (Original work published in 1978)., Feltus, P. (n.d.). World War II Begins. US Centennial of flight Commission., Gibelli, N. J. (1972). La Ciudadela del Mediterraneo. In La Segunda Guerra Mundial (Vol.2. pp. 101–120). Buenos Aires, Argentina: Editorial Codex., Gunston, B. (1995). Guía Ilustrada de los Cazas y Aviones de Ataque Aliados de la Segunda Guerra Mundial (V). [An Illustrated Guide to Allied Fighters of World War II, Gearco, trans.]. Barcelona, Spain: Ediciones Folio (Original work published in 1981)., Hannah, M., & Brown, E. (1999). Flying the Bf 109: Two experts give their reports. Flight Journal (Dec. 1999)., Hawks, C. (2014). The Messerschmitt Bf 109. Chuck Hawks., MacDonald, J. (1993). Grandes Batallas de la II Guerra Mundial (pp. 20-31) [Great Battles of world War II, Luis Ogg, trans.]. Barcelona, Spain, Edicioned Folio (Original worlk published in 1993)., Murawski, M. J. (2016). Messerschmitt Bf 109 C/D in the Polish Campaig 1939. Kagero., Murray, W. & Millet, A. R (2005). La guerra que había que ganar [A War to be Won, Critica S.L, trans.]. Barcelona, Spain: Critica. (Original work published in 1998)., Musciano, W.A. (2006). Spanish Civil War: German Condor Legion’s Tactical Air Power. Historynet., Ralby, A. (2013). Atlas of Military History: from Antiquity to the Present Day. Bath, UK: Parragon Books., Rickard, J. (26 March 2007). Messerschmitt Bf 109F (“Friedrick”). History of War., Sundin, C. (2016). Messerchmitt Bf 109 E-7. Luftwaffe in profile.Tillman, B. (TBA). Luftwaffe’s Bf 109E “Emil”: The Battle of Britain Messerschmitt Menace. Flight Journal, 50-53.Messerschmitt Bf 109. (2016, October 19). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.Messerschmitt Bf 109 variants. (2016, October 13). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Images: Bf-109 Underside Flight by Tony Cyphert / CC BY-BC-ND 2.0, Bf-109 Crashed Exhibit by Secret Pilgrim / CC BY-SA 2.0Bf-109 Hispano Built by Alan Wilson / CC BY-SA 2.0, Bf109 Straight On by Geoff Collins / CC BY-BC-ND 2.0Bf109 Engine Bay by Roland Turner  / CC BY-SA 2.0Bf109_2_Farbe, Bf109_E_FrankreichBf109_E1_EingezogenBf109_E3_FarbeBf109_E3_Neu2_eingezogenBf109_G10_EskorteBf109_WespeBf109B_2_Farbe by B. Huber / CC BY-SA 2.0

 

 

 

About Mario H Zorro

Currently an independent researcher. Studies in Political Science with a minor degree in Philosophy. Master in Public Policy. Interests in History, International Relations and Security with a strong passion for battletanks and airplanes. Mario blogs at .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *