The Messerschmitt Bf 109E Photo Section
Messerschmitt Bf 109E3 (Black 17+ ) unknown Gruppe 01-02
Messerschmitt Bf 109E 3./JG red 1 force landed early 1940 01
Messerschmitt Bf 109E3 Black 5 being loaded with amo unit unknown 01
Messerschmitt Bf 109E3 Black 6 belly landed after blown engine Balkans 1941 01
Messerschmitt Bf 109E3 Red 8 being repaired 01
Messerschmitt Bf 109E3 white 4 force landed frence beach 01
Messerschmitt Bf 109E3 Yellow 2 canopy profile showing rearview mirror assembly 01
Messerschmitt Bf 109E4 4.IIJG (white 2+ ) France 1940 01
Messerschmitt Bf 109E4 white 5 fuel shortage forced landed french beach 1940 01
Messerschmitt Bf 109E4 Yellow 21 01
Messerschmitt Bf 109E4 Yellow 25 01
Messerschmitt Bf 109E 5 Staffel II Gruppe unknown JG (B6+ ) GJ+EX belly landed 01
Messerschmitt Bf 109E 6.II.JG (Y2+ ) 01
Messerschmitt Bf 109E DD+SX swastikas censored 01
Messerschmitt Bf 109E field maintenance France 1940 01-03
Messerschmitt Bf 109E nice front profile 01
Messerschmitt Bf 109E NL+II being refueled Kjeller near Oslo 1940 01
Messerschmitt Bf 109E red 7 after a bad landing known as Damenlandung in German 01
Messerschmitt Bf 109E Stab II Gruppe crash site Eastern Front 01-03
Messerschmitt Bf 109E unknown unit and pilot 01
Messerschmitt Bf 109E unknown unit yellow 2 belly landed near Gravelines France 1940 01
Messerschmitt Bf 109E white 3 newly painted with black exhaust marking 01
Messerschmitt Bf 109E Winkel H swastikas censored Eastern Front band marking 01
The Messerschmitt Bf 109E
The lessons of the Spanish Civil War led, as we have seen, to the development of more powerful and better armed versions of which the Bf 109E-1 "Emil" was but the first.
The E-1 model which came out of the Augsburg factory at the beginning of February was the mass production of the E-O type. Trials were carried out on the following E-3 version with a cannon mounted to fire through the propeller hub, but were unsuccessful due to overheating and jamming; firing also produced vibrations. The engine was a Daimler-Benz DB610A producing 1175hp at take off and 1100hp at 14,500ft, driving a threeblade metal variable pitch VDM9-11081A propeller. The engine had been tested on ten pre-production Bf 109D-0 and E-0 before being accepted. The Bf 109E-1 did not have armor plating protecting the pilot and the fuel tank and the frames of the cockpit canopy were the same as the D version.
The Battle of Britain showed that the cockpit needed 36 more protection, and the surviving Bf 109E-1s were brought up to E-3 standard with a more resistant canopy.
The German High Command demanded that all Bf 109 Jagdgeschwader include in their number an extra squadron of fighter-bombers, whilst the Bf 109E-4 in production where directly converted in the factory.
Bf 109E-1s were also delivered to Spain and Switzerland.
The E-4 version came out in May 1940.
Armor plating weighing about 50 kilos had been installed in the cockpit and behind the pilot whose head and shoulders, were now well-protected.
If some E-1 sand E-3s were equipped later, the armor plating was installed on the E-4s directly on the production lines. The cockpit canopy was changed also (some aircraft at the beginning of the series were still equipped with that of the E-3); an upright appeared higher up joining the side to the top frames, whereas the two little uprights on the windshield disappeared. Whereas the first E-4s received the DB601A, in the middle of 1940, they were equipped with the new DB601N with a 15% higher compression rate, giving 1200hp at take-off and 50hp more at altitude thanks to flattened pistons in place of the older more concave ones. From the outside there was nothing to differentiate the DB601N from the DB601A; only the higher octane number, 96 or 100 (or even C-3 petrol) instead of 88, showing on a little yellow and white triangle placed under the tank filler cap behind the cockpit differentiated them. Equipped, the aircraft became a Bf 109E-4/N.Following the success of the E-1 fitted with an underbelly bomb, this more powerful version was transformed for fighter-bomber missions (Bf 109E-4/B) by installing ETC 500 and ETC 50 pylons, taking either one 250 kg bomb or four smaller 50 kg ones. For this a little console was fitted at the bottom of the instrument panel controlling the bomb release.
The first E-4 fighter-bombers were delivered to the Erprobungsgruppe 210 which was evaluating the Me210, and to the II(Schact)/LG2. The intervention of the Luftwaffe in North Africa in February 1940 made the engineers adapt a tropical filter to prevent wear and tear from sand. The machines modified were indicated by the suffix 'Trap."
The Messerschmitt Bf 109E-7 was a long-range fighter, carrying a 66 gallon ventral tank in place of the 550lb bomb and appeared in August 1940.
Experiments were carried out on the E-7/Z (Z for Zusatzgerat, or additional system); a power-boosting system, the GM1, used nitrous oxide (N20), injecting oxygen into the engine and giving extra power of around 250-280hp at 24,000ft. 80 aircraft received the system in February 1941 which was adopted by the other Luftwaffe fighters later on. The last sub-variant was the E-7/U2, fitted with 5 mm thick metal plates protecting the engine and radiator from anti aircraft shots.
The Bf 109E-8 and E-9 extrapolated from the E-1 and the E-7, of which they kept the engine and the canopy, appeared in August and September 1940 and were used as long distance fighters and for armed reconnaissance.
Clandestine German involvement in the Spanish Civil War allowed Bf 109 pilots to develop tactics and responses that training alone could not provide, laying the groundwork for the coming Blitzkrieg.
The Spanish Civil War test bed also allowed engineers to make adjustments to the system, increasing its ability to kill and destroy even more. By the time the Battle of Britain exploded onto worldwide headlines, the Bf 109 was already a highly feared opponent, matched in capability by only that of the Supermarine Spitfire. The Bf 109 continued on developing into a wide array of variants and subvariants. It is widely agreed that the "E" model was the definitive model of the series, combining lessons learned from models B, C, and D into one formidable package. The "G" model became the most produced and widely used of the series - to which over 36,000 were produced for the entire production line of all Bf 109s.
With Germany now fighting wars on multiple fronts, the extension of the Bf 109 line increased into the Soviet Union. Overall, the Bf 109 was numerically superior to most fighters in any involvement at any one time - be it attacking incoming bomber formations or intercepting Soviet supply columns. The Bf 109 would prove quite resilient and robust, so much so that the series would continue to be produced (in Spain under license as "Buchons") a full ten years after the war in Europe had concluded.
Though the Focke-Wulf Fw-190 was the best German piston-engine aircraft of the war, the Bf 109 remains the most famous, thanks in part to the sheer number of aircraft produces and the total number of engagements involving Bf 109's. In post-war use, the Bf 109 would see continued use by Spain and Israel. Production would still be continued in Czechoslovakia through an intact Bf 109 plant. Spanish Bf 109's would be fitted with Merlin engines and designated as the "Buchon" (transplated "pigeon") while the new nation of Israel would field them in combat during the early years.
Total production of all Bf 109 types is estimated to be at or over 35,000 examples with the last "new build" variant being flown in 1956.
Model Messerschmitt Bf 109E-7
* Bf 109V-7 - Prototype for first series production model; armed with 2 x machine guns and 1 x MG FF 20mm cannon.
Messerschmitt Prototypes V Series
Bf 109 A
Bf-109 A: construction on the first prototype (Werk-Nr. 758, registration D-IABI) was initiated in August 1934 and the plane was ready for taxiing trials a year later. Initial taxi trials were conducted with a cross brace on the landing gear, which was removed after the first high-speed ground runs. After modification of the damping performance of the oleo struts on the main landing gear, the prototype was flown in early September 1935 by test pilot Bubi Knotsch. Redesignated the Bf 109 V1, it was powered by a Rolls Royce Kestrel V-12 engine rated for 695 hp at take-off and 640 hp at 14,000 ft. The engine drove a two-bladed, fixed-pitch Schwarz wooden airscrew and registered a top speed of 290 mph.
Bf 109 T
Prior to the war the German Navy had become fascinated with the idea of the aircraft carrier. Borrowing ideas from the British and Japanese (mainly the Akagi), they started the construction of the Graf Zeppelin (not to be confused with the airship Graf Zeppelin) as part of the rebuilding of the navy. The air group for the carrier was settled on Messerschmitt Bf 109T fighters and Ju 87T dive bombers. The suffix 'T' denotes carrier, 'Träger', in German use.
Initially ten Bf 109E-3 were ordered to be modified to Bf 109T-0 standard. This included, adding a tail-hook, catapult fittings, structural strengthening, manually folding wings and increased wingspan (to 11.08 m). Also the landing gear track was a little wider. Following the flight tests, especially the catapult tests, a series of 70 T-1 with DB601N engine was to be produced at Fieseler in Kassel, but after seven T-1 were built, the carrier project was canceled. The remaining 63 of 70 T-1 were built as T-2 without carrier equipment and some of the T-0 and T-1s may have been "upgraded" to T-2 standard. These fighters were assigned to I/JG.77, deployed in Norway. The decision to base them in Norway was made primarily by the conditions on the Norwegian landing strips. These landing strips were both short and subject to frequent, powerful cross-winds. Some time after the unit was ordered to turn over their aircraft to a test unit that was training on the Drontheim-Fjorde strip and received E-3s as replacements. The armament of the Bf 109T consisted of two MG 17 above the engine and one MG FF/M cannon in each wing.
Interest in the Graf Zeppelin returned when the value of aircraft carriers became obvious, and in 1942 the ship was back in the yards for completion. By this time the Bf 109T was hopelessly outdated and a new fighter would be needed. Messerschmitt responded with the updated Me 155A series, but work on the ship was again canceled and the Me 155 was later re-purposed as a high-altitude interceptor.
Bf 109 V1
Bf-109 V1: powered by a Rolls Royce Kestrel V-12 engine rated for 695 hp at take-off and 640 hp at 14,000 ft. The engine drove a two-bladed, fixed-pitch Schwarz wooden airscrew and registered a top speed of 290 mph.
Bf 109 V6
V - Designation given to all prototypes in the 109 series. Each of the major series would be proceeded by one or more prototypes that would have tested out the technical and structural advances. These prototypes would usually be all-new aircraft. Then pre-production airframes would have been built usually using airframes of the earlier models as a starting point ( i.e. E-0, F-0 and G-0). This would ensure the smooth introduction of each new series into production.
Bf 109 V7
Bf-109 V7: the fourth pre-production machine (Werk-Nr. 881, registration D-IALY) was powered by the Junkers Jumo 210G equipped with a two-stage supercharger, an automatic boost control and direct fuel injection and driving a two-bladed, variable-pitch, metal Hamilton Standard airscrew built under license by VDM. The engine produced 700 hp at take-off, 750 hp at 3,280 ft and 675 hp at 12,500 ft. The V7 served as the prototype for the Bf 109B-2 series.
Bf 109 V13
V13: appeared in two different guises, firstly powered by the DB600, it took part in the July 1937 Zurich air races, secondly, with a DB601 specially modified to produce 1,650 hp it claimed the world landplane speed record in November 1937. Similarly equipped as the V10 and V11, the V13 (Werk-Nr. 887, registration D-IPKY), flown by Messerschmitt engineer Carl Francke, won the Climb and Dive competition of the Circuit of the Alps in 1937 by climbing to 9,840 ft and then diving to 500 ft in 2 min 5.7 sec. On 11 November 1937 it was flown by Messerschmitt engineer Hermann Wurster and set the world air speed record for land-planes at 379.38 mph over a 1.86 mile course flown twice in each direction at an altitude no higher than 245 feet. To achieve the latter record, the V13 was fitted with a specially modified DB 601 engine, which could produce 1,650 hp for short periods of time.
Bf 109 V17
Bf-109 V17: a pre-production Emil (registration D-IWKU) used to test the installation of the DB 601Aa, which had accomodations for engine-mounted gun firing through the airscrew and produced 1,175 hp at 2,480 rpm for take-off and 1,020 hp at 2,400 rpm at 14,765 ft. Some measure of pilot protection was provided by using a heavier canopy frame and almost 82 lb of 8 mm armor plate was provided for the pilot's seat back and head rest. The armament consisted of a 20 mm MG FF/M cannon with 200 rpg on the engine crankcase, firing through the airscrew and a pair of fuselage mounted 7.9 mm MG 17 machine guns with 500 rpg.
Bf 109 V21
Bf-109 V21: the first F-0 (Werk-Nr. 5601) retained the earlier DB 601Aa engine, but used a wing that was 2 feet narrower as part of the previously planned aerodynamic enhancements.
Bf 109 V23
Bf-109 V23: the third F-0 (Werk-Nr. 5603, registration CE+BP) also used a pre-production DB 601E and featured detachable, rounded wing tips, which restored all but about 2 sq ft of the original wing area and resolved the handling problems associated with the smaller wing of the previous two machines.
Bf 109 V24
Bf-109 V24: the fourth F-0 (Werk-Nr. 5604, registration VK+AB) was produced in parallel with the V23 and, although it also used a pre-production DB 601E, it lacked the extended wing tips of the V23. The V24 featured a deeper oil cooler beneath the engine and a rounded supercharger intake, which became standard on all subsequent models.
Bf 109 V31
Bf-109 V31: a Bf 109F-1 (Werk-Nr. 5642) used for testing the wide-track main landing gear and semi-retractable ventral radiator bath intended for the Me 309.
Bf 109 V52
Bf-109 V54: another G-5 airframe (registration DV+JB) was converted to accept the DB 628 engine and a wing with a parallel-chord center section to increase span to 39 ft 1 in. Similarly larger tail planes were attached and the V54 was first flown in June 1943. The V44 was destroyed in a bombing raid on 14 August 1944 at the Daimler Benz Echterdingen flight test center.
Training to fly the Messerschmitt Me-109E/G-2:
The first Finnish Messerschmitt pilots in February 1943 the first batch of Finnish pilots had been sent to Germany for training into the Messerschmitt.
The training period kept extending and the pilots were getting frustrated, as no-one had gotten any flights on the Messerschmitts. Finally the group leader, Ehrnrooth marched angrily to the plane halls, catched the German responsible for the planes and gave him a loud, hard worded dressing in broken German, demanding to get a Messerschmitt. Finally the German managed to call his superior, a leutnant, who got the same loud treatment. A short inspection of the plane and soon the 1100 HP engine pulled the major into the sky.
The plane was refueled and also Pive managed to fly a familiarization flight, before the weather got too poor for flying.
Many Germans had ended up in the fields, after running out of runway when landing with too high speeds. Now the German leutnant was conviced of our skills and promised our four planes for the next day. The German trainer was amazed to see how our Messerschmitt familization flights progressed without difficulty. The most amazing detail was how our pilots were immediately landing 3-pointers even with the Gustav, requiring less than half of the length of runway the Germans needed.
The Germans' problem with the 1475 HP Gustav was, that they raised the tail immediately after pushing the throttle fully forward. The strong engine created a tendency to swing the tail. When landing the Germans had way too much speed, so it was hard to control the plane when the wheels touched ground and the plane bounced back into air.
On 21st February (1943) I got my second flight with a Emil. I felt ready to move into the Gustav, but the weather turned bad and flights had to be suspended. Finally the fog lifted, on 27.2., I flew my first flight with Gustav and all others finished their flights with Emils.
On next day all flights were interrupted, when the German pupils wrecked for Messerschmitts. I finally got my second flight with Gustav and I felt ready to continue to the Messerschmitt factory, to get our own planes. Jumping over the visit at the factory, the parties and singing and return flight towards Finland, though Germany and Baltics.) The last phase was flown in most perfect weather. We flew a honorary sweep over Helsinki, in tight formation, kind like showing that we are now, ready to protect you from enemy bombings. The Germans thought the Malmi airfield, with its only partially coated runways, as a hard place. They had lost many planes, that were transferring towards north (to Luftloffe 5). The fire-brigade chief was clearly very relieved after all planes had landed, without mishaps.
This webpage was updated 25th September 2012
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