The Messerschmitt Bf 109 in a nutshell
National origin:- Germany Role:- Fighter Manufacturer:- Bayerische Flugzeugwerke (BFW) Messerschmitt AG Designer:- Willy Messerschmitt and Robert Lusser First flight:- 29 May 1935 Introduction:- February 1937 Retired:- 9 May 1945, Luftwaffe 27 December 1965, Spanish Air Force Primary users:- Luftwaffe, Hungarian Air Force, Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana, Royal Romanian Air Force, Finland Number built:- 33,984 +603 Avia S-199 +239 HA-1112 Variants:- Avia S-99/S-199 and Hispano Aviacion HA-1112
The Messerschmitt Bf 109 is a German World War II fighter aircraft that was the backbone of the Luftwaffe's fighter force. The Bf 109 first saw operational service in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War and was still in service at the dawn of the jet age at the end of World War II in 1945. It was one of the most advanced fighters of the era, including such features as all-metal monocoque construction, a closed canopy, and retractable landing gear. It was powered by a liquid-cooled, inverted-V12 aero engine. From the end of 1941, the Bf 109 was steadily being supplemented by the Focke-Wulf Fw 190. It was commonly called the Me 109, most often by Allied aircrew and among the German aces, even though this was not the official German designation.
It was designed by Willy Messerschmitt and Robert Lusser who worked at Bayerische Flugzeugwerke during the early to mid-1930s. It was conceived as an interceptor, although later models were developed to fulfill multiple tasks, serving as bomber escort, fighter-bomber, day-, night-, all-weather fighter, ground-attack aircraft, and reconnaissance aircraft. It was supplied to several states during World War II, and served with several countries for many years after the war. The Bf 109 is the most produced fighter aircraft in history, with a total of 33,984 airframes produced from 1936 to April 1945.
The Bf 109 was flown by the three top-scoring German fighter aces of World War II, who claimed 928 victories among them while flying with Jagdgeschwader 52, mainly on the Eastern Front. The highest-scoring fighter ace of all time was Erich Hartmann, who flew the Bf 109 and was credited with 352 aerial victories. The aircraft was also flown by Hans-Joachim Marseille, the highest-scoring German ace in the North African Campaign who achieved 158 aerial victories. It was also flown by several other aces from Germany's allies, notably Finnish Ilmari Juutilainen, the highest-scoring non-German ace, and pilots from Italy, Romania, Croatia, Bulgaria, and Hungary. Through constant development, the Bf 109 remained competitive with the latest Allied fighter aircraft until the end of the war.
The Messerschmitt Bf 109F Friedrich
Externally the Bf 109F had many aerodynamic improvements over the E series.
On later aircraft the left hand exhaust was fitted with a metal shield to stop exhaust fumes from entering the supercharger intake. The canopy stayed essentially the same as that of the E-4 although the handbook for the F stipulated that the forward, lower triangular panel to starboard was to be replaced by a metal panel with a port for firing signal flares. A two-piece, all metal armour plate head shield was added to the hinged portion of the canopy, although some lacked the curved top section. A bullet-resistant windscreen could be fitted to the windscreen as an option. A boundary layer duct allowed continual airflow to pass through the airfoil above the radiator ducting and exit from the trailing edge of the upper split flap. The lower split flap was mechanically linked to the central 'main' flap, while the upper split flap and forward bath lip position were regulated via a thermostatic valve which automatically positioned the flaps for maximum cooling effectiveness.
In 1941 'cutoff' valves were introduced which allowed the pilot to shut down either wing radiator in the event of one being damaged; this allowed the remaining coolant to be preserved. The valves were only delivered to frontline units as kits, the number of which, for unknown reasons, was limited. Other features of the redesigned wings included new leading edge slats, which were slightly shorter but had a slightly increased chord, and new rounded, removable wingtips which changed the profile of the wings and increased the span slightly over that of the E series. The redesigned wing made the internal mounting of guns impractical, so armament was revised.
The armament of the Bf 109F consisted of the two MG 17 above the engine plus a Motorkanone cannon firing through the propeller hub: The early F versions were equipped with the MG FF/M cannon, the F-2 got the 15 mm MG 151, and from F-4 on the 20 mm MG 151/20 was used. Only after a lack of spare parts, did he accept an F. Later on, an attachment of underwing 20 mm cannons addressed the issue of fire-power, but at a price to performance.
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