Mixed photographs of the Messerschmitt Bf 109G 'Gustav'
Messerschmitt Bf 109G4 Erla flown by Karl Hannes during high altitude testing Deurne Belgium Mar 1943
The series of photo's were taken at Deurne airfield in Belgium. This machine used liquid oxygen injected into the engine enabling the compression to be increased. The tests are said to have occurred in March 1943, with altitudes of 13 to 14 km been achieved. The aircraft was a modified Bf 109 G-2 or G-4 Bf 109 with a Erla cockpit. The term "HI" (I for Roman 1) at the end of the fuselage is the test pilot of the machine. In this case it was Karl Hannes.
Web source: http://www.bf-109.com/
Ergänzungs-Jagdgruppe Süd - EJGr.Sud
Messerschmitt Bf 109G6 EJGr.Süd Red 22 based in southern France 1944
Messerschmitt Bf 109G6 EJGr.Süd Red 22 Ergänzungs-Jagdgruppe Süd was based in the south of France 1944
Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-10 unknown unit White 44 WNr 130342 used as top cover during attacks on bomber formations
Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-10, W.Nr. 130342, used to cover the amount of heavily armed hunters during the attack on bomber formations
Flugzeug Classic Messerschmitt Bf 109 ISBN 978-3-86245-409-9
History of the Messerschmitt Bf 109G Gustav
The Messerschmitt Bf 109G
Thus was the Bf 109G or 'Gustav' created, built around the new Daimler-Benz DB605. This was more powerful than its predecessors; and it was also heavier which meant reinforcing the airframe; this of course increased the total mass of the aircraft. There was just no time to re-think the plane and improve its aerodynamics or its structure. Only speed was considered, to the detriment of maneuverability and lightness, a choice which caused a lot of pilots to complain that this new version was not a step in the right direction.
Since the new engine was not available when the first variant, the G-O, was ready to be evaluated, the aircraft flew with an F-4 engine in the modified airframe of the new variant.
The differences between an end-of-series Friedrich and a beginning-of-series Gustav were scarcely noticeable, the absence of the little glass window sections on the side of the windshield being the only distinguishing feature.
The Bf 109G was not particularly better than its predecessors but it was the version which was produced most. More than 10,000 models in a whole host of different versions and variants came off the assembly lines practically until the end of the conflict. On a more or less large scale, all German fighter units used the Gustav and the aeroplane equipped eight other countries' air forces, allied or not to Germany.
What was surprising about the Bf 109G was the incredibly large number of modifications it underwent during its long career, the final 1945-versions hardly resembling the machines which had been produced three years earlier. Apart from the changes made necessary by the use of a new engine, the way the war was going played an important part in the decision as to how the original concept should change. Messerschmitt's fighter had definitely become faster but it was faced with increasingly more solid, more effective and better-defended adversaries, namely the boxes of Allied B-17 and B-24 bombers.
Used in conjunction with the Luftwaffe's other 'star', the Fw 190 which was better-armed and more maneuverable, the Me 109G specialised in high-altitude combat, against the formations of huge Allied four-engined bombers. To increase its performance, various solutions were tried out and installed: more efficient engines of the AS type with power-boost or methanol-water injection giving increased speed for a short time; increasing range by using droptanks; increased firepower (by increasing the nose canon from 20 to 30mm and the machine guns from 13 to 17mm, using rocket launchers or cannon installed in underwing trays), etc.
Modifications were carried out to improve the aircraft with its canopy (simplified mountings), its undercarriage (wider diameter wheels, lengthened tailwheel) or its tail (increased rudder surface). Twice the German authorities tried to put some order into this diversity of variants and models, first with the G-14 which was intended to incorporate all the different modifications which had been made to the G-6, then with the G-10 which was to have ensured the transition with the last variant, the 109K.
This plan failed because each one of these versions itself generated a whole series of variants which made the whole into an almost inextricable maze.
It was in October 1941 that the first pre-production Gustavs, designated G-O, came off the assembly line. The engine which was to have equipped them, the DB604A, was not yet available at that time and it was decided to fly them with the Bf-109F-4's DB601E installed in the new airframe which had been modified around the engine cowling to accommodate a larger oil radiator fairing.
Several incidents, some of them serious, initially marred the short operational career of the production series; two cooling fairings for the plugs and the gun breeches were added to each side of the engine cowling, just behind the propeller. Their purpose was to prevent the radiator oil which was vaporized by the very hot engine from catching fire, as had already been the case.
This improvement was maintained for all the Gustavs which followed but this version was to suffer from oil pressure problems throughout its career. The G-1 was produced from the spring of 1942 and arrived at the front in June of the same year. Overall this production series was similar to the F-4, especially the armament which was identical; but its pressurized cockpit meant the disappearance of the lateral windshield panes and the strengthening of the canopy structure. The new engine, the DB605A, was a variant of the DB601E. With a higher compression rate and a larger bore, and its engine turnover was higher. A few more than 160 G-1s were built and were attributed as a priority to units facing the heavy Allied bomber formations over the Channel or North Africa. In the summer of 1942, the first squadron specialised in high altitude interception, the II./JG2 equipped with G-1/R2S, 'lightened' by getting rid of some of the armour, carrying a 300-litre drop tank and equipped with GM-1 power boost. A few weeks later, another high altitude Staffel was formed, the II./JG26, rating over the Channel at first before being transferred to the Mediterranean front.
Produced at the same time as the G-1, the G-2 was in fact built in greater numbers and delivered to the units before it, from June 1942. This was in fact a non-pressurized version of the G-1, being distinguishable by the cockpit ventilation intakes below the shield, located differently depending on the machine. It was headquarters and the first group of the JG-2 which used this type l first, from the end of spring 1942. Walther Oesau, the unit's famous Kommodore preferred however using his Fw190. The G-2 spread gradually within the Jagdwaffe and was used by all the units. The first Gustavs sent to the east enabled the Germans to maintain air superiority which they had won a year earlier with the Friedrich.
Taking part in the battle of Stalingrad - the last fighter to leave the besieged town was 'a G-2 of the JG3 on 2 February 1942, a few days before the surrender, the Gustav was confronted with a worsening situation at the beginning of this new year because of the appearance of the Yakovlev 7s and 9s. However the 'Experten' (aces) still managed to improve their scores with the Me109, especially a certain Emil Hartmann, who won the first of his 352 victories in November 1942.
Northern Africa was another theatre where the first Gustavs distinguished themselves; a tropicalised version of the G-2 was made with an extra sand filter but also two anchor points which were for fitting, a sunshade; a very useful accessory for reducing the interior temperature of the cockpit of a fighter on stand-by out in the sun. The first G-2/Trop. arrived in North Africa at the end of June 1942 but many were lost in the retreat following the battle of EI Alamein. Finland was among the foreign buyers of the 109G-2, purchasing sixteen at the beginning of 1943 in order to face the threat from the new Russian La-5s. One of the most original variants was without doubt the G-2/R1, a fighter-bomber fitted with two underwing 300 liter drop tanks and an ETC 500 pylon under the fuselage and extra jettisonable landing gear. This enabled the aircraft to have the ground clearance necessary for the extra system underneath the fuselage. The system was tried out successfully but was never developed.
Developed from the G-2 and conceived particularly as a fighter, the G-4 version came out next on a large scale production reaching some 1200 machines. It was very similar to the G-2 and it was only the radio equipment with its vertical antenna wire placed further back which distinguished them. During the production run, larger wheels were fitted which meant fitting water-drop shaped fairings on the upper wing surfaces which gave the aircraft its nickname 'Beule' - Hump which it kept until the end of the war. The tailwheel was lengthened which meant that the retracting mechanism was removed. Many G-4s were used for reconnaissance, a specific variant, the G-4/R3 being specially produced for long distance reconnaissance. In January 1943, while the G-4 production started, Messerschmitt made a short series of fifty G-3s which were sent to the high altitude fighter units (11./JG2, 11./JG26 and 11./JG54) fighting in the west. These variants were in fact pressurized versions, like the G-1, but with the modifications of the G-4.
The G-6 appeared chronologically before the G-5 and was produced in greater numbers. It is estimated that 12000 machines of all variant types came off the production lines, over a very long time, from the beginning of 1943 to the end of 1944.
This new Gustav model was conceived originally in answer to the triple problem posed by the preceding versions: how to reconcile weak armament (a problem already encountered with the 'F'), a higher speed which meant less time in front of the target (about one second) with opponents like the Allied four-engined bombers which were increasingly more solid? To answer this question, it was decided to increase the fixed armament, copying the Fw190 with its two machine guns and its cannon.
The two engine-mounted 7.92 mm MG-17 machine guns were replaced by 13 mm MG-131 machine guns. The breech feeders of these new heavy weapons could not be housed under the standard engine cowling and it was necessary to protect them by means of two almost-circular bumps, placed on the cowling, which gave the new Gustav an easily recognizable new look. But this armament increase also meant a weight increase, which reduced its performance even more - hardly what the machine needed.
To make up for this, the GM-1 power boost system, used occasionally on preceding models, was fitted as standard on most machines.
Another feature of the G-6 was the presence of a little oval trap door on the left hand side of the fuselage between frames 8 and 9 and which was maintained on all subsequent Gustavs. The basic idea behind the Gustav was to produce a fighter which could be modified and take different engines depending on the type of mission it was going to be given. This version was produced in scores of different variants, from the ones with a windshield with simplified mountings, called 'Erla', to those with reinforced armour for the pilot's seat, and including those with different antenna masts and wire, a lengthened non-retractable tailwheel, etc. On this version a larger tail fin was fitted for the first time. Instead of the inverted 'L' shape of all previous 109 models, this version had a straight rudder.
In order to improve the plane's performance at high altitude where it excelled naturally, a new version, designated G-6/AS, started to come off the production lines at the beginning of 1944. The original DB605A was fitted with the same turbo-compressor as that of the DB603 and became the DB605AS. In order to fit the new engine into the fuselage, some modifications had to be made to the airframe which in turn meant redesigning the engine cowling. So the two bumps on the sides disappeared, replaced by longer semi-circular asymmetric profiled fairings on both sides housing the engine cradle and the gun feeds.
Concurrently with G-6 production, a pressurized version, designated G-5, was also brought out but on a smaller scale (about 475 machines) from May 1943 to August 1944. In comparison with the basic model, the only important modification was the position of the air compressor, now on the right instead of on the left to make room for the new machine guns (with a little bump on the cowling to cover them).
The first G-6s were sent to the Mediterranean sector in February 1943 to serve in JG53 and 77, and II./JG27 and II./JG51. A short while later the Reich defense units and those operating in Western Europe were supplied with this new machine. Then the squadrons on the Eastern front were equipped with the G-6, deliveries occurring at the same rate as that of production. From August 1943, some G-6s were armed with two underwing WGr21 21 cm rocket tubes in order to be more effective against the Allied bomber formations. These 'Pulk Zerstorer' (formation destroyers) were used particularly on 14 October 1943 against the raid on Schweinfurt, where they inflicted heavy losses on the Allies.
During the following months, the G-6 was used increasingly to defend German territory, in high altitude attacks on the Allied fighters escorting the bomber box formations, leaving the Fw190s which were far more effective at lower altitudes to attack the bomber boxes. Even though the German Army had left North African soil by the time that the G-6 reached the fighter units, quite a number of machines were tropicalised by adding an extra sand filter which turned out to be particularly effective in the dust of southern Russia, Sicily and southern Italy. One of the most original uses that the G-6 was put to was that of the 'Wilde Sau' (Wild Boar), a group of specialised units in the 30.Jagddivision (JG300, 301 and 302) whose job was to attack the bombers which stood out against the light of the searchlights and the fires during night raids. The 30.Jagddivision was disbanded in March 1944 after having suffered far too many losses mainly because of the lack of radio help, particularly in heavy weather, when the German pilots preferred to bale out rather than risk the danger of landing at night.
Built from October 1944 until the end of the war, the G-1 a the fastest of all the Gustavs - was not much of an improvement on the preceding models; it was rather a cheap and simple means of getting almost the same machine as the K-4 (which was produced in parallel) by converting old airframes. The transformation program was originally very ambitious envisaging as it did the production of almost 6000 machines before the month of August. As can be imagined, this target was never reached, G-10 production - the real figure is not known having reached around 2600 machines.
Like with the G-14 which preceded it chronologically, there was no standard version of the G-10, as it was produced in a multitude of variants. It was theoretically to have been powered by the new and better DB605D - in fact a DB605AS with higher compression rate and larger cubic capacity. But as it was not immediately available when the first machines started coming off the production line, it was replaced by the DB605AS and this aircraft, almost identical to the G-14/AS, was designated logically G-10/AS.
When the DB6050 was finally installed it was very often fitted with the MW50 power boost system; the front part of the engine cowling was modified slightly with two small bumps just under the first exhaust pipe. It also used the wider and deeper Fo987 oil radiator [n1] [n2]. This modification was not however one of the powerplant's standard features; some G-14/ASs and G-10/ASs equipped in this manner are known to have existed.
As the G-10 resulted from a modification of existing machines, different configurations were bound to be encountered, all depended on the origin of the machines or on the availability of the different elements such as rectangular or tear-drop shaped wing fairings for the large or smaller wheels, long or short tailwheels.
Most G-10s were fitted with the larger tailfin and rudder, although some machines had the smaller tail fin. The Erla hood seems to have been fitted as standard as was the FuG 16zy radio antenna mast fitted under the port wing. The 300-litre drop-tank (Rustsatz R3) was very widely used thereby increasing the fighter's already limited range. It seems that other conversions were envisaged but few, if any were used, except for the R2 which corresponded to the reconnaissance version, equipped with Rb50/30 cameras installed in the fuselage.
November 1944, Germany produced a number of planes which were far superior to anything else produced at any other moment of the war; the majority of them were Bf109s in their different versions. The Luftwaffe's especially dire situation was due to the chronic lack of fuel and to the inexperience of the pilots. At the time, the Me109 was faster than ever, but it had become heavier and less maneuverable and only the aces, and then very few of them, were able to get the most out of it.
When it came into service, the G-10 was the fastest of the all the Me109s ever built but it was not able however to change the course of the war. Its role was made all the more difficult by the arrival of the P-51 Mustang and the later versions of the Spitfire used to escort the large bomber formations - the German fighters' favorite targets - deep into the heart of the Reich which made the pilot's job all the more dangerous.
Like all the fighters available at the time, the G-1 as took part in Operation Bodenplatte on 1 January 1945, the last massed attack put up by the Luftwaffe which ended with the loss of allied 400 aircraft; but it was their gallant last stand. The Germans were no longer able to replace their pilot casualties. This was certainly not the case with the opposite side which had far more reserves to draw on.
Specifications - Bf109G-10
The Messerschmitt Bf 109G8, G-12 and G14
Production of this variant began in August 1943 and seems to have continued until the beginning of 1945. Compared with previous variants of the reconnaissance Gustavs, the G-8 carried not only photographic equipment (Rb for Reihenbildkamera) with different focal lengths fitted into the fuselage, but also another camera, made by Robot, fitted into the leading edge of the port wing, aimed by using the sights. This set up was designed to take photographs from a height of 2000 meters, but turned out not to be very effective and was removed from the machines to which it had already been fitted and then was simply left out of the machines at the end of the production run.
Basically, the G-8 was nothing but a G-6 whose frames N 5 and 6 had been reinforced in order to take the cameras, with two shuttered openings inserted on the underside of the fuselage. The radio equipment was also different and the antenna mast was placed further back, on the dorsal ridge at the same level as the camera compartment. Several conversions and modifications were made to this version to give it more power and speed, some machines even dispensing with armament to reduce weight. Put into service in November 1943, about 900 were produced and it became the standard machine for the Tactical reconnaissance group pilots (Nahautklarungsgruppen or NAGr) especially the 3./NAGr13 which operated from the Chartres sector. Two pilots from this unit carried out the first armed reconnaissance flight over the Normandy beaches on the morning of 6 June 1944.
The G-12 was not actually a real version of the Gustav either, i.e. built as such from the outset. To obtain an advanced trainer quickly and cheaply for future fighter pilots, it was decided to get the Gustav cells (G-2, G-3, G-4 and G-6) already in service transformed by maintenance units and not in the factories. A second cockpit was added behind the first one equipped with its own hinged canopy and convex glass in order to afford minimum visibility towards the front. Normally the student was placed in front, but he could however sit behind and practice instrument flying, his canopy in this case being covered.
The G-12 carried therefore almost half the quantity of fuel because the instructor replaced the fuselage reservoir. In order to give the machine more than the resulting thirty minutes' flying time, a ventral fuel tank was very often fitted.
It had been planned to produce 500 two-seaters from the beginning of 1944 in order to answer the Luftwaffe's need for fighter pilots, which was getting increasingly urgent because of the turn events were taking.
Although the number is not actually known, it seems that this figure was never reached. In theory the G-12s dispensed with all armament, but some machines kept at least the engine mounted machine guns and it is even conceivable that these machines were used as last ditch interceptors during the last hours of the war.
Then it was the G-14 which appeared because the DB605D engine planned for the G-10 was not available. This new version was to have incorporated all the improvements which had been made to the G-6 previously; the authorities wanted a standard version in order to rationalize the production undertaken by a multitude of sub-contractors. This attempt failed as this new version was itself turned out in a multitude of different variants one for each of the different changes made. It was a less effective machine than it successors, namely the G-10 and K; nevertheless, the G-14 was produced in large numbers (about 5500) until the end of the war, serving in most of the units flying 109s.
If the first G-14s were identical to the end of production G6s, with the majority fitted with the 'Erla' hood, as already mentioned, a host of variants very quickly made their appearance (bigger rudder, lengthened tailwheel, bigger wheels with rectangular square upper wing surface blisters, different canon, etc.) including the very radical G-14/AS (about 1 000 produced), recognizable by its bigger oil radiator. Even though this was not systematically installed, the plane was otherwise in all points similar to the G-6/AS.
The Messerschmitt Bf-109K
Although a pre-production series of K-0 powered by the DB605DB without the MW50 power boost system was brought out, the first variants which had been planned (K-1 pressurized, K-2 standard, and K-3 reconnaissance) were abandoned before even being made, (only one K-2 was perhaps built, but it never flew) and it was therefore the K-4 logically which was produced in any numbers. This last version, officially called a 'light fighter' in November 1944 used all the improvements made to the G-10; 'Erla' hood with reduced structural supports, larger tailfin, lengthened tailwheel, bigger oil radiator, wider propeller blades, bigger tyres (meaning rectangular blisters on the wing upper surfaces,) and finally the MK 108 or 103 canon.
In theory the differences with the very last Gustavs can be summarized by the circular radio antenna on the back moved back one frame, the access panel for the radio brought forward one frame and put slightly higher up, ailerons fitted with trim tabs and extra undercarriage doors which were often removed during operations.
The official program planned a production run of 12000 K-4s between July 1944 and March 1946. This figure was obviously never reached and even if the exact number of Karls which came off the production lines will never be known, it does seem that 1700 were produced.
The K-4s were delivered to Luftwaffe fighter units during the last months of the war and were used together with the G-10s and G-14s. Because of the worsening situation, the following variants never got past the prototype stage, even if they were built.
Thus the K-6 fitted with two MK108 cannon in the wings as well as the standard armament was only tested, whereas the reconnaissance K-8, the K-10 fighter and the two-seat K- 12 remained where they were, on the drawing board.
The very last variant and the 'last of the 109s', the high altitude K-14 fighter, was to have been powered by the DB605L giving it a maximum speed of 730kph at 11500m, nearly 200kph faster than an Emil and only four years older.
Specifications - Bf109K-4