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The Many Versions of the 109 Messerschmitts

Messerschmitt Aircraft Pages:

Birds of War: The Messerschmitt's Effect on World War II
Willy Messerschmitt: A Short Biography
The Messerschmitt Komet
The Messerschmitt Me262
The Importance of the Messerschmitt
500 Word Essay
The Bibliography Page

The Bf109E was the Luftwaffe's standard single-scat fighter for the first three years of the war and was able to outfight or outrun virtually all opposition is shown above in this Reconnaissance version. (This painting depicted above is by aviation artist Ed Markham)."


    There are two "models" of aircraft in the Messerschmitt 109 series, the Bf109 and the Me109. In actuality these "two" planes do not exist; there is one plane with two names. The German manufactured name for the aircraft is the Bf109 and the less accurate, but possibly more commonly used name, is the Me109. The Bf109 was known as the best German fighter during World War II, which according to sources, "the Bf109 has taken up more space in print than any other machine which took part in that great struggle." The Bf109's were produced more than any other aircraft during the war and because of the "exploits of this crafts aggressiveness, and its designer's name became a household word throughout the civilized world."

    "The Messerschmitt Bf109, seen here in desert camouflage, was the mainstay of the German Luftwaffe from the Spanish Civil War in 1935 to 1942. It was quite a revolutionary design, being the smallest aircraft that could be built around a powerful engine. The first operational version, the Bf109B had some major problems that became apparent during the Spanish Civil War. Overall, its advantages were great performance, handling, simple construction. The Me109 was quite advanced for 1935 compared to its contemporaries, such as: biplanes the Gloster Gladiator, and the Brewster "Peashooter."

The Versions:

    "There were three main versions during WWII with many sub-types. The E or Emil version flew in 1939 with a 920hp Daimler-Benz DB601Aa engine. This craft's maximum speed was 347mph," and could also soar to a height of "34,450 ft. and a range of 410 miles. It was armed with a 20mm cannon firing through the propeller hub and two 7.9mm machine guns mounted on the cowling of the craft."

    "The F or Fritz verstion first appeared during the Invasion of Russia in 1941. It was powered by the 1,200hp Daimler-Benz 601E engine. It was initially armed with a hub-mounted 20mm cannon and two cowling mounted 7.6mm machine guns, but in the F2 version a 15mm MG 151 replaced the 20mm MG FF cannon. This craft had a top speed of 390mph at 21, 890 vertical feet. Many versions of this craft were constructed and distributed. The new versions had enlarged hub cannons and cannons packed under the wings to attack bombers. Also with an enlarged wingspan they were used as fighter-bombers."

    "The G or Gustav version flew in the summer of 1942. It was powered by a 1,475hp Daimler-Benz DB605A, or D series 12 cylinder, liquid cooled, inverted-V engine. This crafts' maximum speed was 428mph at 24,250 vertical feet. this craft was equipped with two 13mm machine guns on the cowling, a 20mm cannon firing through the hub of the airscrew and two extra 20mm cannons were sometimes placed in pods under the wings."

    "The Messerschmitt Bf109 aircraft was so successful that when production ceased in 1956, over 35,000 had been built. The performance of the Bf109 equaled the British Spitfire and was superior to the British Hurricane." Currently, there is only one flying original Bf109 in the world. Warbird Recovery has begun restoring this aircraft to its original flying condition and scheduled its first flight in the summer of 1998.