Messerschmitt Bf 109
Messerschmitt Me109 …. hardly any other aircraft is as famous as this world war ii-seater. Few people know that the Me109 is correctly called Bf109, most people who get to see the plane say “a Me ! “.
Willy Messerschmitt began designing this revolutionary aircraft as early as 1934 at the Bavarian Aircraft Works (hence the Bf) in Haunstetten. The all-metal aircraft first flew in May 1935. The construction stood out in many respects from the hunting single-seaters of the time; there was a retractable landing gear and a closed pilot’s pulpit. From 1937, the aircraft was the standard fighter of the air force. The aircraft was built until the end of the Second World War, and around 33,000 units of all series left the various factory halls.
Messerschmitt had extensive experience in the construction of all-metal aircraft at an early stage, a design that was not taken for granted at the time. Messerschmitt was also able to inspire Richard Bauer, an Arado designer, for his ideas. In 1934 Messerschmitt presented the BFW Bf108, a design that was sensational at the time. This fast passenger aircraft with retractable landing gear should be the basis for a new fighter aircraft. Not an easy task for Richard Bauer and his team.
The plan was simple. A powerful engine as possible should be installed in a cell that is as light as possible, virtually an aircraft around the engine. The typical Messerschmitt half-shell construction was the key to success. Self-supporting half-shells with longitudinal profiles proved to be very stable with the lowest possible weight. The structure also had to be very light. The single-bar all-metal construction was kept quite small, so rather buoyant, but fast. In order to obtain balanced properties, it was a long time that the aerodynamic trick box had to be reached. Revolutionary at the time, the structure was equipped with automatic forewings and split-landing flaps.
At the time of development, closed pilot pulpits were not the standard. The pilots wanted to be able to leave the driver’s room as soon as possible in an emergency, because a closed hood was rather unhelpful. Here, too, the design team found a remedy with a right-hand hinged, hinged cabin hood. The pilot only had to unlock and hit the hood in an emergency, the rest was taken over by the wind.
Messerschmitt and his team were not only thinking about flying this fighter plane, he was thinking further logistically. Modular design is the magic word. Messerschmitt disassembled the aircraft into individual modules that could be assembled independently of each other, a step into decentralized production. The modular design also facilitated maintenance and repair work for the flying units on site. Quick replacement of damaged parts was the goal.
The catalogue also included the fact that the fuselage can be moved without aids. For this purpose, it was necessary to make the cell rollable without wings, wants to hot the chassis was attached to the fuselage. Thus, the equipped aircraft cell could be moved quite easily in the shipyard without having to .B cranes. This idea and also the desired loading possibility on normal railway wagons of the Deutsche Reichsbahn, however, led to the relatively small gauge of the main landing gear, ultimately one of the Achilles heels of this aircraft design.
The measure of the gauge was the result of the so-called “light space profile” of the Deutsche Reichsbahn. This profile prescribes maximum widths for web loading. As a further constructive aspect, it was the three-division of the wing main spar. The advantage is clearly the fast loading possibility, the feasibility of field repairs without additional equipment and the possibility of returning damaged aircraft to the shipyard without needing special wagons.
However, the price of the logistical feat was very high. The aircraft tended to dangerous breakout during take-off due to its high engine power due to its high engine power due to poor seats, side and shear winds. Many pilots paid for this unspecies with their lives. Some sources speak of more losses due to landing and take-off accidents than from the downing of an enemy aircraft. Especially towards the end of the war, the poor level of training of the pilots led to high losses in this type of accident. Nevertheless, in the hands of an expert, the heavily motorized and light Messerschmitt Bf109 was a dangerous and balanced weapon.
The most famous series are probably the “Emil” with the DB601, the “Friedrich” with DB601E and the “Gustav” with the DB605. The “Emil” is usually associated in one breath with the “Air Battle for England”. The “Friedrich” is considered the most balanced and beautiful Bf109 and of course one connects the “Friedrich” with the famous JG27 over Africa, with Hans-Joachim Marseille as pilot. The “Gustav” is the most famous series and was a feared opponent in all theatres of war. Various sub-variants, countless set-up kits and also basis for various license buildings. The “Gustav” was also the most built variant, with around 20,000 copies leaving the various production sites.
The Messerschmitt Bf109 was also exported, so the fighter aircraft was also used by the Swiss air troops. After the war, the licensed buildings also followed in Israel and Czechoslovakia.
A word about the licensed buildings. After the war, the Bf109 was continued to be built. For example, the G-10 series at Avia in Czechoslovakia, type designation Avia S-199. As a motorization, the licensees chose the Junkers aggregate JUMO 211F , because the Daimler-Benz units were no longer available. Among other things, the Israeli Air Force used this type of aircraft. In the Palestine War, former adversaries met again. The Egyptian Air Force countered the Avia S-199 Spitfires.
In Spain, production continued at Hispano Aviacion. The “Buchon”, which is called HA-1109 and HA-1112, was equipped with a RollsRoyce/Packard Merlin. Willy Messerschmitt had a not inconsiderable influence on the production and interpretation of the “Buchon”, he worked as a designer at Hispano Aviacion after the war.