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  • Messerschmitt Bf 109 Single-Seat Multirole Fighter

    The exceptional Bf 109 fighter was more than a handful for allied fighter pilots and bomber crews.

     Updated: 4/23/2017; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.MilitaryFactory.com

    In the years leading up to and during World War 2, the Messerschmitt Bf 109 was the principle fighter of the German Luftwaffe fielded along all fronts where the German war machine raged. Upon its inception, the type immediately became the most advanced and capable fighter platform anywhere in the world, rendering all previous type (these being largely biplane in their design) obsolete. The Bf 109 became a symbol of pride for the recovering German nation, led by the charismatic Adolf Hitler who had risen through the German political ranks to ultimately consolidate his power and bring an entire nation under his brutal control. The Bf 109 was available in such large quantitative figures during the war that it bore the brunt of all aerial warfare for the German Luftwaffe - seeing combat actions in the Spanish Civil War, the invasion of Europe proper, the Battle of Britain, the Mediterranean Campaign, the North African Campaign, the West front and the East Front. It was helped by the arrival of the equally excellent Focke-Wulf Fw 190 but still operated in larger numbers and in numerous variants throughout her wartime career. Amazingly, the type continued production for another decade after the end of the war in 1945 and was even selected as the primary fighter for the growing Israeli Air Force. One of the most celebrated fighter platforms of her era, the Bf 109 was respected by all sides, making many aces of those who flew her, and earned its place in the annals of military history as one of the top aircraft designs of all time. Even with the arrival of the newer Fw 190 series of fighters, the Bf 109 line continued production and wide scale use unabated.

    Messerschmitt Bf 109 Design

    The Bf 109 design was attributed to German engineers Willy Messerschmitt and Walter Rethel. After World War 1, the German war machine was dismantled by the victors and, coinciding with Hitler's rise to power, the military was given complete attention to one day "right the wrongs" of the embarrassing Versailles Treaty that placed all of the blame of war solely on Germany. The German Air Ministry (RLM) sought to provide its Luftwaffe with Germany's first-ever modern monoplane fighter to replace the outmoded and outgoing models in the Arado Ar 68 and the Heinkel He.51 series. Both were biplanes and decidedly influenced by a world war that was already several decades removed. Both managed a dual-wing assembly, open-air cockpits and fixed undercarriages which would do little in a modern war. The RLM requirement was handed down to interested parties in the summer of 1934.

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    Messerschmitt Bf 109E-7 Technical Specifications

    Service Year: 1937
    Type: Single-Seat Multirole Fighter
    National Origin: Nazi Germany
    Manufacturer(s): Messerschmitt - Nazi Germany; Avia - Czechoslovakia; Hispano - Spain
    Production Total: 35,500

    Structural (Crew Space, Dimensions and Weights)

    Operating Crew: 1
    Length: 28.67 feet (8.74 meters)
    Width: 32.35 feet (9.86 meters)
    Height: 11.15 feet (3.40 meters)

    Weight (Empty): 4,440 lb (2,014 kg)
    Weight (MTOW): 6,100 lb (2,767 kg)

    Installed Power and Standard Day Performance

    Engine(s): 1 x Daimler-Benz DB 605A liquid-cooled, inverted V, 12-cylinder piston engine developing 1,200 horsepower.

    Maximum Speed: 359 mph (578 kph; 312 knots)
    Maximum Range: 680 miles (1,095 km)
    Service Ceiling: 36,499 feet (11,125 meters; 6.91 miles)
    Rate-of-Climb: 3,300 feet-per-minute (1,006 m/min)

    Armament / Mission Payload

    1 x cannon in propeller hub (version-dependent)
    2 to 4 x 7.9mm machine guns in engine cowling or wings (version-dependent).
    2 x cannons in underwing gunpods (certain versions).

    Provision for external drop bombs and air-to-air rockets in later production marks.

    Global Operators / Customers

    Bulgaria; Croatia; Cezchoslovakia; Finland; Nazi Germany; Hungary; Israel; Italy; Romania; Slovakia; Spain; Switzerland; Yugoslavia

    Model Variants (Including Prototypes)

    Bf 109V-1 to V-10 - Prototype Aircraft

    Bf 109V-7 - Prototype for first series production model; armed with 2 x machine guns and 1 x MG FF 20mm cannon.

    Bf 109A - Preproduction Model

    Bf 109B - First Series Production Model; fitted with Jumo 210 engine of 610hp.

    Bf 109B-2 - 24 examples produced

    Bf 109C - Preproduction Model

    Bf 109D - Preproduction Model fitted with Daimler-Benz DB 600A inline piston engine.

    Bf 109E "Emil" - Initial Production Model Designation.

    Bf 109E-1

    Bf 109E-2

    Bf 109E-3

    Bf 109E-4

    Bf 109E-5

    Bf 109E-6

    Bf 109E-7 - DB 605A engine; 1 x 20mm cannon firing through propeller hub; 2 x 7.9mm machine guns in engine cowling; 2 x 7.9mm machine guns in wings.

    Bf 109E-8

    Bf 109E-9 - Fitted with Daimler-Benz DB 601A engine generating 1,100hp.

    Bf 109F - Aerodynamic refinements; fitted with Daimler-Benz DB 601E or 601N powerplants; redesigned cowling, wings and tail.

    Bf 109F-1

    Bf 109F-2

    Bf 109F-3

    Bf 109F-4

    Bf 109F-5

    Bf 109F-6

    Bf 109G "Gustav" - Definitive Bf 109; fitted with Daimler-Benz DB 605 inline piston engine.

    Bf 109G-0 - Preproduction "G" Model

    Bf 109G-1 - Fitted with DB 605A engine; provision for pressurized cockpit; emergency power boost system.

    Bf 109G-2 - Sans power boost system

    Bf 109G-3 - Provision for pressurized cockpit; emergency power boost system.

    Bf 109G-4 - Sans power boost system

    Bf 109G-5 - Provision for pressurized cockpit; emergency power boost system.

    Bf 109G-6

    Bf 109G-7

    Bf 109G-8

    Bf 109G-9

    Bf 109G-10 - Fastest of "G" Model variants; sans wing machine guns; power boost enabled; increased endurance.

    Bf 109G-11

    Bf 109G-12

    Bf 109G-13

    Bf 109G-14

    Bf 109G-15

    Bf 109G-16

    Bf 109H - High-Altitude Variant; increased wingspan.

    Bf 109H-1

    Bf 109K - Improved Bf109G Model fitted with Daimler-Benz 605 inline piston engine.

    Bf 109K-1

    Bf 109K-2

    Bf 109K-3

    Bf 109K-4 - Last of operational Bf 109's; power boost enabled; DB 605D engines; 2 x MG 151 15mm cannons semi-recessed above engine; 1 x MK 108 20mm cannon OR 1 x MK 103 30mm cannons firing through propeller hub.

    Bf 109K-5

    Bf 109K-6 - Last of operational Bf 109's; power boost enabled; DB 605D engines; 2 x MG 131 13mm machine guns in engine cowling mount; 2 x MK 103 30mm cannons in external underwing mounts.

    Bf 109K-7

    Bf 109K-8

    Bf 109K-9

    Bf 109K-10

    Bf 109K-11

    Bf 109K-12

    Bf 109K-13

    Bf 109K-14 - Final Bf 109 Variant; fitted with DB 605L engine; limited to 2 production examples.

    Bf 109T - Converted Bf109E models for planned carrier usage; 10 such examples.

    Bf 109Z "Zwilling"

    Ha-1109 - Spanish-production Bf 109G model built by Hispano.

    S-199 - Czechoslovakia-production Bf 109G model built by Avia.