Aircraft / Aviation Vehicles & Artillery Infantry Arms Warships & Submarines Military Ranks Military Pay Chart (2024)
Aviation / Aerospace

Messerschmitt Bf 110 Zerstorer (Destroyer)

Twin-Seat, Twin-Engine Heavy Fighter Aircraft [ 1937 ]

During World War 2, the German Messerschmitt Bf 110 twin-engine heavy fighter found periods of success - and failure.

Authored By: Dan Alex | Last Edited: 09/15/2021 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

The Messerschmitt name was tied to many aircraft products during World War 2 (1939-1945) - the classic Bf 109 fighter, the Me 163 "Komet" rocket-powered interceptor, and the Me 262 "Schwalbe" jet-powered fighter quickly coming to mind. In the early years of the war, its name headed another of its classic aircraft alongside the Bf 109 - this being the twin-engine, two-seat Bf 110. The Bf 110 became part of the German rearmament program and military buildup of the 1930s, utilizing a two-engine heavy fighter design form that many national air forces of the period pursued in one form or another. Introduced in 1937, the Bf 110 saw consistent service over all of the fronts involving German forces and its allies. Total production reached 6,170 examples by war's end in 1945 and variants allowed the original design to evolve some throughout the war years. While it became less effective in daytime operations as the war wore on, the Bf 110 was pressed into other roles better suited to its strengths by the end.

Up to this point in military aviation history, the single-engine fighter was the mainstay of any major air service. However, with the utilization of only a single engine, operational ranges would always be limited which brought about the idea of a two-engine fighter design - something akin to a "bridge product" between the traditional fighter and a medium bomber. A twin-engine approach provided improved survivability over the warzone and theoretically could solve the problem of operational range. At the same time, a more powerful design could also be outfitted with more firepower through machine guns, cannon and bombs beyond what a single-engine airframe offered. This thinking gave rise to the "heavy fighter" which was also known in some circles as a "bomber destroyer" and many nations of the 1930s sought such a design.

The reemerging German Luftwaffe took an interest in a twin-engine heavy fighter and accorded a Reichsluftministerium specification in 1934 calling for a long-range escort fighter in the heavy fighter mold. The aircraft would have to integrate an internal bomb bay for carrying drop ordnance, feature a twin-engine arrangement, provide a cockpit for three crew, and be of a modern all-metal construction. While several companies put forth their various designs, it was Messerschmitt that out-dueled its competitors - showcasing much more performance, power, range, and firepower than its nearest challenger. Maneuverability was said to be its weakest quality.

Bf 110 Walk-Around

Messerschmitt engineers produced a solid, conventional-looking aircraft in their Bf 110 design. Monoplane wings were set low and well-ahead of midships as was the two-crew (seated inline) cockpit held under a long-running "greenhouse" style canopy offering good vision. Since the engines were carried in nacelles that were integrated into the wings, the forward section of the fuselage could be used for the cockpit, avionics, and nose armament. Internally, the fuselage was given a semi-monocoque arrangement and its external shaping saw it taper at the rear. The empennage carried a split vertical tail fin assembly. The powerplants were to be 2 x Daimler-Benz DB 600A series inline engines and a typical "tail-dragger" undercarriage was fitted. Interestingly, the internal bomb bay was not part of the Bf 110 design but this was overlooked due to the hugely promising nature of the Messerschmitt approach.

Original armament was 4 x 7.92mm MG 17 machine guns coupled to 2 x 20mm MG FF/M cannons in the nose. The rear cockpit featured a single 7.92mm MG 15 machine gun to help protect the aircraft's more vulnerable "six" position from trailing, intercepting aircraft. This armament load was excellent for the time for a short burst of fire was able to bring down most any aircraft the enemy could field - particularly bombers flying in tight formation. During the course of the Bf 110s flying career, only slight changes would be enacted to the armament suite - primarily to save on weight or to carry more mission equipment. A bomb-carrying capability was later added that only served to broaden the aircraft's tactical appeal in combat.

Early Returns

First flight of a Bf 110 prototype was on May 12th, 1936 and four pre-production aircraft were ordered under the Bf 110A-0 designation with the first coming in January of 1937. With the design finalized and formally adopted for production, serial manufacture began though issues with the intended DB 600 engines forces a reliance on the lower-rated Junkers Jumo 210B engines of 640 horsepower (each) for the interim. Naturally this switch in powerplant hampered the expected performance figures of the new aircraft which was not able to achieve more than 270 miles per hour. A later batch carried Junkers Jumo 210G engine of 700 horsepower (each).

Bf 110B Models

Since there proved no definitive Bf 110A production model to be had (the designation was used for preproduction aircraft), the initial production form became the Bf 110B and this encompassed three subvariants with slight changes between them - Bf 110B-0 being the group's preproduction representative. The heavy fighter version was Bf 110B-1 and carried an armament of 4 x 7.92mm MG 17 machine guns and 2 x 20mm MG FF cannons. Bf 110B-2 followed as a dedicated reconnaissance platform and had its cannon armament replaced with camera equipment. Bf 110B-3 was brought along as a modified trainer platform, its armament suite being replaced by an expanded communications set. Overall production of B-model was limited before attention switched to the C-model.©MilitaryFactory.com
Bf 110C Models

It was not until the latter part of 1938 that the Bf 110 saw its originally-intended DB 600 engines fitted and this produced the first major production model in the Bf 110C of 1938 - maximum speed was now increased to 335 miles per hour. The series was led by the requisite Bf 110C-0 preproduction model which was followed by the Bf 110C-1 heavy fighter model. Then came the Bf 110C-2 which incorporated FuG 10 series radio sets and the Bf 110C-3 was a heavy fighter variant with 20mm MG FF/M cannons replacing the original 20mm MG FF models in use. Bf 110C-4 brought about increased armor protection at the cockpit and Bf 110C-4/B was a fighter-bomber version with bomb racks fitted for the carrying of 550 lb drop bombs while being powered by DB 601Ba series engines. Bf 110C-5 was a reconnaissance variant based on the preceding C-4 model and lost its MG FF cannons to house the Rb 50/30 camera unit with power from DB 601P engines. Bf 110C-6 served in the experimental role fitting a sole 30mm MK 101 series cannon under the fuselage while being powered by DB 601P engines. Bf 110C-7 was developed as a true fighter-bomber while being based on the C-4/B model. Two centerline bomb racks were installed for carrying 1,100 lb bombs and this model was powered by DB 601P engines as well.

Bf 110D Models

In late 1939, the Bf 110D production variant was realized and this version attempted to increase operational ranges of the aircraft. Bf 110D-0 was the preproduction model to which Bf 110D-1 arrived with a ventral rack set to accept a jettisonable fuel tank under the fuselage and support for underwing fuel drop tanks resulting in Bf 110D-1/R1 and Bf 110D-1/R2: Bf 110D-1/R1 was the standard form and Bf 110D-1/R2 replaced the ventral fuel tank with a jettisonable oil tank instead while also making use of underwing fuel drop tanks. Bf 110D-2 was a long range heavy fighter / fighter-bomber variant featuring a pair of wing-mounted drop tanks with a centerline bomb rack. Bf 110D-3 featured a lengthened tail unit which housed a Search and Rescue (SAR) dinghy for pilot recovery at sea. Underwing drop tanks were typical with this mark and bomb racks optional for fighter-bomber sorties. Bf 110D-4 was a long-range reconnaissance platform lacking the MG FF cannons and carried Rb 50/30 camera as well as a pair of underwing fuel drop tanks.

Bf 110E Models

Heading into 1941, the Bf 110 was expanded into the Bf 110E model line which was classified as a fighter-bomber - led by the preproduction Bf 110E-0. DB 601P engines were in use with the Bf 110E-1 model leading the way and Bf 110E-2 followed with an extended rear fuselage for a rescue dinghy. Bf 110E-3 became the long-range reconnaissance model with Rb 50/30 camera in place of cannons.

Bf 110F Models

Then followed the Bf 110F production model which incorporated DB 601F series engines of 1,350 horsepower. The extra output power allowed the aircraft to feature additional armor protection for the crew and the airframe was further reinforced. Bf 110F-1 was the fighter-bomber form, Bf 110F-2 was the long-range bomber destroyer, Bf 110F-3 was the reconnaissance mount, and Bf 110F-4 was modified for the night fighter role. In the latter, an antenna array was fitted to the nose and the crew increased to three. When the Bf 110 series began to fail in its original heavy fighter/bomber destroyer roles (especially in daytime sorties) it saw renewed service as a capable night fighter.

Bf 110G Models

The Bf 110G was developed as an improved form to fill the gap caused by the removal from service of the Messerschmitt Me 210 - the Bf 110's intended successor in Luftwaffe service. The G-model incorporated DB 605B series engines of 1,475 horsepower and some fuselage streamlining as well as an increase to the tail rudder's surface area for improved controlling. The canopy was slightly revised for the rear operator and nose armament improved. A G-model prototype first flew in June of 1942. There was no Bf 110G-1 model so production moved to the Bf 110G-2 which fulfilled the roles of fighter-bomber and bomber destroyer and could field aerial rockets to boot. Bf 110G-2/R1 carried the massive 37mm B,K 37 cannon under the fuselage for a truly lethal bomber destroying function. Bf 110G-3 was the reconnaissance form with camera equipment and three-seat Bf 110G-4 evolved into a night fighter with FuG 202/220 series radar system. Optional to the G-4 was the "Schrage Musik" upward-firing cannon armament which could be used against the more vulnerable undersides of enemy bombers.

Bf 110H Models

Bf 110H was only in the design stages before it met with cancellation, becoming the last official Messerschmitt Bf 110 production model to be worked on before the end of the war in 1945. It would have built upon the strengths of the G-model series which is regarded as the best of the Bf 110 line.

Bf 110 Operators

Beyond the German Luftwaffe, operators of the Bf 110 aircraft went on to include wartime allies Italy, Hungary, and Romania. The Independent State of Croatia operated the Bf 110 for a time and the British flew a single captured Bf 110 for evaluation through its 1426 Flight - the "RAFwaffe" - of the Royal Air Force (RAF). Likewise, the Soviets flew an unknown number of captured Bf 110s during the war.

Operational Service

The Bf 110 made its mark from early in the war to the last fighting days - such was its importance to the German cause in the many campaigns of World War 2. Initial operations saw it used to good effect against the Polish defense of September 1939. It was then pressed into service for the conquests of Denmark and Norway. In 1940, the Western Campaign pressed Bf 110s into further actions which help net the Axis the countries of Belgium and France. While effective on the whole during these early operations, the Bf 110 suffered when pressed into the escort role as it fell to more nimble Allied fighters. Losses mounted during the Battle of Britain campaign of 1940 where, on just one day, some 30 Bf 110s were felled by the enemy.

Following the Axis defeat over England, the Bf 110 saw more combat in the skies over the Balkans and, from there, the type was featured in the critical North African campaign as an air support platform for Afrika Corps during 1941. It flew missions around the Mediterranean theater as well as over the Middle East region showcasing the aircraft's ability to operate in a variety of conditions. When Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June of 1941, the Bf 110 was one of the attack aircraft on hand. Its final operational sorties were in the defense of Berlin and in night fighter operations where losses proved terrible for the type.©MilitaryFactory.com
Note: The above text is EXCLUSIVE to the site www.MilitaryFactory.com. It is the product of many hours of research and work made possible with the help of contributors, veterans, insiders, and topic specialists. If you happen upon this text anywhere else on the internet or in print, please let us know at MilitaryFactory AT gmail DOT com so that we may take appropriate action against the offender / offending site and continue to protect this original work.


Service Year

Nazi Germany national flag graphic
Nazi Germany

Not in Service.


National flag of Croatia National flag of modern Germany National flag of Nazi Germany National flag of Hungary National flag of Italy National flag of the Kingdom of Italy National flag of Romania National flag of the Soviet Union National flag of the United Kingdom Croatia; Nazi Germany; Hungary; Kingdom of Italy; Romania; Soviet Union (captured); United Kingdom (single example)
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Air-to-Air Combat, Fighter
General ability to actively engage other aircraft of similar form and function, typically through guns, missiles, and/or aerial rockets.
Ground Attack (Bombing, Strafing)
Ability to conduct aerial bombing of ground targets by way of (but not limited to) guns, bombs, missiles, rockets, and the like.
Close-Air Support (CAS)
Developed to operate in close proximity to active ground elements by way of a broad array of air-to-ground ordnance and munitions options.
Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR), Scout
Surveil ground targets / target areas to assess environmental threat levels, enemy strength, or enemy movement.

42.8 ft
(13.05 m)
53.3 ft
(16.25 m)
13.7 ft
(4.18 m)
Empty Wgt
11,222 lb
(5,090 kg)
21,804 lb
(9,890 kg)
Wgt Diff
+10,582 lb
(+4,800 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the Messerschmitt Bf 110G/R3 production variant)
Installed: 2 x Daimler-Benz DB 601B-1 inverted V-12 piston engines developing 1,474 horsepower driving three-bladed propeller units.
Max Speed
342 mph
(550 kph | 297 kts)
26,247 ft
(8,000 m | 5 mi)
1,305 mi
(2,100 km | 3,889 nm)
2,170 ft/min
(661 m/min)

♦ MACH Regime (Sonic)
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030

(Showcased performance specifications pertain to the Messerschmitt Bf 110G/R3 production variant. Performance specifications showcased above are subject to environmental factors as well as aircraft configuration. Estimates are made when Real Data not available. Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database or View aircraft by powerplant type)
2 x 30mm automatic cannons in nose section.
2 x 20mm automatic cannons in nose section.
2 x 7.92mm machine guns in rear cockpit (trainable, rear-facing mounting).

OPTIONAL (Fighter-Bomber Versions):
Up to 4,410 lb of conventional drop bombs carried.

Supported Types

Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft automatic cannon
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition

(Not all ordnance types may be represented in the showcase above)
Hardpoint Mountings: 2

Bf 110 - Base Series Designation
Bf 110A - Prototype models; 2 x Junkers Jumo 210 series engines fitted.
Bf 110A-0 - Four preproduction aircarft in Bf 110A mold
Bf 110B - Limited production model based on A-0 form
Bf 110B-0 - Preproduction B-models
Bf 110B-1 - Heavy fighter; 4 x 7.92mm machine guns with 2 x 20mm MG FF cannons in nose.
Bf 110B-2 - Reconnaissance model replacing 20mm cannon armament with camera equipment.
Bf 110B-3 - Trainer model; replacing 20mm cannon armament with radio set.
Bf 110C - Initial major production model; now fitted with DB 601 series engines.
Bf 110C-0 - Preproduction models
Bf 110C-1 - Production model based on C-0
Bf 110C-2 - FuG 10 radio kit installed
Bf 110C-3 - Bomber destroyer model; 2 x 20mm MG FF/M cannons replacing original 20mm set.
Bf 110C-4 - Improved cockpit armoring
Bf 110C-4/B - Fighter-bomber; bomb racks added for 550lb bombs; DB 601Ba engines installed.
Bf 110C-5 - Reconnaissance model; Rb 50/30 camera set replacing 20mm armament; DB 601P engines used.
Bf 110C-6 - Experimental model; fitting 1 x 30mm MK 101 cannon under the fuselage; DB 601P engines used.
Bf 110C-7 - Fighter-bomber; centerline bombracks for 1,100lb bombs; DB 601P engines used.
Bf 110D - Extended range heavy fighter / fighter bomber model; support for external fuel tanks.
Bf 110D-0 - Preproduction form
Bf 110D-1 - Underfuselage fuel tank and underwing drop tanks.
Bf 110D-1/R1 - Base long-range model
Bf 110D-1/R2 - Belly tank replaced with oil tank
Bf 110D-2 - Centerline bomb racks for 1,100lb bombs and wing-mounted fuel drop tanks.
Bf 110D-3 - Extended tail unit for storage of deployable dinghy for at-sea rescue service; optional underwing fuel tanks; optional support for bomb racks.
Bf 110D-4 - Reconnaissance model with Rb 50/30 camera in place of 20mm cannon armament.
Bf 110E - Fighter-Bomber with reinforced airframe; increased bomb load-carrying capacity.
Bf 110E-1 - DB 601P series engines
Bf 110E-2 - Extended rear fuselage for dinghy carrying
Bf 110E-3 - Reconnaissance model; Rb 50/30 camera set replacing 20mm guns.
Bf 110F - Reinforced airframe with improved cockpit armoring; DB 601F engines of 1,350 horsepower.
Bf 110F-1 - Fighter-Bomber form
Bf 110F-2 - Bomber Destroyer model
Bf 110F-3 - Reconnaissance model
Fb 110F-4 - Night Fighter variant; three crew with onboard radar.
Bf 110G - Improved model; DB 605B engines of 1,475 horsepower; tail fin with increased surface area.
Bf 110G-2 - Multi-role form; aerial rocket support
Bf 110G-2/R1 - Fitting 1 x 37mm BK 3,7 cannon under the fuselage for bomber interception role.
Bf 110G-3 - Reconnaissance model
Bf 110G-4 - Night-fighter with FuG 202/220 radar set; three-person crew; support for upward firing cannon kit in bomber interception role.
Bf 110H - Final Bf 110 form; cancelled while still in design stages.

General Assessment
Values are derrived from a variety of categories related to the design, overall function, and historical influence of this aircraft in aviation history.
Overall Rating
The overall rating takes into account over 60 individual factors related to this aircraft entry.
Rating is out of a possible 100 points.
Relative Maximum Speed
Hi: 400mph
Lo: 200mph
This entry's maximum listed speed (342mph).

Graph average of 300 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
Messerschmitt Bf 110G/R3 operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
Max Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Design Balance
The three qualities reflected above are altitude, speed, and range.
Aviation Era Span
Pie graph section
Showcasing era cross-over of this aircraft design.
Unit Production (6,170)
Compared against Ilyushin IL-2 (military) and Cessna 172 (civilian).

Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for pioneering aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Ukranian-Russian War
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur War
Military lapel ribbon for experimental x-plane aircraft

Ribbon graphics not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective aerial campaigns / operations / aviation periods.

Images Gallery

1 / 7
Image of the Messerschmitt Bf 110 Zerstorer (Destroyer)
Image copyright www.MilitaryFactory.com; No Reproduction Permitted.
2 / 7
Image of the Messerschmitt Bf 110 Zerstorer (Destroyer)
Image copyright www.MilitaryFactory.com; No Reproduction Permitted.
3 / 7
Image of the Messerschmitt Bf 110 Zerstorer (Destroyer)
Image copyright www.MilitaryFactory.com; No Reproduction Permitted.
4 / 7
Image of the Messerschmitt Bf 110 Zerstorer (Destroyer)
Image copyright www.MilitaryFactory.com; No Reproduction Permitted.
5 / 7
Image of the Messerschmitt Bf 110 Zerstorer (Destroyer)
Image from the German Federal Archives.
6 / 7
Image of the Messerschmitt Bf 110 Zerstorer (Destroyer)
Image from the German Federal Archives.
7 / 7
Image of the Messerschmitt Bf 110 Zerstorer (Destroyer)
Image from the German Federal Archives.

Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Cookies

2024 Military Pay Chart Military Ranks DoD Dictionary Conversion Calculators Military Alphabet Code Military Map Symbols

The "Military Factory" name and MilitaryFactory.com logo are registered ® U.S. trademarks protected by all applicable domestic and international intellectual property laws. All written content, illustrations, and photography are unique to this website (unless where indicated) and not for reuse/reproduction in any form. Material presented throughout this website is for historical and entertainment value only and should not to be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation. We do not sell any of the items showcased on this site. Please direct all other inquiries to militaryfactory AT gmail.com. No A.I. was used in the generation of this content; site is 100% curated by humans.

Part of a network of sites that includes GlobalFirepower, a data-driven property used in ranking the top military powers of the world, WDMMA.org (World Directory of Modern Military Aircraft), WDMMW.org (World Directory of Modern Military Warships), SR71blackbird.org, detailing the history of the world's most iconic spyplane, and MilitaryRibbons.info, cataloguing military medals and ribbons. Special Interest: RailRoad Junction, the locomotive encyclopedia.

©2023 www.MilitaryFactory.com • All Rights Reserved • Content ©2003-2023 (20yrs)