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Messerschmitt Bf 110


The Bf 110 originated from a Reichsluftfahrtministerium requirement of 1934 for a long-range escort fighter or heavily armed Zerstorer (destroyer). With a cantilever low-wing monoplane configuration, this two-seat fighter had an oval-section fuselage, long glazed canopy, high-mounted tailplane with endplate fins and rudders, retractable landing gear, and power plant was two Daimler-Benz DB 600 in-line engines.

The first prototype, the Bf 110 V1 powered by two 910 hp Daimler-Benz DB 600A engines, was flown for the first time on 25 May 1936 at Augsburg-Haunstetten by Dr-Ing Hermann Wurster. During an early test phase a speed of 314mph / 505 kph was clocked in level flight at 10,830 ft / 3300 m at a loaded weight of 11,025 lb / 5000 kg. For a relatively large, twin-engined aircraft it proved very agile and, in mock combat with a pre-series single-seat Bf 109B flown by Ernst Udet, the newly appointed Inspector of Fighter Pilots repeatedly failed to keep his larger opponent in his gun sight for sufficient time to render a hit likely, and experienced some difficulty in staying with the twin-engined fighter in steep turns.


Bf 110 V-1 – the first prototype


In January 1937, as a result of evaluation of a second prototype, the Bf 110 V2, at the Rechlin Erprobungsstelle, instructions were given that Messerschmitt should commence preparations for a pre-production series of aircraft. The proposed series model, the Bf 110A, was to be powered by a pair of DB 600Aa carburettor-equipped engines of 986 hp for take-off. By the time that the pre-series Bf 110A airframes had attained an advanced stage of construction the DB 600 engine was considered basically unsuited for fighter installation and was already being already phased out of production in favour of the direct-fuel-injection DB 601. The Reichsluftahrt-ministerium confidently expected that the DB 601 would be available by the Spring of 1938, when deliveries of the Bf 110 to the schweren (heavy) Jagdgruppen were expected to commence. Accordingly, instructions were issued to curtail the Bf 110A series, adapting the four airframes that had reached an advanced stage in assembly to take Junkers Jumo 210Da engines of 680 hp for take-off.

As it became obvious predictions for DB 601A engine delivery could not be met, the decision was taken to build an interim model, the Bf 110B with direct-injection two-stage supercharged Jumo 210Ga engines. While it was considered that the Bf 110B would possess an inadequate performance for combat purposes, it was seen as an ideal tool for equipment and armament evaluation, and the development of operational techniques.



It was issued during late 1938 to I (Schweren Jagdruppe)/LG 1 of the Lehrdivision, or Instructional division, to formulate tactics and techniques. In January 1939 this Gruppe was to become I(Z)/LG 1 with the Zerstörer.
With the DB 601A engine, the Messerschmitt Zerstörer became the Bf 110C, a pre-series of 10 being delivered to the Luftwaffe early in January 1939, and acceptances of the initial production Bf 110C-1 by I(Z)/LG 1 began before the end of that month. Production of the Bf 110C-1 increased rapidly and by the early summer of 1939 Focke-Wulf and Gothaer Waggonfabrik had tooled up to supplement the output of Messerschmitt’s Ausburg-Haunstetten factory, and the MIAG at Braunschweig was preparing to phase into the programme.
By 31 August 1939 a total of 159 Bf 110C fighters had been accepted, although the Quartermaster-General’s strength returns for that date indicated that only 68 of these, plus 27 Bf 110Bs, had actually been taken into the inventory. Three Zerstörergruppen were to be included in the Order of Battle against Poland.
Output of the Bf 110C had risen to more than 30 per month, and another 156 were delivered during the first four months of hostilities when production rates rose. The average monthly production during 1940 was 102.6 aircraft.
Early operational experience had resulted in the successive introduction of the Bf 110C-2, differing solely in having FuG 10 HF radio in place of the original FuG 3aU R/T and the Bf 110C-3 which differed in having improved MG FF cannon. These now gave place to the Bf 110C-4 in which some attempt was to provide nominal armour protection for pilot and gunner, normal loaded weight rising 490 lb / 333 kg over that of the Bf 110C-1 to 13,779 lb / 6250 kg. Further escalation in weight resulted from a demand for adaptation of the aircraft for to Jagd-bomber (Jabo) mission, two ETC 250 racks being introduced beneath the fuselage centre section for a pair of 551 lb / 250 kg bombs.
The substantially increased overload weight necessitated more power for take-off and emergency use, and the Jabo Bf 110C-4/B was fitted with DB 601N engines which with increased compression and 96 octane fuel, had a maximum take-off output of 1200 hp with full boost for one minute.
Issued to the Erprobungsgruppe 210, the Bf 110C-4/B fighter-bombers of two staffeln of this unit were to operate throughout the ensuing Battle singly and in small groups.
The Bf 110C escorted the bomber units that devastated Poland at the beginning of World War II, and just before Christmas 1939, Bf 109 and 110 destroyed 12 of a force of 22 Wellingtons which were making a reconnaissance of Heligoland Bight.
A parallel development was the Bf 110C-5 which had a single Rb 50/30 reconnaissance camera in the cockpit floor, forward-firing armament being restricted to the quartet of machine guns. This sub-type was to reach the Aufklärungstaffeln, or reconnaissance squadrons, in time to participate in the Battle, initially in mixed units with the Do 17P and Do 17Z.
On 20 July 1940 a total of 278 Bf 110s were available to Luftflotten 2, 4 and 5, and of these 200 were serviceable.




Bf 110C and longer-range Bf 110D were launched against Britain in the summer of 1940, but even before the Battle of Britain had reached a peak, it was clear that the Bf 110 was no match for the RAF's manoeuvrable single-seat fighters. Indeed it was so vulnerable that this 'escort' fighter was unable to operate in British airspace by daylight unless it was itself escorted.
The Bf 110D-0 was the pre-series of the Dackelbauch (Dachsund-belly) equipped version.
Bf 110D-0
The Bf 110D-1 was a so-called langstrecken, or long-distance, Zestörer with a 264 ImpG / 1200 lt auxiliaet fuel tank made of plywood and dubbed a Dackelbauch (Dachsund-belly). It was found to ‘hang up’ under extremely low temperatures after its fuel had been exhausted, the fumes remaining in the tank tending to explode.
The Dackelbauch (Dachsund-belly) suffered disastrously on 15 August when flow by I/ZG 76. One-third of 21 participating aircraft were lost.


Bf 110C


Despite its failure in this role, the Bf 110 was to prove a most valuable and successful night fighter until more advanced aircraft entered the scene in the latter stages of the war. Bf 110E with DB 601N engines and Bf 110F with DB 601E engines formed the nucleus of such operations. Considerable success was gained by these aircraft in conjunction with Wiirzburg radar, the pilots being directed by ground controllers into an interception position.


The three-seat night-fighter Bf 110F was followed into production by a series of Bf 110G with DB 605B engines, the early versions serving as fighter bombers. However the four-seat Bf 110G-4a, -4b, -4c, and -4d variants were provided with differing airborne radar installations for operation as night fighters. Final production version was the Bf 110H, generally similar to the Bf 110G but equipped with heavier armament. It is worth recording a significant factor in favour of the Bf 110, so often dismissed as a complete failure. During early 1944 almost 60% of the entire German night-fighter force was composed of variants of the Bf 110.


Otto Fries’s Me 110 at St Trond, Belgium, 1943


Bf 110G of III/ZG.26 Summer 1943 at Plantlȕnne with twin
wing-mountedDoppelrohr BR 21 motar rocket launchers.


A total of 6,050 of these aircraft was built before production ended in March 1945.




Bf 110C-1
Engines: 2 x DB 601A-1, 1050 hp
Armament: 2 x 20mm MG FF cannon, 180 rds / 4 x 7.9mm MG 17 mg, 1000 rds / 1 x 7.9mm MG 15, 750 rds
Max speed SL: 295 mph / 475 kph
Max speed 19,685ft / 6000m: 335 mph / 540 kph
High cruise SL: 262 mph / 422 kph
High cruise 16,400ft / 5000m: 304 mph / 490 kph
Economic cruise 13,780ft / 4200m: 217 mph / 350 kph
Range at Econ cruise: 680 mi / 1095 kph
Fuel, drop tanks: 121 Imp.Gal / 550 lt
Max range, max fuel: 876 mi / 1410 km


Engines: 2 x Daimler Benz DB601A

Engines: 2 x Daimler Benz DB601F.


Bf 110F-4a
Engines: 2 x Daimler-Benz DB601F, 1350 hp
Wingspan: 53 ft 4.75 in
Length: 39 ft 8.5 in
Height: 11 ft 6 in
Empty weight: 11,577 lb
Combat weight: 14,884 lb
External fuel: 66 Imp.Gal standard
Max speed: 311 mph at 14,760 ft
Cruise: 278 mph at SL
Service ceiling: 35,760 ft
Range: 745 mi
Armament: 2 x 20mm MG FF cannon / 5 x 7.9mm MG 17 machine guns
Radar: FuG Lichtenstein BC


Me 110 G Zerstörer
Engines: 2 x Daimler Benz DB 605 B-1, 1455 hp
Length: 42.815 ft / 13.05 m
Height: 13.714 ft / 4.18 m
Wingspan: 53.314 ft / 16.25 m
Wing area: 413.338 sq.ft / 38.400 sq.m
Max take off weight: 20705.0 lb / 9390.0 kg
Weight empty: 11232.3 lb / 5094.0 kg
Max. speed: 297 kts / 550 km/h
Landing speed: 81 kts / 150 km/h
Cruising speed: 275 kts / 510 km/h
Service ceiling: 26247 ft / 8000 m
Cruising altitude: 19619 ft / 5980 m
Wing loading: 50.23 lb/sq.ft / 245.0 kg/sq.m
Range: 486 nm / 900 km
Max range: 1305 miles
Crew: 3
Armament: 4x MG 151/20. 1x MG 81 Z

Bf 110G-2
Engines: 2 x DB-605, 1065kW
Max take-off weight: 7100 kg / 15653 lb
Empty weight: 5600 kg / 12346 lb
Wingspan: 16.2 m / 53 ft 2 in
Length: 12.3 m / 40 ft 4 in
Height: 4.1 m / 13 ft 5 in
Wing area: 38.5 sq.m / 414.41 sq ft
Max. speed: 595 km/h / 370 mph
Cruise speed: 450 km/h / 280 mph
Ceiling: 10000 m / 32800 ft
Range: 1200 km / 746 miles
Armament: 4 machine-guns, 5 cannons
Crew: 2

Bf 110G-4d/R3
Engines: 2 x Daimler-Benz DB605B-1, 1475 hp
Wingspan: 53 ft 4.75 in
Length: 41 ft 6/75 in
Height: 13 ft 1.5 in
Empty weight: 11,245 lb
Combat weight: 20,727 lb
Max speed: 342 mph at 22,967 ft
Cruise: 317 mph at 19,685 ft
Service ceiling: 26,248 ft
Range: 1305 mi
Armament: 2 x 30mm MK 108 cannon / 2 x 20mm MG 151 cannon / 2 x 7.9mm machine guns
Radar: FuG 220b Lichtenstein SN-2 and FuG 227/1 Flensburg

Messerschmitt Bf 110



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