Aviation Archive Issue 25 - 2016 UK

(Jacob Rumans) #1


Messerschmitt Bf 110C

Type: Twin-engined
monoplane fighter/
Accommodation: Two-/three-man crew
Length: 39ft 8.5in (12.10m)
Wingspan: 53ft 4.75in (16.27m)
Height: 11ft 6in (3.50m)
Empty: 9,920lb (4500kg)
Normal loaded: 15,300lb (6940kg)
Max Speed: 349mph (561kmh)
Range: 565 miles (909km)
Powerplants: 2 x Daimler-Benz DB
601A-1 engines of
2,200hp (1640kW)
in total
Armament: 2 x 20mm cannon and
4 x 7.9mm machine
guns in nose cowling,
7.9mm machine gun
in rear cockpit; C-4/B
fighter-bomber variant,
maximum load of
1,102lb (500kg) bombs
carried externally; C-7,
maximum load of 2,205lb
(1,000kg) bombs

Below: A common occurrence during the Battle
of Britain, a gun camera sequence records the
instant that a Bf 110 erupts in a ball of fire as an
RAF fighter hits its mark.

to flee from their attackers, the Bf 110 suffered
terrible losses against Spitfires and Hurricanes.
However, a shortage of Bf 109s, coupled with
their inadequate range, meant the Bf 110s
struggled on.
Eventually the improved Bf 110D was
produced both as a fighter and fighter-bomber,
but by mid-1941 most were only operational in
the Middle East or on the Eastern Front. In the
latter campaign, the Bf 110 rendered valuable
support to the German Army by carrying out

strike missions in the face of very heavy anti-
aircraft artillery defences. A huge number of
ground kills were achieved by Bf 110 pilots,
Oberleutnant Johannes Kiel alone was credited
with 62 aircraft destroyed on the ground, plus
nine tanks and 20 artillery pieces.
Eventually withdrawn from daylight fighting,
the Bf 110 enjoyed later success as a night
fighter, where its range and firepower stood
it in good stead for the remainder of the
war. Indeed, the Bf 110G would become the
backbone of the Nachtjagdgeschwader, the
airframe allowing for a powerful radar to be
installed, together with a dedicated operator.
Often armed with the surprisingly effective
Schräge Musik upward-firing twin autocannon
offensive armament, the Bf 110 and its pilots
went on to achieve great success,
such as Luftwaffe night fighter ace Heinz-
Wolfgang Schnaufer who became the highest
scorer in the Defence of the Reich campaign,
ending the war with 121 aerial victories,
virtually all of them achieved while flying
examples of the Bf 110.
The Bf 110H was the last model of the type
and when the final example rolled off the
production lines in early 1945, an estimated
6,150 had been built in all versions. Göring’s
faith in the Bf 110 would appear to have been
at last vindicated.
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