Aeroplane Aviation Archive — Issue 33 The World’s Fastest Aircraft

(Jacob Rumans) #1



n the years between 1935, when Germany
 rst revealed formation of the Luftwa e,
and the outbreak of World War 2, Adolf
Hitler was most anxious to impress upon the
world the capability of the  ghter aircraft
that equipped his new air force. This resulted
in the design of the Messerschmitt Me 209
to be used to establish a new absolute world
speed record.
Tasked with producing the world’s fastest
aircraft, Willy Messerschmitt designed a
compact aircraft which bore only a super cial
resemblance to the Bf 109. The Me 209 was
tailored around a specially-built Daimler-Benz
DB601ARJ engine with a take-o rating of
1,800hp, which could be boosted to 2,300hp
for very short periods. It had a cockpit placed
far back along the fuselage just in front of
its unique cross-shaped tail section. Unlike
the Bf 109, the Me 209 featured a wide track,
inwardly-retracting undercarriage mounted in
the wing section. The aircraft was completed
in June 1938 and  rst  ew on 1 August 1938.

Messerschmitt Me 209

However, on 30 March 1939 Hans Dieterle  ew
a Heinkel He 100 V8 at a speed of 463.92mph to
break the then existing absolute speed record
set  ve years earlier by Italian pilot Francesco
Agello in a Macchi M.C. 72. Dieterle’s glory was
to be short-lived when test pilot Fritz Wendel
 ew the  rst specially-prepared prototype
Me 209 on 26 April 1939 at an average speed
of 469.22 mph. At this point the German
propaganda ministry stepped in, details for
rati cation submitted to the FAI identifying the
record breaking aircraft as the Messerschmitt
Me 109R in an attempt to convince other
nations that the record had been gained by a
variant of the Luftwa e’s new  ghter.
The Me 209 V1’s speed record was itself
shattered in terms of absolute speed,

Messerschmitt Me 209
Max speed: 469mph (755km/h)
Engine: 1 x Daimler-Benz DB 601
ARJ inverted V-12 liquid-
cooled piston engine
Power: 1,775hp
Wingspan: 25ft 7in (7.8m)
Length: 23ft 9in (7.24m)
Height: 10ft 6in (3.2m)

The need for speed
For 30 years, the world’s fastest piston-engined aircraft was held by the stocky Messerschmitt
Me 209 V1 which set the absolute world speed record of 469.22 mph on 26 April 1939,  own
by Flugkapitan Fritz Wendel. This record was not o cially broken by another piston-engined
Below: The Messerschmitt Me 209 bore only a aircraft until 16 August 1969 by a highly modi ed F8F Bearcat.
passing similarity to its illustrious forebear.

18 months later by Heini Dittmar,  ying another
Messerschmitt aircraft design, the Me 163A V4
rocket  ghter prototype. However, the Me 209
o cially remained the fastest piston-engined
aircraft for another remarkable 30 years.
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