Messerschmitt Bf 109 operational history

The Messerschmitt Bf 109 was a German World War II fighter aircraft designed by Willy Messerschmitt and Robert Lusser during the early to mid 1930s. It was one of the first true modern fighters of the era, including such features as all-metal monocoque construction, a closed canopy, a retractable landing gear, and was powered by a liquid-cooled, inverted-V12 aero engine.

The Bf 109 saw active service in many air forces and was active in several conflicts outside of World War II.

Contents

Combat Service in the Spanish Civil War

Dozens of Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighters, including the A, B, C, D, and E variants first saw active service in the Condor Legion against Soviet-supplied aircraft in mid 1937 as a testing ground for the new German fixed-wing fighter plane. The Bf 109 quickly replaced the Heinkel He 51 biplane fighter which suffered many losses during the first 12 months of the conflict. Of the Luftwaffe's Jagdgruppen, 136 Bf 109s were sent to Spain, and 47 of these, including Bf 109Bs, Ds and Es remained behind in service with the Spanish Air Force after the conclusion of the war in 1939. The Republican fighters were no match for the Bf 109, equipped mostly with Soviet built Polikarpov I-15 and Polikarpov I-16s the Republican forces suffered heavy losses to Nationalist and Condor Legion fighters. As many as 20 Bf 109s were lost in Spain to enemy action to both aerial combat and ground fire.

Combat Service with the Luftwaffe

The Bf 109 was credited with more aerial kills than any other aircraft. One hundred and five (possibly 109) Bf 109 pilots were credited with the destruction of 100 or more enemy aircraft. Thirteen of these men scored more than 200 kills, while two scored more than 300. Altogether this group were credited with nearly 15,000 kills between them.[1] Official ace status was granted to any pilot who scored five or more kills. Applying this to Luftwaffe fighter pilots and their records reveals that "Ace" status belonged to more than 2,500 German pilots.[2] The majority of Bf 109 pilots scored their kills against the Soviets, however five pilots did record over 100 claims against the Western Allies. Luftwaffe records show that during Operation Barbarossa, German pilots claimed 7,355 kills on the Bf 109, between the seven Jagdgeschwader (JG 3, JG 27, JG 51, JG 53, JG 54, JG 77, and LG 2) for exactly 350 losses in aerial combat, a ratio of just over 21:1, and the highest achieved by the Germans on the Eastern Front.[3][4]During the latter part of the war, the Bf 109 was the selected aircraft that was used in the Rammkommando ELBE because of its lighter weight compared to the Fw 190.[5]

Between January and October 1942, a further 18 German pilots joined the select group that had now reached 100 kills over the Eastern Front. During this period Bf 109 pilots claimed 12,000 Soviet aircraft destroyed.[6][7]

The Bf 109 in the Battle of Britain

Arguably the most well known of all Bf 109 operations was the contest of air superiority between the Royal Air Force and the Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain in the summer of 1940. The E-1 and E-4 variants bore the brunt of the battle. On 31 August 1940, fighter units (excluding JG 77) reported 375 E-1s, 125 E-3s, 339 E-4s and 32 E-7s on strength, indicating that most of the E-3s had been already converted to E-4 standard.[8] By July, one Gruppe (Wing) of JG 26 was equipped with the Bf 109 E-4/N model of improved performance, powered by the new DB 601N engine using 100 octane aviation fuel.[9]

The fuel-injected DB 601 proved most useful against the British Supermarine Spitfire and Hawker Hurricane, as the British fighters used gravity-fed carburetted engines, which would cut-out under negative g-forces whereas the DB 601 did not. The Bf 109s thus had the initial advantage in dives, either during attack or to escape. Another difference was the choice of fighter armament: the RAF's Hurricanes and Spitfires in the main used eight 7.7 mm (.303 in) machine guns. Most Bf 109E variants (E-3, E-4, E-7) carried two 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 17s and two 20 mm MG FF cannon. The latter fired mixed types of ammunition, including Minengeschoß type high-capacity explosive shells which were highly destructive, but had different ballistic properties to the MG 17s. The MG FFs had a relatively small ammunition supply compared to the machineguns, each being fed by a 60-round capacity drum magazine. Making up about one-third of the Bf 109Es in the Battle, the E-1s, carried an all-machinegun armament of four 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 17 machineguns, but were provided with a total of 4,000 rounds.

British pilots who tested a captured Bf 109 E-3 liked the engine and throttle response, the docile and responsive handling and stall characteristics at low speeds, but criticised the high-speed handling characteristics, poorer turning circle, and great control forces required at speed.[10][11] In August 1940, comparative trials were held at the E'Stelle Rechlin, with the leading Luftwaffe ace Werner Mölders being one of the participants. The tests concluded that the Bf 109 had superior level and climb speed to the Spitfire and Hurricane at all altitudes, but also noted the significantly smaller turning circle of the British fighters. It was advised not to engage in turning dogfights unless the performance advantage of the Bf 109 could be used to full effect. The roll rate of the Bf 109 was deemed superior as was its stability on target approach. Mölders himself called the Spitfire "miserable as a fighting aircraft", due to its two-pitch propeller and the inability of its carburettor to handle negative g-forces. It should be noted, however, that in the political climate of the times there was often a considerable amount of propaganda written into such reports by both sides[12] or the information quickly become outdated; for example, as a result of a crash programme, all Spitfires and Hurricanes were retrofitted with constant-speed propellers by 16 August 1940.[13]

During the Battle of Britain, the Bf 109's chief disadvantage was its short range: like most of the 1930s monoplane interceptors, it was designed to engage enemy bombers over friendly territory, and the range and endurance necessary for escorting long-ranged bombers over enemy territory was not required. During the Battle, when escorting bombers from their bases in northern France, The Netherlands and Germany, the Messerschmitt had only around 15 minutes of fuel for combat over southern England before having to turn back. The Spitfire and Hurricane, designed with similar operational requirements in mind, had a tactical advantage as they were operating virtually over their home airfields, and thus being able to remain longer in the combat area.

Combat service with Italy

Regia Aeronautica (1942–1943)

From November 1942 to April 1943, the Regia Aeronautica received only 160 new bombers and 758 new fighters from their own production lines. For this reason, the Italian Air Force decided to use German aircraft. General Kesselring accepted a first batch of about 30 Bf 109s that were assigned to 150° and 3° Gruppo. The first unit under command of Maggiore Antonio Vizzotto was ready to operate in April moving to Caltagirone airfield, then on Sciacca's, in Sicily. Just before the Allies landed in Sicily, the 150° Gruppo (363ª, 364ª, 365ª Squadriglia) had 25 Bf 109s operative, while 17 other Bf 109s were with 3° Gruppo (153ª, 154ª, 155ª Squadriglia) on Comiso airfield, in Sicily. Most of them were destroyed by Allied bombers. On 12 July, the fourth day of combat, the two Gruppos had lost nearly all the aircraft. By mid-July, the 150° Gruppo was deployed to Ciampino airfield, just outside Rome with the last three remaining Bf 109s arriving from Sicily. Meanwhile, 23° Gruppo (70ª, 74ª, 75ª Squadriglia) of 3° Stormo, on Cerveteri airfield, in Latium, received 11 Bf 109Gs. By 8 September, when Italy signed the Armistice of Cassibile, only four Bf 109s remained servicable, based on Ciampino airstrip, with 150 Gruppo.[14]

ANR (1943–1945)

The Aeronautica Nazionale Repubblicana (ANR) was the airforce deployed by the Repubblica Sociale Italiana (RSI). Although the ANR was organised by the RSI, much of its operational control came from the Luftwaffe. At first, the ANR fighter units (I° Gruppo Caccia and II° Gruppo Caccia[16]) used Macchi C.205s and Fiat G.55s respectively. Notwithstanding the G.55s gave a good account of themselves against Allied fighters like the Spitfire and Mustang [17] the Luftwaffe's Jagdfliegerführer (Fighter Controller or Jafü), considering that many of the unit's pilots had experience flying the Bf 109Gs of the Regia Aeronautica over Sicily, directed that the Fiat G.55s of II°Gr.C would be replaced by Bf 109Gs. Ex-JG 4 Bf 109 G-6 aircraft started arriving at Cascina Vaga on 29 May, and two G-12 trainers were delivered two weeks later. By 22 June, the unit was ready for its first operations.[18]

The unit's first operation with the Bf 109 occurred on 22 June 1944; eleven Bf 109s sortied from the airfield, although nothing was achieved.

I°Gr.C continued to use a combination of Macchi 205s and Fiat G.55s although, for various reasons,[19] the unit rarely operated from August 1944 through to December, when the first Bf 109 G-12 trainer arrived. Still in December, the remaining 17 pilots of I° Gruppo were moved to Rangsdorf, in Berlin, to start a training course on Me 163 rocket fighter. [20] In November 1944, I°Gr.C was transferred to the Luftwaffe flying school at Holzkirchen in Germany to convert to the Messerschmitts.[20] At the beginning of February, 57 of I° Gruppo's pilots were ready for operations with the Me 109; 51 (52, according to other sources [20]) G-6s, G-10s and K-4s, most of which came directly from Germany, were available at the end of the month. The fighters were placed on the heath between Lonate Pozzolo and Malpensa airfields, and carefully camouflaged to protect them from Allied air raids. The first combat operation occurred on 14 March 1945. I° Gruppo attempted to intercept B-25 Mitchells of the 321st Bomb Group near Lake Garda but, in turn, were bounced by P-47 Thunderbolts of the 350th Fighter Group. 1° Gruppo had three pilots dead, one wounded, three aircraft lost and six damaged; in return one P-47 was claimed by the Commander Adriano Visconti.

The other ANR fighter unit, II° Gruppo, that had given at the end of May 1944 its G.55s to I° Gruppo, had been re-equipped with 46 ex I./JG 53 and II./JG 77 Bf 109 G-6. [21] On 22 June 1944, it took off on its first operational flight with its Messerschmitts and three days later it shot down two P-47s from the Gaullist French G.C.II/3. At this stage, Luftwaffe ordered ANR pilots to operate outside Italian borders. For instance, on 25 July, 18 Bf 109Gs fron 2° Gruppo were ordered to move to Tulln, in Austria. Here they were subordinated to JG 53. They operated together with German pilots against an Allied bomber raid. During this combined mission eight B-24 Liberators were shot down. [22]

On 2 April 1945, II° Gruppo 29 Bf 109s, from Aviano and Osoppo bases, intercepted a large formation of B-25s over Ghedi, Brescia, escorted by P-47Ds of 347 Fighter Squadron. In the air battle that ensued, ANR pilots suffered a heavy defeat: 14 Bf 109s were shot down and six Italian pilots killed, without scoring a single air victory.[23] On 10 April, three Bf 109s, flown by Sottotenente (Flying Officer) Umberto Gallori, Maresciallo (Warrant Officer) Mario Veronesi and Maresciallo Dino Forlani, intercepted P-47s from 57° Fighter Squadron over Milan and Como. Forlani claimed a P-47 damaged, but the other two Italian fighters were hit and lightly damaged. On 19 April, 1° Gruppo "Asso di bastoni" had its last combat, last claim and its last loss.[24]

Combat service with Hungary

In October 1942, the Luftwaffe agreed to partially re-arm Royal Hungarian Air Force fighter units with the Bf 109. Subordinated to the German Jagdgeschwader 52 on the Eastern Front, the first Hungarian fighter unit to convert to the Bf 109 F-4 was the RHAF's 1./1. vadászszázad (fighter squadron). After brief training on the type, zászlós (ensign) Lukács Ottó flew the first combat sorties on 15 October 1942. The unit was mainly engaged in fighter-bomber and strafing attacks until 16 December 1942, when főhadnagy (Lieutenant) György Bánlaky and hadnagy (Second Lieutenant) Imre Pánczél shot down four Ilyushin Il-2s; the first victims of the RHAF's 109s. Several other fighter units converted to the 109F and later G models during the course of 1943 and were heavily engaged in combat on the Eastern Front.[25]

By late 1943 the RHAF realized the locally produced but obsolete Reggiane Re.2000 Héja fighters were not up to the task, and began to equip fighter squadrons in the Home Air Defense with Bf 109s. During April and May 1944, the new Bf 109Gs were concentrated into the 101. Honi Légvédelmi Vadászrepülő Osztály (101st Home Air Defence Fighter Wing). The Hungarian Messerschmitt factory at Győr produced many of these under licence. The unit, commanded by the experienced Eastern Front veteran őrnagy (major) Heppes Aladár, was also known as the Red Pumas after its insignia.[26] During 'The American Season', between May and August 1944, the 101. had claimed 15 P-51s, 33 P-38s and 56 four-engine bombers.[27] But Hungarian losses were high too: 18 fighter pilots lost their lives. [28] The heaviest losses occurred on 7 August 1944, when 18 Bf 109s from 101 Fighter Group, escorting Luftwaffe Bf 109 G-6s, armed with additional cannons in underwing gondolas, took off to intercept 357 four-engined American bombers, escorted by 117 fighters. The Messerschmitts were intercepted by the escorting P-51 Mustangs that shot down eight Hungarians and at least nine Germans Bf 109s, losing just two of their number. Among the killed "Pumas" was Lt László Molnár Lukács, the top scoring Hungarian pilots to date, with 25 kills (including seven American aircraft).[29] By November 1944 the 101. was re-organized into a fighter regiment, and was re-equipped with the latest Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-10 and G-14 types. At the end of December the pilots received new Bf 109s at Wiener-Neustadt and were subsequently transferred to the Kenyeri airfield. Early in February 101 Fighter Wing received 26 brand new Bf 109 G-10/U4s with the instructions that their engines had to be changed after 30-40 operating hours.[30] However, combat missions against the 15th USAAF came to an end, and the 101st's main adversary in the air became the Red Air Force.[31] The Hungarian pilots were numerically far inferior to the Soviets but they nevertheless attacked. On 9 March eight Bf 109Gs from 101/3 fighter squadron intercepted a formation of 25 Soviet Douglas Boston bombers escorted by 16 Yak-9s and shot down three. Two weeks later eight "Red Pumas" attacked 26 Soviet aircraft south of Lake Balaton and shot down five without a single loss. [32]

At the end of March 1945, the MKHL had to leave Hungary. The "Red Pumas" moved first to Petersdorf, then to Wiener-Neustadt and Tulln, then to Raffelding, in Austria. From there the Hungarian fighters still carried out many reconnaissance flights and attacks on ground targtes. Their losses were dramatically high: in two days, "Red Pumas" lost ten fighters and four pilots. On 17 April 1945, Sen Lt Kiss achieved the last MKHL aerial victory shooting down a Soviet Yakovlev Yak-9. [33] The unit set its last remaining Bf 109s on fire on 4 May 1945 at Raffelding airbase to prevent their falling into the hands of advancing U.S. troops.[34] One example of a Hungarian Bf 109, a G-10/U4 Werknummer 611 943 survives to this day at the Planes of Fame Museum.

Combat service with Finland

The Finnish Air Force received its first Bf 109s in 1943. A total of 162 aircraft of this type were to be purchased and the first aircraft landed in Finland on 13 March 1943. In total, 159 aircraft were taken into service, as two G-6s and one G-8 were destroyed en route to Finland. Forty-eight of these were G-2s, 109 were G-6s and two were G-8s. The Bf 109 is still the aircraft type that has served in the largest numbers in the Finnish Air Force. The aircraft was nicknamed Mersu in popular speech (the same as the nickname for Mercedes-Benz cars, whose parent company Daimler-Benz produced the Bf 109 engine) and carried the designation MT and a 3-digit identification number. With the arrival of the 109s, the Finns once again could fight on a more even basis, as they could match the latest Soviet fighters. The last of the purchased aircraft arrived in Finland on 20 August 1944, just before the armistice with the Soviet Union.[citation needed]

Finnish Bf 109G-2 at Malmi Airport in 1943

During the Continuation War, Bf 109s were in service with fighter squadrons 24, 28, 30 and 34:

Finnish Bf 109G tally:[35]
HLeLv 24 HLeLv 28 HLeLv 30 HLeLv 34
Victories 304 15 3 345
Losses in combat 14 0 2 18

The Finns scored 667 confirmed victories with the type, losing 34 Bf 109s to enemy fighters or anti-aircraft fire. A further 16 were lost in accidents and eight aircraft were destroyed on the ground. Twenty-three pilots were killed.[35]

One hundred and two Bf 109s survived the war, and the aircraft remained the main fighter of the Finnish Air Force for almost a decade after the end of World War II. Despite the aircraft's expected short lifespan (it was built as a wartime aircraft and was calculated to last about 100–200 flight hours), it continued in service until spring 1954 when the FAF entered the Jet Age. The last flight was on 13 March 1954 by Major Erkki Heinilä in aircraft MT-507.

Museum aircraft in Finland

Several Bf 109s are preserved in Finland. MT-452 is on display at the airfield in Utti,[36] and the Central Finland Aviation Museum displays MT-507, which was the last flying Bf 109 of the FAF.[37] The Finnish airplane constructor Valtion Lentokonetehdas also manufactured a fighter, called VL Pyörremyrsky, whose appearance greatly resembled the Bf 109 but which also features some significant improvements, such as significantly easier handling, different wing construction, and re-designed landing gear. One single aircraft was produced before the end of the war; it is today displayed at the Central Finland Aviation Museum. Further, the doctoral thesis by the Finnish aircraft expert Hannu Valtonen is called "Tavallisesta kuriositeetiksi – Kahden Keski-Suomen Ilmailumuseon Messerschmitt Bf 109 -lentokoneen museoarvo" (From regular to a curiosity – The museal value of two Messerschmitt Bf 109s at the Central Finland Aviation Museum).

Combat service with Switzerland

A Bf 109 E-3 of the Swiss Air Force.

Switzerland took delivery of the first of its 115 Bf 109s in 1938 when ten Bf 109Ds were delivered. After this, 80 109 E-3s were purchased which arrived from April 1939 until just before the German invasion of France in summer 1940. During the war, a further four 109s (two Fs and two Gs) were acquired by the Swiss Air Force through internment. The 109Es were supplemented by eight aircraft licence manufactured from spare parts by Doflug at Altenrhein, delivered in 1944.

In April 1944, 12 further G-6s were acquired in exchange for the destruction of a highly secret Messerschmitt Bf 110G night fighter which made an emergency landing in Switzerland. The new 109Gs suffered from numerous manufacturing defects and after problematic service were withdrawn from use by May 1948. The 109Es continued in service until December 1949.[38]

With the start of the Battle of France, Swiss fighters began intercepting and occasionally fighting German aircraft intruding Swiss airspace. On 10 May, 1940, several Swiss Bf 109s engaged a German Dornier Do 17 near the border at Bütschwil; in the ensuing exchange of fire, the Dornier was hit and eventually forced to land near Altenrhein.

On 1 June, the Flugwaffe dispatched 12 Bf 109 E-1s to engage 36 unescorted German Heinkel He 111s of Kampfgeschwader 53 that were crossing Swiss airspace to attack the Lyon - Marseilles railway system. The Swiss Air force sustained its first casualty in the engagement when Sub Lieutenant Rudolf Rickenbacher was killed when the fuel tank of his Bf 109 exploded after being hit by the Heinkel's return fire. However, the Swiss "Emils" shot down six He 111s.[39]

On 8 June, a C-35 observation aircraft, an antiquated biplane, was attacked over the Jura Mountains by two German Bf 110s; the pilot and observer were killed. Later on the same day, Swiss Captain Lindecker led about 15 Swiss Emils to intercept a formation of German He 111s escorted by II./Zerstörergeschwader 1's Bf 110s. The engagement resulted in five Bf 110s being shot down (including the Staffelkapitän Gerhard Kadow) for the loss of one Swiss Bf 109.[39]

In the latter stages of the war, Swiss Messerschmitts were painted with red and white striped "neutrality markings" around the fuselage and main wings to avoid confusion with German 109s.

Combat service with Yugoslavia

Bf 109 E-3 from 6th fighter regiment of Yugoslav Royal Air Force, April 1941

From 1939-1941, Yugoslavia received 83 Bf 109 E-3s with the first two aircraft delivered in beginning of 1939. However, the aircraft were grounded most of the time due to a lack of spare parts, which was a German war tactic. The Yugoslav pilots were not happy with the Bf 109 after several landing accidents due to the Messerschmitt's narrow landing gear and constant mechanical failures. During the Axis Invasion of Yugoslavia in April 1941, the Royal Yugoslav Air Force for the first time deployed their Bf 109s in combat. The defense of Belgrade (6 LP 31 and 32nd group) saw the heaviest fighting with both Yugoslav and German Bf 109s going head to head. By the end of the first day of the battle, Yugoslav pilots managed to destroy several German planes. By the end of the 12 day campaign almost all Bf 109s had been destroyed, either in combat, or by their crews to prevent capture. Some of the surviving aircraft were later captured and sold to Romania.[40] By the end of the war, 17 Luftwaffe and Croatian Air Force Bf 109s were found by Yugoslav Partisans on Yugoslav territory.[41] These were stored until 1949 while more were acquired from Bulgaria. The new SFR Yugoslav Air Force used a mix of G-2, G-6, G-10 and G-12 aircraft until mid-1952 by 172nd Fighter Regiment.

Service with Japan

Five Bf 109 E-7s were acquired by the Japanese in 1941, without armament, for evaluation. While in Japan they received the standard Japanese hinomarus and yellow wing leading edges, as well as white numerals on the rudder. A red band outlined in white is around the rear fuselage.

They were used in comparison trials by the Japanese Army Air Force with the Nakajima Ki-43 Hayabusa, Nakajima Ki-44 Shoki and the Kawasaki Ki-61 Hien. As Japanese were interested in the DB 601 engine and license-built it for their Kawasaki Ki-61 Hien fighter, they had little interest in the Bf 109 itself.

The Allies, expecting to encounter Japanese Bf 109s in combat, assigned a code name of “Mike” to the Messerschmitts. In the event none were flown in combat by the Japanese.

Allied Bf 109s

Bf 109 E-3, White 1 of 1./JG 76, in RAF markings; Wright Field, Ohio, May 1942

Several Bf 109s models and marks came into the RAF's hands in various ways throughout the war, including captures by Allied ground troops, forced or mistaken landings by German pilots, and defections. They were then passed to the Air Fighting Development Unit where they were extensively tested before passing them on to the RAF's No. 1426 (Enemy Aircraft) Flight, nicknamed "the Rafwaffe" (see main article for details of the six Bf 109's they operated).

Other Bf 109s captured and operated by the Allies included the following:

  • On 4 December 1937, during the Spanish Civil war, a Bf 109 A-0, marked 6-15, made an emergency landing behind Republican lines. The aircraft was recovered and tested. In January 1938 the aircraft was also evaluated by a French delegation. This aircraft was later sent to the Soviet Union and also tested . During the War this aircraft served with a special Soviet reconnaissance unit equipped with captured German aircraft, before it was captured back by JG 27.
  • In September 1939 a Bf 109D was captured by the French.
  • Bf 109 E-3, WNr. 1340, was captured in France and was tested versus the Dewoitine D.520 and Bloch 152. Several Bf 109Es were captured intact by the French shortly after the outbreak of war. They were taken to the flight test center at Bricy and were the subject of thorough descriptive performance trials by the French Aeronautical Service. At the conclusion of the French trials at least two Bf109Es, still in French markings, were sent to Boscombe Down.
  • In December 1941, a Bf109 was captured at Gazala airfield and tested by the RAF.
  • On 22 February 1942 Oberleutnant A. Niss, of 8./JG 51 got lost and was fired on from a machine gun near Tushino Airfield. His radiator and fuel tank were damaged and he was forced to land his Bf 109 F-2, WNr. 9209, within Soviet positions. It was handed over to the Air Forces Scientific Research Institute for comprehensive testing.
  • Bf 109 G-2, WNr. 13903 from I./JG 3, was captured near Stalingrad in late autumn 1942.
  • Several Bf 109s were captured an tested by the SAAF: Bf 109 G-4 “Black 13” was captured in Tunisia. Another G-4 was captured in Sicily. A Croat G-14 “Black 10” deserted to Italy and landed in Jessi, and taken over by 3 Wing SAAF. Another G-14 “Black 4” was handed over to the USAAF, who gave it to the Italians, and then turned over to the Polish Air Force. A Bf 109 F-2 trop was captured at Maple Arch in 1942.
  • Bf 109 F-4, “Yellow 9”, WNr. 7640, was captured in the Soviet Union and at the request of the Americans they handed it over to them in March 1943, where it became EB 1 (Evaluation Branch).
  • Luftwaffe Bf 109 G-6 trop, WNr.16416, was captured by the USAAF in May 1943 at Soliman airfield, originally belonging to JG 77. Subsequently it was disassembled, shipped and re-assembled in the United States at Wright Airfield for testing. On 25 December, after simple repairs, it was flown to the Air Forces Scientific Research Institute.
  • On 28 August 1944 Romanian pilot Cpt. Cantacuzino flew a Bf 109 G-6, WNr. 66130, with American prisoner Lt.Col. James A.Gunn III to Foggia, Italy. The aircraft was tested and after some flights was destroyed.
  • A Bf 109 G-6(trop) was captured in North Africa in 1943 and returned to the UK for evaluation by the AFDU, coded VX101. The 109 was written off after force landing at Thorney Island on 19 May 1944.[42]
  • A Bf 109 G-14 was captured bt the British in the end of 1944 at Gilze-Rijen, Netherlands.

Aces flying the Bf 109

The Bf 109 was flown by the three top-scoring fighter aces of World War II: Erich Hartmann, the top scoring fighter pilot of all time claiming 352 victories, Gerhard Barkhorn with 301 victories, and Günther Rall claiming 275 victories. All of them flew with Jagdgeschwader 52, a unit which exclusively flew the Bf 109 and was credited with over 10,000 victories, chiefly on the Eastern Front. Hans-Joachim Marseille, the highest scoring German ace in the North African Campaign, also claimed all of his 158 victories flying the Bf 109, against Western Allied pilots.[43]

The Bf 109 was also used with good results by non-German pilots, such as the Finnish fighter ace Ilmari Juutilainen with 94 victories, the highest scoring non-German fighter ace in World War II,[44] Romanian fighter ace Alexandru Şerbănescu with 47 victories, Croatian fighter ace Mato Dukovac with 44 victories and Hungarian fighter ace Szentgyörgyi Dezső with 29 (+1 German) confirmed and six unconfirmed victories.

References

  1. ^ Feist 1993, p. 50.
  2. ^ Feist 1993, p. 51.
  3. ^ a b Bergström 2007, p. 116.
  4. ^ A breakdown of each unit is given, these also include losses on the ground, amounting to 32 Bf 109s.[3]
  5. ^ "Sonderkommando Elbe." A traveler's guide to remnants from World War II in Europe, battlefieldsww2.com. Retrieved: 13 June 2011.
  6. ^ a b Bergström and Pegg 2003, p. 370.
  7. ^ Soviet records indicate overclaiming of nearly 2:1, and put the figure at nearer 6,000.[6]
  8. ^ Mason 1973, p. 9.
  9. ^ Mankau and Petrick 2001, p. 24.
  10. ^ Green 1980, p. 70.
  11. ^ Messerschmitt Me. 109 Handling and Manoeuvrability Tests by Ministry of Supply Reports and Memoranda No. 2361. September 1940.
  12. ^ Price 1996, p. 61.
  13. ^ Morgan and Shacklady 2000, pp. 53–55.
  14. ^ Dimensione Cielo: Caccia Assalto 3, Aerei Italiani nella 2a Guerra Mondiale 1972, pp. 59–60.
  15. ^ Beale et al. 1996, pp. 25–26.
  16. ^ I° Gruppo was formed towards the end of 1943; II° Gruppo in March 1944.[15]
  17. ^ Jackson 2003, p. 76.
  18. ^ Beale et al. 1996, pp. 26, 36.
  19. ^ On 25 August 1944, the Germans announced that the ANR was to be disbanded (Operation Phoenix).
  20. ^ a b c Neulen 2000, p. 86.
  21. ^ Neulen 2000, p. 81.
  22. ^ Neulen 2000, p. 84.
  23. ^ Massimello and Apostolo 2000, p. 28.
  24. ^ Pesce and Massimello 1997, pp. 122–124, 131–132.
  25. ^ Punka 1995, pp. 18–36.
  26. ^ Punka 1995, pp. 37–47.
  27. ^ Punka 1995, p. 59.
  28. ^ Neulen 2000, p. 142.
  29. ^ Neulen 2000, p. 141.
  30. ^ Neulen 2000, p. 146.
  31. ^ Punka 1995, p. 63.
  32. ^ Neulen 2000, p. 147.
  33. ^ Neulen 2000, p. 148.
  34. ^ Punka 1995, p. 92.
  35. ^ a b Stenman and Keskinen 1998, pp. 86–88.
  36. ^ MT-452, photo from the airfield in Utti
  37. ^ MT-507, photo, from airliners.com
  38. ^ Osché, Philippe (translated by Laureau, Patrick) 1996.
  39. ^ a b Hooton 2007, p. 82.
  40. ^ Memoires of Kap. Ulcar V., Por.Lajh O.,Por.Presecnik B. All defenders of Belgrade, 1941.
  41. ^ Savic, D. and Ciglic, B. Croatian Aces of World War II Osprey Aircraft of the Aces - 49, Oxford, 2002
  42. ^ http://falkeeins.blogspot.com/2010/09/captured-luftwaffe-types-1.html
  43. ^ Luftwaffe Aces of the Western Front
  44. ^ Ilmari Juutilainen

Sources

  • Beale, Nick, Ferdinando D'Amico and Gabriele Valentini. Air War Italy: Axis Air Forces from Liberation of Rome to the Surrender. Shrewsbury, UK: Airlife, 1996. ISBN 1-85310-252-0.
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