Referred to as the Me 109 by Allied pilots and aircrew, the aircraft was designed in the mid-1930’s. One of the first truly modern fighters of the era, it featured all-metal construction, a closed canopy, retractable undercarriage, and a liquid-cooled, inverted V-12 engine. It is the most-produced fighter aircraft in history with almost 35,000 of all versions being built.
The Me 109 was the “backbone” of the Luftwaffe’s fighter force from the Spanish Civil War to the end of WW II. It fulfilled multiple roles including bomber escort, fighter-bomber, day/night fighter, and ground-attack.
Most of the aircraft lost by Bomber Command were shot down by the Lutwaffe’s fighter force. As the enemy’s leading day and night fighter during the early years of the war, the Me 109 had considerable success against Bomber Command aircraft.
During late 1943 and early 1944, Me 109’s played a major role in the enemy’s highly-successful “Wild Boar” operations in which visual contact was made by the fighter pilots aided by light from the burning target, target markers, flares dropped by other Luftwaffe aircraft, and searchlights. Later in the war, Me 109’s used electrical aids to home in on the bombers’ H2-S radar signals.
The Museum’s Bf 109
This full-size mock-up features a working canopy and fully equipped cockpit with some original instruments. The paint scheme is standard Luftwaffe 1942-43 Mediterranean theatre. The nose art and logo represent Jagdgeschwader II/27 Squadron that operated in North Africa, in Europe against Bomber Command (Feb.-June, 1944), and in Normandy following D-Day.
The mock-up was built by Lech Lebiedowski after salvaging some parts from a crash site.
Messerschmitt Bf 109 Specifications
Engine Make: Daimler-Benz V-12; 1455 hp
Wingspan: 32.5′ (9.93 m)
Length: 29.5′ (8.95 m)
Height: 8.2′ (2.6 m)
Weight Loaded: 6945 lb (3150 kg)
Weight Empty: 5893 lb (2673 kg)
Max Speed: 388 mph (624 km/h)
Cruising Speed: 365 mph (590 km/h)
Climb Rate: 3345 ft/m (1020 m/min)
Range: 528 miles (850 km)
Ceiling: 39,375′ (12,000 m)
Armanments: Single 30 mm cannon, Two 13 mm machine guns