Messerschmidt Bf 109, flew its first prototype on 29 May 1935 and was received into service during 1937 where from its inception became the principal air strike fighter fielded by the German Luftwaffe. The legendary aircraft remained in service until the end of Germany’s Second World War offensive on 2 September 1945. The Bf 109 continued in production for another decade into the after war years with an eventual total production figure exceeding 35,500, the longevity its lifespan gave birth to a vast number of model variants to meet the multi-role demands placed on its incredible performance during the war and to keep up with the fast pace of wartime technology development.
Its chosen Bf designation referred to the man name and location of its first production facilities the Bayerische Flugzeugwerke in Bavaria. The Bf 109 B received an engine upgrade from an engine developing 610 hp with the replacement engine developing 1650 hp in November 1937, which allowed the aircraft to set a new world air speed record in excess of 379 mph.
With 1000 Bf 109 E models available in its inventory, Germany invaded Poland during September 1939 where the fighter immediately outclassed all Polish fighter types, where after it spearheaded the Luftwaffe’s aerial advice through Holland, and neighbouring Belgium, as well as France, to thereafter sweep across Norway as well. During these early air battles it met with just one capable fighter the French Dewoitine D 520, which unfortunately for France was simply not available in sufficient numbers to have a useful outcome to the aerial war over France. By this time over half of Europe had fallen under Hitler’s control, and Britain’s number was next on his list, its invasion was to be made effective via Operation Sea Lion, with Britain now easily within reach after stationing veteran Luftwaffe air groups across northern France.
The offensive that became the Battle of Britain stirred into action in 1940 during the European summer, from the outset it was acknowledged that there superiority would prove to be the key to Britain’s defeat. The tool to achieve this was available to Hitler in the form of the Messerschmidt Bf 109 in its latest E variant, in Britain’s defence stood the quite accomplished Hawker Hurricane, which was known that it would be on unequal footing when pitted against the Bf 109. However it would soon meet the only genuine Bf 109 counter fighter, Britain’s Supermarine Spitfire. In the initial stages of the offensive the Messerschmidt enjoyed huge success going up against aircraft from the RAF in its role as a dedicated aerial fighter. Germany’s inability to bring about a quick end to the Battle of Britain allowed the British engineers to continually develop its Spitfire, thereby slowly eating away and negating the tactical advantage enjoyed by the Bf 109, until Germany ultimately lost the offensive by.
The Bf 109 E received its motive power from a Daimler-Benz DB 601 N engine rated at 1200 hp from its inverted-V12 liquid-cooled piston engine and armament delivered by one 20 mm calibre fully automatic cannon firing through the propeller hub, as well as two 7.9 mm fully automatic machine guns mounted in the leading wing edges.