Messerschmitt Bf 110 G-4 
... als Nightfighter ein Star ...


Es begann mit.... Messerschmitt Bf 110

Die Geschichte der Bf 110 ist eine der Ironien (Erstflug 1936) des 2. Weltkrieges; sie sollte laut Konzeption als schneller Bomber bzw. schwerer Jäger sogar Bombereskorte fliegen. Stark untermotorisiert erlitten die Bf 110 Zerschtörerverbände hohe Verluste in der Luftschlacht um England beim Kampf gegen Spitfire und Hurricane. 

Die ständige Verbesserungen gipfelten bei der Bf 110 in einem neuen Einsatzprofil,( Bf 110-G) bei dem sie sich ab 1941 glänzend bewährte - als Nacht- Abfangjäger. Der große Rumpf nahm das Lichtenstein-Radar und die schwere Bewaffnung ohne Probleme auf; mit den Leistungsstärkeren Motoren konnte sie nun den Luftkampf mit den schweren alliierten Bomber aufnehmen und wendig entkommen. Die beiden DB 601B Motoren erzeugten je 1475 PS (1.110KW), Höchstgeschwindigkeit 550 km/h in 7000m Höhe, max. Reichweite 2.100km.

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Bewaffnung zwei MK 108, zwei MG 151 und zwei MG 81. Anfang 1944 erreichte die deutsche Nachtjagdwaffe ihren Höhepunkt an Leistungsfähigkeit. Mangelhafte Treibstoffversorgung und große alliierte Erfolge beendeten den Versuch, die wachsende alliierte Bomberoffensive anzufechten.

The making of . . .

More about Bf 110´s

In addition with its commitments in North Africa and against Malta, X Fliegerkorps developed a  small  number of its aircraft in suppert of the abortive uprising in Iraq in May 1941. This Messerschmitt Bf 110D-3 of 4./ZG 76 operated from Rashid, Iraq, for short period in May. Aircraft such as this were hurriedly overpainted and marked with Iraqi insignia.

Formed from V/LG1, 1 Gruppe of NJG 3 was ent to Catania in Sicily to  start operations under  X Fliegerkorps in February 1941. This black-painted Me Bf 110D carries LG1`s codes, but belonges to 1.NJG 3.

Messerschmitt Bf 110E-1 of an operational conversion unit (Ergänzungs-Zerstörergruppe) based at  Deblin-Irena (Poland) in the summer of 1942. The E-series intruduced localised strenghening, additional armour, and ETC 50 and ETC 1000 racks for heavier bomb loads, and had a choice of either the DB 601N-1 or E-1 engine, according to sub-mark.

(above):  Messerschmitt Bf 110E of 8./ZG 26 based at Berca under Fliegerführer Afrika in September 1942. This aircraft is fitted with 30-mm MK 101 cannon for anti-tank duties over the battlefront, and saw action during the Alam Halfa and Alamein conflicts. Manufactured by Rheinmetall-Borsig, the MK 101 had a 250 rounds per minute and was a very potent weapon.

(under): Messerschmitt Bf 110 G-4b/R3 of 7. Staffel, III/NJG 4, based in north-west Germany under Luftflotte Reich in 1943-44. Equipped with FuG 220b Lichtenstein SN-2 radar, FuG 16zY fighter director and flame-dampers, this was the final G-Series production model. The colour schemes of German night-fighters veried considerably at stage of war.

(left:  The first night-fighter unit was I/NJG 1, formed in July 1940 by renumbering I/ZG 1 although the "G9" code was retained. Early equipment included Bf 110Cs. When I/ZG 76 was retrained and renumbered as II/NJG 1, in September, it began to operate Bf 110D-1/U1 aircraft with Spanner-Anlage infra-red sensors.


(left): Me Bf 110G-4b/R3 flew with the 7 Staffel of III/Nachtjagdgeschwafer 4, which defended the skies of northern Germany during 1944. He mottled grey camouflage on the upper surface was commen, with either black or grey undersides.


Messerschmitt Bf 110

Speed, acceleration and tight manoeuvrability in the cut and thrust of a dogfight were the objectives laid before the fighter designers of all nations following the end of the war in Europe in 1918, and accordingly it was the Single-Beat biplane, of high power: weight ratio and relatively low wing-loading, that held the position of pre-eminence in the world's air Forces. Then came the monoplane revolution of the 1930s, with monocoque fuselages, retractable landing gear, cantilever tail units, and stressed single- or double-sparwings; the configuration of the fighter remained essentially the same, with armament and fuel tankage carefully restricted so as not to detract from speed and manoeuvrability. However, combat operations over the Western Front during 1917-18 had accentuated the need for fighters with extended range and endurance, and in particular for those with a combat radius of action that could enable them to accompany bombers an missions deep into enemy airspace, either as escort fighters or in order to gain air supremacy in an appointed area.

To design such an aircraft was considered to be well nigh impossible but, in 1934, the idea was resurrected. Whether the long-range strategic fighter concept was to be committed to offensive or defensive tasks is still a matter for argument. For the Luftwaffe at least, the requirement for this type, termed the Zerstörer (destroyer), was the pursuit and destruction of enemy bombers operating over the Reich, plus the additional ability to harass over a lengthy period an the withdrawal.

Attending to the RLM specifications for the development of a heavy strategic fighter, the team at the Bayerische Flugzeugwerke AG (later Messerschmitt AG) started work an the project in the summer of 1935 with their wayward brilliance, ignoring muck of the specification data and concentrating their efforts an the design of a lean, all-metal, twin-engined monoplane. The Prototype Messerschmitt Bf 110 Vl first flew from Augsburg-Haunstetten an 12 May 1936, with Rudolf Opitz at the controls.

 Powered by two Daimler Benz DB 600A engines, the Bf 110 V1 achieved maximum Speed of 505 km/h (314 mph) at 3175 m (10,415 ft), considerably in excess of that reached bv° the Single-engined Messerschmitt Bf 109B-2 fighter. Of course, acceleration and manoeuvrabifity, as noted by the test pilots and later by those at the Erprobungsstelle (Service trials detachment) an this and subsequent prototypes, in no way compared with those of lighter Fighters. But Hermann Göring ignored the misgivings of the Luftwaffe regarding the Messerschmitt Bf 110's potentialities, and ordered that production should proceed. The first pre-production model, the Bf 110B-O1 powered by two Junkers Jumo 210Ga engines, first flew an 19 April 1938 in the wake of a major reorganisation of the Luftwaffe's units.

Engine trouble
The shortage of Daimler Benz powerplants and the retention of the Jumo 210Ga engines conferred only a mediocre capability an the Bf 110B-1 series that emanated from the Augsburg production lines in the summer. Armed with two 20-mm Oerlikon MG FF cannon and four 7.92-mm (0.31 in) MG 17 machine-guns, the Bf 110B-1 had a maximum speed of 455 km/h /283mph) at its rated altitude of 4000m (13,125 ft); the service ceiling was 8000m (26,245 ft). This version was the first to enter service, equipping a number of Schweren Jagdgruppen (heavy fighter wings) in the autumn of 1938.

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The Messerschinitt Bf 110F- 4 during 1942-43

The aircraft was sufficiently fast, had excellent visibility and retained its gentle flight characteristics. On achieving visual contact, the pilot usually throttled back and eased his aircraft some 76 in (250 ft) into a position directly below his quarry, before pulling up into a 50° pitch-up and opening fire into the bomber's belly and fuel tanks with 20-mm or 30-mm HE/1 and armour-piercing/incendiary. The type's single biggest drawback was its limited range and endurance, which meant that it had to be airborne, in approximately the right area, to stand any reasonable chance of affecting an intercept.  

Me 110 G Nightfighter - RAF Museum Hendon (sya)

Bf 110G series
With the failure of the Messerschmitt Me 210 series, and a shortage of Ju 88 airframes, the Luftwaffe was forced to retain the Bf 110 in front-live service primarily as a night-fighter, and in 1942 the Daimler Benz DB 605B-1 engine was installed to produce the Bf 110G series. The definitive Messerschmitt Bf 110G-4, equipped first with FuG 212 and, after the introduction of ECM chaff (`Window'), with Lichtenstein SN-2 (FuG 220) radar, bore the brunt of Luftflotte Reich's night-fighter commitment in late 1943. During 1943, upward-firing cannon were introduced to the night-fighting Bf 110s so that the night-fighter merely had to keep station below the target and open fire. Influenced by the success of his CO's special Do 217J (which had upward-firing cannon), an armourer from lI/NJG 5, Oberfeldwebel Mahle, amounted two redundant MG FFs in a Bf 110 in a home-made upward-firing mounting. A kill was achieved using the new guns within days, and an official version of the modification, with twin 30-mm MK 108 cannon, was installed in the aft cockpit to fire at an angle of 60-70° from the horizontal. The modification was known as schräge Musik (slanting music, or jazz) and proved highly effective, aircraft so equipped being designated Bf 110G-4/Ul.

to the Bf 110 continued apace, with the introduction of the FuG 227 Flensburg which homed an RAF bomber's tail warning radar emissions, and, an a handful of aircraft, even the highly, effective FuG 218 Neptun radar. No one was more successful as an exponent of the Messerschmitt Bf 110-4 than Major Heinz-Wolfgang Schnaufer, the last Kommodore of NJG 4 and a recipient of the Diamonds to the Knight's Cross, who claimed no less than 121 nocturnal kills in the war. The numbers of aircraft declined steadily, not least because many were used (and lost) in suicidal day operations against the heavily escorted American bomber formations, while the night sky became increasingly dangerous as marauding Mosquito and Beaufighter night-fighters roamed over Germany.

One of the Best

There was no doubt that despite its detractors, and the fact that only 6,170 were produced, the Messerschmitt Bf 110 should go down in the annals of World War II as a highly efficient, effective and versatile, all-purpose, twin-engined combat aircraft, for few twins Gould stand the test against well-flown Single-engined fighters by day; not the Bristol Beaufighter, the Kawasaki Ki-45 Toryu, not even the excellent Lockheed P-38 Lightning or the the de Havilland Mosquito.

Late Bf 110G-4c aircraft had the antennas of the Lichtenstein SN-2 canted to improve detection capability.