Messerschmitt Bf 110

Messerschmitt Bf 110

Unusual project from 1930s - in times when low-wing monoplanes (like Me 109, Hurricane, Spitfire, French M.S.406) proved to be more aerodynamically efficient Messerschmitt built a twin-engined heavy fighter Bf 110 called Zerstörer (Destroyer). The concept was based on Hermann Göring idea and just like most of Göring’s ideas it was already obsolete. The construction had some good points - by moving engine from nose to wings the designers could place in the nose heavy offensive armament (2x20 mm cannons and 4x7.92 mm guns), also since the plane was bigger rear gunner was placed behind the pilot. On paper it look promising - armored and heavily armed nose could be very useful in fight (especially when attacking ground targets), the maximum speed of 560 km/h (348 mph) should be sufficient for dogfights and for bomber escort duties, but the construction had equally important weak points. First of all the large silhouette due which Bf 110 was easy to spot and attack. The most important flaw was the lack of agility - while facing obsolete Polish or Norwegian planes they were doing well, but against Spitfires and Hurricanes the pilots were forced to attack using the altitude advantage and immediately disengage using the speed advantage - they were easy to outmanouver, so during Battle of Britain they pretty much needed the escort of Me 109 themselves. Their range was useful for escorting bombers that were heading towards England (which was their advantage over Me 109), but when they reached the target they were almost as defenseless as the bombers.

After Battle of Britain other version of Bf 110 were created - recon (with camera replacing machine guns in the nose), fighter-bomber version (that was able to carry up to 1200 kg of bombs) and night fighter version. They proved to be efficient as defensive fighters against the Allied bombers, but again the flaws of the concept made them vulnerable to fighter attacks.

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