Messerschmitt Bf 109 A-D

Messerschmitt Bf 109 D-1 featuring late exhaust stack arrangement. “Martel” belonged to 3./JG 126. [Kagero's Arc hive]


Because the rules of the Challenge favored the aircraft capable of performing various slow-speed maneuvers, the winner of the event was a Polish flyer Jerzy Bajan at the controls of the RWD-9. Theo Osterkamp flying the Bf 108 A V-5 (W.Nr. 699, D-IMUT) did win the top speed event hands down (291 kph over a 300 km course), but that was not enough to reach for the competition’s top prize. Eventually Osterkamp came in fifth overall, with Werner Junck just behind him in the sixth place. Another German pilot, Carl Francke, finished sixteenth, while Otto Brindlinger was disqualified after committing an error on one of the rally’s legs. Nonetheless, the Messerschmitt’s design was enthusiastically received by aeronautical experts from all over Europe. The aircraft’s excellent flight performance caught attention of the RLM officials, who promptly placed an order for 45 examples of the modified Bf 108 B version. The machine was to enter service with the German air force as a liaison aircraft.
The RLM’s interest in his design was unquestionably a personal victory for Messerschmitt, especially that the RLM’s secretary of state in charge of all aeronautical production in Germany, was Willy’s archenemy Erhard Milch. Initially Milch tried to marginalize Messerschmitt’s ambitions by planning to use the BFW facilities for license production of other manufacturers’ designs, including 30 examples of the Dornier Do 11, 70 Heinkel He 45s, 35 He 50s, 90 Arado Ar 66s and 115 examples of the Gotha Go 145 [The Flugzeug-Beschaffungsprogramm 1935-1937 of November 1, 1935 (RLM, LC II/13271/35) also mentions 50 examples of the Junkers Ju 87, which actually never went into production at the BFW plant.]. The successful debut of the Bf 108 in a coveted international competition resulted in the RLM orders for 7 version 0 examples of the aircraft, followed by 45 serial production machines. Additionally, 10 version 0 Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighters were ordered, supplemented by 8 version 0 examples of the Bf 110 “destroyer” aircraft.

[Drawings by Mariusz Łukasik]


Development of the Bf 109 design
The first fighter aircraft to go into service with the now officially established Luftwaffe were biplane designs, including the Arado Ar 65 and Ar 68 and Heinkel He 51 - the types that were already obsolete at the time when their first examples rolled off the production lines. Hermann Göring, who served in Hitler’s government as the Reich’s Commissar for Aviation (Reichskommissar für Luftfahrt), was very much aware of the urgent need for new aircraft designs, especially bombers and fast, single-seat fighters. In the fall of 1933 Göring wrote a confidential letter to Theo Croneiß, who at that time served as the BFW’s Chairman of the Board and was also in charge of the development of aircraft production in Bavaria:
Dear Mr. Croneiß, I am writing to you in strict confidence to assure you that I view your efforts to energize the aeronautical industry in Bavaria as critically important. I have no doubt that your passion for work will soon bear fruit in the shape of an aeronautical company capable of delivering a first class transport aircraft!!!
Of equal importance, however, is the development of an extremely fast liaison aircraft, a single-seater of course!!! If you feel you do not have sufficient expertise in the design of such aircraft, we can certainly discuss the matter further and perhaps start license production in your facilities. This way the company could gradually reach the necessary level of experience and recruit skilled work force to undertake design and production of the new types. I do insist that you look into the matter closely and offer your opinion at the earliest opportunity. It is in our best interest to establish in Augsburg a strong aeronautical company [A letter from Hermann Göring to Theo Croneiß, dated October 20, 1933. In: Ebert Hans J...., pp. 110-111.].
What Göring meant by a “first class transport aircraft” was in fact a bomber, while the “extremely fast liaison aircraft” was a reference to a single-seat fighter.
By the end of 1933 the RLM published the technical requirements for a new fighter for the German air force. The document entitled Taktische Forderungen für den Jagdeinsitzer G.Kdos.Nr.L.A. 1432/33 quotes the following tactical specs:
1. Tactical application: single-seat day fighter
2. Number of engines: 1
3. Crew: 1
4. Armament: two machine guns with a supply of 1 000 rounds of ammunition, or a single 20 mm cannon with 100 rounds
5. Communications suite: air-to-ground and air-to-air radio telephony equipment
6. Safety and life support: seat harness, parachute, oxygen system, cockpit heating
7. Airspeed: 400 kph at 6 000 m
8. Range or flight endurance: 11/2 hours at maximum speed at 6 000 m.
9. Rate of climb: 17 minutes to 6 000 m
10. Operational ceiling: 9 000 m. Max ceiling: 10 000 m
11. Operational airfield requirements (German standard): 400x400 m airfield dimensions, landing distance from 20 m: 400 m
12. Safety measures: fire protection capabilities