Messerschmitt Bf 109 A-D

13. Storage (in field conditions): open air
14. Other: flight in low visibility and in overcast conditions must be considered as a possibility; aircraft in land transport configuration must have overall dimensions adhering to railroad standards
15. General remarks: ad. 3: provide the best possible cockpit visibility for air-to-air combat; ad. 4: fixed armament should provide the widest possible field of fire and ease of maintenance; ad. 7 – 11: in terms of flight characteristics the aircraft should be easy to operate by a pilot of average skills. The required flight endurance is to be understood as the total flight time at 6 000 m, including take-off roll and a glide during the approach phase. The maximum airspeed at the operational ceiling of 6 000 m must be maintained up to 20 minutes. Aircraft must be fully controllable in dives. Aircraft must be easily recoverable from spins. Turns at operational ceiling must not result in a loss of height.
Flight characteristics will be assessed in the following order:
1. Airspeed in level flight
2. Rate of climb
3. Maneuverability

44 me 109 07

In February 1934 the RLM forwarded the tactical specifications of a light fighter aircraft to three companies: Arado, BFW and Heinkel. Focke-Wulf did not receive the documentation package until seven months later, i.e. September 1934 [Many authors, including Robert Michulec (Messerschmitt Me 109, vol. 1, Gdynia 1997, p.. 9), maintain that BFW was in fact not invited to participate in the project, which would have been understandable given the animosity between Erhard Milch and Willy Messerschmitt. However, there is no support of that version in the historic data. In fact it was Focke-Wulf that received the fighter specs seven months later, the evidence of which can be found in Radinger Willy, Schick Walter: Messerschmitt Me 109, das meistgebaute Jagdflugzeug der Welt, Entwicklung, Erprobung und Technik, alle Varianten: von Bf (Me) 109 A bis Me 109 E, Oberhaching 1997, p. 15 and in: Ritger Lynn, The Messerschmitt Bf 109, A Comprehensive Guide for the Modeller, Part 1: Prototype to „E’ Variants, London 2005, p. 8.].
In early March 1934 head of BFW’s design bureau, Robert Lusser, began a series of meetings at the RLM to clarify some of the particulars of the proposed fighter’s technical specs. Among the subjects discussed in those meetings were issues concerning the choice of powerplant and details of the aircraft’s armament.
The future fighter was to be powered by a twelve-cylinder, inverted V engine: the 610 HP Junkers Jumo 210 A (to be installed in prototypes) and the 750 HP BMW 116 in production examples. At least three different configurations of fixed armament were considered: one MG C30 20 mm cannon firing through the hollow drive shaft, two MG 17 7.92 mm machine guns firing through the propeller arc, or two fuselage mounted MG 17s and a single MG FF 20 mm cannon installed between the cylinder blocks.
The BFW team began work on the new aircraft as soon as all issues arising from the RLM’s requirements had been resolved. German aviation historian Rüdiger Kosin offers the following: The lessons learned during the design and construction of the BFW Me 108 undoubtedly facilitated the company’s work on the Bf 109 project. Many of the key issues, such as the placement of the main landing gear struts in front of the wing’s spar and the proper distribution of forces acting on the gear wells, or the flight control surfaces arrangement, had already been tried and tested during the development of the Me 108. In fact, the Me 108 looked almost identical to the Bf 109’s proof-of-concept aircraft, or, to look at it from the opposite angle, the Bf 109 was the Me 108 design adapted to a fighter role [Kosin Rüdiger, Die Entwicklung der deutschen Jagdflugzeuge, Die deutsche Luftfahrt, Band 4, Koblenz 1983, p. 108.].
The new aircraft emerged as a cantilevered, low-wing, single-seat fighter, featuring a retractable landing gear and a fully enclosed cockpit. The fuselage had an elliptical cross section and a semi-monocoque duralumin structure covered with stressed, flush-riveted skins. To simplify the manufacturing process, both fuselage halves featured integral frames. Five duralumin longerons installed in each fuselage section provided longitudinal rigidity. The aft part of the fuselage featured an oval, bolted section supporting the aircraft’s tailplane assembly. The fixed tail wheel was attached to its lower surface. The fuselage mid section housed the cockpit covered by a three-piece transparency, which was mounted flush with the aircraft’s spine. The sideways-opening mid section provided access to the cockpit. Under the cockpit floor, and partly underneath he the pilot’s seat, was the L-shaped main fuel tank.

Messerschmitt Bf 109 D-1, Stab I./ZG 2, pilot: Hptm. Johannes Gentzen. Groß Stein airfield, Germany, September 1939. The paint scheme is a combination of RLM 70 Schwarzgrün, RLM 71 Dunkelgrün and RLM 65 Hellblau. The unit’s badge painted against silver background under the windshield. Vertical stabilizer features two white bars. The chevron is white with a black outline. [Painted by Janusz Światłoń]

The cantilevered, tapered wing was of a full-metal construction and consisted of two sections. It featured automatic slats along the leading edge, as well as conventional ailerons and trailing edge, fabric-covered flaps. Each wing section was mated to the fuselage via three attachment points: at the upper and lower main spar points and at the main landing gear pivot point, which was at the same time the lower part of the engine mount. The wing’s internal ribs were press-formed, which simplified the manufacturing process.
The all-metal tailplane featured horizontal stabilizers supported by tubular steel struts covered by aluminum fairings. The horizontal stabilizers angle of incidence could be adjusted from the cockpit from –8° to +3°. A single vertical stabilizer had an asymmetrical profile to compensate for strong propeller slipstream. Flight control surfaces were mass balanced. The rudder actuation mechanism featured steel cables and pulleys, while the elevator was operated by pushrods and steel cables.
The aircraft’s landing gear was of a conventional design with a fixed tail wheel. The single-strut main landing gear assemblies were attached to pivot points on each side of the fuselage lower section. The main wheels retracted outwards, into the wing wells. The landing gear legs featured metal fairings extending to about half of the wheel’s diameter. Hydraulic system was provided for the landing gear extension and retraction. The fixed tail wheel assembly included a standard wheel fork attached to a single strut. […]


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