The Me-109 was a World War II German fighter aircraft
that was the fighter backbone of the Luftwaffe
for much of the war. The Me-109 was a capable aircraft able to compete with Hawker Hurricane
s and Spitfire
s but was outmatched late in the war by American P-51
Length: 29' 8" ; 9.0 m
Height: 8' 6" ; 2.5 m
Wingspan: 32' 6" ; 9.9 m
Gross Weight: 6,980 lb ; 3,165 kg
No. of Engines: 1
Powerplant: Daimer-Benz D.605
Range: 615 miles ; 990 km
Cruise Speed: 325 mph ; 523 km/h ; 282 kt
Max Speed: 387 mph ; 623 km/h ; 336 kt
Ceiling: 38,500 ft ; 11,734 m
From 1936 to 1945, almost 35,000 of these aircraft were build. This figure alone gives an indication of the importance of the Messerschmitt Bf/Me. 109 in the German aeronautical arsenal during World War II. However, in the course of its long and extensive career on all fronts, this small, agile and powerful aircraft acquired a role that went well beyond the purely quantitative dimensions of its production (the highest, without exception, of the entire war), and fought its way into the ranks of the greatest protagonists of aviation history.
In fact the appearance of the Bf/Me. 109 brought the era of the biplane to a definite close, imposing qualitative standards that sooner or later were to serve as reference points for aircraft manufacturers all over the world. Willy Messerschmitt’s fighter not only placed Germany suddenly in the vanguard the field of military aviation, but it also became the progenitor of all the pure combat planes that were to emerge from the conflict. In this latter role, the Bf/Me. 109 had a fierce adversary (and not only in the skies over Europe) in another "immortal" , the British Supermarine Spitfire, with which it participated in a continuous technological chase, aimed at gaining supremacy in the air and leading to the continuous strengthening and improving of both aircraft.
The Bf/Me. 109 originated in the summer of 1934, in response to an official request for a monoplane interceptor with which to replace the Heinkel He.51 and the Arado Ar.68 biplanes. Its designers, Willy Messerschmitt and Walter Rethel, took the excellent features of the four-seater Bf. 108 Taifun commercial aircraft as their basis and created the smallest possible structure compatible with the most powerful engine then available. The fighter thus took the form of a compact, all-metal, low-wing monoplane with retractable landing gear and an enclosed cockpit.
Originally it had been planned to install the new 610 hp Junkers Jumo 210A engine, but because this power plant was unavailable, the prototype was fitted with the Rolls-Royce Kestrel V engine, generating 695 hp at takeoff and driving a two-bladed wooden propeller.
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