Messerschmitt Bf 110 vol. I

The first prototype of the Henschel Hs 124V1 was flown in June, 1936. Its designer, eng. Nicolaus had conceived an all-metal, cantilevered mid-wing design with the landing gear housed in extensions of the engine nacelles. Only the moving parts of the control surfaces were canvas covered. It was powered by two Jumo 210C engines. A gunner’s station mounted in the nose added a lot of weight. The second prototype, the Hs 124V2 with BMW 132Dc radial engines was test flown in April 1937. The nose gun position was replaced with a plexiglas nose cone, typical of bombers and reconnaissance types. The third prototype, the Hs 123V3 was given Jumo 210C in-line engines, a new all-metal nose with a battery of guns comprising two 20 mm cannon and two 7.92 mm machine guns. There is no convincing evidence that the plane was ever flown. Its performance was, like that of the Fw 57, inadequate and as a result the Messerschmitt Bf 110 became the Luftwaffe’s primary destroyer type.

Prototypes and first production versions
In January 1936 the DVL/Experimental Aerody-namics Institute conducted wind tunnel tests on a Bf 109-type design with two wing-mounted engines, a precursor to the Bf 110. On May 12, 1936 Dr. Hermann Wurster made the first test flight of the Messerschmitt Bf 110V1 (WNr. 868). The plane had a slender, elliptical fuselage that thinned near the top. Structurally it was built in similar fashion to the single-engine Bf 109; two monocoque halves joined by flush threads. The skin was attached by inward bent edges that became formers when attached to the neighboring pieces. The monocoque construction was heavier than traditional semi-monocoque but significantly simplified mass production by allowing the mounting of internal parts and equipment before the two halves were assembled.

 Messerschmitt Bf 110E-2, WNr. 4495, CD+MO, produced by MIAG plant, during tests at plant airfield; Messerschmitt Me 210 in the background. [Kageros's Archive]

Fixed guns were mounted in the nose. Aft of these was located the fully glazed cockpit cabin with the pilot and crew in tandem. Behind the pilot, radio and navigation equipment could be operated from a small seat. Further aft was located the gunner’s station. Aft of the cabin were oxygen bottles and in the rear of the fuselage was a set of gyro-magnetic compasses. A retractable tail wheel was mounted on a fork attached to a VDM type strut with a spring shock absorber and a 350x135 mm tire.
The wings were semi-monocoque, single-spar, all-duralumin, trapezoid in shape with leading edge slats, slightly rounded edges and slight dihedral. Technologically the wings were related to those of the Bf 109. The single spar passed through the fuselage and was attached to its main steel beam as well as to two support beams. The engine nacelles were attached to the wings and housed the main landing gear as well as the engine oil tanks. The main landing gear was hydraulically controlled and when in the stowed position the wheels protruded slightly from the nacelles. The main wheels were attached to oleo struts with axles pointing towards the wingtips, with pneumatic drum brakes. 815x320 mm tires were used. The fuel tanks were mounted between the fuselage and the engine nacelles.
The tail control surfaces were all-duralumin, single spar semi-monocoque construction with double tail fins which gave the rear gunner a better field of view.
The aircraft was powered by two in-line, liquid-cooled, Junkers Jumo 210B engines with a displacement of 19.7 liters and a take-off rating of 600 hp each (max. 5 min.). Thanks to a supercharger the engine was able to attain top performance at 2,700 meters where it had a top rating of 640 hp (max. 5 min.), 575 hp (max. 30 min.) and 510 hp (continuous). Propellers were the two-blade self-adjusting Hamilton Standard type.
Compared to later prototypes, the V1 had a bulkier nose, flatter canopy for the rear gunner and more angular tail fins. The Bf 110V1 was mainly a test-bed for the engines and for testing the design in flight. The airplane was unarmed and its handling in flight was good with some difficulties during low speed flight. The biggest drawback were the weak engines which were unable to push the plane past 450 km/h. In October 1937 the plane was assigned the code D-AHOA and handed over to Erprobungsstelle Travemünde.
On October 24 1936 the Messerschmitt Bf 110V2 (WNr. 869, D-AQYE) was flown for the first time. It had elliptical tail fins. At first it was tested at the airfield at Augsburg and later at the test center at Rechlin.
In Lieferplan Nr. 4 (order delivery plan no. 4) submitted on 1 November 1936 for the period up to March 8, 1938 the RLM ordered a total of 104 series Messerschmitt Bf 110V2.
On December 24, 1936 Dr. Hermann Wurster made the first flight in the Messerschmitt Bf 110V3 (WNr. 870, D-ATII) fitted with carburetor fed 12-cylinder, liquid-cooled, in-line Daimler-Benz DB 600 engines with 33.9 liters displacement, producing a maximum 1,000 hp for 5 minutes, 900 hp for 30 minutes and 800 hp continuously. The engines powered three-blade VDM type propellers. Unlike later models initial Versuchs models had large radiator baths mounted under the engine nacelles and the oil coolers mounted under the wings. It reached 480 km/h at ground level and 505 km/h at 3,000 m.
Further tests were conducted using airframes of the pre-production Bf 110A-0 series. By July 1936, the RLM had ordered 9 such airplanes of which the first 7 were A-0 and the last two B‑0. Powered by Jumo 210B’s, the aircraft were not fitted with armament and the nose profile had been re-designed from the first prototypes. Test flights were conducted between August 1937 and February 1938 and the airframes were later handed over to the Luftwaffe test center at Rechlin where further testing was conducted.

Messerschmitt Bf 110E-2, 3C+LR of 7./NJG 2, pilot Ofw. Reinhard Kollack (49 kills), Mainz-Finthen airfield, Summer of 1942. Plane painted RLM 22 Schwarz. 10 beams (air victories) on fin. [Painted by Arkadiusz Wróbel]

The original design of the Messerschmitt Bf 110 called for in-line DB 600 engines with carburetors but testing was behind schedule and in the event the sub-contractors responsible for making the carburetors would not be able to meet the delivery deadlines. Since tests were almost complete on a direct fuel-injection version of the DB 601, the decision was made to use the lower-rated fuel-injected Jumo 210 G engines in the Bf 110. 86 were ordered and designated Bf 110B. They had a one-minute maximum take off rating of 730 hp and a 30 minute rating of 670 hp at 3,800 m. A three bladed, 3.1 m diameter, self-adjusting type VDM-VS propeller was used. The Bf 110B’s primary role was as a training machine. Production was started in April 1938 when the first two planes were built and finished with the 88th plane in February 1939. The prototype for the B version was the Bf 110B V7 (serial no. 917). The next three, numbers 918-920 received the pre-production designation B-0 while the rest were designated as B-1. Of the 88 planes built in total, the prototype, three pre-production models and 22 series models were built by Messerschmitt AG and the rest by Gotha. The Messerschmitt-built planes were assigned to test centers while those from the Gothaer Wagonfabrik went to front-line units. Among the test planes was a Bf 110B-1 (WNr. 928, D-AAPY) equipped with a Mk 101 30 mm cannon which was displayed to Adolf Hitler in Rechlin on 3 July 1939. Hitler was especially impressed by the new cannon and made the following statement: “I believe that this weapon is exceptionally important because I don’t think that we possess sufficient numbers of heavy guns for our aircraft.”
Bf 110B-1 (WNr. 920, D-ADJD) was tested from March 10, 1939 at the Tarnewitz test center with a Trommelgerät TG 65 rocket launcher for unguided rockets. The rocket launcher barrel was mounted in the forward fuselage section and contained 8 RZ 65 73 mm rockets with a range of 340 meters.


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