Junkers Ju 188 Part 2

by Mitch on January 14, 2012 0 Comments

A successor to the Junkers Ju 88 was at an advanced stage of design at the outbreak of World War II, but by late 1942 it had become obvious that the new bomber, the Ju 288, would be late entering service and a stop-gap design was required to bring the series up to date. Junkers had been working as a private venture on an improved Ju 88, and the first interim result of this was the prototype Ju 88B which featured a completely new forward fuselage; 10 pre-production aircraft were built, and these paved the way to the Junkers Ju 188 which featured the new nose; pointed-tip wings with an increase of 6 ft 63/4 in (2.00 m) in span; anew tail unit with the tall, square fin and rudder as used on the Ju 88G; and a streamlined dorsal turret.


The first prototype Ju 188 flew in the spring of 1942 with BMW 801MA radial engines, and was followed by the second prototype in January 1943. The performance warranted production orders, but it was stipulated that the design must be such that either BMW 801 or Jumo 213 engines could be fitted without modifications to the airframe, so that if one type of engine became unavailable it would not affect production. Deliveries of Ju I88E-1 aircraft with 1,600 hp (1193 kW) BMW 801ML engines began in February 1943, and 283 had entered service by the end of the year. ATG, Leipzig and Siebel/Halle opened further lines at the beginning of 1944. Designation of the first model with the Jumo 213A-1 was Ju 188A-2, and with water-methanol injection, its engines were boosted from 1,776 hp (1324 kW) to 2,240 hp (1670 kW) for take-off. The Ju 188A-3 was a minor variant, with nose radar and the ability to carry two torpedoes beneath the wing.


Two reconnaissance versions followed, the Ju 188D-1 and Ju 188D-2, with crew reduced from four to three, the forward-firing 20 mm cannon deleted and with extra fuel tanks fitted to give a range of 2,110 miles (3395 km). The type of cameras carried depended on mission, and the Ju 188D-2 was equipped with nose radar, being intended mainly for over-sea operations. The Ju 18SE variants were for the most part similar to the Ju 188Ds except that they had BMW 801 engines; the Ju 188E-l's 1,600 hp (1193 kW) engines soon gave way to uprated 1,700 hp (1268 kW) BMW 8OlDs, while the Ju 18SE-2 was the BMW-powered equivalent of the Ju 188A-3 torpedo-bomber. Similar reconnaissance equivalents were the Ju 188F-1 and Ju 188F-2 (Ju 188D-1 and Ju I88D-2). The Ju 188G and Ju 18SH models with manned rear turrets did not reach flight-test stage, but three Ju 188R night-fighters were built in 1944. The variant did not go into production, however, since it was unable to offer much improvement over the Ju 88G. High-altitude models proposed originally as the Ju 188J (fighter), Ju 188K (bomber) and Ju 188L (reconnaissance) went ahead, but the types were later redesignated Ju 388J, Ju 388K and Ju 388L. Simpler versions of these (for high-altitude intruder and reconnaissance work, with no defensive armament) became the Ju 188S and Ju 188T. With Jumo 213E-1 engines with water-methanol injection giving 2,168 hp (1617 Kw) at take-off and 1,690 hp (1260 kW) at 31,400 ft (9570 m), the Ju I88T could reach 435 mph (700 km/h) at 37,730 ft (11500 m). Operating at this altitude, the Ju 188S could carry only 1,764 lb (800 kg) of bombs.

Total production of all Ju 188 variants reached 1,076, of which more than half were reconnaissance variants. Probably the most unusual operator was France's Aeronavale, which ordered 12 Ju 188Es just after the war. These were built at Toulouse by SNCASE, from German components, and were used for test purposes.


Junkers Ju 288

The failure of the Junkers Ju 288 series and the programmes cancellation in mid-1943 spawned yet another variant of the ubiquitous Ju 88 airframe.


The Ju 288 had been Junkers' response to a specification issued in July 1939 for a pressurised bomber of advanced design with a maximum speed in excess of 400 mph (645 km/h) and an ability to carry 1,102 lbs (500 kg) of bombs over 3,355 miles (5400 km). Apart from a forward fuselage similar to that of the Ju 188, the new aircraft bore no resemblance to its predecessors, and had twin fins and rudders.


The whole story of the Ju 288 was one of technical problems on the one hand and continual requests for redesign on the other. As an example, the original wing span was to have been 51 ft 6 in (15.70 m), yet the final variant had been stretched to 74 ft 4 in (22.65 m) 1 A total of 22 prototypes of various versions was flown, of which 17 crashed during flight test, but the reasons for final cancellation of the programme were shortages of raw materials and a reluctance to affect other production programmes by initiating a new one at a critical time in the war.


Junkers Ju 388

Against this unfortunate background, it was extremely urgent to fill the gap left by the abandoned Ju 288. Fortunately, Junkers had carried on development of high-altitude models of the Ju 188 and three of these, originally designated Ju 188J, Ju 188K and Ju 188L, became the Ju 388J (all-weather fighter), Ju 388K (bomber) and Ju 388L (photo-reconnaissance) models. Although all were intended originally to have Jumo 213E engines, supplies of these were unreliable since they were in great demand, and the three models thus used the turbo-supercharged BMW 801TJ radial.

Since high-altitude reconnaissance was the biggest priority, the first prototype of the new series was a Ju 388L, converted from a Ju 188T, while the following pre-production batch was converted from Ju 88S airframes, the first of them being handed over to the Luftwaffe in August 1944. Construction of Ju 388Ls totalled 47 by the time production was halted in December 1944 when photo-reconnaissance aircraft were, it was decided, no longer a priority. The Ju 388J fighter was even less fortunate, only three prototypes being completed, and 10 pre-production Ju 388K-0 bombers plus five Ju 388K-1 production models had been completed before the axe fell on this, the final development of the Ju 88.


Messerschmitt Bf 109G Series

by Mitch on January 12, 2012 0 Comments

As the war ground on, successive new models were introduced to keep the five-year-old design solvent. The F model was aerodynamically refined, with rounder wings and tail surfaces, as well as a bigger engine. It was the best-handling variant, but in 1942 the most numerous version, the Bf 109G, made its appearance. It featured a stronger engine and heavier armament but sacrificed the sweet handling characteristics of earlier versions. Worse yet, German war planners failed to provide for new designs, so the Bf 109G remained in production long after its growth potential ceased. Late-model H and K versions tried interjecting better high-altitude performance into the old workhorse with some success, but they never became available in quantity. Nonetheless, leading German ace Eric Hartmann scored all 352 victories in his beloved Messerschmitt. By war’s end, no less than 33,000 Bf 109s had been produced.


Powered by a 1,475-hp (1100-kW) DB 605A engine, the Bf 109G-1 had a pressurized cabin, while the Bf 109G-2 was similar but unpressurized. The former had a GM-1 nitrous oxide injection system which gave a considerable boost to its power at high altitude, but generally this was considered inferior to supercharging. Various combinations of armament were carried by the different variants; for instance, the Bf 109G1/Trop used in North Africa had two 13-mm (0.51-in) machine-guns firing through the propeller arc plus the engine-mounted 20-mm cannon, but some of the Bf 109G-6 had a 30-mm Rheinmetall-Borsig MK 108 motor cannon, a lethal weapon with 60 rounds of ammunition -one round was said to be enough to destroy a fighter. Messerschmitt Bf 109 production in 1942 reached almost 2,700, and manufacture was undertaken in Hungary from 1943, around 600 being built. Experiments were undertaken with Bf 109G-6s in the night-fighter role, but winter conditions made the operations extremely hazardous. In spite of heavy Allied bombing, Bf 109 production in Germany in 1944 reached almost 14,000, and although no complete figures exist on total production it is estimated that some 35,000 were built, a figure second only to the Ilyushin Ir-2/Ir-10 series, which are reported to have reached 42,330.

Early Bf 109G models

G-1, G-2

The G-1, produced from February 1942, was the first of the G-series. This was the first production Bf 109 with a pressurized cockpit and could be identified by the small, horn-shaped air intake for the cockpit compressor just above the supercharger intake, on the left upper cowling. In addition, the angled armour plate for the pilot's head was replaced by a vertical piece which sealed-off the rear of the side-hinged cockpit canopy. Small, triangular armour-glass panels were fitted into the upper corners of this armour, although there were aircraft in which the plate was solid steel. Silica gel capsules were placed in each pane of the windscreen and opening canopy to absorb any moisture which may have been trapped in the double glazing.The last 80 G-1s built were lightweight G-1/R2. In these GM-1 nitrous oxide 'boost' was used, and the pilot's back armour was removed, as were all fittings for the long-range drop tank. A few G-1 flown by I./JG 1 are known to have carried the underwing 20 mm MG 151/20 cannon gondolas.

The G-2, which started production in May 1942, lacked the cabin pressurization and GM-1 installation.Performance-wise it was identical to the G-1. The canopy reverted to one layer of glazing and incorporated the angled head armour used on the F-4, although several G-2 had the vertical type as fitted to the G-1. Several Rüstsätze could be fitted, although installing these did not change the designation of the aircraft. Instead the "/R" suffix referred to the G-2's Rüstzustand or equipment condition of the airframe, which was assigned at the factory rather than in the field. There were two Rüstzustand planned for G-2s:

G-2/R1: had one 300 L (80 US gal) drop tank beneath each wing, plus an ETC bomb rack under the fuselage, capable of carrying a 500 kg (1,100 lb) bomb and an auxiliary undercarriage unit beneath the fuselage. Also could carry a large jettisonable tail wheel, just aft of the cockpit.

G-2/R2: a reconnaissance aircraft with GM-1 and camera equipment.

The rack and internal fuel lines for carrying a 300 L (80 US gal) drop-tank were widely used on G-2s, as were the underwing 20 mm MG 151/20 cannon gondolas. Several G-2s were fitted with the ETC 500 bomb rack, capable of carrying one 250 kg (550 lb) bomb. The final G-2 production batches built by Erla and Messerschmitt Regensburg were equipped as tropical aircraft (often referred to as G-2 trop), equipped with a sand-filter on the front of the supercharger intake and two small, teardrop-shaped metal brackets on the left side of the fuselage, below the cockpit sill. These were used as mounts for specially designed sun umbrellas (called Sonderwerkzeug or Special tool), which were used to shade the cockpit.

A total of 167 G-1s were built between February and June 1942, 1,586 G-2s between May 1942 and February 1943, and one further G-2 was built in Győr, Hungary, in 1943. Maximum speed of the G-2 was 537 km/h (334 mph) at sea level and 660 km/h (410 mph) at 7,000 m (22,970 ft) rated altitude with the initial reduced 1.3 atm rating. Performance of the G-1 was similar, but above rated altitude the GM-1 system it was equipped with could be used to provide an additional 350 horsepower. With his G-1/R2, pilot R. Klein achieved 660 km/h (420 mph) at 12,000 m (39,370 ft), and a ceiling of 13,800 m (45,275 ft).

The following variants of the G-1 and G-2 were produced:

G-0(Pre-production aircraft, powered by a DB 601E engine)

G-1(Pressurized fighter, powered by a Db 605A engine)

G-1/R2 (Reconnaissance fighter)

G-1/U2 (High-altitude fighter with GM-1)

G-2(Light fighter)

G-2/R1 (Long-range Fighter-bomber or JaboRei, with 2 × 300 L/80 US gal underwing drop tanks, one 500 kg/1,100 lb bomb under fuselage, extended second tail wheel for large bombs, only prototype)

G-2/R2 (Reconnaissance fighter)

G-2 trop (Tropicalized fighter)

G-3, G-4

In September 1942, the G-4 appeared; this version was identical to the G-2 in all respects, including performance, except for being fitted with the FuG 16 VHFradio set, which provided much clearer radio transmissions and had three-times the range of the earlier HFsets. Externally this could be recognised by the position of the fuselage antenna lead-in which was moved further aft to between frames seven and eight on the fuselage spine. Due to the steady weight increases of the 109, from the spring of 1943 larger 660 x 160 mm (26 x 6.3 in) mainwheels were introduced, replacing the previously used 650 x 150 mm (25.6 x 6 in) type. The undercarriage legs were altered so that the wheel's vertical axis was nearly upright rather than being parallel with the oleo leg. These changes resulted in the fitting of teardrop-shaped fairings to the upper wing surface above the wheel-wells to accommodate the upper part of the mainwheels. The larger wheels and fairings were often retrofitted to G-2s. In addition, a larger 350 x 135 mm (14 x 5 in) tailwheel replaced the original 290 x 110 mm (11 x 4 in) one; the larger tailwheel no longer fitted the recess, so the retraction mechanism was disconnected and the tailwheel fixed down. Up to July 1943, 1,242 G-4s were produced, with an additional four in Győr and WNF factories in the second half of 1943. Between January and February 1943, 50 examples of a pressurized version, the G-3 were also produced; similar to the G-1 although it was equipped with the same FuG 16 VHF radio set as the G-4.

The following variants of the G-3 and G-4 were produced:

G-3(Pressurized fighter, as G-1 with FuG 16 VHF radio; 50 built)


G-4/R2 (Reconnaissance fighter)

G-4/R3 (Long-range reconnaissance fighter, with 2 × 300 L/80 US gal underwing droptanks)

G-4 trop (Tropicalized fighter)

G-4/U3 (Reconnaissance fighter)

G-4y (Command fighter)

G-5, G-6

In February 1943, the G-6 was introduced with the 13 mm (.51 in) MG 131s, replacing the smaller 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 17 – externally this resulted in two sizeable Beule blisters over the gun breeches, reducing speed by 9 km/h (6 mph). Over 12,000 examples were built well into 1944 although contradictory factory and RLM records do not allow an exact tally. The G-5 with a pressurized cockpit was identical to the G-6. A total of 475 examples were built between May 1943 and August 1944. The G-5/AS was equipped with a DB 605AS engine for high-altitude missions. GM-1-boosted G-5 and G-6 variants received the additional designation of "/U2".and were clearly identifyable as they use a modified, aerodynamically cleaner, engine cowl without the usual blisters.

The G-6/U4 variant was armed with a 30 mm (1.18 in) MK 108 cannon mounted as a Motorkanone firing through the propeller hub instead of the 20 mm MG 151/20. The G-6 was very often seen during 1943 fitted with assembly sets, used to carry bombs or a drop tank, for use as a night fighter, or to increase firepower by adding rockets or extra gondola guns.

The following variants of the G-5 and G-6 were produced:

G-5 (Pressurized fighter)

G-5/U2 (High-altitude fighter with GM-1 boost)

G-5/U2/R2 (High-altitude reconnaissance fighter with GM-1 boost)

G-5/AS (High-altitude fighter with DB 605AS engine)

G-5y (Command fighter)

G-6 (Light fighter)

G-6/R2 (Reconnaissance fighter, with MW 50)

G-6/R3 (Long-range reconnaissance fighter, with 2 × 300 L/80 US gal underwing droptanks)

G-6 trop (Tropicalized fighter)

G-6/U2 (Fitted with GM-1)

G-6/U3 (Reconnaissance fighter)

G-6/U4 (As G-6 but with 30 mm/1.18 in MK 108 Motorkanone engine cannon)

G-6y (Command fighter)

G-6/AS (High-altitude fighter with DB 605AS engine)

G-6/ASy (High-altitude command fighter)

G-6N (Night fighter, usually with Rüstsatz VI (two underwing MG 151/20 cannons) and sometimes with FuG 350Z Naxos)

G-6/U4 N (as G-6N but with 30 mm/1.18 in MK 108 Motorkanone engine cannon)

One offensive weapons upgrade in 1943 for the Bf 109G was one that mounted the Army`s Werfer-Granate 21 rocket weapon system with one launching tube under each wing panel. The rockets, fitted with a massive 40,8 kg (90 lbs) warhead, were aimed via the standard Revi reflector sights, and were spin-stabilized in flight. In emergency, the tubes could be jettisoned via a small explosive charge. Intended as a "stand-off" weapon, fired from a distance of 1,200 meters and outside the effective range of the formations defensive guns, it was employed against Allied bomber formations, the Wfr. Gr. 21 rocket was unofficially known as the BR 21 (Bordrakete 21 cm) for the Bf 109G-5, G-6 and G-14. The weapons system received the designation of Rüstsatz VII on the G-10.


Late Bf 109G models

Improvements to the design

During the course of 1943, a number of improvements were gradually introduced. In an attempt to increase the pilot's field of view an armoured glass head-rest, the so-called Galland Panzer was developed, and subsequently began replacing the bulky armour plate in the spring of 1943. Towards the end of the year the clear-view Erla Haube canopy appeared, named after one of the sub-contractors involved in building the Bf 109. Often mis-named the "Galland Hood" in postwar Western aviation books and periodicals, it eventually replaced the older heavily framed two-piece canopy on the Bf 109G. The canopy structure was completely redesigned to incorporate a greater area of clear perspex; the welded framing was reduced to a minimum and there was no longer a fixed rear portion, with the entire structure aft of the windscreen being hinged to swing to starboard when opened.

The Bf 109 G-10, AS-engined G-5s, G-6s and G-14s as well as the K-4 saw a refinement of the engine cowlings. The blisters which had formerly covered the spent shell-casing chutes of the MG 131s became more streamlined and were lengthened and enlarged to cover both the weapons and the engine bearers. Initial prototype versions were symmetrical, but as larger superchargers were fitted, the engines required modified upper engine bearers to clear the supercharger housing, and as a result the final shape of the new cowling was asymmetrical, being enlarged on the port side where the supercharger was mounted on the DB engine. There were also special streamlined panels fitted to the forward fuselage. These so-called agglomerations could be seen in several different patterns. Because of their aerodynamically more efficient form in a side-view of DB 605AS and D -powered Bf 109 Gs and Ks, the agglomerations were barely discernible compared with the conspicuous fairings they replaced.


Late-production G-6, G-14, G-14/AS

Some versions of the G-6 and later Gs had a taller, wood-structure tail unit and redesigned rudder which improved stability at high speeds. The introduction of the WGr. 21 cm (8 in) under-wing mortar/rockets and the 30 mm (1.18 in) MK 108 cannon increased firepower. Certain production batches of the Bf 109G were fitted with aileron Flettner tabs to decrease stick forces at high speeds. A radio-navigational method, the Y-Verführung (Y-Guidance) was introduced with the FuG 16ZY.

Subsequent Bf 109G versions were essentially modified versions of the basic G-6 airframe. Early in 1944, new engines with larger superchargers for improved high-altitude performance (DB 605AS), or with MW-50 water injection for improved low/medium-altitude performance (DB 605AM), or these two features combined (DB 605ASM) were introduced into the Bf 109 G-6. Maximum speed of the G-5/G-6 was 530 km/h (320 mph) at sea level, 640 km/h (391 mph) at 6,600 m (21,650 ft)-rated altitude at 1.42 atm boost.

The G-14 arrived in July 1944 at the invasion front over France. It represented an attempt to create a standard type, incorporating many changes which had been introduced during production of the G-6, and which led to a plethora of variants, plaguing decentralized mass production. The standardization attempt proved to be a failure, but overall the type offered improved combat performance, as MW 50 power boosting water injection (increasing output to 1,800 PS (1,775 hp, 1,324 kW), the clear-view Erla Haube was now standard installation. Top speed was 568 km/h (353 mph) at sea level, and 665 km/h (413 mph) at 5 km (16,400 ft) altitude. A high-altitude fighter, designated G-14/AS was also produced with the DB 605ASM high-altitude engine. The ASM engine was built with a larger capacity supercharger, and had a higher rated altitude, and correspondingly the top speed of the G-14/AS was 560 km/h (348 mph) at sea level, and 680 km/h (422 mph) at 7,5 km (24,600 ft) altitude.

There was increasing tendency to use plywood on some less vital parts e.g. on a taller tailfin/rudder unit, pilot seat or instrument panel. A caution estimate based on the available records suggest that about 5,500 G-14s and G-14/AS were built.

The following variants of the G-14 were produced:

G-14(Fighter; standardized late-production G-6; DB 605AM engine, MW 50 boost)

G-14/AS (High-altitude fighter with DB 605ASM engine, MW 50 boost)

G-14/ASy (High-altitude command fighter)

G-14y (command fighter)

G-14/U4 (As G-14, but with 30 mm/1.18 in MK 108 Motorkanone engine cannon)


Referred to as the "bastard aircraft of the Erla factory" in the Luftwaffe's Aircraft Variants Book of December 1944, the G-10 was a Bf 109 G airframe combined with the new DB 605 D-2 engine, created to maintain production levels with minimal disruption of the assembly lines until production of K-series airframes would reach sufficient levels. Despite what the designation would suggest, it appeared in service after the G-14 in November 1944, largely replacing previous G-series aircraft on the production lines of Erla, WNF and Messerschmitt Regensburg factories. Evidence suggests that G-10s were rebuilt from older airframes, supplementing production of the new K-4s with aircraft of almost equal value in the cheapest possible manner. One apparent indication was two aircraft identification plates on the port forward fuselage, below the windscreen rather than one.

The most recognizable external change was the use of the "Erla-Haube" clear-view canopy. Internal changes included inheriting the new 2,000 W generator and the DB 605 D-2 engine of the 109K. Apart from the standardised streamlined engine cowlings, G-10s with the DB605 D-2 were equipped as standard with the MW-50 booster system (DB 605DM) and had a larger Fo 987 oil cooler housed in a deeper fairing. Also, because of the engine's enlarged crankcase and the oil return lines which ran in front of it, these G-10s had small blister fairings incorporated into the lower engine cowlings, forward of and below the exhaust stacks.

The following variants of the G-10 were produced:

G-10(Light fighter with DB605DM or DB/DC engine)

G-10/R2 (Bad-weather fighter with PKS 12 autopilot)

G-10/R5 (Reconnaissance fighter)

G-10/R6 (Bad-weather fighter)

G-10/U4 (As G-10 but with 30 mm/1.18 in MK 108 Motorkanone engine cannon)

Approximately 2,600 G-10s were produced from October 1944 until the war's end.

Miscellaneous variants: G-8, G-12

The G-8 was a dedicated reconnaissance version based on the G-6. The G-8 often had only the Motorkanone engine cannon or the cowling machine guns installed, and there were several subversions for short- or long-range reconnaissance missions with a wide variety of cameras and radios available for use.

The Bf 109 G-12 was a two-seat trainer version of the Bf 109. This was a conversion of "war-weary" or rebuilt G-4 and G-6 airframes; the space needed for the second cockpit was gained by reducing the internal fuel capacity to only 240 L (60 US gal) meaning that the 300 L (80 US gal) drop tank was employed as standard equipment. This version was rarely armed with anything more than one or two cowling machine guns. The rear cockpit canopy was bowed out to give the instructor, who sat behind the student pilot in an armoured seat, a clearer view. The rear cockpit was also equipped with a basic instrument panel and all flight controls.

Bf 109G subtypes and variants

The base subtypes could be equipped with Rüstsatz add-on standard field kits; in practice this meant hanging on some sort of additional equipment like droptanks, bombs or cannons to standard attachment points, present on all production aircraft. Aircraft could be modified in the factory with Umrüst-bausatz (Umbau) conversion kits or by adding extra equipment, designated as Rüstzustand, to convert standard airframes for special roles – a reconnaissance- or bad-weather fighter, for example. Unlike the Rüstsatz field-kits, these modifications were permanent.

The Rüstsatz kits were designated by the letter "R" and a Roman numeral. Rüstsatz kits did not alter the aircraft's designation, so a Bf 109 G-6 with Rüstsatz II (50 kg/110 lb bombs) remained designated as 'Bf 109 G-6', and not 'G-6/R2' – the G-6/R2 was a reconnaissance fighter with MW 50, as suggested by most publications. The Umrüst-Bausatz, Umbau, or Rüstzustand were identified with either an "/R" or "/U" suffix and an Arabic number, e.g. Bf 109 G-10/U4.

Common Rüstsatz kits: Bf 109G.

R I(ETC 501/IX b bomb rack under the fuselage, fusing equipment for an SC 250 or SD 250 type 250 kg (550 lb) bomb)

R II(ETC 50/VIII d bomb rack under the fuselage, fusing equipment, for four SC 50 type 50 kg (110 lb) bombs)

R III(Schloß 503A-1 rack for one fuselage drop tank (300 L/80 US gal))

R IV(two 30 mm (1.18 in) Rheinmetall-Borsig MK 108 underwing gunpods)

R VI(two 20 mm Mauser MG 151/20 underwing gunpods with 135 rpg)

R VII(Peilrufanlage)

Common Umrüst-Bausatz (Umbau) numbers:

U1(Messerschmitt P6 reversible-pitch propeller to be used as air brake, only prototypes)

U2(GM-1 boost, during 1944 several hundred converted to MW-50 boost)

U3(Reconnaissance conversion, in autumn 1943 G-6/U3 adopted as G-8 production variant)

U4(30 mm (1.18 in) MK 108 Motorkanone engine-mounted cannon)

Messerschmitt Bf 109F Series

by Mitch on January 12, 2012 0 Comments

As the war ground on, successive new models were introduced to keep the five-year-old design solvent. The F model was aerodynamically refined, with rounder wings and tail surfaces, as well as a bigger engine. It was the best-handling variant. By war’s end, no less than 33,000 Bf 109s had been produced.


A major airframe redesign led in late 1940 to the appearance of the Bf 109F-1. Four prototypes and 10 pre-production aircraft were built with the 1,350-hp (1007-kW) DB 601E engine in mind, but supplies of this were at least a year late and the first batches of Bf 109Fs to be completed used the DB 601N. It was decided to abandon wing guns in favour of a combination of the two fuselage-mounted 7.92-mm (0.31-in) MG 17 machine-guns and a Mauser cannon firing through the propeller shaft. Earlier vibration problems with this had been cleared, and the first variant to mount the Mauser was the Bf 109F-2 which had a 15-mm cannon; the Bf 109F-3 was similarly fitted while having the DB 601E engine, but the Bf 109F-4 had a 20-mm Mauser. The Bf 109F-5 and Bf 109F-6 were armed and unarmed reconnaissance variants.


By 1941 the Messerschmitt had a rival; the Focke Wulf Fw 190 was in production not only by its parent company but also by Arado and Ago, both of whom had previously built Bf 109s. Fieseler had also left the programme, leaving only Messerschmitt, Erla and WNF (Austria) building Bf 109s. As development of the Bf 109F series continued, so the weight went up. Many variants and sub-variants appeared before production of the Bf 109F ceased after more than 2,000 had been built, and the final major production model was the Bf 109G, deliveries of which began in 1942.

Bf 109F sub-variants

F-0, F-1, F-2

As the DB601E was not yet available in numbers, the pre-production F-0 (the only F variant to have a rectangular supercharger intake) and the first production series F-1/F-2 received the 1,175 PS (1,159 hp, 864 kW) DB 601N engine driving a VDM 9-11207 propeller.The F-0/F-1 and F-2 only differed in their armament; the F-1 being fitted with one 20 mm MG FF/M Motorkanone firing through the engine hub, with 60 rounds. The F-1 first saw action in the Battle of Britain in October 1940 with JG 51.The most experienced fighter aces like Werner Mölders were the first ones to fly the first Bf 109 F-1s in combat in October 1940.A total of 208 F-1s were built between August 1940 and February 1941 by Messerschmitt Regensburg and the Wiener Neustädter Flugzeugwerke.

The F-2 introduced the 15 mm Mauser MG 151 cannon with 200 rounds.The Motorkanone was supplemented by two synchronized 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 17 machine guns mounted under the engine cowl, with 500 rpg. As the harder-hitting 20 mm version of the same gun become available, a number of F-2s were retrofitted with it in the field. About 1,380 F-2s were built between October 1940 and August 1941 by AGO, Arado, Erla, Messerschmitt Regensburg and WNF.No tropicalized version was built, although individual F-2s were retrofitted with sand filters in the field.The maximum speed of the F-1 and F-2 was 615 km/h (382 mph) at rated altitude.

F-0(Pre-production aircraft built from E series airframes, Adolf Galland was one of the few to fly one operationally)

F-1(Armed with 1 × 20 mm MG FF/M Motorkanone cannon and 2 × 7.92 mm/.312 in MG 17 machine guns)

F-2(Armed with 1 × 15 mm (.59 in) MG 151 cannon and 2 × 7.92 mm/.312 in MG 17)

F-2 trop (tropicalized version, only as field conversion)


F-3, F-4, F-5, F-6

The 1,350 PS (1,332 hp, 993 kW) DB 601E was used in the F-3 and F-4 model together with a VDM 9-12010 propeller with broader blades for improved altitude performance.The DB 601 E was initially restricted to 1,200 PS (1,184 hp, 883 kW) at 2,500 rpm;however, the full rating of 1,350 PS at 2,500 rpm was cleared for service use by February 1942. The DB 601 E was able to use 87 octane "B-4" aviation fuel, despite its increased performance; while the earlier DB 601N ran on 100 octane designated as "C-3" by the Luftwaffe.

Only 15 examples of the F-3 are believed to have been produced by Messerschmitt Regesnburg between October 1940 and January 1941. Like the F-1, the F-3 was armed with the 20 mm MG-FF/M and two 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 17s.

From the F-4 onward, the new 20 mm Mauser MG 151/20 with 200 rounds was used as the motorkanone.The first F-4s reached frontline units in June 1941. Production lasted exactly a year between May 1941 and May 1942, with 1,841 of all F-4 variants produced.Some of the later models were capable of mounting two 20 mm MG 151/20 cannons under the wing in faired gondolas with 135 rpg. These were designated F-4/R1 and 240 of them were produced by W.N.F. in the first quarter of 1942.This optional additional armament was standardized as field kit for later G and K series. A special high-altitude variant, the F-4/Z featuring GM-1boost, was also built with a production run of 544 in the first quarter of 1942 and saw extensive use.Finally, the Erla factory produced 576 tropicalized F-4 trop in the first half of 1942.


With its initial engine rating of 1,200 PS, the maximum speed of the F-4 (and F-3) was 635 km/h(394 mph) at rated altitude; and with the clearance of the full rating of 1,350 PS, maximum speed increased to 670 km/h (420 mph).

F-3(As F-1 but with 1350 PS DB 601E engine, produced in limited numbers)

F-4(As F-2 but with DB 601E engine, 20 mm MG 151/20 "Motorkanone" cannon replacing the 15 mm MG 151)

F-4/R1 (As F-4, but capable of mounting two 20 mm MG 151/20 cannons in underwing gondolas)

F-4/Z (As F-4, high-altitude fighter with GM-1 boost)

F-5(Recon version of F-4, only two 7.92 mm/.312 in MG 17)

F-6(Recon version of F-4, improved camera equipment)

New variants – Fw-190 A series

by Mitch on December 24, 2011 0 Comments

Fw 190A-2, II./JG 26 Following the loss of II./JG 26's Gruppenkommandeur, Hauptmann Walter Adolph, in September 1941, the leader of 7./JG 26 Joachim Münchenberg was promoted to succeed him. His aircraft is depicted here at Coquelles in December 1941 with 62 'kills' displayed on the rudder, of which the final six had been achieved on the Fw 190 that autumn.

Fw 190A-3, III./JG 2 Hauptmann Hans 'Assi' Hahn's III. Gruppe was the first of JG 2's gruppen to re-equip with the Fw 190, becoming operational on the A-2 version in March 1942. Wearing the 'cockerel's head' motif favoured by Hahn (whose surname means cockerel in German), this A-3 had become his regular mount by September 1942.


During the autumn of 1941 the Fw 190A-2 replaced the A-1 on the production lines. Powered by the improved BMW 801C-2 engine, this version was fitted with two Mauser MG 151 20-mm cannon in place of the MG 17 machine-guns in each wing root. Yet, even with the new armament, the Fw 190 was considered inadequately armed to attack enemy bombers. As a result, several A-2s were retrofitted with two additional Oerlikon MG/FF 20-mm cannon in the wings, firing outside the propeller disc.


By the end of the 1941 more than 200 Fw 190s had been delivered to the Luftwaffe. Early in 1942 the A-3 replaced the A-2 in production, powered by the BMW 801D-2 engine giving 1,700 hp (1268 kW) at take-off. The fighter's armament was standardised with the four cannon and two machine-guns, as carried by the retrofitted A-2s. Soon after this variant entered production the FuG 7 HF radio was replaced with the more effective FuG 16 VHP set.


By the late spring of 1942 Jagdgeschwader 2 and Jagdgeschwader 26 had re-equipped with the Fw 190. Between them these units mustered about 260 of these formidable fighters. The engine troubles that had plagued the Fw 190 earlier had largely been cured. With the embargo on overwater flights lifted, German pilots were able to exploit the fighter's capabilities to the full and engage the enemy with greater confidence.


The Fw 190 pilots' more aggressive mood manifested itself on 1 June 1942, when the RAF mounted operation Circus No. 178. Eight bomb-carrying Hurricanes attacked a target near Bruges in Belgium. Seven squadrons of Spitfire Mk Vs from the Hornchurch and Biggin Hill Wings provided close escort, while four squadrons from the Debden Wing provided target support. Positioned by radar, some 40 Fw 190s of I. and III. Gruppen of Jagdgeschwader 26 attacked the raiding force from out of the sun during its withdrawal. The Debden Wing took the force of the attack and lost eight Spitfires in rapid succession, including that flown by its commander. Five Spitfires limped home with battle damage. No Focke-Wulf suffered serious damage during the encounter.


Ascendancy over the Spitfire

The following day proved equally disastrous for a Fighter Command unit, when several squadrons of Spitfires flew a sweep through the St Omer area. Usually the German fighter controllers ignored such incursions, but not this one. I. and II. Gruppen of JG 26 delivered a co-ordinated attack on No. 403 (Canadian) Squadron, led by the redoubtable Squadron Leader Alan Deere. In the desperate seven-minute brawl that followed, seven Spitfires were shot down. Two more returned with serious damage. Again, no Focke-Wulf suffered serious damage.


A few weeks later the Commander-in-Chief Fighter Command, Air Chief Marshal Sir Sholto Douglas, wrote a strongly worded letter to the Under Secretary of State for Air, Lord Sherwood. Douglas complained that his force had lost the technical edge it had once had over the Luftwaffe and went on to say:

"There is ... no doubt in my mind, nor in the minds of my fighter pilots, that the Fw 190 is the best all-round fighter in the world today."

As mentioned elsewhere in this account, near the end of June 1942 a German pilot became disorientated during a combat with Spitfires over western England and mistakenly landed his Fw 190A-3 at Pembrey in south Wales. So the RAF secured an intact example of this important fighter. At the time of the capture, however, that version of the Fw 190 had been superseded in production by the A-4. The latter's BMW 801D-2 engine carried the MW 50 water methanol injection system which boosted power for short periods at low and medium altitudes.


During this period there were experiments using Fw 190s in the fighter-bomber role, to mount tip-and-run attacks on targets along the south coast of England. The two Jagdgeschwader in the west each operated a Staffel with specially modified Fw 190A-3s and A-4s. These aircraft had the MG/FF cannon removed from the outer wing positions, and had a rack to carry an SC 250 250-kg (550-lh) or SC 500 500-kg (1,100-lb) bomb under the fuselage.


An end to the easy times

By the late summer of 1942 the German armed forces were almost at the limits of their territorial gains, following deep thrusts eastwards into the Soviet Union and along the coast of North Africa. This period also marked the apogee of the Fw 190's service career, when the units equipped with the type enjoyed an easy-going qualitative superiority over almost every enemy type that they met in combat.


In war nothing stands still. From the summer of 1942 the Spitfire Mk IX, powered by the new Merlin 61 engine with two-stage supercharging, appeared in action with a performance remarkably close to that of the German fighter. The type was in full production and it was becoming available in useful numbers. In combat a German pilot could not to tell the difference between the Spitfire Mk IX and the earlier Mk V. From now on they had to treat every Spitfire they encountered as a Mk IX.

Fw 190 - Entry into service In March 1941

by Mitch on December 24, 2011 0 Comments

Oberleutnant Otto Behrens assumed command of Erprobungsstaffel 190 based at Rechlin- Roggenthin. The unit received six pre-production Fw 190A-Os and its brief was to test the new tighter under service conditions. The pilots and ground crews assigned to the Erprobungstaffel were drawn from II. Gruppe of Jagdgeschwader 26, and the latter unit was earmarked to receive the first production Fw 190s when these became available.


During early service trials the Fw 190A-0 exhibited a number of serious shortcomings. The new BMW 801C engine suffered from overheating, although not to the same extent as the BMW 139. The engine's automatic fuel control system also gave trouble. For a given throttle-setting, set by the pilot, this automatic system should have established the optimum relationship between aircraft altitude, fuel flow, fuel mixture, engine revolutions, supercharger gear selection, propeller pitch setting and ignition timing. The system did not work reliably at first, but a string of modifications over a long period reduced the problems to an acceptable level.


In June 1941 the first four production Fw 190A-1s emerged from the Marienburg factory. By August, monthly production reached 30 aircraft. The first two aircraft off the Arado/Warnemunde production line were delivered in August, and the first two from the AGO/Oschersleben plant followed in October. The initial production version carried an armament of four MG 17 7.9-mm machine-guns, two on top of the forward fuselage and two in the wing roots, with all four synchronised to fire through the airscrew.


By the end of September 1941 the Luftwaffe had accepted a total of 82 Fw 190A-1s. One Gruppe, II./JG 26 based at Moorseele in Belgium, had re-equipped with the new fighter and deliveries had started to III./JG 26 based at Liegescourt in northern France.


British intelligence

By this time the British Air Ministry had received vague and contradictory evidence as to the existence of the new German fighter. The Air Ministry Weekly Intelligence Summary dated 13 August 1941. a secret document issued to all RAF units and made available to all officers and aircrew, carried the following report:

"A certain number of these new fighters have been produced, hut information is very scanty. The general design is said to be based on American practice and the aircraft is probably a low-wing monoplane with a fairly short fuselage and a span of about 30 feet. This new aircraft is fitted with a two-bank radial, an engine of the same type as that in the Dornier 217. It is definitely known that this particular machine had to be fitted with an auxiliary mechanically-driven fan to keep the engine temperatures within reasonable limits. It is also reported that it is equipped with a very large airscrew and that the undercarriage is extraordinarily high in order to give the necessary ground clearance. Rough estimates show that the speed of the Fw 190 is somewhere between 370 and 380 mph at 18-20,000 ft."

Although brief, the report was accurate except in two respects. The propeller fitted to the Fw 190 was not particularly large. Also, and more importantly, the report underestimated the maximum speed of the Fw 190 by about 30 mph (48 km/h).


Soon after II./JG 26 commenced combat patrols in September, the RAF pilot's reports began to mention encounters with a new German fighter type. Following action on 18 September, a combat report noted the destruction of "a Curtiss Hawk (or Fw 190)". Almost certainly the aircraft was the Fw 190 flown by the commander of II./JG 26, Hauptmann Walter Adolph, who was shot clown and killed on that day.


Three days later, while escorting Blenheim bombers attacking the power station at Gusnay near Bethune, the Polish No. 315 Squadron reported that its Spitfires had destroyed "one unknown enemy aircraft with a radial engine". Almost certainly this was the Fw 190 of Lieutenant Ulrich Dzialas, who was lost at that time.


The evidence mounted slowly, and more months elapsed before the RAF Intelligence Sevice committed itself to a positive identification of the new German fighter. In the issue dated 29 October 1941 the Weekly Intelligence Summary stated: "In recent weeks a radial-engined type of fighter has been reported as a French aircraft, the Bloch 151, and as a new type of German fighter, the Fw 190. There is as yet insufficient evidence to say with certainty what the new aircraft is".


By the beginning of 1942 RAF Intelligence had at last established beyond doubt that the aircraft was indeed the Fw 190. Also, from the reports of disgruntled fighter pilots who encountered it in combat, it became clear that the radial-engined Fw 190 was a formidable opponent. It had a dear margin in performance over the Spitfire Mk V, the best aircraft RAF Fighter Command then had available.


Even after it began flying combat missions the Fw 190 continued to suffer from engine overheating. Sometimes this led to fires in flight and, following losses to this cause, an edict was issued forbidding pilots to fly over the sea beyond gliding range from the coast. Despite that difficulty, the Fw 190 proved a formidable adversary. In the months that followed the RAF learned to its discomfort that the new German fighter had the edge in performance over any of its operational types.

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