Focke-Wulf Ta 154 Moskito

by Mitch on September 12, 2012 0 Comments

The Focke-Wulf Ta 154 Moskito was a fast night fighter designed by Kurt Tank and produced by Focke-Wulf late in World War II. A competitor to the Heinkel He 219, the Focke- Wulf Ta 154 was intended as the Luftwaffe’s response to the British De Havilland Mosquito, and came near to becoming a major combat Luftwaffe airplane. The first prototype, V1, fitted with two Jumo 211F engines, flew on July 1, 1943. The first armed version of the Ta 154 with Lichtenstein radar was the V3, which also was the first to fit the Jumo 211R engines. By June 1944, the Jumo 213 engine was finally arriving in some numbers, and a small batch of Ta 154A-1 craft were completed with these engines. The Ta 154 had a crew of two, a length of 12.55 m (40 ft 3 in), a wing-span of 16.30 m (52 ft 5 in), a height of 3.60 m (11 ft 4 in), a wing area of 31.40 square m (333.68 square ft), and an empty weight of 6,600 kg (14,550 lbs). It had a maximum speed of 615 km/h (404 mph), a range of 1,400 km (872 miles), and a service ceiling of 9,500 m (31,200 ft). The landing-gear was a tricycle arrangement with steerable nose wheel. Armament included two 20-mm MG 151 cannons, two 30-mm MG 131 nose-mounted cannons, and a MG 131 Schräge Musik cannon firing upward at a 60-degree angle. By August 1944, about fifty production versions had been completed, but the aircraft never made it, mostly because a glue of bad quality was used which ate away the wooden parts. Like the British De Havilland Mosquito, the German Focke-Wulf Ta 154 Moskito was made of wood. This led to some of the production versions breaking up in mid-air, as the glue was incapable of withstanding the stresses produced in flight. The inability to find an adequate adhesive prevented completion of an order for 250 planes. Some of the planes produced served with Nachtjagdgeschwader 3 (Night Fighter Group 3), a few were later used as a training aircraft for jet pilots, and some were modified to form the bottom half of Mistel composite aircraft.


by Mitch on June 11, 2012 0 Comments

The production two-seater variant of the Messerschmitt's jet fighter, called Me 262B-1, was devised solely for conversion training  purposes. For a fighter pilot accustomed with the piston-engined aircraft the Me 262 was a vehicle of a different age. The tricycle undercarriage, twin engines, completely new type of propulsion notwithstanding the temperamental throttle control - all contributed to the need of conversion trainer with instructor in the rear cockpit. As was the accustomed practice, two-seater machines were not to be built new but converted from fighter models. About 120 machines of this variant were finished during 1944 and 1945.


Initially, the idea of a night-fighter 262 was developed independently by Messerschmitt as the Me 262B-2. It was to have a longer fuselage accommodating the two crew, internal fuel tanks with the capacity comparable to that of a single-seat variant, and a Berlin radar antenna hidden inside the modified nose cone. However, by the end of 1944 the war situation deteriorated so rapidly that it was realized that an interim solution must be found before the B-2 could reach production status.


Thus some of the existing trainer machines were converted once again to interim model nightfighters becoming Me 262B-1a/U1. The conversion comprised a FuG218 radar with operator occupying the rear cockpit. Before the collapse of German defences, only a handful of this type reached operational use with a single unit, 10./NJG11 at Magdeburg.


Me 262 A-1a/U2

Single prototype with FuG 220 Lichtenstein SN-290 MHz radar transceiver and Hirschgeweih antenna array, for trials as a night-fighter.


The Germans had several radar systems, produced by highly specialized manufacturers, such as GEMA, Telefunken, Lorenz and Siemens. Radar Lichtenstein BC, developed by Telefunken in 1941, operated on a frequency of 490 MHz with a 620 mm wavelength. It required four double pairs of dipole antennae bristling from the aircraft’s nose. It had a search arc of 24 degrees and a range of between 3,000 and 5,500 m depending on conditions. Provided with three scopes for azimuth, ranging and elevation, the radar was, however, far from user-friendly, and even experienced operators often had to rely upon ground control to vector them into the right area.


Radar 220 Lichtenstein SN2 was an improved and more accurate model developed in 1943, operating on long waves of about 90 MHz. Working through the distinctive “stag’s antlers” aerial, the SN2 was only slightly affected by the RAF’s “window” countermeasure. Radar Flensburg, developed by Siemens, was introduced in mid–1944 using wing-mounted dipole antennae, and was sensitive to frequencies 170–220 MHz. Radar 218 Neptun was introduced in 1944 by Siemens; it used frequencies 158 to 187 MHz and had a range of 120 to 500 km. Radar 240 Berlin, introduced in April 1945, used a 9 cm wavelength.


These devices were mounted on a few special night-fighter designs. The Messerschmitt Bf 110 remained the primary Luftwaffe night fighter until 1944; the aircraft (G version) proved able to take the addition of radar, a third crewman to operate it, and heavy armament. Other night fighters included the Heinkel He 219, and modifications of existing designs of Me 220, Me 262 and Me 410 variants, Dornier Do 217 E and N, Junkers Ju 88 G-7 and Ju 188.


Me 262 A-1a/U3

Reconnaissance version modified in small numbers, with Reihenbilder RB 20/30 cameras mounted in the nose (sometimes one RB 20/20 and one RB 75/30). Some retained one 30 mm (1.18 in) cannon, but most were unarmed.

Me 262 B-1a/U1

Me 262 B-1a trainers converted into provisional night fighters, FuG 218 Neptun radar, with Hirschgeweih antenna array.

Me 262 B-2

Proposed night fighter version with stretched fuselage.

Heinkel He 100

by Mitch on June 5, 2012 0 Comments

After losing the production contract for the Luftwaffe’s new monoplane fighter to the Messerschmitt Bf 109, Ernst Heinkel proposed an improved version of the He 112. The new design was known as Heinkel He 100. Actually it should have been designated He 113, but since the number 13 was unlucky, this had been dropped. It had a length of 8.2 m (26 ft 11 in), a span of 9.41 m (30 ft 11 in), and an empty weight of 1,810 kg (3,990 lbs). The single- seat aircraft was powered by a 1,175-hp Daimler-Benz DB 601 Aa inverted-V-12, liquid- cooled engine, and had a speed of 670 km/h (416 mph) and a range of 900 km (559 miles). Armament consisted of one 20-mm cannon and two 13-mm machine guns. In March 1939, a prototype He 100, V3, with clipped wing, established a top-speed record at 746 km/h (464 mph). The aircraft’s excellent maneuverability made it potentially a good fighter and possibly a fast ground attacker. In spite of its high performance and many advanced technical features, the He 100 was rejected and never reached mass production. The exact number built is unclear. Some sources state 100; other sources state that six units were sold to Russia (from which came the Lawotschkin, Gorbunow & Gudkow LaGG 3), and three to Japan (developed as Kawasaki Ki 61 Hien). Twelve formed a private fighter group intended to protect the Heinkel factory at Rostock-Marienhe. The aircraft were mainly used as propaganda in 1940, as Goebbels attempted to get Britain to believe that Germany possessed a superfast fighter.

Bf 110 in the Med.

by Mitch on April 6, 2012 0 Comments

Balkans Campaign

The Messerschmitt Bf 110C and Es were committed to the invasions of Yugoslavia and Greece in April 1941. I and II./ZG 26 were deployed to the theatre. Once again, the Bf 110 encountered foreign flown Messerschmitt Bf 109s, this time belonging to the Yugoslavian Air Force. As over Switzerland in 1940, the battles ended in their opponent's favor. On the first day, 6 April, Bf 110s of I./ZG 26 lost five of their number in exchange for two Yugoslavian Bf 109s. II./ZG dispatched several Hawker Furys, but managed to lose two of their own against the biplanes. Over Greece, on 20 April, II./ZG 26 claimed five Hurricanes of No. 33 and No. 80 Squadron RAF for two losses. This engagement saw the death of 50-victory ace Marmaduke Pattle of No 33 Squadron. Staffelkapitän Hauptmann Theodor Rossiwall and Oberleutnant Sophus Baagoe were amongst the claimers on this day, taking their scores to 12 and 14. Also killed in this battle was the ace F/Lt W.J. "Timber" Woods of No. 80 Squadron with 6½ kills. Oberleutnant Baagoe was killed on 14 May 1941 whilst on a strafing mission during the Battle of Crete. The British defences and a Gloster Gladiator pilot claimed credit. Around 12 Bf 110s were lost over Crete.


North Africa, the Mediterranean and Middle East

The Rashid Ali Rebellion and resulting Anglo-Iraqi War saw the Luftwaffe commit 12 of 4./ZG 76's Bf 110s to the Iraqi Nationalist cause as part of "Flyer Command Iraq" (Fliegerführer Irak). The German machines reached Iraq in the first week of May 1941. The campaign in the desert would last for ten days. Two RAF Gladiators were claimed by future night fighter ace Martin Drewes. But RAF raids badly damaged two Bf 110s. However, by the 26 May, no Bf 110s were left serviceable and German personnel were evacuated. One Bf 110 (Wk-Nr 4035) was captured by the RAF and test flown as RAF serial HK846, "Belle of Berlin". Based in Cairo, Egypt, it was to deploy to South Africa as part of a program to train pilots on enemy equipment. It did not make it, crashing in the Sudan. In the North African Campaign, the Bf 110 acted as a support aircraft for the Junkers Ju 87 Stuka units. In 1941, nearly 20% of the Zerstörergeschwader's missions were ground attack orientated. A number of Bf 110 aces were lost in aerial combat during this period, and other losses were considerable. Significantly, on the night of 22–23 May, the Bf 110 was pressed into night fighting service over the desert. Oberleutnant Alfred Wehmeyer scored three nocturnal kills against Allied bombers in the space of a week. In August 1942, a stalemate between the Allied and Axis forces in North Africa permitted the withdrawal of III./ZG 26 to Crete for convoy protection. During this time, a number of United States Army Air Force B-24 Liberators were destroyed. On 29 September 1942, whilst on patrol alone, Oberleutnant Helmut Haugk of ZG 26 engaged a formation of 11 B-24s, dispatching two of the bombers. The Bf 110 had demonstrated its capability in a role it was to excel in over Europe. Lastly, in February 1945, two Bf 110G-4s were supplied to the Air Force of the Independent State of Croatia (ZNDH). One was destroyed by Allied bombing at Zagreb and the other survived and sought sanctuary at Klagenfurt in Austria with other retreating ZNDH aircraft in May 1945.

Messerschmitt Bf 110 Twin

by Mitch on February 20, 2012 0 Comments

Designed in 1934 by Willy Messerschmitt’s Bayerische Flugzeugwerke (Bf ), the first Bf 110 V1 prototype flew in May 1936. An aircraft of very mixed fortune, the wartime-production Bf 110C joined the German air force in early 1939. The strategic fighter was intended to perform as a heavily armed escort fighter to accompany bombers deep into enemy territory, blasting a path through all opposition, and raiding deep into enemy heartland. Seen as offering a multi-role capability, and complementing their primary force of single-engined light fighters, the heavily armed twin-engined Bf 110 raised considerable enthusiasm and high expectations. Special Zerstörer (destroyer) wings were formed, and regarded so highly that most of the best fighter pilots were posted to them. The two-seat, twin-engined monoplane Bf 110 had a span of 16.25 m (53 ft 5 in), a length of 12.1 m (39 ft 8.5 in), a height of 3.5 m (11 ft 6 in) and an empty weight of 4,500 kg (9,920 lbs). Powered by two 1,100-hp Daimler-Benz DB 610A engines, it had a speed of 562 km/h (349 mph), and a range of 850 km (528 miles) but this could be significantly increased to 700 miles by jettisoning underwing fuel tanks. Armament was formidable, including two forward- firing 20-mm Oerlikon MGFF cannons (placed in ventral position), four forward-firing Rheinmetall 7.92-mm MG 17 machine guns (fixed in the nose), and one 7.92-mm MG 15 manually aimed in rear cockpit. Four 250-kg (551-lb) bombs could be carried in underwing racks.


Right before the war a photograph appeared in the German press, showing the new Messerschmitt bomber Me 210 Jaguar; this was an elaborate hoax (in fact a Bf 110 with a glazed nose photographically superimposed) to fool the British and the French. Too late to be tested in the Spanish Civil War, the Messerschmitt Bf 110 met its requirements and, despite unimpressive maneuverability, performed extremely well in the close-support role in the Polish, Norwegian, Dutch and French campaigns. The Battle of Britain, however, proved a turning point in the Messerschmitt Bf 110 heavy fighter’s career. Lacking a powerful rear defensive armament, agility and acceleration ability to cope with the opposing fast, agile and modern single-engine British fighters, it proved itself almost as vulnerable to Spitfires and Hurricanes as were the bombers it was supposed to protect. Suffering heavy losses, the result was that the escort Bf 110s themselves had to be escorted by Bf 109 fighters. As a long-range fighter/light bomber, the Bf 110 was a flop. Despite this setback and its ultimate failure in its originally intended role, the Messerschmitt Bf 110s continued to serve in all theaters. Improved D and E versions with many improved sub-types performed in various roles in 1941 and 1942, in less dangerous skies in the Balkans, North Africa and Russia, including ground and shipping attacks, light bomber runs, glider tug work, and long-range reconnaissance. By 1942, production was scheduled to end, and the aging Bf 110 was supposed to be replaced by the new Messerschmitt Me 210. The failure of the latter led to the Bf 110 being reinstated (G version) and modified well beyond its original design. Though outdated in 1943, the Bf 110 G was built in larger numbers than all other versions combined. The type found its true niche in the defensive role in which its heavy armament, long range, and ability to carry airborne radar made the Bf 110 useful again. Away from opposition fighters, its destroyer capabilities could work once more. Mainly used as night fighter, the improved G version was powered by two 1,475-hp Daimler-Benz DB B engines, and fitted with flame dampers on the exhausts. Mounting Lichtenstein radar, heavy MG 151 oblique-firing Schräge Musik guns (and eventually 21-cm rocket tubes), the Bf 110 achieved remarkable successes as much as a night fight as day interceptor. That was to change when the Bf 110’s nemesis, long-range escort single-engine fighters (P-47 or P 51 for example), returned to the scene. By March 1944, due to heavy losses, the Bf 110 was forced to withdraw from the daylight air war above Germany. A final version (Bf 110 H ground attacker) was produced in February 1945, after a total of 6,050 of all types had been manufactured.

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