Luftwaffe Fighter-Bombers and Destroyers
The Messerschmitt Bf 110 Zerstörer / Destroyer
National origin:- Germany Role:- Heavy fighter, Ground-attack aircraft, Fighter-bomber/Night fighter Manufacturer:- Bayerische Flugzeugwerke Messerschmitt Designer:- Willy Messerschmitt First flight:- 12th May 1936 Introduction:- 1937; Retired:- 1945 (Luftwaffe) Primary users:- Luftwaffe, Hungarian Air Force, Regia Aeronautica, Romanian Air Force Produced:- between 1936–1945 Number built:- 6,170[N1]
From 1938 onwards, the Luftwaffe had developed the Me-110 twin engined fighter; called the 'heavy' or 'destroyer' fighter (Zerstörer). The role of this fighter was theoretically to be the pursuit of enemy formations operating over the Reich or returning over their own territory. In point of fact many squadrons of these aircraft were employed in the early war campaign. The twin-engine fighter was something new in German pre-war concepts, and in the Staff College lectures its experimental nature was constantly emphasized.
From The Rise and Fall of the German Air Force 1933-1945 issued by the Air Ministry (A.C.A.S..1948)
The Messerschmitt Bf 110, often known non-officially as the Me 110,[N2] is a twin-engine heavy fighter (Zerstörer—German for 'Destroyer') and fighter-bomber (Jagdbomber or Jabo) developed in Nazi Germany in the 1930s and used by the Luftwaffe during World War II. Hermann Göring was a proponent of the Bf 110. It was armed with two MG FF 20 mm cannon, four 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 17 machine guns, and one 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 15 machine gun or twin-barrel MG 81Z for defence. Development work on an improved type to replace the Bf 110, the Messerschmitt Me 210 began before the war started, but its teething troubles from its aerodynamics resulted in the Bf 110 soldiering on until the end of the war in various roles, alongside its replacements, the Me 210 and the significantly improved Me 410 Hornisse.
The Bf 110 served with considerable initial success in the early campaigns in Poland, Norway and France. The primary weakness of the Bf 110 was its lack of agility in the air, although this could be mitigated with the correct tactics. This weakness was exploited when flying as close escort to German bombers during the Battle of Britain. When British bombers began targeting German territory with nightly raids, some Bf 110-equipped units were withdrawn and redeployed as night fighters, a role to which the aircraft was well suited. After the Battle of Britain the Bf 110 enjoyed a successful period as an air superiority fighter and strike aircraft in other theatres, and defended Germany from strategic air attack by day against the USAAF's 8th Air Force, until a major change in American fighter tactics rendered them increasingly vulnerable to developing American air supremacy over the Reich as 1944 began.
During the Balkans Campaign, North African Campaign and on the Eastern Front, it rendered valuable ground support to the German Army as a potent fighter-bomber. Later in the war, it was developed into a formidable radar-equipped night fighter, becoming the major night-fighting aircraft of the Luftwaffe. Most of the German night fighter aces flew the Bf 110 at some point during their combat careers, and the top night fighter ace of all time, Major Heinz-Wolfgang Schnaufer, flew it exclusively and claimed 121 victories in 164 combat missions.[N3]
Genesis and competition
Throughout the 1930s, the air forces of the major military powers were engaged in a transition from biplane to monoplane designs. Most concentrated on the single-engine fighter aircraft, but the problem of range arose. The Reichsluftfahrtministerium (RLM), pushed by Hermann Göring, issued a request for a new multipurpose fighter called the Kampfzerstörer (battle destroyer) with long range and an internal bomb bay. The request called for a twin-engine, three-seat, all-metal monoplane that was armed with cannon as well as a bomb bay. Of the original seven companies, only Bayerische Flugzeugwerke (Messerschmitt), Focke-Wulf and Henschel responded to the request.[N4]
Messerschmitt defeated Focke-Wulf, Henschel and Arado, and was given the funds to build several prototype aircraft. The Focke-Wulf design, the Focke-Wulf Fw 57, had a wing span of 25.6 m (84 ft) and was powered by two DB 600 engines. It was armed with two 20 mm MG FF cannons in the nose and a third was positioned in a dorsal turret. The Fw 57 V1 flew in 1936 but its performance was poor and the machine crashed.[N5] The Henschel Hs 124 was similar in construction layout to the Fw 57,[N5] equipped with two Jumo 210C for the V1. The V2 used the BMW 132Dc radial engines generating 870 PS compared with the 640 PS Jumo. The armament consisted of a single rearward-firing 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 15 machine gun and a single forward-firing 20 mm MG FF cannon.[N5]
Messerschmitt omitted the internal bomb load requirement from the RLM directive to increase the armament element of the RLM specification. The Bf 110 was far superior to its rivals in providing the speed, range and firepower to meet its role requirements.[N6] By the end of 1935, the Bf 110 had evolved into an all-metal, low-wing cantilever monoplane of semi-monocoque design featuring twin vertical stabilizers and powered by two DB 600A engines. The design was also fitted with Handley-Page wing slots[N6](actually, leading-edge slats).
By luck (and pressure by Ernst Udet), RLM reconsidered the ideas of the Kampfzerstörer and began focusing on the Zerstörer. Due to these changes, the Bayerische Flugzeugwerke design better fitted RLM's requests. On 12 May 1936, Rudolf Opitz flew the first Bf 110 out of Augsburg.[N7] But, as many pre-war designs found, the engine technologies promised were not up to acceptable reliability standards. Even with the temperamental DB 600 engines, the RLM found the Bf 110, while not as maneuverable as desired, was quite a bit faster than its original request specified, as well as faster than the then-current front line fighter, the Bf 109 B-1. Thus the order for four pre-production A-0 units was placed. The first of these were delivered on January 1937. During this testing, both the Focke-Wulf Fw 187 and Henschel Hs 124 competitors were rejected and the Bf 110 was ordered into full production.
The initial deliveries of the Bf 110 encountered several delays with delivery of the DB 600 motors, which forced Bayerische Flugzeugwerke to install Junkers Jumo 210B engines, leaving the Bf 110 seriously underpowered and able to reach a top speed of only 431 km/h (268 mph). The armament of the A-0 units was also limited to four nose-mounted 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 17 machine guns.
Even without delivery of the DB 600 engines, Bayerische Flugzeugwerke began assembly of the Bf 110 in mid-1937. As the DB 600 engines continued to have problems, Bayerische Flugzeugwerke was forced to keep on using Jumo motors, the 210G, which supplied 515 kW (700 PS) each (versus the 471 kW/640 PS supplied by the 210B). Three distinct versions of the Bf 110B were built, the B-1, which featured four 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 17 machine guns and two 20 mm MG FF cannons. The B-2 reconnaissance version, which had a camera in place of the cannons, and the B-3 which was used as a trainer, with the cannons replaced by extra radio equipment. Only 45 Bf 110Bs were built before the Jumo 210G engine production line ended. The major identifier of the -A and -B-series Bf 110s was the very large 'mouth' bath radiators located under each engine.
In late 1938, the DB 601 B-1 engines became available. With the new engine, the design teams removed the radiators under the engine nacelles and replaced them with water/glycol radiators for the C-series airframes onwards, placing them under the wing just outboard of each nacelle, otherwise similar in installation, appearance and function to those on the Bf 109E. With the DB 601 engine, the Bf 110's maximum speed increased to 541 km/h (336 mph) with a range of approximately 1,094 km (680 mi). A small oil cooler and airscoop remained under each engine nacelle for the remainder of the Bf 110's production run.
First conceived in the latter half of 1939, the D-series of Bf 110s was targeted to have improvements meant to increase its range. The initial D-series version, the Bf 110D-0 was designed to add a large, streamlined 1,050 litre (277 U.S. gallon) ventral fuel tank built under the fuselage, which required a substantially sized, conformal streamlined ventral fuselage fairing extending from halfway back under the nose to the rear of the cockpit glazing, inspiring the nickname Dackelbauch (dachshund's belly).[N8] The D-1 was also set up to accept a pair of fin-equipped 900 litre (238 U.S. gallon) drop tanks, one under each wing, increasing the total fuel capacity to 4,120 litres (1,088 U.S. gallons). The substantial added drag of the early 'dachshund's belly' ventral fuselage tank in test flights mandated its omission from production D-1s although they were still prepared to mount an improved, better streamlined, version. D-1s so equipped were known as D-1/R1 whereas the D-1/R2 was equipped with two 900 l drop tanks and a droppable 85 l oil tank. Later D-2 and D-3 versions retained the twin underwing 900 litre drop tank capability, using multipurpose ordnance racks capable of holding either drop tanks or carrying bombs.[N9]
Later production variants
The production of the Bf 110 was put on a low priority in 1941 in expectation of its replacement by the Me 210. During this time, two versions of the Bf 110 were developed, the E and F models. The E was designed as a fighter bomber (Zerstörer Jabo), able to carry four 50 kg (110 lb) ETC 50 racks under the wing, along with the centreline ETC 500 bomb rack. The first E, the Bf 110 E-1 was originally powered by the DB 601B engine, but shifted to the DB 601P as they became available in quantity. A total of 856 Bf 110E models were built between August 1940 and January 1942.[N10] The E models also had upgraded armour and some fuselage upgrades to support the added weight. Most pilots of the Bf 110E considered the aircraft slow and unresponsive, one former Bf 110 pilot commenting the E was 'rigged and a total dog.'
The Bf 110F featured the new DB 601F engines which produced 993 kW/1,350 PS (almost double the power the original Jumo engines provided), which allowed for upgraded armour, strengthening, and increased weight with no loss in performance. Three common versions of the F model existed. Pilots typically felt the Bf 110F to be the best of the 110 line, being fully aerobatic and in some respects smoother to fly than the Bf 109, though not as fast. Eventually 512 Bf 110F models were completed between December 1941 and December 1942, when production gave way to the Bf 110G.[N10]
Although the Me 210 entered service in mid-1941, it was plagued with problems and was withdrawn from service for further development. In the wake of the failure of the Me 210, the Bf 110G was designed.[N11] The G model was fitted with DB 605B engines, producing 1,085 kW (1,475 PS) in 'War Emergency' setting, and 997 kW (1,355 PS) at 5.8 km (19,000 ft) altitude. The Bf 110G also had upgraded nose armament, and underwent some changes which improved the aerodynamics of the aircraft. The rear cockpit access was moved forward from the transversely-hinged, 'tilt-open' rearmost canopy glazing to a side/top hinged opening section of the main canopy, opening to port, with a new rearmost framed glazing section fixed in place. No Bf 110 G-1 existed, so the Bf 110 G-2 became the baseline Bf 110G. A large number of Rüstsätze field conversion packs were available, making the G subtype the most versatile production version of the Bf 110. The initial batch of six pre-series production G-0 aircraft built in June 1942 were followed by 797 G-2, 172 G-3 and 2,293 G-4 models, built between December 1942 and April 1945.[N10] Pilots reported the Bf 110G to be a 'mixed bag' in the air, in part due to all changes between the G and F series. The Bf 110G was considered a superior gun platform with excellent all-around visibility, and considered, until the advent of the Heinkel He 219, to be one of the Luftwaffe's best night fighters.
The Bf 110's main strength was its ability to accept unusually powerful air-to-air weaponry. Early versions had four 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 17 machine guns in the upper nose and two 20 mm MG FF/M cannons fitted in the lower part of the nose. Later versions replaced the MG FF/M with the more powerful 20 mm MG 151/20 cannons and many G-series aircraft, especially those which served in the bomber-destroyer role, had two 30 mm (1.18 in) MK 108 cannons fitted instead of the MG 17. The defensive armament initially consisted of a single, flexibly mounted 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 15 machine gun. Late F-series and prototype G-series were upgraded to a 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 81 machine gun with a higher rate of fire, and the G-series was equipped with the twin-barreled MG 81Z. Many G-series night fighters were retrofitted or factory-built with the Schräge Musik off-bore gun system, which fired upward at an oblique angle for shooting down bombers while passing underneath; it was frequently equipped with two 20 mm MG FF/M, but field installations of the 20 mm MG 151/20 or 30 mm (1.18 in) MK 108 cannons were also used. The Schräge Musik weapons were typically mounted immediately in front of the rear cockpit.
The Bf 110 G-2/R1 was also capable of accepting armament such as the Bordkanone series 37 mm (1.46 in) BK 3,7 autofed cannon, mounted in a conformal ventral gun pod under the fuselage. A single hit from this weapon was usually enough to destroy any Allied bomber.
The initial Bf 110 C-1/B fighter-bomber could carry two 250 kg (551 lb), two 500 kg (1,102 lb), or two 1,000 kg (2,204 lb) bombs on two ETC 500 racks under the fuselage and, starting with the Bf 110 E-0, could be supplemented by four additional 50 kg (110 lb) bombs on ETC 50 racks under the wing.
Hermann Göring reportedly ordered the Zerstörerwaffe to make all the Luftwaffe's Bf 110s available for operations. Future ace, commander of Nachtjagdgeschwader 1 and Jagdfliegerführer Rumänien Wolfgang Falck scored his first kills over Poland, as did future night fighter ace Helmut Lent. Gordon Gollob, future General der Jagdflieger. Falck's unit, I./ZG 76, claimed 31 kills during the campaign, of which 19 were confirmed. I(Z)./LG 1 also contributed. Escorting German bomber formations on attacks against Warsaw, the unit claimed 30 kills on the first day. Polish fighter units reported a 17% loss rate on this day. This rose to 72% in five days. JGr 2 also claimed 28 aerial and 50 ground victories.
The Phoney War and the 'Battle of German Bight'
Most of the units protecting western Germany from aerial attack were equipped with the Messerschmitt Bf 109. One of the Bf 110 units assigned to air defence in this sector was Lehrgeschwader 1. On 23 November 1939, the Bf 110 claimed its first Allied victim when LG 1 Bf 110s engaged and shot down a Morane-Saulnier M.S.406 of the Armée de l'Air over Verdun. Just three weeks later, on 18 December 1939, the Bf 110 participated in the first German victory over British arms in World War II. RAF Bomber Command sent 22 Vickers Wellington bombers to attack the German naval base at Wilhelmshaven. Despite help from Bf 109 units, it was the Bf 110 which excelled in the bomber destroyer role. By the end of the fighting, the Germans had claimed 38 RAF bombers. Actual losses were 11 Wellingtons and six damaged to varying degrees. Some sources claim a 12th Wellington was destroyed. The raid convinced RAF Bomber Command to consider abandoning the daylight bombing of Germany in favour of night actions.
Invasions of Denmark and Norway
The Bf 110 Zerstörerwaffe (Destroyer Force) saw considerable action during operation Operation Weserübung, the invasion of Denmark and Norway. Two Zerstörergeschwader, (1 and 76), were committed, with 64 aircraft. The Bf 110s destroyed 25 Danish military aircraft stationed on the Værløse airbase on 9 April through ground strafing. One Danish Fokker C.V did manage to get airborne but was immediately shot down. During this campaign, Victor Mölders, brother of the famous Werner Mölders, took the official surrender of the town of Aalborg after landing at the local airfield. Dressed in flying gear, he was given a lift into the town centre by a milkman to find suitable quarters for I./Zerstörergeschwader 1's (ZG 1) Bf 110 crews.
In Norway, the Bf 110s helped secure the Oslo-Fornebu airport, escorting Junkers Ju 52 transports loaded with paratroops (Fallschirmjäger). The Germans were engaged by several Gloster Gladiators and machine guns manned by troops on the ground; in the ensuing battle, both sides lost two aircraft. The Messerschmitt pilots did not know that many earlier waves of transports had turned back and that the airport was unsecured. Landing their cargoes, many transports were destroyed. The remaining Bf 110s strafed the airfield and helped the ground troops take it; the air support provided by the Zerstörer was instrumental, and it was to perform well as a fighter-bomber in the coming campaigns. During these battles, a future 110-kill Luftwaffe ace, Helmut Lent, scored his fifth and sixth victories against Norwegian opposition.
Helmut Lent's Bf 110C. Lent ran out of fuel and force landed at Oslo Fornebu airfield on 9 April 1940.
With experience fighting in Norway, efforts were made to extend the combat range of the Bf 110C; these became the Bf 110D Long Range (Langstrecken) Zerstörer. Several different external fuel tanks, originally a 1,200 L (320 US gal) centerline ventral fuel tank (nicknamed Dackelbauch (dachshund's belly), later 300 L or 900 L (240 US gal) underwing-mounted tanks, resulted in no less than four versions of the Bf 110D. The enormous Dackelbauch ventral tank, owing to cold weather and limited knowledge of fuel vapours, sometimes exploded, leading to unexplained losses during the North Sea patrols. As a result, the aircrews came to dislike this version. The handling characteristics were also affected; the Bf 110 was not manoeuvrable to begin with and the added weight made it worse.
The Zerstörerwaffe performed well when it encountered mostly British bombers. On 13 June 1940, a squadron of Skua dive bombers was intercepted trying to reach and bomb the German battleship Scharnhorst. The 110s shot down eight in as many minutes; among the victors was Herbert Schob, who survived the war as one of the most successful Bf 110 pilots. Total losses during this campaign amounted to little more than 20. During July, the RAF made several raids on Norway. On 9 July 1940, seven out of a force of 12 Bristol Blenheims bombing Stavanger were shot down by a mixed force of Bf 110s and Bf 109s from ZG 76 and JG 77 respectively.
Western Campaign, 1940
In the spring of 1940, Walter Horten, Jagdgeschwader 26 technical officer, was invited to participate in a 'mock combat' with a Bf 109E. The Bf 109 bested the Bf 110 time and again. Afterward, Horten said, Gentlemen, be very careful if you should ever come up against the English. Their fighters are all single-engined. And once they get to know the Bf 110s weaknesses, you could be in for a very nasty surprise.
During the Phoney War, a number of French aircraft were shot down by Bf 110s. ZG 1 Gruppenkommander Hauptmann Hannes Gentzen became the highest-scoring fighter pilot in the Luftwaffe on 2 April, when he shot down a Curtiss Hawk over Argonne. For the attack on the Netherlands, 145 Bf 110s were committed under Oberst Kurt-Bertram von Döring's Jagdfliegerführer 2. During the campaign, the Bf 110 demonstrated its capabilities as a strike aircraft. On 10 May, ZG 1 claimed 26 Dutch aircraft destroyed on the ground on Haamstede airfield. Between 11–13 May, most of the 82 aerial claims over Belgium were made by the Bf 110 equipped ZG 26. However, this was tempered by the loss of nine Bf 110s against the RAF on 15 May. By this date, Oberstleutnant Friedrich Vollbracht's ZG 2 had claimed 66 Allied aircraft.
The Bf 110 force also encountered the Swiss Air Force during this period, as several German raids violated Swiss airspace. About five Bf 110s were shot down by Swiss Bf 109s. The Bf 110s participation in Fall Rot's Operationa Paula, an offensive to destroy the remaining French air forces in central France, was to lead to 101 losses for the Luftwaffe, of which just four were Bf 110s. No further losses of the type occurred for the remainder of the campaign.
The campaign in the west that followed in 1940 demonstrated that the Bf 110 was vulnerable in hostile skies. It performed well against the Belgian, Dutch and French Air Forces, suffering relatively light losses, but was quickly outclassed by increasing numbers of Hurricanes and Spitfires, especially when forced into a tactical role it was never intended for - close range bomber escort - where it was unable to take advantage of its superior altitude performance and speed, and was forced to wait for the enemy to attack rather than roaming about finding and destroying enemy aircraft, as the original Zerstorer concept had intended. In the Western Campaign, 60 were lost. This represented 32 percent of the Zerstörerwaffe's initial strength.
Battle of Britain
The Battle of Britain revealed the Bf 110's fatal weaknesses as a daylight fighter against single-engine aircraft. A relatively large aircraft, it lacked the agility of the Hurricane and Spitfire and was easily seen. The World War I-era Bristol Fighter had done well with a rear gunner firing a rifle-caliber machine gun, but by World War II, this was insufficient to deter the eight-gun fighters facing the Bf 110. Its size and weight meant that it had high wing loading, which limited its maneuverability. Furthermore, although it had a higher top speed than contemporary RAF Hurricanes, it had poor acceleration. However, it was better suited as a long-range bomber escort than most other aircraft of the time, and did not have the problems of restricted range that hampered the Bf 109E. Although outclassed, it was still formidable as a high escort for bombers using the tactic of diving upon an enemy, delivering a long-range burst from its powerful forward-facing armament, then breaking contact to run for it. However, it was not designed for this purpose, and being used as a close escort tied the fighters to the bombers, taking away their tactical edge, forcing them to always respond to the attacking fighters, which were never taken by surprise, and could easily avoid the attacks of the Zerstorer, and even turn the tables. This limitation of tactical flexibility greatly hampered the ability of the Bf 110 to counter enemy single-engine fighters on a level of parity.
Hermann Göring's nephew, Hans-Joachim Göring, was a pilot with III./Zerstörergeschwader 76, flying the Messerschmitt Bf 110. He was killed in action on 11 July 1940, when his Bf 110 was shot down by Hurricanes of No. 87 Squadron RAF. His aircraft crashed into Portland Harbour.
The worst day of the battle for the Bf 110 was 15 August 1940, when nearly 30 Bf 110s were shot down, the equivalent of an entire Gruppe. Between 16–17 August, 23 more were lost.
After the 18 August there was a marked reduction in the number of Zerstörer operations. Their seeming absence has often been equated with the simultaneous disappearance from the Battle of the Ju 87. But wereas the Ju 87 had to be withdrawn because it simply could not survive in the hostile environment over southern England in the late summer of 1940, the reason for the decrease in Bf 110 activity was much more mundane. Replacements were not keeping pace with losses. There were just not enough Zerstörer available.
— Messerschmitt Bf 110 Zerstörer Aces, World War Two
The last day of August proved to be a rare success for the Messerschmitt Bf 110. ZG 26 claimed 13 RAF fighters shot down, which 'was not far off the mark', for three losses and five damaged. However, on 4 and 27 September, 15 Bf 110s were lost on each day. The Luftwaffe had embarked on the battle with 237 serviceable Bf 110s. 223 were lost in the course of it.
On 10 May 1941, in a strange episode in the aftermath of the Battle of Britain, Rudolf Hess, the deputy leader of the Nazi party, flew in a Bf 110 from Augsburg, north of Munich, to Scotland, apparently in an attempt to broker a peace deal between Germany and Great Britain.
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 Yugoslav 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 Yugoslav 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 while 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 be deployed to South Africa as part of a program to train pilots on enemy equipment, but 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 Forces B-24 Liberators were destroyed. On 29 September 1942, while 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; the other survived and sought sanctuary at Klagenfurt in Austria with other retreating ZNDH aircraft in May 1945.
Just 51 air worthy Bf 110s took part in the initial rounds of Operation Barbarossa, and all were from three units; ZG 26, Schnellkampfgeschwader 210 (redesignated from Erprobungsgruppe 210) and ZG 76. The Bf 110 rendered valuable support to the German Army by carrying out strike missions in the face of very heavy anti-aircraft artillery defences. A huge number of ground kills were achieved by Bf 110 pilots in the east. Some of the most successful were Leutnant Eduard Meyer, who received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 20 December 1941 for 18 aerial victories and 48 aircraft destroyed on the ground, as well as two tank kills. Oberleutnant Johannes Kiel was credited with 62 aircraft destroyed on the ground, plus nine tanks and 20 artillery pieces. He was later credited with a submarine sunk and three motor torpedo boats sunk.
The number of Bf 110s on the Eastern Front declined further during and after 1942. Most units that operated the 110 did so for reconnaissance. Most machines were withdrawn to Nazi Germany for the Defense of the Reich operations.
Defence of the Reich
Eventually withdrawn from daylight fighting, the Bf 110 enjoyed later success as a night fighter, where its range and firepower stood it in good stead for the remainder of the war. The airframe allowed for a dedicated radar operator, and the open nose had space for radar antennae, unlike the single-engine fighters. As the war wore on, the increased weight of armament and radar detection equipment (along with a third crew member) took an increasing toll of the aircraft's performance.
It was also used as a ground attack aircraft, starting with the C-4/B model, and as a day bomber interceptor, where its heavy firepower was particularly useful. Later on, there were dedicated ground attack versions which proved reasonably successful. The Bf 110 served the Luftwaffe extensively in various roles, though no longer in its intended role as a heavy fighter. Another role the Bf 110 took on was as a potent bomber-destroyer. The extreme power of the Bf 110's weaponry (when fitted with 20mm and 30mm cannon) could cripple or destroy any Allied bomber in seconds. Without encountering an Allied escort, it was capable of wreaking immense destruction. When encumbered with a total of four 21 cm (8 in) Werfer-Granate 21 (Wfr.Gr. 21) rocket tubes, with two of these under each outer wing panel, and additional armament, the 110 was vulnerable to Allied escort fighters, partly from the development of a major change in American fighter tactics at the end of 1943, rendering them increasingly vulnerable to developing American air supremacy over the Reich. In late 1943 and early 1944 Bf 110 formations were frequently devastated by the roving Allied fighters.
It was in the role as a night fighter, often armed with the surprisingly effective Schräge Musik upward-firing twin autocannon offensive armament installation, that the Bf 110 and its pilots achieved their greatest successes. Luftwaffe night fighter ace Heinz-Wolfgang Schnaufer was the highest scorer in the Defence of the Reich campaign and ended the war with 121 aerial victories, virtually all of them achieved while flying examples of the Bf 110. Others, such as Helmut Lent, switched to the night fighter arm and built on their modest daylight scores. Other aircraft, such as the Junkers Ju 88 and the Dornier Do 217, also played a big role, but none more so than the Bf 110.
The first victory for the Bf 110 in this capacity was recorded on 4 February 1943 against a B-24 formation attacking Hamm. The Germans suffered from defensive fire as the Bf 110s were a bigger target. Along with the seven Fw 190s and five lost by JG 1, all eight IV./NJG 1s Bf 110s were damaged. They claimed three B-17s, although only one was lost. The reason for the failure was the lack of training in day fighter tactics. Hans-Joachim Jabs said;
This was my only day victory in a night fighter. We flew these missions at no greater than Schwarm strength, and were ourselves never escorted. It was wasteful to use highly trained night fighter crews in this role, and it was given up when the US escorts appeared.
On 4 March, the unit was back in action, this time destroying three B-17s for two Bf 110s. During 1943, USAAF bombers were afforded limited protection by American fighters, which did not yet have sufficient range to escort the bombers all the way to and from the target. This gave the Zerstörer force a window of opportunity to wreak damage on the bomber streams. However, the Bf 110s were called away to the Eastern and North African fronts 'rapidly' and 'often' to perform strike, reconnaissance and even dive-bombing missions, leading to inevitable losses. When these units returned to the Reich, they were depleted and required reforming, retraining and re-equipping. The wastage and woeful deployment of the type prevented any lasting success. Finally, in autumn 1943, the Zerstörergruppen were recalled from their Eastern or Mediterranean bases, and formed into RLV units. Along with the Me 410, it formed the newly rebuilt ZG 26, equipped with three gruppen (two Bf 110 and one Me 410), based near Hannover. I. and III./ZG 76 were based in Austria, and II./ZG 76 was based in France. On 4 October 1943, the Bf 110 Geschwader intercepted B-17s of the 3rd Bomb Division. The targets around Frankfurt and the Saar region were hit. The Bf 110s flew alone against this formation and destroyed four B-17s, before having the misfortune of running into 56th Fighter Group P-47 Thunderbolts. The Bf 110s lost nine machines, with 11 killed and seven wounded. It is not clear if they managed to shoot down any of their attackers.
The Bf 110 also supported the German defence during Big Week in February 1944, as Lt. Gen. Doolittle's tactical changes for the 8th Air Force's escort fighters (increasingly consisting of P-51 Mustangs) went into effect: The experiences of Zerstörergeschwader 'Horst Wessel', a Bf 110 squadron, indicates what happened to twin-engine fighters in the new combat environment. The unit worked up over January and February to operational ready status. At 12:13 pm on February 20, 13 Bf 110s scrambled after approaching formations. Six minutes later three more took off to join the first group. When they arrived at the designated contact point there was nothing left to meet. American fighters had jumped the 13 Bf 110s from the sun and shot down 11. Meanwhile two enemy fighters strafed the airfield and damaged nine more aircraft.
On 22 February, six Bf 110s were lost for two kills against B-17s, while on 6 March, five Bf 110s were lost and one damaged out of nine machines committed. By April 1944, the Oberkommando der Luftwaffe had hoped to convert the Bf 110 Geschwader to the Me 410. However, after the Me 410 suffered equally high casualty rates, the conversion was delayed. The Bf 110 was considered to be obsolete and phased out of production accordingly. However, while crews found the Me 410 faster in 'raw speed', they found it even less agile than the Bf 110 and very difficult to bail out of. The only other replacement type was the Dornier Do 335, which existed in the form of only a few airworthy prototypes at the time, still undergoing test flight programs. On 2 April 1944, the Bf 110 achieved one of its final successful engagements. A force of 62 attacked a mixed bomber stream of B-17 and B-24s with R4M rockets, destroying five B-17s and three B-24s, as well as a single P-38 Lightning. Losses were eight Bf 110s. On 9 April, ZG 76 committed 77 to an USAAF raid on Berlin. USAAF P-51 Mustangs had now appeared, and were able to escort the Allied bombers to and from the target. The Bf 110 force lost 23 of the 77 machines. It never flew another mission in this capacity. The losses had 'marked the beginning of the end of the Bf 110 Zerstörer as a first-line weapon in the RLV'. The Zerstörer was only to fly as a day fighter against unescorted formations. This would be rare throughout the remainder of the war.
Night fighter operations
The Bf 110 would be the backbone of the Nachtjagdgeschwader throughout the war. The first units undertook defence operations over Germany as early as the autumn of 1940. Opposition was light until 1942, when British heavy bombers started to appear.
One of the most notable actions of the Bf 110 occurred on the night of the 17/18 August 1943. Some Bf 110 units had been equipped with the experimental Schräge Musik system, an emplacement of two upward-firing cannon, which for its initial installations placed the twin-cannon fitment almost midway down the cockpit canopy behind the pilot, which could attack the blind spot of RAF Bomber Command's Lancaster and Halifax bombers, which lacked a ventral turret. Using this, NJG 5's Leutnant Peter Erhardt destroyed four bombers in 30 minutes. Despite excellent visibility, none of the RAF bombers had reported anything unusual that would indicate a new weapon or tactics in the German night fighter force. This ignorance was compounded by the tracerless ammunition used by the Bf 110s, as well as firing on the British bombers blind spots. Many RAF crews witnessed a sudden explosion of a friendly aircraft, but assumed, in some cases, it was very accurate flak. Few of the German fighters were seen, let alone fired on. Later on, as the specialist Bf 110G-4s were received by night fighter wings, the mid-cockpit mount was replaced by one at the extreme rear of the cabin.
In September 1943, Arthur Harris, convinced that a strategic bombing campaign against Germany's cities would force a German collapse, pressed for further mass attacks. While RAF Bomber Command destroyed Hannover's city centre and 86% of crews dropped their bombs within 5 km (3 mi) of the aiming point, losses were severe. The Ruhr Area was the prime target for British bombers in 1943, and German defences inflicted a considerable loss rate. The Bf 110 had a hand in the destruction of some 2,751 RAF bombers in 1943, along with German flak and other night fighters. Later, the RAF developed a radar countermeasure; Window, to blind German radar and introduced de Havilland Mosquitos to fly feints and divert the Bf 110s and other night fighter forces from their true target, which worked, initially. At this time, the Bf 110 remained the backbone of the fight-force, although it was now being reinforced by the Junkers Ju 88. In October 1943, General Josef Kammhuber reported the climbing attrition rate as 'unacceptable', and urged Hermann Göring to stop committing the German night fighters to daylight operations. Many Nachtjagdgeschwader had taken part in costly daylight battles of attrition. From June–August, it had increased from around 2% to 9.8%. However the fortunes for the mostly Bf 110 equipped force turned during late August/September 1943. The night fighter arm claimed the destruction of 123 out of some 1,179 bombers over Hamburg on one night; a 7.2% loss rate. During the Battle of Berlin, 1,128 bombers were lost in five months. RAF Bomber Command had 'nearly burned out'. These losses were primarily a result of fighter defences, at the heart of which was the Bf 110. The German defences had won a victory which prevented deep penetration raids for a time. But Luftwaffe losses were high; 15% of crews were killed in the first three months of 1944.
Messerschmitt Bf 110 Zerstörer - Variants
Bf 110 A Prototypes with two Junkers Jumo 210 engines.
Bf 110 A-0 The designation of the first four pre-production aircraft.
Since there proved no definitive Bf 110A production model to be had (the designation was used for preproduction aircraft), the initial production form became the Bf 110B and this encompassed three subvariants with slight changes between them - Bf 110B-0 being the group's preproduction representative. The heavy fighter version was Bf 110B-1 and carried an armament of 4 x 7.92mm MG 17 machine guns and 2 x 20mm MG FF cannons. Bf 110B-2 followed as a dedicated reconnaissance platform and had its cannon armament replaced with camera equipment. Bf 110B-3 was brought along as a modified trainer platform, its armament suite being replaced by an expanded communications set. Overall production of B-model was limited before attention switched to the C-model.[N20]
Bf 110 B Small-scale production with two Jumo 210 engines.
Bf 110 B-0 First pre-production aircraft, similar to B-1.
Bf 110 B-1 Zerstörer, four 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 17 machine guns and two 20 mm MG FF cannons, nose-mounted.
Bf 110 B-2 Reconnaissance, both MG FF cannons removed, and various camera models added.
Bf 110 B-3 Trainer. MG FF cannons removed, and extra radio gear added. Some war weary B-1 were later refitted as B-3s.
It was not until the latter part of 1938 that the Bf 110 saw its originally-intended DB 600 engines fitted and this produced the first major production model in the Bf 110C of 1938 - maximum speed was now increased to 335 miles per hour. The series was led by the requisite Bf 110C-0 preproduction model which was followed by the Bf 110C-1 heavy fighter model. Then came the Bf 110C-2 which incorporated FuG 10 series radio sets and the Bf 110C-3 was a heavy fighter variant with 20mm MG FF/M cannons replacing the original 20mm MG FF models in use. Bf 110C-4 brought about increased armor protection at the cockpit and Bf 110C-4/B was a fighter-bomber version with bomb racks fitted for the carrying of 550 lb drop bombs while being powered by DB 601 Ba series engines. Bf 110C-5 was a reconnaissance variant based on the preceding C-4 model and lost its MG FF cannons to house the Rb 50/30 camera unit with power from DB 601P engines. Bf 110C-6 served in the experimental role fitting a sole 30mm MK 101 series cannon under the fuselage while being powered by DB 601P engines. Bf 110C-7 was developed as a true fighter-bomber while being based on the C-4/B model. Two centerline bomb racks were installed for carrying 1,100 lb bombs and this model was powered by DB 601P engines as well.[N20]
Bf 110 C First major production series, DB 601 engines.
Bf 110 C-0 Ten pre-production aircraft.
Bf 110 C-1 Zerstörer, DB 601 B-1 engines.
Bf 110 C-2 Zerstörer, fitted with FuG 10 radio, upgraded from FuG III.
Bf 110 C-3 Zerstörer, upgraded 20 mm MG FFs to MG FF/M.
Bf 110 C-4 Zerstörer, upgraded crew armour.
Bf 110 C-4/B Fighter-bomber based on C-4, fitted with a pair of ETC 500 bomb racks and upgraded DB 601 Ba engines.
Bf 110 C-5 Reconnaissance version based on C-4, both MG FF removed, and Rb 50/30 camera installed, uprated DB 601P engines.
Bf 110 C-6 Experimental Zerstörer, additional single 30 mm (1.18 in) MK 101 cannon in underfuselage mount, DB 601P engines.
Bf 110 C-7 Fighter-bomber based on C-4/B, two ETC 500 centreline bomb racks capable of carrying two 250, 500, or 1,000 kg (2,204 lb) bombs, uprated DB 601P engines.
In late 1939, the Bf 110D production variant was realized and this version attempted to increase operational ranges of the aircraft. Bf 110D-0 was the preproduction model to which Bf 110D-1 arrived with a ventral rack set to accept a jettisonable fuel tank under the fuselage and support for underwing fuel drop tanks resulting in Bf 110D-1/R1 and Bf 110D-1/R2: Bf 110D-1/R1 was the standard form and Bf 110D-1/R2 replaced the ventral fuel tank with a jettisonable oil tank instead while also making use of underwing fuel drop tanks. Bf 110D-2 was a long range heavy fighter / fighter-bomber variant featuring a pair of wing-mounted drop tanks with a centerline bomb rack. Bf 110D-3 featured a lengthened tail unit which housed a Search and Rescue (SAR) dinghy for pilot recovery at sea. Underwing drop tanks were typical with this mark and bomb racks optional for fighter-bomber sorties. Bf 110D-4 was a long-range reconnaissance platform lacking the MG FF cannons and carried Rb 50/30 camera as well as a pair of underwing fuel drop tanks.[N20]
Bf 110 D Heavy fighter/fighter-bomber, extreme range versions based on C-series, prepared to operate with external fuel tanks. Often stationed in Norway.
Bf 110 D-0 Prototype utilizing C-3 airframes modified with 1,050 L (277 US gal) belly-mounted tank called Dackelbauch ('dachshund's belly' in German).
Bf 110 D-1 Long-range Zerstörer, modified C series airframes with option to carry Dackelbauch belly tank and underwing drop tanks.
Bf 110 D-1/R1 Long-range Zerstörer, Dackelbauch ventral tank, option to carry additional wing mounted 900 L (240 US gal) drop tanks.[N12]
Bf 110 D-1/R2 Long-range Zerstörer, droppable 85 L oil tank under the fuselage instead of Dackelbauch ventral tank, two wing mounted 900 L (240 US gal) drop tanks.[N12]
Bf 110 D-2 Long-range Zerstörer, two wing-mounted 300 L (80 US gal) drop tanks and centreline mounted bomb racks for two 500 kg (1,100 lb) bombs.
Bf 110 D-3 Long-range Zerstörer, lengthened tail for rescue dinghy. Either two wing-mounted 300 L (80 US gal) or 900 L (240 US gal) drop tanks could be fitted. Optional fitting of ETC 500 bombracks (impossible with 900 L drop tanks).
Bf 110 D-4 Long-range recon, both MG FF removed, and Rb 50/30 camera installed, two wing-mounted 300 L or 900 L drop tanks.
Heading into 1941, the Bf 110 was expanded into the Bf 110E model line which was classified as a fighter-bomber - led by the preproduction Bf 110E-0. DB 601P engines were in use with the Bf 110E-1 model leading the way and Bf 110E-2 followed with an extended rear fuselage for a rescue dinghy. Bf 110E-3 became the long-range reconnaissance model with Rb 50/30 camera in place of cannons.[N20]
Bf 110 E Mostly fighter bombers, strengthened airframe, up to 1,200 kg (2,650 lb) bombload.
Bf 110 E-0 Pre-production version, Daimler-Benz DB 601B engines, pair of ETC50 bomb racks fitted outboard of engines, armament as C-4.
Bf 110 E-1 Production version of E-0, DB 601P engines.
Bf 110 E-1/U1 Two-crew night fighter conversion, equipped with the Spanner-Anlage infrared homing device.
Bf 110 E-2 DB 601P engines, rear fuselage extension same as for D-3.
Bf 110 E-3 Long-range reconnaissance version, both MG FF removed, and Rb 50/30 camera installed.
Then followed the Bf 110F production model which incorporated DB 601F series engines of 1,350 horsepower. The extra output power allowed the aircraft to feature additional armor protection for the crew and the airframe was further reinforced. Bf 110F-1 was the fighter-bomber form, Bf 110F-2 was the long-range bomber destroyer, Bf 110F-3 was the reconnaissance mount, and Bf 110F-4 was modified for the night fighter role. In the latter, an antenna array was fitted to the nose and the crew increased to three. When the Bf 110 series began to fail in its original heavy fighter/bomber destroyer roles (especially in daytime sorties) it saw renewed service as a capable night fighter.[N20]
Bf 110 F Same as the E, again strengthened airframe, better armour, two 993 kW (1,350 PS) DB 601F engines.
Bf 110 F-1 Fighter-bomber.
Bf 110 F-2 Long-range Zerstörer, often used against Allied heavy bombers.
Bf 110 F-3 Long-range reconnaissance version.
Bf 110 F-4 The first real night fighter (specially designed for this usage, 3-crew).
The Bf 110G was developed as an improved form to fill the gap caused by the removal from service of the Messerschmitt Me 210 - the Bf 110's intended successor in Luftwaffe service. The G-model incorporated DB 605B series engines of 1,475 horsepower and some fuselage streamlining as well as an increase to the tail rudder's surface area for improved controlling. The canopy was slightly revised for the rear operator and nose armament improved. A G-model prototype first flew in June of 1942. There was no Bf 110G-1 model so production moved to the Bf 110G-2 which fulfilled the roles of fighter-bomber and bomber destroyer and could field aerial rockets to boot. Bf 110G-2/R1 carried the massive 37mm B,K 37 cannon under the fuselage for a truly lethal bomber destroying function. Bf 110G-3 was the reconnaissance form with camera equipment and three-seat Bf 110G-4 evolved into a night fighter with FuG 202/220 series radar system. Optional to the G-4 was the "Schrage Musik" upward-firing cannon armament which could be used against the more vulnerable undersides of enemy bombers.[N20]
Bf 110 G Improved F-series, two 1,085 kW (1,475 PS) DB 605B engines, tail rudders increased in size.
Bf 110 G-1 Not built.
Bf 110 G-2 Fighter-bomber, fast bomber, destroyer, often used against Allied heavy bombers. (often equipped with rockets).
Bf 110 G-2/R1 Bf 110 G-2 armed with a BK 3,7 under the fuselage.
Bf 110 G-2/R4 Bf 110 G-2 armed with a BK 3,7 under the fuselage and two MK 108 in the nose
Bf 110 G-3 Long-range reconnaissance version.
Bf 110 G-4 Three-crew night fighter, FuG 202/220 Lichtenstein radar, optional Schräge Musik, usually mounted midway down the cockpit with the cannon muzzles barely protruding above the canopy glazing. Multiple combinations of engine boosts, Schräge Musik, radar arrangements and forward firing armament were available in the form of Rüstsätze and Umrüst-Bausätze kits.[N13]
Bf 110H was only in the design stages before it met with cancellation, becoming the last official Messerschmitt Bf 110 production model to be worked on before the end of the war in 1945. It would have built upon the strengths of the G-model series which is regarded as the best of the Bf 110 line.[N20]
Bf 110 H The final version, similar to the G, was cancelled before any prototypes were ready after important documents were lost in an air-raid on the Waggonbau Gotha-factory, which was leading the H-development.
Messerschmitt Bf 110 Zerstörer - Operators
Germany - Luftwaffe
Hungary - Royal Hungarian Air Force
Italy - Regia Aeronautica[N14]
Romania - Royal Romanian Air Force
Soviet Union - Soviet Air Force operated a few captured Bf 110s.[N15]
Specifications (Messerschmitt Bf 110 C-4)
Crew: 2 (3 for night fighter variants)
Length: 12.3 m (40 ft 6 in)
Wingspan: 16.3 m (53 ft 4 in)
Height: 3.3 m (10 ft 9 in)
Wing area: 38.8 m² (414 ft²)
Empty weight: 4,500 kg (9,921 lb)
Loaded weight: 6,700 kg (14,771 lb)
Powerplant: 2× Daimler-Benz DB 601B-1 liquid-cooled inverted V-12, 809 kW (1,085 hp)1,100 PS each
Maximum speed: 560 km/h (348 mph)
Range: 2,410 km (1,500 mi)
Ferry range: 2,800 km (1,750 mi)
Service ceiling: 10,500 m (35,000 ft)
Wing loading: 173 kg/m² (35.7 lb/ft²)
Power/mass: 0.3644 kW/kg (0.155 hp/lb)
2 × 20 mm MG FF/M cannons (180 rpg - 3 drums with 60 rpg, cannon were reloaded by rear gunner or radio operator during flight)
4 × 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 17 machine guns (1,000 rpg)
1 × 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 15 machine guns for defense
Specifications (Messerschmitt Bf 110 G-2)
Messerschmitt BF 110/Me 210/Me 410: An Illustrated History
Crew: 2 (3 for night fighter variants)
Length: 12.3 m (40 ft 6 in)
Wingspan: 16.3 m (53 ft 4 in)
Height: 3.3 m (10 ft 9 in)
Wing area: 38.8 m² (414 ft²)
Loaded weight: 7,790 kg (17,158 lb)
Powerplant: 2× Daimler-Benz DB 605B liquid-cooled inverted V-12, 1,085 kW (1,455 HP)1,475 PS each
Maximum speed: 595 km/h (370 mph)
Range: 900 km (558 mi) ; 1,300 (807 mi) with droptanks
Service ceiling: 11,000 m (36,000 ft)
Rate of climb: 8 min to 6,000 m (20,000 ft)
Wing loading: max. 243 kg/m² ()
2 × 20 mm MG 151 cannons (750 rounds: 350 rpg + 400 rpg rounds
4 × 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 17 machine guns with 1,000 rounds per gun "or"
2 × 30 mm (1.18 in) MK 108 cannons with 120 rounds for the left and 135 rounds for the right cannon (G-2/U9 variant)[N19]
1 × 7.92 mm (.312 in) twin-barrel MG 81Z machine gun installation in rear cockpit, with 850 rounds per barrel (total 1,700 rounds)
Messerschmitt Bf 110 - Germany
As a long-range escort, fighter the Bf 110C received a disastrous mauling at the hands of the RAF during the 'Battle of Britain.' Rather than protecting the bombers under escort, the Bf 110C formations usually found that they were hard pressed to defend themselves.
The Messerschmitt Bf 110 was an aircraft of very mixed fortunes. It has often been criticized for its failure during the Battle of Britain, while its successes in other fields have been largely ignored. Yet, this aircraft that did not match up to Luftwaffe expectations managed to serve Germany throughout the Second World War in long-range escort fighter, fighter-bomber, reconnaissance, ground attack and night fighter roles.
The long-range multi-seat escort fighter is possibly the most difficult of combat aircraft to design. Certainly no entirely successful machine in this category emerged from the Second World War, and when Professor Willy Messerschmitt began design studies for such a warplane towards the end of 1934 at the Bayerische Flugzeugwerke at Augsburg his problems would have seemed insurmountable had he possessed a full knowledge of interceptor fighter development trends abroad. Such a machine as was required by Marshal Goering to equip the elite 'Zerstorer' formations that he envisaged had to be capable of penetrating deep into enemy territory, possessing sufficient range to accompany bomber formations. The fuel tankage necessary presented a serious weight penalty and called for the use of two engines if the 'Zerstorer' was to achieve a performance approaching that of the lighter interceptor fighter by which it would be opposed. Yet it had to be manaoeuvrable if it was to successfully fend off the enemy's single-seaters.
Messerschmitt possessed no previous experience with twin-engined military aircraft when he commenced work on the Bf 110. Indeed, his first warplane, the single-seat Bf-109 , had been conceived only the previous summer. At the time, the most powerful aero engine of national design available was the Junkers Jumo 210A of 610 hp. It was obvious from the outset that a pair of such engines would be inadequate to provide the power needed for the relatively large and heavy fighter envisaged. However, the Daimler-Benz Aktiengesellschaft was actively engaged in developing a new twelve-cylinder liquid-cooled inverted-vee engine, the DB600 , which held promise of 1,000 hp; and on the premise that such engines would be available for his prototypes, Messerschmitt began the design of the Bf 110.
Designed to a 1934 requirement for a long range escort fighter, the first prototype Bf 110 made its initial flight on May 12,1936. A key factor in the design was the use of two Daimler-Benz DB 600 engines; subsequent difficulty in obtaining enough of these to power development aircraft meant that the Bf 110 could not be tested during the Spanish Civil War. Nevertheless, one aircraft was tested at the Rechlin evaluation center in 1937 and proved to be very fast, although not as manoeuvrable as hoped. Despite obvious shortcomings, the Bf 110 entered service in 1939 as the Bf 110C, powered by two 1100 hp DB 601A engines. Production was set up on a massive scale, and by the end of the year some 500 Bf 110s were flying operationally.
The Bf 110 was no match for the Thunderbolts escorting American B-17 and B-24 bombers over Berlin. By the time Germany invaded Poland on September 1,1939, ten Luftwaffe Gruppen had been equipped with the heavy fighter. Owing to the limited aerial opposition the Bf 110C was largely employed in the ground-support role, and after the fall of Poland little was heard of this much-vaunted machine until, on December 14,1939, it was encountered by a formation of twelve Wellingtons over the Heligoland Bight. But it was not until it was to come up against RAF fighters in 1940 that the Bf 110C was to receive its first real trial in combat and to be found wanting.
As a long-range escort fighter the Bf 110C received a disastrous mauling at the hands of the more nimble Hurricane and Spitfire during the 'Battle of Britain'. Rather than protecting the bombers under escort, the Bf 110C formations usually found that they were hard put to defend themselves, and the farcical situation developed in which single-seat Bf-109E fighters were having to afford protection to the escort fighters. The complete failure of the Bf 110C in the role for which it had been conceived led to its eventual withdrawal from the Channel coast but did not result in any reduction in its production priority.
Against Polish PZL fighters and other European countries the aircraft fared well, but when used during the Battle of Britain to escort German bombers, Royal Air Force fighters dealt heavily with the aircraft, forcing the Luftwaffe to switch to short-range Bf-109s for escort duties. Although the Bf 110s had failed in this primary task, production continued at a high rate; by 1945 no fewer than 6,150 had been built, ranging from Bf 110As to Gs. As later models became available, the early Bf 110Cs and Ds were transferred to the Middle East and Eastern Front.
Both the C- and D-models had almost disappeared from the European theatre by the summer of 1941, although they were being used extensively on the Russian front and in the Middle East. Production during 1940 had risen to 1,083 machines, but with the impending introduction of the Me 210 only 784 machines were produced in the following year.
By the end of 1942, in which year 580 Bf 110s were produced, production of this aircraft had again been stepped up as, on April 17, production of the Me 210 was canceled after numerous accidents, thus leaving a serious gap in the Luftwaffe's fighter and fighter bomber production program. To fill the gap an improved version of the Bf 110 was introduced, the G-series with the DB605 engine which provided 1,475 hp for take-0ff and 1,355 hp @ 18,700 feet. The pre-production Bf 110G-0 fighter-bomber was delivered for service evaluation late in 1942, and from early in 1943 G-series machines were encountered in increasing numbers. Apart from its engines the first production model, the Bf 110G-1, was similar to earlier fighter-bomber variants, and the G-2 differed principally in the armament installed: two or four 20-mm. MG 151 cannon and four 7.9-mm. MG 17 in the nose plus two 7.9-mm. MG 81 in the rear cockpit.
The Bf 110G, was intended for use originally as a fighter-bomber but, it was employed mostly as a night fighter. The Bf 110Es were capable of carrying a respectable bomb load of 4,410 lb (2,000 kg) as fighter-bombers, while straight fighter and reconnaissance versions were also built. These, and later versions, were operated with a fair degree of success in many war zones. The Bf 110F was basically similar to the E, but two new variants were produced - the 110F-2 carrying rocket projectiles and the F-4 with two 30 mm cannon and an extra crew member for night fighting. The last version, the Bf 110G, was intended for use originally as a fighter-bomber but, in view of the success of the F-4 and the increasingly heavy attacks on Germany by Allied bombers, was employed mostly as a night fighter.
From time to time Bf 110G night fighters were used on day operations. They were first employed as close escort to the Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau off the Dutch coast and Heligoland Bight, and in the summer of 1943 they fought American day-bomber formations whenever the latter flew unescorted. The Bf 110G groups sustained heavy losses during these actions owing to their pilots, trained in night-fighting tactics, going in close before attacking and being met by the heavy defensive fire of the bombers. They were no match for the Thunderbolts escorting American B-17 and B-24 bombers over Berlin.
It was in a Bf 110 that Rudolf Hess, Deputy Fuhrer of Germany, flew solo to Scotland on the night of May 10,1941, in the hope of negotiating peace terms with Britain, without Hitler's knowledge.
From time to time Bf 110G night fighters were used on day operations. They fought American day-bomber formations whenever the Americans flew unescorted.
Messerschmitt Bf 110G-4
Wing span: 53 ft. 4 7/8 in. (16.27 m)
Length: 41 ft. 6 3/4 in. (12.67 m)
Height: 13 ft. 1 1/4 in. (4.0 m)
Empty: 10,970 lb (4,975 kg)
Maximum loaded: 21,800 lb. (9,888 kg)
Maximum Speed: 311 m.p.h. (500 km/h) @ sea-level.
342 m.p.h. (550 km/h) @ 22,900 ft. (6,979 m)
Service ceiling: 26,000 ft. (7,924 m)
Range: 1,305 miles (2,100 km) with maximum internal fuel.
Two Daimler-Benz DB 605B twelve cylinder inverted-vee liquid cooled engines rated at 1,475 hp (1,099 kw) @ 2,800 rpm for take-0ff and,
1,355 hp (1,010 kw) @ 2,800 rpm at 18,700 ft. (5,699 m).
Two 30-mm. MK 108 cannon and two 20-mm. MG 151 cannon in nose and, two flexible 7.9-mm. MG 81 machine-guns in rear cockpit.
Some of my main References Books:
Title: Zerstorer Volume One: Luftwaffe Fighter Bombers and Destroyers 1941-1945 (Luftwaffe Colours)
ISBN: 1903223571 EAN:978 1903223571
Authors: John J. Vasco Publisher: Classic Publications Format: Paperback
The Luftwaffe Zerstorer units, equipped with the twin-engined Me 110, were first used to great effect in the escort and air superiority roles against the Polish Air Force in 1939. Later these units took part in the occupation of Norway and Denmark, and during the Blitzkrieg against the west in 1940, when their numbers were expanded with the addition of new units. Considered by Goring to be among the elite of the Luftwaffe, the Zerstörer were deployed in the Battle of Britain, in the Balkans, North Africa and in the East, where Zerstörergruppen accounted for significant numbers of Russian aircraft destroyed on the ground and in the air. This is the first of two volumes covering the history of the Zerstörer squadrons between 1939 and 1945. Each volume adopts the traditional Classic approach of a detailed narrative matched with a comprehensive selection of photos, many previously unpublished, and specially prepared color artworks.
Title: Zerstorer Volume Two: Luftwaffe Fighter Bombers and Destroyers 1941-1945 (Luftwaffe Colours)
Authors: John J. Vasco Publisher: Classic Publications Format: Paperback
This is the second of two volumes covering the history of the Zerstorer squadrons between 1939 and 1945. Following the attack on the west, the Me 110 also saw major deployment in the North African and Mediterranean theatres. In the East, in the early phases of Barbarossa, the Zerstorergruppen accounted for significant numbers of Russian aircraft destroyed on the ground and in the air. As the war progressed and Germany moved over to the defensive, Zerstorer units flew the Me 210 and Me 410, which saw service as a bomber destroyer with units such as ZG1, ZG26 and ZG76 in the defense of the Reich, equipped with heavy cannon and 21cm air-to-air mortars. Also included with the scope of these titles will be a study of the Luftwaffe's long-range Ju 88 maritime Zerstorer, which were used over the Atlantic and Bay of Biscay against Allied convoys and to provide escort for the U-boats as well as lesser-known types such as the Ar 240 and Ta 154.
Messerschmitt Bf 110F-2 (Werk Nr. 5052) is on display at the Deutsches Technikmuseum in Berlin, Germany. The F-2 variant was a long-range Zerstörer that was used against Allied bombers (it appears this example could be fitted with a conformal ventral gun pod and underwing rockets). They also have parts of a Bf 110E-2 long-range Zerstörer (Werk Nr. 4502) which flew with M8+ZE LN+CR 1./(Z)JG5 that was used to restore the Bf 110F-2 and they also apparently have components of a Bf 110C-4 fighter-bomber (Werk Nr. 3235) which flew with LN+ER 1./(Z)JG77.
Messerschmitt Bf 110F-2 Werk Nr. 5052 at the Deutsches Technik Museum in Berlin[N16]
The Technik Museum Speyer in Speyer, Germany has parts from a Bf 110D heavy fighter/fighter-bomber (Werk Nr. 3154) that flew with NO+DS 2./ZG76 in northern Norway. The wings and tail section are displayed on a wall of the museum. During the winter of 1940 the aircraft was forced to make a landing on a frozen lake in Sweden. The ice melted in spring and the aircraft sank to the bottom where it remained until recovered 50 years later and taken to the museum!
Additionally, the Technik Museum Speyer preserves the wings and other parts from a Bf 110 that were recovered from a lake in Sweden in 1995. During the war, the aircraft landed on the frozen lake after being damaged by Swedish anti-aircraft fire.[N17]
Three intact Bf 110s are known to exist, although one of them is rebuilt from rescued parts from several different airframes. One, a Bf 110 G-4 night fighter that had been surrendered to the allies in May 1945 at Grove airfield in Denmark, is displayed at RAF Museum London at Hendon in North London, United Kingdom. Another Bf 110 is on display in the Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin. A third is displayed in a private museum northwest of Helsingoer, Denmark.
The largely intact fuselage of a Bf 110 (type unknown) is on display in the lower station of the Cairngorm Mountain Railway, Scotland.
The jewel in the crown! Messerschmitt Bf 110G-4/R6 (Werk Nr. 730301) is a 1944 night fighter on display at the RAF Museum London in Hendon, UK. I love the look of the night fighter and the camouflage scheme. Surrendered to the Allies in May 1945 at Grove airfield, Denmark it served with the 1st Staffel of Nachtjagdgeschwader 3 (1/NJG 3) in defence of Denmark and northern Germany. This type had a crew of 3 (pilot, radio/radar operator and gunner) and was fitted with a FuG 220b Liechtenstein SN-2 radar. Although not fitted to the aircraft on display you can see the attachments for where a twin 20mm cannon ventral gun pod could have been fitted. Long-range underwing fuel tanks are fitted to the Bf 110G-4/R6.
Luftwaffe Messerschmitt Bf 110G-4/R6 (Werk Nr. 730301) 1944 night fighter RAF Museum London Hendon, UK[N16]
This Bf 110G-4 served with the 1st Staffel of Nachtjagdgeschwader 3 (1/NJG 3). The Bf 110G-4/R6 is the only survivor of 5 that were taken from Denmark by the RAF for evaluation between 1945 to 1946 (believe it or not the RAF report a total of 37 Bf 110 variants were located in Denmark in 1945), when it was luckily flagged for preservation. For the next 30 years it was moved around various RAF units be it on display or in storage and has been on display at the RAF Museum since 1978.
Another interesting display related to the Bf 110 is at the Imperial War Museum in London where they have parts of the Bf 110D long-range heavy fighter/fighter-bomber (Werk Nr. 3869) flown by senior Nazi, Rudolf Hess (Deputy Fuhrer!) when he went on his misguided peace mission to Great Britain and bailed out over Scotland in 1941 (part of the rear fuselage and a Daimler-Benz DB 601A engine. I believe the other engine is displayed at the National Museum of Flight in Scotland)!
This was a bizarre moment in history – Hess, 47 at the time took off from Augsburg Airfield in Bavaria in the Bf 110D fitted with long-range fuel tanks at 6pm on May 10th, 1941 and by 11pm low on fuel, he had parachuted out over Eaglesham in Scotland where he was found by a farmer. Hess had suffered a broken ankle in the incident. The aircraft crashed nearby.
Upon capture Hess initially said he was Hauptmann Alfred Horn and had an important message for the Duke of Hamilton (who was perceived to be a high-ranking Englishman who Hess could negotiate with and who had contact with the King and Prime Minister) but was taken into custody. He did meet the Duke, who went on to speak to Prime Minister Churchill about the matter (once it was established it really was Hess), then I guess the interrogation began. By the time his capture had become public knowledge, Hitler declared Hess mentally unstable and Churchill probably agreed (although it has been said he went under Hitler’s orders and certain influential Brits knew he was coming, I don’t put much stead in that).
Hess did have a pretty strange peace proposal – all territory captured in western Europe would be returned other than two French provinces and Luxembourg (perhaps to be policed by Germany?). In exchange Great Britain would remain neutral towards Germany in the upcoming fight against the Soviet Union and Great Britain and France would then be able to produce armaments for use by Germany against the Soviets! Surely Hitler had no intention of endorsing this and we all know what happened next (Great Britain and the United States are said to have warned the Soviets of an impending attack but at the time they had a pact with Germany and chose to not believe it, or at least said as much).
Hess demanded to be returned to Germany as he had come as an emissary for peace but this was not something the British government were going to do (his peace deal was not brokered with the British Government before his arrival) and he remained a special prisoner of war spending the next 4 years held in a manor house with limited freedom to wander the grounds under guard. Hess was tried at the Nuremberg Trials in 1946 and found not guilty of war crimes but guilty of crimes against peace and conspiracy. He was sentenced to life imprisonment in Spandau Prison in West Germany. He committed suicide by hanging himself with a lamp cord at Spandau on August 17th, 1987 at the age of 93! His lengthy imprisonment (the longest of any of the Third Reich leaders) and death have always been the subject of much controversy!
In 2014 it emerged that a farmer had hidden away some parts of the fuselage of the Bf 110D Hess flew that had not been taken away by the British military in 1941. A section from the fuselage which included a riveted manufacturer’s assembly tag was sold by the farmer in the 1960s to the former assistant secretary of the Battle of Britain Association who subsequently passed it to the private collection of The War Museum in the United States. The fuselage part was sold at auction in 2014 to an unknown buyer for $8,125 USD (unknown to me at least).
Other Survivors of Sorts
I have also seen the tail section of a Bf 110F-2 long-range Zerstörer (Werk Nr. 5020) on display in the open in Russia, at Victory Park in Moscow. They are also said to have a wing section of this aircraft that served with LN+AR 13.(Z)JG5.
The following Bf 110 are in various states of preservation but I have not personally seen them: Bf 110C Zerstörer that is in the UK (Werk Nr. 3115 – unknown quantity of parts) – it was recovered from Russia and had flown with 1./(Z)JG77; Bf 110C-4 Zerstörer with upgraded grew armour, it is privately owned in Italy (Werk Nr. 3577 – they apparently have enough of the airframe to be able to fully restore it!), which had flown with H8+FM 4.(H)/33; Bf 110F-2 long-range Zerstörer at the Finnish AF Museum, Tikkakoski (Werk Nr. 5048, that flew with TI+LA – just a few parts in storage), Bf 110F-2 long-range Zerstörer at the Flyhistorisk Museum, Sola in Norway (Werk Nr. unknown – they have the wings, tail and parts of the fuselage) that flew with LN+DR 10.(Z)/JG 5.
Messerschmitt Bf 110 G4 (unknown Werk Nr.)
Using spare parts found all over the world the group called "Gillelejegruppen" managed to assemble an intact example of the Bf 110 night-fighter (G4). This aircraft is actually not at survivor, but a fully restored version, made from a wide range of original spare parts found all over the world (hence the +1). It is currently owned and displayed by a private foundation in Denmark.[N18]
Survivors - https://acesflyinghigh.wordpress.com/2017/01/21/the-survivors-messerschmitt-bf-110-zerstorer/
Citations for Messerschmitt Bf 110
- Donald 1994, p. 221.
- Because it was built before Bayerische Flugzeugwerke became Messerschmitt AG in July 1938, the Bf 110 was never officially given the designation Me 110.
- 'Major Heinz-Wolfgang Schnaufer.' Aces of the Luftwaffe.
- Mackay 2000, pp. 6-7.
- Mackay 2000, p. 7.
- Mackay 2000, p. 9.
- Munson 1983, p. 153.
- 'German Aircraft of World War II Blog — Mid-Series Messerschmitt Bf 110'. germanaircraftwwii.com, 21 March 2015.
- Wagner and Nowarra 1971, p. 251.
- Mankau and Petrick 2001, pp. 323–327.
- Munson 1983, p. 154.
- L. Dv. T. 2413/1 Beschreibung und Einbau der Zusatzanlagen für das Flugzeugmuster Bf 110 D . Berlin: Reichsluftfahrtministerium, 1940.
- Goebel, Greg. 'The Messerschmitt Bf 110 & Me 210/410'. Airvectors. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
- Dimensione Cielo: Caccia Assalto 3, Aerei Italiani nella 2a Guerra Mondiale 1972, p. 46.
- Geust and Petrov 1998
- Simpson, Andrew (2012). 'Individual History: Messerschmitt Bf110G - 4/R6 W/NR.730301' (PDF). Royal Air Force Museum. Retrieved 13 April 2015.
- 'Messerschmitt Bf-110D-0'. Airliners.net.
- 'I Nattens Mulm og Mørke Blev Bomberne Smidt Over Danmark Den 9. April 1940'. Gillelejegruppens Videnscenter 40-45 (in Danish). Retrieved 2017-08-23.
- Weal, John. 'Messerschmitt Bf 110G'. HistoryOfWar.org. Retrieved 12 January 2016.
- Military factory - https://www.militaryfactory.com/aircraft/detail.asp?aircraft_id=96
Citations for the Campaigns
- Weal 1999, p. 13.
- Hooton Vol 1 2007, p. 86.
- Weal 1999, p. 19.
- Caldwell and Muller 2007, p. 42.
- Weal 1999, p. 22.
- Weal 1999, p. 23.
- Caldwell and Muller 2007, p. 40..
- Weal 1999, p. 24.
- Weal 1999, p. 25.
- Weal 1999, p. 26.
- Weal 1999, p. 28.
- Weal 1999, p. 29.
- Weal 1999, p. 30.
- Weal 1999, p. 32.
- Hooton Vol 2 2007, p. 48.
- Hooton Vol 2, 2007, p. 58.
- Weal 1999, pp. 33–34.
- Hooton Vol 2 2007, p. 62.
- Weal 1999, p. 41.
- Hooton Vol 2 2007, p. 82.
- Hooton Vol 2 2007, p. 85.
- Eden, Paul (2003). Aircraft Anatomy of World War II. London, UK: Aerospace Publishing Ltd. p. 168. ISBN 978-1-905704-32-3.
- Hooton Vol 2 2007, p. 90.
- Deighton 1996
- Weal 1999, pp. 44–45.
- Weal 1999, pp. 47–49.
- Weal 1999, p. 50.
- Weal 1999, pp. 50–51.
- Weal 1999, p. 51.
- Weal 1999, p. 63.
- Weal 1999, pp. 64–65.
- Weal 1999, p. 66.
- Weal 1999, p. 67.
- Weal 1999, p. 71.
- Weal 1999, p. 72.
- Savic and Ciglic 2002, p. 69.
- Likso and Canak 1998, pp. 72-73.(illus.)
- Weal 1999, p. 78.
- Aces of the Luftwaffe; Heinz-Wolfgang Schnauffer
- Treadwell 2003, p. 76.
- Caldwell and Muller 2007, pp. 74–75.
- Caldwell and Muller 2007, p. 77.
- Caldwell and Muller 2007, p. 82.
- Caldwell and Muller 2007, p. 105.
- Caldwell and Muller 2007, p. 124.
- Murray 1983, p. 242.
- Caldwell and Muller 2007, p. 49.
- Caldwell and Muller 2007, p. 180.
- Caldwell and Muller 2007, p. 175.
- Middlebrook 2000, p. 172.
- Middlebrook 2000, pp. 173–174.
- Murray 1983, pp. 210–211.
- Murray 1983, p. 214.
- Murray 1983, p. 215.
- Murray 1983, p. 220.
- Murray 1983, p.221
- Campbell, Jerry L. Messerschmitt BF 110 Zerstörer in Action. Carrollton, Texas: Squadron/Signal Publications, Inc., 1977. ISBN 0-89747-029-X.
- Caldwell, Donald and Richard Muller. The Luftwaffe over Germany: Defence of the Reich. London: Greenhill Books, 2007. ISBN 978-1-85367-712-0.
- Ciampaglia, Giuseppe. 'Destroyers in Second World War'. Rome: IBN editore, 1996. ISBN 88-86815-47-6.
- Deighton, Len. Fighter: The True Story of the Battle of Britain. London: Pimlico, 1996. ISBN 0-7126-7423-3.
- de Zeng, H. L., D. G. Stanket and E. J. Creek. Bomber Units of the Luftwaffe 1933–1945: A Reference Source, Volume 2. London: Ian Allan Publishing, 2007. ISBN 978-1-903223-87-1.
- Donald, David, ed. Warplanes of the Luftwaffe. London: Aerospace, 1994. ISBN 1-874023-56-5.
- Geust, Carl-Fredrik and Gennadiy Petrov. Red Stars Vol 2: German Aircraft in the Soviet Union. Tampere, Finland: Apali Oy, 1998. ISBN 952-5026-06-X.
- Hirsch, R.S. and Uwe Feist. Messerschmitt Bf 110 (Aero Series 16). Fallbrook, California: Aero Publishers, Inc., 1967.
- Hooton, E.R.Luftwaffe at War; Blitzkrieg in the West: Volume 2. London: Chervron/Ian Allan, 2007. ISBN 978-1-85780-272-6.
- Hooton, E.R. Luftwaffe at War; Gathering Storm 1933–39: Volume 1. London: Chervron/Ian Allan, 2007. ISBN 978-1-903223-71-0.
- Ledwoch, Janusz. Messerschmitt Bf 110 (Aircraft Monograph 3). Gdańsk, Poland: AJ-Press, 1994. ISBN 83-86208-12-0.
- Likso, T. and D. Canak. Hrvatsko Ratno Zrakoplovstvo u Drugome Svjetskom Ratu (The Croatian Airforce in the Second World War). Zagreb, 1998. ISBN 953-97698-0-9.
- Mankau, Heinz and Peter Petrick. Messerschmitt BF 110/Me 210/Me 410: An Illustrated History. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing, 2003. ISBN 0-7643-1784-9.
- Murray, Willamson. Strategy for Defeat: The Luftwaffe 1935-1945. Maxwell AFB, Al: Air Power Research Institute, 1983. ISBN 0-16-002160-X.
- Mackay, Ron. Messerschmitt Bf 110. Wiltshire, UK: The Crowood Press, 2000. ISBN 1-86126-313-9
- Middlebrook, Martin. The Peenemunde Raid: The Night of 17–18 August 1943. Barnsely, UK: Pen & Sword Aviation, 2004. ISBN 1-84415-336-3.
- Munson, Kenneth. Fighters and Bombers. New York: Peerage Books, 1983. ISBN 0-907408-37-0.
- Price, Alfred. Messerschmitt Bf 110 Night Fighters (Aircraft in Profile No. 207). Windsor, Berkshire, UK: Profile Publications Ltd., 1971.
- Savic, Dragan and Boris Ciglic. Croatian Aces of World War II (Osprey Aircraft of the Aces - 49). London: Oxford, 2002. ISBN 978-1-84176-435-1.
- Treadwell, Terry C. Messerschmitt Bf 110(Classic WWII Aviation). Bristol, Avon, UK: Cerberus Publishing Ltd., 2005. ISBN 1-84145-107-X.
- Van Ishoven, Armand. Messerschmitt Bf 110 at War. Shepperton, Surrey: Ian Allan Ltd., 1985. ISBN 0-7110-1504-X.
- The Messerschmitt Bf 110 in Color Profile 1939-1945 John Vasco and Fernando Estanislau by Schieffer Publications. ISBN:0-7643-2254-0
- Wagner, Ray and Heinz J. Nowarra. German Combat Planes: A Comprehensive Survey and History of the Development of German Military Aircraft from 1914 to 1945. New York: Doubleday, 1971.
- Weal, John. Messerschmitt Bf 110 Zerstörer Aces World War Two. London: Osprey, 1999. ISBN 1-85532-753-8.
Magazine References: +
- Airfix Magazines (English) - http://www.airfix.com/
- Avions (French) - http://www.aerostories.org/~aerobiblio/rubrique10.html
- FlyPast (English) - http://www.flypast.com/
- Flugzeug Publikations GmbH (German) - http://vdmedien.com/flugzeug-publikations-gmbh-hersteller_verlag-vdm-heinz-nickel-33.html
- Flugzeug Classic (German) - http://www.flugzeugclassic.de/
- Klassiker (German) - http://shop.flugrevue.de/abo/klassiker-der-luftfahrt
- Le Fana de L'Aviation (French) - http://boutique.editions-lariviere.fr/site/abonnement-le-fana-de-l-aviation-626-4-6.html
- Le Fana de L'Aviation (French) - http://www.pdfmagazines.org/tags/Le+Fana+De+L+Aviation/
- Osprey (English) - http://www.ospreypublishing.com/
- Revi Magazines (Czech) - http://www.revi.cz/
Web References: +
- Wikipedia.org - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Messerschmitt_Bf_110
- Wikipedia.org - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Messerschmitt_Bf_110_operational_history
- Battle of Britain 1940.net - http://www.battleofbritain1940.net/0014.html
- Aviation-History.com - http://www.aviation-history.com/messerschmitt/bf110.html
- Military Factory.com - https://www.militaryfactory.com/aircraft/detail.asp?aircraft_id=96
- aces flying high - https://acesflyinghigh.wordpress.com/2017/01/21/the-survivors-messerschmitt-bf-110-zerstorer/
- History of War.org - http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_bf_110G.html
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