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Messerschmitt Bf 109

The Messerschmitt Bf 109 was a German World War II fighter aircraft designed by Willy Messerschmitt in the early 1930s. It was one of the first true modern fighters of the era, including such features as an all-metal monocoque construction, a closed canopy, and retractable landing gear. The Bf 109 was produced in greater quantities than any other fighter aircraft in history, with a total of 33,984 units produced up to April 1945. Fighter production totalled 47% of all German aircraft production, and the Bf 109 accounted for 57% of all German fighter types produced. A total of 2,193 Bf 109 A-E were built prewar, from 1936 to August 1939. Approximately 1,000 Bf 109 derivatives were manufactured postwar under licence as Czechoslovakian-built Avia S-99 & S-199s and Spanish-built Hispano Aviación HA-1109 and HA-1112 Buchons.

 

The Bf 109 was the backbone of the Luftwaffe fighter force in World War II, although it began to be partially replaced by the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 from 1941. The Bf 109 was the most successful fighter of World War II, shooting down more aircraft than any of its contemporaries. Originally conceived as an interceptor, it was later developed to fulfill multiple tasks, serving as bomber escort, fighter bomber, day-, night- all-weather fighter, bomber destroyer, ground-attack aircraft, and as reconnaissance aircraft. Although the Bf 109 had weaknesses, including short range and challenging take off and landing characteristics, it stayed competitive with Allied fighter aircraft until the end of the war.

 

The Bf 109 was flown by the three top-scoring fighter aces of World War II: Erich Hartmann, the top scoring fighter pilot of all time claiming 352 victories, Gerhard Barkhorn with 301 victories, and Günther Rall claiming 275 victories. All of them flew with Jagdgeschwader 52, a unit which exclusively flew the Bf 109 and was credited with over 10,000 victories, chiefly on the Eastern Front. Hartmann chose to fly the Bf 109 in combat throughout the war, despite being offered the use of the Me 262[citation needed]. Hans-Joachim Marseille, the highest scoring German ace in the North African Campaign, also claimed all of his 158 victories flying the Bf 109, against Western Allied pilots.[citation needed]

 

The Bf 109 was also used with good results by non-German pilots, such as the Finnish fighter ace Ilmari Juutilainen with 94 victories, the highest scoring non-German fighter ace in World War II , Romanian fighter ace Alexandru ?erb?nescu with 47 victories, Croatian fighter ace Mato Dukovac with 44 victories and Hungarian fighter ace Szentgy?rgyi Dezs? with 34 victories.

Bf 109

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Messerschmitt Bf 109G-10 at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio

Role

Fighter

Manufacturer

Bayerische Flugzeugwerke

Messerschmitt

Designed by

Willy Messerschmitt

First flight

28-May-35

Introduced

1937

Retired

1945, Luftwaffe

1965, Spain

Status

Retired

Primary users

Luftwaffe

Hungarian Air Force

Italian Social Republic Air Force

Romanian Air Force

Number built

more than 33,000

Variants

Avia S-99/S-199

Hispano Aviacion Ha 1112

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