The Messerschmitt Bf 109 is a fighter aircraft, which along with the Focke-Wulf Fw 190, was the backbone of the Luftwaffe's fighter force during World War II.
For its time the Willy Messerschmitt/Robert Lusser designed BF 109 was an advanced aircraft with all metal construction, a closed canopy and retractable under carriage.
The air cooled Daimler-Benz V12 engine was also fuel injected giving an advantage over the carburettor engine aircraft of the RAF.
The landing carriage was attached to the fuselage rather than the 'normal' wing attachment of other aircraft allowing the wings to be easily removed for servicing without any additional support.
This allowed the wings to have a simplified structure, as no additional loads were imparted to them during take-off and landing, easing pressure on manufacture unlike the complicated wings of the Spitfire which caused manufacturing difficulties.
A disadvantage of the fuselage mounted under carriage was its narrow wheel track which made it unstable during take-off and together with its small rudder and poor forward visibility it was a challenge to the inexperienced pilot, resulting in at least 10% losses of the Bf 109 during take-off and landing - some 1,500 losses occurring between 1939 and 1941.
The Messerschmitt Bf 109 was produced from 1936 to 1945, with 33,984 built.
Daimler-Benz DB 605AM, producing 1,800 hp.
Press play to hear the Me109
3 x 20mm cannon
2 x MG 131 13mm machine guns
The Bf 109 first had operational service in the Spanish Civil war in 1937 and remained in service until the end of World War II in 1945.
The Bf 109 was flown by the three top-scoring aces of all time claiming 928 victories between them. Erich Hartmann the highest scoring fighter ace in history shot down 352 Allied aircraft.