by: Adie Roberts [ ]
Originally published on:
History In January 1933 Hitler became chancellor of Germany, a month later he dissolved Parliament and in March he gained full power which lasted for four years. He then stretched his reign unassisted right up to the fall of the Reich in May 1945. Hermann Goering, his devoted deputy, ex world war 1 ace but also former chief of the SA, founder of the Gestapo and the concentration camps, was named Minister of Air. However, due to the Treaty of Versailles, after the end of World War 1, Germany were forbidden from having any military aviation, Goering only ruled over a mixed bag of civil and sports aircraft. Thus, Hitler and Goering took steps towards launching a covert rearmament which the World would discover in June 1935. It was when the RLM were giving out specifications for a more up to date fighter.
In early 1934 the Air Ministry Addressed Second-generation fighter specifications to Heinkel, Arado and Focke-Wulf. But Willy Messerschmitt's company, Bayerische Flugzeugwerke AG, was simply ignored on orders from the Secretary of State for Air, Ernst Milch, Goering's right hand man. In fact there had been a difference of opinion between Messerschmitt and Milch in the 1920's and the latter was settling old scores! However, following Messerschmitt's complaint to Goering, the specifications were finally addressed to BFW. Milch announced that there was no question of even the smallest order.
These specifications were for a monoplane with at least two machine guns, possessing a high roll ratio and a tight turning radius. An excellent capacity for escaping a spin was also stressed. The paternity of the succeeding Bf109 is subject to some controversy, but it was indeed Robert Lusser, the BFW design-office director since leaving Heinkel in March 1933, who played the major role in its conception with Willy Messerschmitt more in the background.
The book This type of reference book is one that I love to collect and use when doing research for a particular build. Then I would just look up the information about, for example, a Bf109 K then I would look for that particular plane and take in the information about it and look at actual pictures of any details etc. However, I have to say the day the book arrived and I opened it to take a look through to do this review, I was hooked. I have not put this book down until I had finished each section. It is a fantastic read, informative, historical and accurate, that saying of course I was not around in 1934 building, designing or flying planes however much I would have loved to have been. It carries so much information about the Bf 109, not just the plane but the people involved, the time period and the circumstances in which it came about.
There is a segment in the genesis section where it recounts the history of how it came to be, how Germany built up its rearmament in secrecy including some of the other air companies involved in this new specification build for this new fighter like Heinkel and Arado. The mystery of why Willy Messerschmitts own company was overlooked at the beginning because of the issues between him and Milch. The history of Messerschmitt himself, what happened to him after the war and how the Americans virtually destroyed Messerschmitt because he would not go to America to work.
It also describes how he rebuilt his empire from building sewing machines to windmills just to get back to where he wanted to be, back in the aviation world.
I have to say that it is compelling as a read let alone as a source of reference to model builders.
The book then goes on to explain all the different marks of the Bf 109 starting with A to D. This is where we see how each of the marks came into existence and grew, making each one different. During this section we are shown in detail how it came about, A for Anton you find out at which factory and location they are being built. The Anton for instance only differed from the Bf -109 B (B= Bertha ) series by the absence of fittings for mounting a weapon between the cylinders of the engine.
Having just reviewed the incredible Eduard Legion Condor, this could not have come at a better time as there is a fair bit of information in this first section of the Bf-109's which were used in the Spanish civil War with some unseen pictures included. There is a great picture of one of the Legion Condor Bf-109's that had come down in a field near Leon northern Spain in August 1938. I am so sorry Eduard for what I am about to do to one of your fantastic Bf 109's, I hope you will forgive me, but I have just got to produce that as a diorama, such an excellent picture full of inspiration (for me at least).
Then it is onto the C version (C=Caesar). Whilst giving you copious amounts of detailed information, you are also given lots of fantastic cut through sections which again show you everything that is in that wing, the structural side, where the cannon or machine gun goes, fuel lines and controls surfaces. Also showing the ammunition belt running as an endless loop between wing root and wing tip.
It goes into detail about the different units markings and the pilots that flew them.
This first section brings you through the different Marks up to D (D=Dora) there are loads of pictures that have never been seen before, each one giving me further diorama ideas ( best make my Santa list now to Eduard ,Please Vladimir, Stanislav, Karel or Jan, can you please send to me several hundred Bf109's lol) Ok Adie, back to reality!
As we go through from A to D more and more becomes clear, the fuselage, how it is built and put together and then some absolutely gorgeous art profile pictures showing colour schemes, names and codes, so much detailed information.
Next part of the book is E&T, The Messerscmitt Bf 109 E (E=Emil) starts off the new Chapter with a section on the Daimler Benz engine. During the summer of 1938 the Daimler Benz company was preparing to mass produce its new DB 601A. Fed by a Bosch injection pump the 600 had been fuelled by a carburettor - it was to attain 1,050 hp at take off. There were however complications during the building and testing stage, teething problems, which dragged on for six months. Meanwhile, Messerschmitt having anticipated delivery of the power trains, had already launched his assembly lines on the Bf-109 E-1 version with its reinforced forward fuselage taking the greater weight of the DB 601A. Thus, in order not to hold up production, it was decided to keep building the bodies and to store those until the engines arrived.
The first "Emil" distinguished itself by the new cowling which incorporated the oil cooler. Again with some fantastic pictures including one with the cowling off and displaying the new DB-601, which is really nice if, like me, you like to add wires to the engine.
There are lots of cross-section drawings showing the Emil's different ordinance carried. There are also pictures and information about different countries that are now using the Emil, such as a great picture showing Swiss Aviation Force flying over the Alps in 1940 and a Romanian version.
There are some nice colour photos in this section which are of outstanding quality again, colour diagrams showing the slight differences and loads of the quality art work profile pictures. Now onto the Bf-109 T (T= Trager) and the Me 155. In complete honesty I have to say that I had never heard of this version until now. With the laying down of the keel of Germanys future aircraft carrier the "Graf Zeppelin" came the question of its air fleet, Messerschmitt started to make some changes to his Emil's. The E-1 WNr 6153, CK NC flying in May 1940, was the first completed prototype of the T series. Its main features were its folding wings, with the span increased from 32 1/2 to 36 1/2 ft, four catapult attachment points, folding tail hook, on board lighting, armoured seat, compass repeater etc., and, like the WL-IECY, it was equipped with an inflatable dinghy.
The Bf-109 T-1, even if it might have made a good carrier borne fighter, though never used in naval operations, needed improvement, if only to its undercarriage which if perfect for land, would be problematic during touch down on a heaving carrier deck. Thus the Me 155 was put onto the drafting board although never completed.
Messerschmitt Bf 109 F (F=Friedrich) With the E series at his apogee in 1940, notably the E-7 but Willy Messerschmitt was not going to let it just stay there hence the F. This whole book really is very well written and full of drawings, colour profiles and information like the Mistel 1 this was a Junkers Ju 88 A-4 with a Bf 109 F-4 on top.
Messerschmitt Bf 109 G&K, now I have to say that this is one huge chapter (G=Gustav) and (K=Karl) in German phonetic alphabet. The chapter starts with the differences between the G and other models of the Bf 109, like the rear bulk head of the airtight canopy with small window for vision aft and now using the DB 605 engine which has some superb drawn pictures showing all the main parts and listing them with an easy to follow key. More pictures follow that are meant to be the first time they have ever been seen in public. There is a section of the ones used in the Africa and Italy campaigns some thing I have to say I find fascinating, there is so much information in this book that is amazing, how they have so much crammed in. What i do like about it is the way it does not give you too much to think about it,it truly is written that well. The subtle changes between the differing marks are clear to see as you turn each page and move further into the book.
Special versions follow on that include information about the X and Z versions that were planned and some amazing pictures of the Me 209, which to me look like a cross between a Japanese J2M Raiden front end and half cockpit and the rear end of a Bf 109. This is followed by the jet version Me 109 TL or the Me 309 Jagdbomber.
The last part of the book is the appendix which has all the different information included, serial numbers, guns used, other armament, engines, markings, specifications and chronology of time making this one of the best Bf 109 books out there.
Conclusion Now I am a fan of information books that tell me more about my chosen subjects but never (so far at least) have I come across such a well written book that I find myself not being able to put it down and wanting to learn more. The history and detailed information that they have included in this book is just amazing.
The drawn pictures showing such intricate detail leave me in no mind on how I can improve a Bf 109 build with just some ordinary day to day modelling stuff like the cover of some fuse wire as brake pipes and for scratch building different marks ,you really can achieve it with the help of this book . Excellent, but hey don't take my word for it, buy it and see for yourself, if you are into world war 2 planes or the Luftwaffe then this is the book for you.