Messerschmitt Bf 109 E-7/B

MdM 109 01

Under the sign of the Wasp: A Me Bf 109 E-7/ B in the colors of the III Group of Destroyer Squadron 1 from the summer of 1942; here in 1/72 scale from a kit by the Ukrainian manufacturer ICM. The canopy is open.

 

From original to model

An independent part of the collections of the Aviation Museum Hannover-Laatzen are the approximately 1,000 scale models, primarily of the international standards 1/72 and 1/48.

Such true-to-the-original miniatures enable viewers of museum technology history to gain an "overview", not only of the individual exhibit (sometimes even as the only possibility of a three-dimensional display if there is no longer a preserved original), but also of lines of development in aircraft construction through the  arrangement and juxtaposition; sometimes they even close gaps in the presentation of the originals. Their craftsmanship alone is a pleasure to behold.

Today, in our 'Model of the Month' series, we are presenting the Messerschmitt Bf 109, the most widely built and most successful piston-powered fighter aircraft in the world, with some 35,000 examples. The original G-2 version of this aircraft is on display in Hangar 2 of the museum, and all its versions are on display in the showcases of both exhibition halls. We have chosen a fighter-bomber of the first large series E.

MdM 109 02
Secondary use: The air superiority fighter of the first just over two years of the war becomes a fighter-bomber - with a 250 kg explosive bomb or 4 x 50 kg under the fuselage.     

 

The model: The "109 Emil" from ZG 1 in 1/72 scale.

Our kit with 57 parts and decal set comes from the company ICM from Ukraine and depicts a Messerschmitt Bf 109 E-7/B. Of the two possible variants, we have built one aircraft from the III Group of the Luftwaffe's Destroyer Squadron 1, which fought in the Soviet Union in the summer of 1942 before being transferred to the Mediterranean.

The kit's design and detailing are successful, the separate engine cowling allows a view of the DB 601 engine, which is only hinted at. It  is a bit narrow for the effort expended on this, but the cockpit is reproduced extremely well. Two external loads are available: one 250kg or four 50kg bombs with corresponding mounts centrally under the fuselage.

The original:               Commissioned for service: the Me Bf 109 E-7/B.

World record holder, air superiority fighter, wonder weapon. Symbol of German engineering and terror of the enemy from 1937 to 1941: the legendary Messerschmitt Bf 109 of the first B to E series (nicknamed "Emil" after the German spelling alphabet) is all that. Constructed by Prof. Willy Messerschmitt (Me) at the Bayerische Flugzeugwerke (Bf), after the latter had switched from successful sports and commercial aircraft to military ones after 1933, following the political zeitgeist without any objections.

Meanwhile, the "109" also fulfilled his pleasure in performance and success after its maiden flight in 1935 in various international flight competitions and records from 1936 to 1939.

And after the type's triumph in the Spanish Civil War, the pilots of the single-seater fighter also piled up air victory after air victory in the campaigns of the Blitzkrieg of 1939/40 - Poland, Belgium, the Netherlands and France.

MdM 109 02
The yellow markings on the bottom are used for friend/foe identification of the Luftwaffe aircraft. 

 

From triumph to bloody nose

In the late summer of 1940, the Royal Air Force's career came to an end. The Battle of Britain showed that the British now had a Supermarine Spitfire, a fighter aircraft that was equal to and in some cases superior. The 109 E-3 and E-4 may have been brilliant tactical fighters, but they were neither designed nor intended for strategic missions such as escort and securing air superiority over the sea and foreign territory. Although the Royal Air Force also wobbles and bleeds in the legendary air battles over England's southeast, it stands its ground and the skies over Merry Old England; the nimbus of the invincibility of the Luftwaffe and its symbolic bird is gone.

While the air battle was still in progress, Reichsmarschall Göring, himself a former fighter pilot,  deeply affected personally by the failure of his Luftwaffe, "punished" the fighters by converting part of the squadrons into fighter-bombers. "If the fighters could not protect the bombers sufficiently, they should obligingly carry the bombs over themselves..." the later general of the fighter pilots Adolf Galland remembers the directive. The reason for the failure actually lay far more in the strategy than in the tactics or even in the will to fight. A deep rift between troops and leadership was the result, as was the inevitable failure: the comparatively slow and immobile E-4/Bs, pressed into service with a 250kg bomb under the fuselage, now tied up the rest of the fighter protection. The losses of the bombers and Stukas became intolerable; in addition, the effect of the provisionally trained "makeshift bombers" was minimal. The Battle of Britain is not won - the Luftwaffe and the 109 have been given a bloody nose... with the realization that even for successful fighter-bomber operations in the area, air superiority is first of all indispensable.

MdM 109 02
Top view shows Luftwaffe camouflage scheme in the middle of the war; the tread on the wings is outlined in red.

 

The second career

The Balkan campaign of spring 1941, already strategically imposed by defection and military failure of allies, then sees the 109 E once again as a superior weapon - in both roles. Against brave, but tactically and materially inferior opponents (Yugoslavia, Greece and a strong British expeditionary force - but without Spitfires, which remain in England as life insurance), the aircraft with its operationally experienced crews convinces as a fighter as well as a fighter-bomber ('Jabo') in the E-4 and E-7 series and leads the German attack until the conquest of Crete. Failures and wear and tear of this tour de force are to make themselves bitterly noticeable with army like air force in the attack on the Soviet Union, which is moreover delayed because of it.

In the meantime, the aerodynamically optimized version F ("Friedrich" in Luftwaffe jargon) has replaced the E as the standard fighter, and the subsequent G ("Gustav") series is already undergoing testing. This means that the "Emil" is now the old gentleman - and assigned to other tasks.

Firefighters & Emergency Helpers

And they are pressing... In 1942, the Soviet Union has absorbed the heavy losses of the first year of the campaign, mobilized its vast resources of men and materiel - not least through massive aid deliveries from the Western Allies - and is forcing the Wehrmacht into a war of attrition that it cannot cope with. The Luftwaffe is transformed from an autonomous Wehrmacht component into the Army's flying fire department and thrown into every critical situation with every available machine. In free combat, German pilots around Erich Hartmann, Gerhard Barkhorn and Günther Rall, mainly with the Me 109 F and G, achieved unprecedented numbers of kills.

However, the battle squadrons and the destroyer squadrons, mostly equipped with the twin-engine Me 110 and 210, but supplemented by the Jabo version of the Me 109 or the Focke Wulf 190 in case of need, fight right at the front and very close to it. In this way, the 109 E drives a German offensive for the last time in the summer of 1942: but this attack on the southern section of the Eastern Front will bleed to death in Stalingrad - and the battle will become synonymous with the turning point of the war.

Discarded

At the same time, new Soviet fighters arrive at the front, strong in combat, contrary to the claims of German propaganda: the Yakovlev Yak-9 and the Lavochkin La-5 - to which the 109 Emil, now outdated in terms of performance, tired of material and weighed down by bombs, are clearly inferior. Destroyer Squadron 1, with the stylized wasp as its emblem, was severely decimated in the winter battles around Stalingrad. However, its III Group, equipped with 109s, escaped this casualty by being transferred to the Mediterranean immediately beforehand, where it was retrained in new aircraft types for security duties for Rommel's Afrika Korps. And by mid-1943, hardly any E-series aircraft were to be found in front-line service from the Arctic Ocean to Sicily.

All this and much more history and stories are told by this small aircraft model as one of a thousand in the Aviation Museum. And we are not even talking about the originals yet...

Could we arouse your curiosity? We would be pleased to welcome you in the Ulmer Straße opposite the Hannover fairgrounds!

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Datenblatt Me Bf 109 E-7/B

Länge; Spannweite: 8,64 m; 9,90 m

Leergewicht: 2.010 kg

Motor: Daimler-Benz DB 601Aa V12-Flugmotor mit 1175 PS

Bewaffnung: 2 x 7,9 mm MG, 2 x 20 mm MK, Bombenlast bis 250 kg

Höchstgeschwindigkeit: 540 km/h

Reichweite: 660 km

Dienstgipfelhöhe: 9.500 m

MdM 109 02

Under construction. Note the alternate bomb load and the canopy not yet on.