Messerschmitt Bf 110

The Messerschmitt Bf 110, often known unofficially as the Me 110,[2] is a twin-engine Zerstörer (Destroyer, heavy fighter) 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 (later variants’ rear gunner station would be armed with the twin-barreled 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 resulted in the Bf 110 soldiering on until the end of the war in various roles, with its replacements, the Me 210 and the significantly improved Me 410 Hornisse.

The Bf 110 served with considerable success in the early campaigns in Poland, Norway and France. The primary weakness of the Bf 110 was its lack of manoeuvrability, 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 converted to 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 an American change in fighter tactics rendered them increasingly vulnerable to developing American air supremacy over the Reich as 1944 began.

During the Balkans and North African campaigns 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 main 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, Major Heinz-Wolfgang Schnaufer, flew it exclusively and claimed 121 victories in 164 sorties.[3]

Bf 110
Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-377-2801-013, Flugzeug Messerschmitt Me 110
Bf 110 of Nachtjagdgeschwader 4 (1943)
Designer Willy Messerschmitt
First flight 12 May 1936
Introduction 1937
Retired 1945 (Luftwaffe)
Primary users Luftwaffe
Number built 6,170[1]
German Messerschmitt Me 110 aircraft before take off for raids against the English, 1940 (34616164965)
Preparing for takeoff, 1940

Design and development

Genesis and competition

Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-360-2095-23, Flugzeuge Messerschmitt Me 110
Bf 110s in France in 1942

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 Ministry of Aviation (RLM, for Reichsluftfahrtministerium), 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.[4]

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.[5] The Henschel Hs 124 was similar in construction layout to the Fw 57,[5] 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.[5]

Messerschmitt omitted the internal bomb load requirement from the Ministry of Aviation directive to increase the armament element of the Ministry of Aviation's specification. The Bf 110 was far superior to its rivals in providing the speed, range and firepower to meet its role requirements.[6] 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[6](actually, leading-edge slats).

Early variants

Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-669-7340-27, Flugzeuge Me 110 über Budapest
Bf 110s in flight above Budapest. 1944

By luck (and pressure by Ernst Udet), the Ministry of Aviation reconsidered the ideas of the Kampfzerstörer and began focusing on the Zerstörer. Due to these changes, the Bayerische Flugzeugwerke design better fitted the Ministry's requests. On 12 May 1936, Rudolf Opitz flew the first Bf 110 out of Augsburg.[7] 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 Ministry of Aviation found that the Bf 110, while not as maneuverable as desired, was rather 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 air scoop remained under each engine nacelle for the remainder of the Bf 110's production run.

Me 110D-0 with Dackelbauch tank 1940
A Bf 110D-0 with an early "dachshund's belly" fuel tank

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).[8] 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.[9]

Later production variants

FuG 220 and FuG 202 radar of Me 110 1945
FuG 220 and FuG 202 (centre) "Lichtenstein" SN-2 VHF band, and B/C UHF band night fighter radar antennas on the nose of a Bf 110 G-4 being serviced by Luftwaffe ground crew on Grove airfield, Denmark postwar in August 1945, before the aircraft was sent to the UK for research.

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.[10] 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.[10]

Bf 110G production details

Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-659-6436-12, Flugzeug Messerschmitt Me 110
An early-model Bf 110G of 9./NJG 3 with Matratze UHF radar antennas for FuG 202/212 use.

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.[11] The G model was fitted with DB 605B engines, producing 1,085 kW (1,475 PS) at their Notleistung (war emergency) top-level 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 of the night fighter-dedicated, three-seater G-4 models; built between December 1942 and April 1945.[10] 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 mount 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 employing 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.

Night Fighter

After a period of use on bombing and reconnaissance, the type found its niche during the winter of 1940-41 as a night fighter defending Hitler's Reich. At first the three main crew members had no special equipment for night operations and relied on their eyes alone to find enemy aircraft in the dark. Ground-controlled interception began from mid 1941 and the 110 began to take its toll on RAF bombers and was soon an aircraft to be feared. Airborne radar was used experimentally during 1941, effective up to a maximum distance of 3.5 km/ 2.2 miles and capable of bringing the 110 to within 200m/655ft of a target.

By July 1942, the Bf 110F-4 was the first version to be designed specifically as a night fighter. It was something of a stop gap measure, though armed four 7.92mm/ 0.31 In machine guns and two 20 mm / 0.78 In cannon.

Operational service

Bf 110 with twin 900 litre drop tanks with vertical fins, from 9.Staffel/ZG 26, on a Regia Aeronautica photo


Bf 110 V1

First flown 12 May 1936 using two Daimler-Benz DB 600 engines[12]

Bf 110 V2

Completed on 24 October 1936 using two Daimler-Benz DB 600 engines. It was assigned directly to the Luftwaffe test centre at Rechlin. Test pilots were pleased with its speed but disappointed in its maneuverability[12]

Bf 110 V3

Same airframe as the V1 and V2 but was intended as a weapons test aircraft and had nose changes for armament. Completed and test flown on 24 December 1936 and also assigned to Rechlin.[12]
Bf 110 A
Prototypes with two Junkers Jumo 210 B engines.[13]
Bf 110 A-0
The designation of the first four pre-production aircraft. Armament consisted of four fixed MG 17 7.92 mm machine guns in the nose and one moveable MG 15 7.92 mm machine gun in the rear cockpit canopy.[13]
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.
Bf 110 C
Me 110C-5 RAF NAN15Jun43
A captured Bf 110C-4 in the service of No. 1426 Flight RAF

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.
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.[14]
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.[14]
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 bomb racks (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.
Bf 110 E
Bf 110 end
Bf 110 E-1, Ergänzungs-Schlachtgruppe, Deblin-Irena (Poland 1942).

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.
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
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).
Bf 110 G
Me110G4 2
Bf 110 G-4
ME-110G-2 at RAF Hendon
A Bf 110 G-4 night fighter at the RAF Museum in London.
Bf-110 G-4 cockpit RAF Museum London
Bf-110 G-4 cockpit; RAF Museum London.

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.[15]
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.


 Soviet Union
 United Kingdom

Surviving aircraft

Me 110 G-4
Bf 110 Werk Nr. 5052, Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin. The noseart emblem on this aircraft is the dachshund of 10.(Z)/JG 5.

Two intact Bf 110s are known to exist:

Messerschmitt Bf 110 G Werk Nr. 730301

This aircraft is displayed as fully assembled at the Royal Air Force Museum's London site at Hendon, North London. A G-series, night fighter, it was likely built in 1944. It served with Nachtjagdgeschwader 3, the unit responsible for the night air defence of Denmark and North Germany until Germany's surrender in May 1945. It was one of five Bf 110s taken by the British for technical evaluation. In 1946, it was selected for preservation by the Air Historical Branch. It was eventually moved to the RAF Museum in 1978, where it has remained ever since.[18]

Messerschmitt Bf 110 F2 Werk Nr. 5052

Displayed at the Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin.[18]

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.[19]

Messerschmitt Bf 110 G4 (unknown Werk Nr.)

BF110 G4 on display in Denmark
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 made from a wide range of original spare parts found all over the world. It is currently owned and displayed by a private foundation in Denmark.[20]

Specifications (Bf 110 C-1)

Data from The warplanes of the Third Reich[21], Die Deutsche Luftrüstung 1933–1945 Vol.3 – Flugzeugtypen Henschel-Messerschmitt[22]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2 or 3
  • Length: 12.0714 m (39 ft 7.25 in)
  • Wingspan: 16.2497 m (53 ft 3.75 in)
  • Height: 4.128 m (13 ft 6.5 in)
  • Wing area: 38.4000 m2 (413.334 sq ft)
  • Airfoil: root: NACA 2R1 (18.5%); tip: NACA 2R1 (11%)[23]
  • Empty weight: 4,425 kg (9,755 lb) * Empty equipped weight: 4,885 kg (10,769 lb)
  • Gross weight: 6,028 kg (13,289 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 6,749 kg (14,880 lb)
  • Fuel capacity: 1,272 l (336 US gal; 280 imp gal) in 4 centre-section tanks
  • Powerplant: 2 × Daimler-Benz DB 601A-1 V-12 inverted liquid-cooled piston engines, 780 kW (1,050 hp) each for take-off
820 kW (1,100 hp) at 3,700 m (12,140 ft)
  • Propellers: 3-bladed VDM variable-pitch propellers


  • Maximum speed: 475 km/h (295 mph, 256 kn) at13,289 lb (6,028 kg) at sea level
525 km/h (326 mph; 283 kn) at 4,000 m (13,120 ft)
541 km/h (336 mph; 292 kn) at 6,000 m (19,685 ft)
  • Cruise speed: 262 km/h (163 mph, 141 kn) maximum continuous at sea level
489 km/h (304 mph; 264 kn) maximum continuous at 5,000 m (16,400 ft)
484 km/h (301 mph; 261 kn) maximum continuous at 7,000 m (22,970 ft)
349 km/h (217 mph; 188 kn) economical cruise speed at 4,200 m (13,780 ft)
  • Landing speed: 150 km/h (93 mph; 81 kn)
  • Range: 774 km (481 mi, 418 nmi) at sea level with normal internal fuel at maximum continuous cruise speed
850 km (530 mi; 460 nmi) at 5,000 m (16,400 ft) at maximum continuous cruise speed
  • Range at economical cruise speed: 909 km (565 mi; 491 nmi) at 7,000 m (22,970 ft) at economical cruise speed
1,094 km (680 mi; 591 nmi) at 4,200 m (13,780 ft) at economical cruise speed
  • Service ceiling: 10,000 m (32,810 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 11 m/s (2,200 ft/min)
  • Time to altitude: 6,000 m (19,685 ft) in 10 minutes 12 seconds
  • Wing loading: 173 kg/m2 (35 lb/sq ft)
  • Power/mass: 0.241 kW/kg (0.147 hp/lb)


  • Guns: ** 2 × 20 mm (0.787 in) MG FF/M cannon (180 rpg—3 drums with 60 rpg, cannon were reloaded by rear gunner or radio operator during flight)

See also

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era

Related lists


  1. ^ Donald 1994, p. 221.
  2. ^ Because it was built before Bayerische Flugzeugwerke became Messerschmitt AG in July 1938, the Bf 110 was never officially given the designation Me 110.
  3. ^ "Major Heinz-Wolfgang Schnaufer." Aces of the Luftwaffe. Retrieved: 21 March 2015.
  4. ^ Mackay 2000, pp. 6-7.
  5. ^ a b c Mackay 2000, p. 7.
  6. ^ a b Mackay 2000, p. 9.
  7. ^ Munson 1983, p. 153.
  8. ^ "German Aircraft of World War II Blog — Mid-Series Messerschmitt Bf 110"., 13 April 2011. Retrieved: 21 March 2015.
  9. ^ Wagner and Nowarra 1971, p. 251.
  10. ^ a b c Mankau and Petrick 2001, pp. 323–327.
  11. ^ Munson 1983, p. 154.
  12. ^ a b c Hirsch & Feist 1967, p. 3.
  13. ^ a b Hirsch & Feist 1967, p. 4.
  14. ^ a b L. Dv. T. 2413/1 Beschreibung und Einbau der Zusatzanlagen für das Flugzeugmuster Bf 110 D . Berlin: Reichsluftfahrtministerium, 1940.
  15. ^ Goebel, Greg. "The Messerschmitt Bf 110 & Me 210/410". Airvectors. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  16. ^ Dimensione Cielo: Caccia Assalto 3, Aerei Italiani nella 2a Guerra Mondiale 1972, p. 46.
  17. ^ Geust and Petrov 1998
  18. ^ a b Simpson, Andrew (2012). "Individual History: Messerschmitt Bf110G - 4/R6 W/NR.730301" (PDF). Royal Air Force Museum. Retrieved 13 April 2015.
  19. ^ "Messerschmitt Bf-110D-0".
  20. ^ "I Nattens Mulm og Mørke Blev Bomberne Smidt Over Danmark Den 9. April 1940". Gillelejegruppens Videnscenter 40-45 (in Danish). Retrieved 2017-08-23.
  21. ^ Green, William (1970). The warplanes of the Third Reich (1st 1973 reprint ed.). New York: Doubleday. pp. 573–591. ISBN 0385057822.
  22. ^ Nowarra, Heinz J. (1993). Die Deutsche Luftrüstung 1933–1945 Vol.3 – Flugzeugtypen Henschel-Messerschmitt (in German). Koblenz: Bernard & Graefe Verlag. pp. 206–213, 266–267. ISBN 978-3-7637-5467-0.
  23. ^ Lednicer, David. "The Incomplete Guide to Airfoil Usage". Retrieved 16 April 2019.


  • 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.; Feist, Uwe (1967). Messerschmitt Bf 110 (Aero Series 16). Fallbrook, California: Aero Publishers, Inc.
  • Mackay, Ron. Messerschmitt Bf 110. Wiltshire, UK: The Crowood Press, 2000. ISBN 1-86126-313-9
  • Mankau, Heinz and Peter Petrick. Messerschmitt BF 110/Me 210/Me 410: An Illustrated History. Atglen, Pennsylvania: Schiffer Publishing, 2003. ISBN 0-7643-1784-9.
  • Munson, Kenneth. Fighters and Bombers. New York: Peerage Books, 1983. ISBN 0-907408-37-0.
  • 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.

Suggested reading

  • 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.
  • Hooton, E.R.Luftwaffe at War; Blitzkrieg in the West: Volume 2. London: Chevron/Ian Allan, 2007. ISBN 978-1-85780-272-6.
  • Hooton, E.R. Luftwaffe at War; Gathering Storm 1933–39: Volume 1. London: Chevron/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.
  • Middlebrook, Martin. The Peenemunde Raid: The Night of 17–18 August 1943. Barnsely, UK: Pen & Sword Aviation, 2004. ISBN 1-84415-336-3.
  • Murray, Willamson. Strategy for Defeat: The Luftwaffe 1935–1945. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Air Power Research Institute, 1983. ISBN 0-16-002160-X.
  • Price, Alfred. Messerschmitt Bf 110 Night Fighters (Aircraft in Profile No. 207). Windsor, Berkshire, UK: Profile Publications Ltd., 1971.
  • 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.

External links

Boy Mould

Peter William Olber "Boy" Mould, (14 December 1916? – 1 October 1941) was a Royal Air Force fighter pilot and flying ace of the Second World War.

Daimler-Benz DB 600

The Daimler-Benz DB 600 was a German aircraft engine designed and built before World War II as part of a new generation of German engine technology. It was a liquid-cooled inverted V12 engine, and powered the Messerschmitt Bf 110 and Heinkel He 111 among others. Most newer DB engine designs used in WW2 were based on this engine. The decision by the RLM to concentrate on manufacturing aircraft engines using fuel injection systems rather than carburettors meant that the DB 600 was quickly superseded by the otherwise similar DB 601. Later DB series engines grew in bore, stroke, and horsepower, including the DB 603 and DB 605, but were generally similar to the pattern created with the DB 600.

Daimler-Benz DB 601

The Daimler-Benz DB 601 was a German aircraft engine built during World War II. It was a liquid-cooled inverted V12, and powered the Messerschmitt Bf 109, Messerschmitt Bf 110, and many others. Approximately 19,000 601's were produced before it was replaced by the improved Daimler-Benz DB 605 in 1942.

The DB 601 was basically an improved DB 600 with direct fuel injection. Fuel injection required power to be taken off the drive shaft, but in return, improved low-RPM performance significantly and provided aerobatic performance in maneuvers where a carberated engine like the British Rolls-Royce Merlin would lose power when the carburetor ran dry.

The 601's fuel injection provided a significant boost in performance which its competitor, the Junkers Jumo 210, did not match for some time. By the time the fuel-injected 211 arrived, the 601 had already cemented its place as the engine for high-performance designs like fighters, high-speed bombers, and similar roles. The 211 would be relegated to bombers and transport aircraft. In this respect, the 601 was the counterpart to the Merlin engine of roughly the same size and power.

The DB 601Aa was licence-built in Japan by Aichi as the Atsuta, by Kawasaki as the Ha-40, and in Italy by Alfa Romeo as the R.A.1000 R.C.41-I Monsone.

Dornier Do 29 (1934)

The Dornier Do 29 was a proposed zerstörer, or heavy fighter, designed by Dornier as a competitor to the Messerschmitt Bf 110.

The design answered the Reich Air Ministry requirement in autumn 1934 for a heavy fighter. Highly derivative of the earlier Do 17, the design was rejected before the prototype stage, and work stopped in 1936.

Fokker G.I

The Fokker G.I was a Dutch heavy twin-engined fighter aircraft comparable in size and role to the German Messerschmitt Bf 110. Although in production prior to World War II, its combat introduction came at a time the Netherlands were overrun by the Germans. The few G.Is that were mustered into service were able to score several victories.

Some were captured intact after the Germans had occupied the Netherlands. The remainder of the production run was taken over by the Luftwaffe for use as trainers.

Heavy fighter

A heavy fighter is a fighter aircraft designed to carry heavier weapons or operate at longer ranges than light fighter aircraft. To achieve acceptable performance, most heavy fighters were twin-engined, and many had multi-place crews. In Germany, they were known as zerstörer, for "destroyer".

The twin-engine heavy fighter was a major design class during the pre-World War II period, conceived as long-range escort fighters or heavily armed bomber destroyers. Most such designs failed in this mission, as they could not maneuver with the more conventional, single-engined fighters, and suffered heavy losses. Most notable among such designs was the Messerschmitt Bf 110, which suffered great losses during the Battle of Britain. An exception was the Lockheed P-38 Lightning, which proved to be an effective fighter.

Many twin-engined heavy fighters eventually found their niche as night fighters, fighter-bombers or strike aircraft, with considerable success. Notable among such conversions was the Bf 110, which served as a night fighter for most of the war, and the Bristol Beaufighter, which emerged as a major anti-shipping strike fighter.

Helmut Woltersdorf

Helmut Woltersdorf (15 November 1915 – 2 June 1942) was a German Luftwaffe flying ace and night fighter ace of the World War II. Woltersdorf is credited with 24 victories, including 20 Royal Air Force (RAF) bomber aircraft. Woltersdorf claimed eight victories as Zerstörer (destroyer or heavy fighter) pilot operating the Messerschmitt Bf 110 and 16 as a night fighter pilot—including 15 at night and one in daylight. Woltersdorf also flew Dornier Do 215 night fighter.

Jagdgeschwader 6

Jagdgeschwader 6 (JG 6) Horst Wessel was a Luftwaffe fighter-wing of World War II. JG 6 was created in July 1944 from the remnants of the Messerschmitt Bf 110 equipped unit Zerstörergeschwader 26 (ZG 26, 26th Destroyer Wing) which had suffered severe losses as a bomber-destroyer unit in the Defence of the Reich during early 1944 against the Allied bomber offensive. JG 6 inherited the honorific name Horst Wessel from the Zerstörergeschwader it was created from.

John Dundas (RAF officer)

John Charles Dundas, (19 August 1915 – 28 November 1940) was a Royal Air Force fighter pilot and flying ace of the Second World War credited with 12 victories.

Born in West Yorkshire as the son of an aristocrat, Dundas was an able student and academic. After graduating from Christ Church, Oxford, he became a journalist and joined a newspaper in his home county. After two years, Dundas tired of life as a reporter and joined the Royal Auxiliary Air Force (RAuxAF) in July 1938, being commissioned as pilot officer in No. 609 (West Riding) Squadron and trained as a pilot at his own expense.

In May 1940 his squadron took part in the Battle of France, during which Dundas claimed his first two victories. Dundas remained with his squadron throughout the Battle of Britain, claiming nine German aircraft shot down. On 9 October he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) for 10 victories. At the time of his last battle Dundas had been credited with 12 aircraft destroyed, two shared destroyed, four probably destroyed and five damaged. During a battle over the English Channel on 28 November 1940, Dundas is believed to have engaged and shot down Helmut Wick, the highest scoring ace of the Luftwaffe at that time. Moments later Dundas was also shot down into the sea. Both pilots vanished and remain missing in action.

Lehrgeschwader 1

Lehrgeschwader 1 (LG 1) (Training Wing 1) formerly Lehrgeschwader Greifswald was a Luftwaffe multi-purpose unit during World War II, operating fighter, bomber and dive-bomber Gruppen. The unit was formed in July 1936 and operated the Messerschmitt Bf 109, Messerschmitt Bf 110, Dornier Do 17, Heinkel He 111, Junkers Ju 88 and Junkers Ju 87.

Luftwaffe order of battle August 1940

For its Battle of Britain campaign against Great Britain during World War II, the German Luftwaffe had the following order of battle in the West. Luftflotte 2 was responsible for the bombing of southeast England and the London area and based in the Pas-de-Calais area in France. Luftflotte 3 targeted the West Country, Midlands, and northwest England, from bases a bit further north in France. Luftflotte 5 targeted the north of England and Scotland, from bases in Norway. Luftflotte 1 and Luftflotte 4 were based in Germany, but most of their bomber formations had been reassigned to the three Luftflotten engaged in the Battle of Britain. Some fighters were retained to provide air cover over Germany, however.

Messerschmitt Bf 110 operational history

The Messerschmitt Bf 110, often (erroneously) called Me 110, was a twin-engine heavy fighter (Zerstörer – German for "Destroyer" – a concept that in German service involved a long-ranged, powerful fighter able to range about friendly or even enemy territory destroying enemy bombers and even fighters when located) in the service of the Luftwaffe during World War II. Hermann Göring was a proponent of the Bf 110, and nicknamed it his Eisenseiten ("Ironsides"). Development work on an improved type to replace the Bf 110, the Messerschmitt Me 210 began before the war started, but its teething troubles resulted in the Bf 110 soldiering on until the end of the war in various roles, alongside its replacements, the Me 210 and the Me 410.

The Bf 110 served with success in the early campaigns in Poland, Norway and France. The Bf 110's lack of agility in the air was its primary weakness. This flaw was exposed during the Battle of Britain, when some Bf 110-equipped units were withdrawn from the battle after very heavy losses and redeployed as night fighters, a role to which the aircraft was well suited. The Bf 110 enjoyed a successful period following the Battle of Britain as an air superiority fighter and strike aircraft in other theatres. 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 (Jagdbomber-Jabo).

Later in the war, it was developed into a formidable 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.

Messerschmitt Bf 161

The Messerschmitt Bf 161 was a 1930s prototype German reconnaissance aircraft.

Messerschmitt Me 261

The Messerschmitt Me 261 Adolfine was a long-range reconnaissance aircraft designed in the late 1930s. It looked like an enlarged version of the Messerschmitt Bf 110. It was not put into production; just three Me 261s were built and used primarily for testing and development purposes.

Rolf Hermichen

Rolf Hermichen (25 July 1918 – 23 May 2014) was a Luftwaffe fighter ace and recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub) during World War II. The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.

He was born in Wernigerode in the district of Harz. Hermichen is credited with 64 aerial victories claimed in 629 combat missions, 11 of them while flying the Messerschmitt Bf 110. He shot down 53 enemy aircraft in Defense of the Reich, including 26 four engine strategic bombers.

Rolf Kaldrack

Rolf Kaldrack (25 June 1913 – 3 February 1942) was a Luftwaffe fighter ace and recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves during World War II. A flying ace or fighter ace is a military aviator credited with shooting down five or more enemy aircraft during aerial combat. Kaldrack is credited with at least 24 aerial victories, 3 of which claimed during the Spanish Civil War flying with Aufklärungsgruppe 88 of the Condor Legion.Rolf Kaldrack and his aerial gunner Unteroffizier Enke were killed in action on 3 February 1942 south of Toropets. Kaldrack flying a Messerschmitt Bf 110 E-1 "S9+IC" (Werksnummer 4057 — factory number), collided with a Mig-1 he had just shot down. Posthumously he received the 70th Oak Leaves to the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross.

Rudolf Frank

Rudolf Frank (19 August 1920 – 27 April 1944) was a German Luftwaffe military aviator during World War II, a night fighter ace credited with 45 enemy aircraft shot down in 183 combat missions. All of his victories were claimed over the Western Front in nocturnal Defense of the Reich missions against the Royal Air Force's Bomber Command.

Born in Karlsruhe-Grünwinkel, Frank volunteered for military service in the Luftwaffe of Nazi Germany in 1939 after finishing school. Following flight training, he was posted to Nachtjagdgeschwader 3 (NJG 3—3rd Night Fighter Wing) in 1941. He was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 6 April 1944 following his 42nd aerial victory. Three weeks later, on 27 April 1944, he and his crew attacked an Avro Lancaster, which exploded and fatally damaged their own aircraft. Frank ordered his crew to bail out but was unable to save himself. He received posthumous promotion to Leutnant (second lieutenant) and was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves.

Savoia-Marchetti SM.88

The Savoia-Marchetti SM.88, was an Italian twin-engined heavy fighter prototype of World War II, featuring a twin-boom structure, powered by German Daimler-Benz engines.

The SM.88, intended for export, was a light-medium, land based, multi-role fighter regarded as an advanced combat aircraft at the time of its debut in 1939. Though Savoia had already developed a similar twin boom aircraft, (the S.55) the layout was regarded as a new concept for Italian aircraft industries.

The crew of three, two pilots and a rear gunner, were housed in a fully glazed ejectable crew nacelle located in the middle of the centre wing panel, behind the two Daimler-Benz DB 601 engines. The tail had two vertical rudders with a single horizontal surface between. The retractable landing gear consisted of four wheels, two in the front and back, respectively. The structure was a wooden frame covered with a metal skin.

When the aircraft bombed a target, the pilot took on the role of bombardier, lying on the floor of the fuselage to sight the bombs,while the co-pilot flew the aircraft. The rear defensive gun was encased in a flexible plastic enclosure in the crew nacelle while two more 12.7 mm Breda-SAFAT machine guns were mounted in the wings.

With the advent of World War II the Germans denied permission to export the DB 601 fitted to Italian aircraft. The Regia Aeronautica declined to order the aircraft due to the similar performance of the Messerschmitt Bf 110, which was already proven as reliable, in production and had better armament.

In 1942 the Regia Aeronautica requested a redesign of the aircraft into a fast reconnaissance aircraft or bomber. They requested a range of 2,000 km (1,240 mi) with auxiliary tanks, or 1,500 km (930 mi) with 500 kg (1,100 lb) bombload (with an effective radius of 750 km (465 mi)).


A Seilbombe (German pronunciation: [saɪlbɔmbə], plural Seilbomben, [saɪlbɔmbən]), literally "rope bomb", was a secret German weapon developed during the Second World War designed to disable the electrical power grid of an invaded territory. Equipped with it, a German Messerschmitt Bf 110 fighter plane or an Arado 196 float plane would fly low at night over areas near enemy power plants or urban centers where power lines were located and would use it to cause local blackouts. This would, it was hoped, lead to civilian panic and the inability of local opposing forces to coordinate a defense. The piloting of planes so equipped was extremely dangerous, as it required the pilot to fly his plane almost directly at enemy power lines in the dark when visibility was already severely limited and within easy range of anti-aircraft fire.

BFW Idflieg designations
company designations
RLM designations 1933–1945
Project numbers
USAAC designations
RAF assigned names
1 to 100
101 to 200
201 to 300


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