The Messerschmitt Bf110

ME 110

The Messerschmitt Bf110
was the backbone of the German Luftwaffe, when it came to night fighting,
but it wasn't always held in such high regard by the Germans.


Messerschmitt 109

An example of the ME 109

 Developed earlier as a heavy day fighter to attack enemy bombers in 1934,
the twin engine aircraft failed miserably in that role during the Battle of Britain.
Smaller, faster and more maneuverable aircraft like the British single engine
Spitfire and Hurricane easily moved in from behind to attack.

The Messerchmitt 110s "could not outrun them, or
out climb them," says Renald Fortier, curator of aviation history at the National
Aviation Museum in Ottawa. "There was a gunner behind the pilot [in the
Messerschmitt] with only one machine gun so when the Spitfires attacked with
eight machine guns, they were in great trouble."

Still, the Messerschmitt 110 had heavy firepower, high speed and long range.
As long as it avoided the single engine British fighters, it was an effective fighter. After being fitted with radar (that looked like deer antlers) on its nose,
the aircraft took to the skies at night, becoming the first night fighter
of the Luftwaffe.

ME 110

Armed with two 20 millimeter cannons and five 7.9 millimeter machine guns, the
aircraft attacked the British bombers from below in the dark of night thus
decreasing the risk of being detected. The Messerschmitt 110s became the
aerial mainstay of the German night fighting system called Helle Nachtjagd or
"Illuminated Night fighting." They were later joined by the Junkers Ju-88.

About 6,100 Messerschmitt Bf110s were built.


  Max Speed: 
 Service Ceiling: 
World War II
Fighter Bomber
560 km/h (348 mph)
32,800 ft (9997.44 m)
695 mi (1118.46 km)
Two Daimler Benz DB601A-1 engines
Five 7.9mm machine guns
Originally developed by the Germans as a strategic day fighter, a Zerstorer, the
Messerschmitt Bf 110 proved too slow and technically inferior to cope with
attacks by British Spitfires and Hurricanes. The Messerschmitt then found its
niche as a night fighter.

German Night Fighter

Messerschmitt Bf 110A-C

night fighter

Two seater bomber
 Approximately 6050 Bf 110s of all models.

 1 Jan 1945 - The Allies are caught by surprise.
German fighter bombers strikes on airfields in Europe
(Operation Bodenplatte (Base plate)).
A total of 465 aircraft are destroyed on the ground, but the
Luftwaffe loses 62 aircraft to Allied fighters and 172 to light AA (Anti Aircraft ground fire) including RAF Regiment gunners. Whilst Allied losses are quickly
replaced, the Luftwaffe fighters arm is effectively destroyed.

German surrender

The German surrender

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Designed by Pam Anderson/
All graphic designs
Copyright © 1999-2001 by P. Anderson

Camomile's World

Information was gathered from
many sources and historical
archives, including my Father's
journal. Some images and information
from:  The Royal Air Force History Section
and also: Warriors of the Night