Bf-109E-1 vs E-3,E-4 differences?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Alte Hase, Jun 1, 2012.

  1. Alte Hase

    Alte Hase Member

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    Hi all,

    I've been trying to find the external and armament differences between the Bf109 E-1,E-3 and E-4.Different sources give different differences (like panels differing, head armour, guns etc). If anyone has a simple answer and maybe even a few top/side views, I'd really appreciate it!

    Thanks!
     
  2. A4K

    A4K Well-Known Member

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    No simple answer, depending on the context.

    Each version had certain features introduced (head armour, armoured windscreens, redesigned canopy, etc) as you know already, but in practice many earlier marks were retrofitted with the later modifications, making external identification almost impossible without reseraching the Werk Nummer.

    For example, read that the BF 109E-4 was not so numerable in the Battle of Britain as is commonly thought, rather many photos of 'E-4s' are actually E-1s and -3s with later E-4 mods.

    (Have a few detail drawings etc if you need them btw)
     
  3. Denniss

    Denniss Active Member

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    Production changes:
    E-1 -> E-3: replacement of the wing-MGs with 2cm MG FF guns.
    E-3 -> E-4: first to start production with armor (ballast in the tail was removed as CoG moved rearwards), new canopy and MG FF/M guns

    canopy, armor and cannons were also retrofitted to older versions
     
  4. Alte Hase

    Alte Hase Member

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    Thanks guys! I've done some further research and I noticed the E-1 also lacked the underwing bulges that are present on E-3 and E-4 models. Obviously this is related to the different guns. Was this lack of underwing gun bulges standard on E-1s?
     
  5. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Yes, standard on standard E1s, as the bulges covered the cannon ammo drums, and were also the access panels to the drums. The E1 had MGs slightly further inboard, so no bulges. Of course, if upgraded to E3/E4, then the bulges would be there, with the cannons slightly outboard of the original MG position, and visible protruding from the wing, where the MGs just had open ports, no gun barrels visible.
    This gives some idea of the possible complexities of identifying the different models. The examples at the RAF Museum and Duxford are good examples, as neither are what they outwardly appear to be !
     
  6. Alte Hase

    Alte Hase Member

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    Hi all.

    I know it has been AGES since I posted this thread originally, but looking at a photo of a "Bf-109E-4" today, and reading the above information that you guys so kindly contributed, am I right in saying that the photo of this aircraft depicts an upgraded E-1 that is now E-4 standard? Just inboard of where the wing cannons were (they had been removed when this photo was taken) you can see a dark ring painted on the wing leading edge just about where the E-1 wing guns would be. It looks like the leading edge was patched where the dark circle is? Am I correct in identifying this as an E-1 upgraded to E-4? Incidentally the MoD report on the day of its crash states that this machine had no pilot head armour, which is also a feature of E-1s. 1-Bf-109E4-I_JG27-(+-Gunther-Bode-crash-landed-Mayfield-1940-01.jpg
     
  7. fubar57

    fubar57 Well-Known Member

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    The canopy looks like a -4, the earlier canopies had a slight bulge on top.



    Geo
     
  8. Alte Hase

    Alte Hase Member

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    It is an E-4 canopy. But these were one of the items put onto E-3 and E-1s to upgrade them to E-4 standard. I definitely think that the cirles on the wing leading edge just inboard of the (removed) gun holes are evidence of this originally being an E-1...
     
  9. net_sailor

    net_sailor Active Member

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    For your knowledge: there weren't separate E-1 or E-3/4 wings. There was only single universal wing type with all openings needed for any armament: MG 17 or MG FF or MG FF/M. Barrel openings for MG 17 and MG FF wasn't in the same place, and on most cannon equipped Messers the spare blinded hole is still visible.
    The ring around the MG 17 outlet MAY BE an trace for upgrade works, but when we don't have any documents for confirmation, this upgrade can't be a sure.
    There is a Werknummer of this aircraft known?
     
  10. Greyman

    Greyman Active Member

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    #10 Greyman, Aug 11, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2015
    From British documents on captured/crashed 109s it seems like 109Es had only started getting windscreen armour during the Battle of Britain and seat armour until afterwards (or at least late in the battle). As soon as they got a hold of 109Fs the reports were quick to point out the rear pilot armour.

    But, 'absence of evidence ...'

    Anyone have anything somewhat definitive?
     
  11. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    #11 stona, Aug 11, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2015
    The aircraft in question is a Bf 109 E-4, W.Nr. 1394, built by Erla Leipzig, the date on the aircraft data plate being 22nd November 1939. As far as I know the Erla E-4s fell into blocks W.Nr.1575 - 1659, W.Nr.1980 - 2063 and W.Nr.4091 - 4222, so it was not originally built as an E-4, but has been upgraded from an E-3 in the W.Nr 1074-1574 Erla block. This was an extremely commonplace occurrence at this period. Incidentally, demonstrating the ring structure of German aircraft production, the wings in question were manufactured by Junkers, Dessau.

    This aircraft was flown by Oblt. Gunther Bode of Stab I/JG27. He was shot down by two Spitfires (? I think Hurricanes are more likely given RAF activity that day) on September 9th 1940, making a forced landing at Knowle Farm, not far from Mayfield in Sussex. The aircraft sat under camouflage netting near the farm for three weeks (much to the dismay of Mrs. Shelmerdine, the farmer's wife) before being exhibited at Stanhay's garage, Ashford, where that photograph was taken and then Barrett's garage, Canterbury. I would guess that it was scrapped shortly thereafter.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
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  12. Alte Hase

    Alte Hase Member

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    Thanks so much for all the fascinating info.

    Is there a book in which all the details of W.Nr production is published? I was really impressed with your knowledge of the production details Stona.
     
  13. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    #13 stona, Aug 12, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2015
    Unless you want to invest in several books, the best one place stop for werknummer blocks is here.

    Falcon's Messerschmitt Bf 109 Hangar

    There are one or two minor discrepancies with other sources, but it's a pretty good overview.

    Other details come from the crashed enemy aircraft report (CEAR) which notes things like the Junkers built wings and data from the aircraft data plate. CEAR's usually did this along with engine details and often unreliable notes about colours and markings. Some of this is published in the 'Luftwaffe Crash Archive', I think volume 2. I also checked 'The Battle of Britain Then and Now' and a couple of other sources to see if I could find out who shot down Bode. Given Bode's seniority (though he only had one known victory, his 1st, a Morane at Le Ferte-Milon, 9th June, 1940) I thought it might be easily known, but it would require a bit more digging to find out. Matching claims to losses is always a bit of a minefield.

    I happen to have gathered information on this aircraft as I intended to build a model of it at one time. In the end I built von Werra's instead! I misspent some of my youth in the area around the crash site (Jarvis Brook/Crowborough) not far from Mayfield, which was the original impetus for modelling this aircraft :)
    There is still a farm there, but it had become an equestrian centre last time I looked!

    Cheers

    Steve
     
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