In Praise of the Me-110

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by OldSkeptic, Jul 12, 2013.

  1. OldSkeptic

    OldSkeptic Active Member

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    This plane gets a very bad press, which is surprising given its long and distinguished career.

    Until the Mossie (and some late model JU-88s) came along it was the finest twin in the European theatre.

    Faster than a Beaufighter, reasonably manoeuvrable, good range, excellent firepower.

    It's long career was blighted by the thumping it took in the BoB. Something that it gave back in spades against the RAF's Bomber Command and USAAF's 8th.

    Probably shot down more bombers than any other aircraft of its type.

    It was, until longer ranged US escort fighters became available, a lynchpin in the strategic win of the Luftwaffe vs the the USAAF's bombing campaign and the RAF's Berlin campaign. Everyone forgets that the Luftwaffe won the air war over Germany in 43 against both the USAAF and the RAF's Bomber Command.

    It's successors failed, the disaster of the 210 and the marginal 410. The overweight and over expensive 219. Only the late model 'fighter versions' of the Ju-88 were a match and in some ways better.

    Even late on it was more than a match for a Beaufighter, being able to run away from the early night fighter intruders in late 43, early 44.

    Yes inferior to the Mossie (but every other twin of its type were) but a really good plane with a long and successful career, very few of its type can equal its record.
     
  2. CobberKane

    CobberKane Banned

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    I guess the 110's bad press comes from the fact that it failed so badly in it's intended role - as a long range escort fighter meant to clear the skies of enemy interceptors. As long as it was deployed in roles where it wasn't going to meet single engine fighters it did fine. As soon as the single engine fighters showed up it was shot out of the sky.
    The idea of the twin engine fighter that could match single engine opposition never really panned out. The P-38 benefitted from being the only US fighter with anything like the performance of the latest European types when America entered the war, and having the enormous resources of the US economy to underwrite it's mass production, but even then in the ETO it soldiered along until the P-51 did the escort job better. In the PTO it was great, because it was strong in exactly the places the Zero and Oscar were weak.
    At the end of the day the big minus for the twin engine fighter concept was cost. When you put twice the materials, and very often twice the crew, into a twin engine fighter and still come up with something that struggles to survive it might be time to reconsider the cocept. Or look for places where your aircraft can make a contribution untill the single engine fighters inevitably arrive and start queuing up to shoot it down.
     
  3. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    lets not confuse twin engine single seat fighters and twin engine multi-seat fighters.
    They were not designed for the same mission/s even if later adapted to other roles. Add in the 2-4 years between original specification and combat debut ( let alone another 2-4 years of modification/adaptation after combat debut) and you get some rather different results.
    A twin engine fighter can match a single engine fighter in many things ( roll and turn radius excepted?) but not if loaded down with too much extra armament, fuel, long range radios, extra crew men, etc.
    How much is too much ?

    The 110 started with the disadvantage of a fuselage that would hold 3 crewmen ( not often carried but the size was there). This came in handy when they were looking for space to put the black boxes for the radar but does nothing for it's ability to fight single engine fighters. A low landing speed (short field?) specification may also have hurt. It had low wing loading ( good for turn) but had a wing about 10% smaller than the one on an F7F Tigercat but about 27% bigger than the ones on the P-38 and FW 187. That is a lot of wing for two 1000 hp engines ( what were DB promising in the design stage?) and the Bf 110, while OK in the BoB for power fell behind after 1941/42.
     
  4. Maximowitz

    Maximowitz Active Member

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    Not entirely true.

    Read "Zerstorer" by J. Vasco and P. Cornwell
     
  5. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    #5 GregP, Jul 12, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2013
    The stuff I have read on it says it was thoroughly delightful to fly and was very maneuverable for a plane of its size with no vices.

    It just wasn't up to fighting single-seat fighters on equal terms. Then again, very few twins were.

    Wish we had some flyable Bf 110's around ... or at least restorable ones ...
     
  6. Gixxerman

    Gixxerman Member

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    #6 Gixxerman, Jul 12, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2013
    I know everyone seems to see the Me/Bf 110 as a bit of a failure (due to the BoB bad press) and then later redeeming itself as a nightfighter.
    But I have often wondered how it did in Russia as a fighter bomber (presumably late C to F varients a handful of non-nightfighter early G's).
    From what I can see the Me/Bf 110C - 4 was a very credible strike fighter-bomber and I can only presume it got more effective in later versions (until the switch of most if not all output to night operations in 43?).

    I have the book from Crowood Aviation Series 'Messerschmitt BF 110' by Ron Mackay but it offers only a short chapter beyond early development, the early war, some on N. Africa the Med and then the night war.

    I like the 110, I always thought it looked very mean with the shark mouth paint.
    The thought of being a American bomber crew facing swarms of those things with 4 x 210cm rockets hanging (2) under each wing a nose full of cannon machine guns - just after your fighter escort has had to turn leave - must have been very frightening.
    We all know how the 110 fared in the night war against the British crewed heavies.
    ....and ditto when the tables turned again it was the young German pilots crew facing swarms of long-ranged, faster, heavily armed agile single-seaters they were no match for.

    The things young men got sent to do to each other - thankfully (for all but much smaller numbers now) a long time ago.
    Massive respect.
     
  7. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    That sounds more like the Bf-162 schnelbomber prototype. Bombardier in nose where cannon were located on Me-110.
     
  8. CobberKane

    CobberKane Banned

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    I expect the 110 did well as a ground attack aircraft over the USSR, because it didn't have to contend with single engine fighters most of the time, thanks to LW air superiority. As short round has said, it was designed for different purposes than single engine fighters, but it was still supposed to be able to mix it up with them. The 110 had some success in the BoB when it could rely on a height advantage, but being competitive only when given a significant tactical advantage is always going to be limiting.
    From what I understand, Willie Messeschmitt was highly sceptical that the 110 would ever fulfill it's intended purpose, but designed the thing because he was told to do so.
    But I agree that the 110 should get more points for the work it did away from fighter opposition, particularly in the anti-shipping role in the MTO
     
  9. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    That was only one of the design roles. Me-110 was also intended for long range recon and there was a CAS version with 3cm high velocity cannon.

    Jack of all trades and master of nothing.
     
  10. Cave Tonitrum

    Cave Tonitrum New Member

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    I recall a P-47 pilot referring to the Me-110 as "meat on the table."
     
  11. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    P-47 would be meat on the table for Me-110G at night. The reverse is true if a night fighter aircraft is operating during daylight. All that proves is aircraft must be employed for missions they are designed for.
     
  12. Ivan1GFP

    Ivan1GFP Member

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    Any of the Me 110's competitors including the Mosquito would also have been "meat on the table" for a determined single engine fighter. The thing I find amazing about this plane is how its maximum speed always remained very low while its German contemporaries wuch as the Ju 88 and He 219 were hitting speeds around 400 mph. It had no vices but also had no great performance either.

    - Ivan.
     
  13. pattle

    pattle Member

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    #13 pattle, Jul 12, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2013
    I like the look of the Me110 and it had it's uses, but the things it was best at were not the things it was originally intended to do. If the designers of the Me110 had of purpose built a plane to do the jobs the Me110 was adapted to carry out I don't think we would have seen the Me110. I think the fact that the Me110 was intended to be replaced so soon after coming into service says everything we need to know about it.
     
  14. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Ju-88 didn't edge above 350mph until powered by Jumo 213 engines.

    Did late war Me-110G receive 1,800hp DB605ASM engines or 2,000hp DB605D engines? If not that explains why speed didn't increase.
     
  15. Denniss

    Denniss Active Member

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    No Ju 88 or He 219 reached 400 mph in level flight. And the aircraft is named Bf 110, not Me 110.
    No improved engines for the Bf 110G, not even MW-50. At least nothing I have heard or read of.
     
  16. Aozora

    Aozora Well-Known Member

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    In fact the 110 was effective as a fast fighter-bomber during the B of B, something which is often overlooked because of its record as a fighter: the 110s of Erpr Gr 210 were able to carry out some effective attacks on pinpoint targets, in one attack knocking out an rdf station; in addition they could carry a heavier bomb load than the Ju 87 and were almost as accurate, plus a lot harder for RAF fighters to catch at low altitudes.

    According to an RAE test:
     
  17. altsym

    altsym Member

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    As a nightfighter.. awesome. As a dayfighter, the BF-110 was fodler.
     
  18. Gixxerman

    Gixxerman Member

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    The Me/BF 110 did get the move from early DB601 to increasingly more powerful versions of it and on up to the DB605.
    It must have helped the fighter-bomber versions.
    The DB605 must have helped offset the penalty of the radar array carried by the later G versions.
     
  19. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    It was also effective as a long range recon aircraft. If not for the night fighter mission I suspect Me-110s would have been mostly assigned to recon units from 1941 onward.

    Tank killer is the big unknown. High velocity 3cm Mk101 cannon was optional on early model Me-110. There's no reason BK 3.7cm and BK 5cm cannon couldn't be mounted under nose of later model Me-110s. Unlike Hs.129 the Me-110G was large and powerful enough to carry a weapon of this size and still have decent flight characteristics.
     
  20. swampyankee

    swampyankee Active Member

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    The Bf110 was not unique, as there was a fashion for twin-engined, multi-place fighters; overall, it was probably the most successful of its tribe. France had a couple (Potez 631, Breguet 693, SNCASE SE.100), the US had one (Bell FM-1, which was a total failure), and the Dutch fielded the Fokker G.1. The P-38 and the Westland Whirlwind were not in the same category; neither were the later F7F.
     
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