Me-110 Underrated

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Zipper730, Jul 20, 2016.

  1. Zipper730

    Zipper730 Member

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    I remember something by Captain Brown which stated that the Me-110 got a bad rap and had it been used right it would have been impressive.

    In what way?
     
  2. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    It was roughly handled in the BoB, but was still and overall success. It was particularly useful on the eastern front and in the MTO where its range and bombloads made it very useful.

    As a night fighter it was also very useful.

    bombastic claims and expectations were made about it in the lead up to wart that frankly no twin engine escort fighter would be able to meet. I think it was these outlandish claiming that delivered a propaganda coup to the allies, who were not slow to exploit that.
     
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  3. Timppa

    Timppa Active Member

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    Opening this can of worms, again:

    Me110: Ill-used in BoB - Luftwaffe and Allied Air Forces Discussion Forum
     
  4. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    #4 stona, Jul 20, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2016
    I would point out that even when used in the Jabo role, as practiced by Erprobungsgruppe 210, which is often considered a more correct use, the type could be on the end of a severe mauling if caught at a disadvantage. On 15th August the Gruppe attacked Croydon (which it thought was Kenley, an error of about four miles) and lost 8 of 22 attacking aircraft (36%) which is obviously unsustainable. The losses in air to air combat were mostly (all?) to Hurricanes not Spitfires.

    The ratios claimed by Bergstrom should be treated with some caution. I'm not going into that now, it may be covered in one of the linked discussions which I have not read, and anyway any such discussion will just generate more heat than light.

    The Bf 110 was certainly not a bad aircraft, it was a very good one, and one of the few that was in production before the war and at the end. It does get a bad rap from the BoB period and consequently may be under rated by those who don't bother to look at its valuable and successful service elsewhere and in other roles.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
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  5. Thorlifter

    Thorlifter Well-Known Member

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    Sorry for my ignorance Steve, but what is a Jabo role?
     
  6. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Jabo is an abbreviation of 'Jagdbomber', literally fighter-bomber.

    Erprobunggruppe 210 was formed in July 1940 and was not, as some have supposed, an elite unit. The two Bf 110 Staffeln were drawn from 1./ZG 1 and 3./StG 77. The third Bf 109 equipped Staffel had a nucleus drawn from 4./JG 186.
    The Bf 109s started training for the Jabo role under the supervision of Hauptmann Karl Valesi, considered the foremost expert in the use of the Bf 109 in this role, he was seconded to the unit.
    The Bf 110s trained under Oberleutnant Franz Fallenbacher, the crews already familiar with the type learning a new dive bombing technique, and those transferred from Ju 87s learning a new aircraft.

    There is one outstanding history of the unit (from which the above is gleaned) and I cannot recommend it highly enough. Anyone with an interest in this unit and its operations should try to lay their hands on a copy of John Vasco's "Messerschmitt Bf 110 Bombsights Over England - Erprobungsgruppe 210 in the Battle of Britain." It is not often that any book can be described as 'definitive' but this one can.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
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  7. Zipper730

    Zipper730 Member

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    Okay so the two basic flaws with the way the Me-110 was used was basically
    1. They were tied to close escort rather than simply performing sweeps above and ahead of bombers which would allow more freedom of operation, and allow them to get the drop on enemy defenders
    2. If they were allowed to do fast glide-bombing/dive-bombing attacks on radar installations and airfields rather than just send Stukas in
     
  8. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    The first isn't really true. Both Luftwaffe fighters had considerable freedom of action in the early stages of the B o B, and even later still operated in other than escort roles.

    The Bf 110 was used extensively to attack shipping and other 'ground' targets, not just by Erprobungsgruppe 210 which was specifically a fighter bomber unit, and yet still proved vulnerable to competitive single seat fighters flown by determined men.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  9. pbehn

    pbehn Well-Known Member

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    Please do not judge the Bf110 solely on its performance in the BoB. In that conflict the LW came up against an integrated radar controlled defense. In the battles over Poland Holland, Belgium France and later Russia the LW did well at least in the start, and the Me110 was part of that. RADAR meant that the LW didnt take airfields by surprise, and they were attacking over a stretch of water.

    Bungays "The most dangerous enemy" goes into the performance of the Me 100 in some depth and at one point concludes that its strong point as an escort was that i was easier to shoot down than a bomber (maybe a bit harsh). However it also discusses in depth the achievements of Erprobungsgruppe 210 in precision air raid attacks. My understanding of German is that Erprobungsgruppe is a "test group" a sort of research and development squadron. They achieved a lot but they were a small part of the LW and their ideas techniques were still being formed. With better planning the Me110 could have had much more success but then the Gerrmans couldnt plan for a system they didnt know existed, in retrospect we can say they should have attacked the RADAR daily at the time they didnt realise the significance and the attacks they made seemed to have no effect.
     
  10. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Anybody using fighter bombers (single or twin engine) who got bounced from above was going to suffer losses.
    Not sure why the Bf 110 gets criticized for this, What other plane did the Germans have that could do the same job with fewer losses?
    It sure wan't the JU-87.
    Or Flip it, what did the British (or Americans) have in 1940/41 that could have flown the same type missions (bomb load/speed/altitude/range) without suffering similar if not higher losses?
     
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  11. pbehn

    pbehn Well-Known Member

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    That wswnt the point I was making, the Me110 performed well in ground attack but there were too few of them (trained crews). While t may have come off second best in the BoB it took part in sweeping the Russian air force off the field when Barbarossa started.
     
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  12. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    I always thought the Bf 110 was a very pleasant aircraft with decent performance, but I never did see how anyone could have expected it to compete evenly against a single-seat fighter in one-on-one combat. It was obviously better at one-on-one combat than most light bombers, but once you get into dedicated fighters, it was going to be an uphill fight all the way.

    I figured it would be a good bomber destroyer if the Bf 109s had the other side occupied at the time, but the Bf 109 was never going to able to escort the Bf 110s very far since it couldn't do ANYTHING very far. It was good at what it did, but long-range wasn't exactly the Bf 109's strong suit.

    I tend to agree the Bf 110 has been somewhat unjustly maligned, but almost any twin was going to suffer a similar fate unless it was a dedicated fighter. The P-38 could give a decent account of itself, but not when carrying bombs. Ditto the Moquito. Without the bomb load neither were exactly "easy" targets; but with a bomb load, they would both have been at a real disadvantage in fighter combat.

    I think the Tu-2 and Pe-2 might have better at ground attack, but the Bf 110 was a good, reliable, decently hard-hitting airplane that was simply not quite a day air-superiority fighter.

    As amply stated previously by others, there was no twin that was, Do 335 notwithstanding.
     
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  13. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    #13 stona, Jul 23, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2016
    The best translation of 'Erprobungsgruppe' would be 'Experimental' or 'Test' Wing 210. As the name suggests it was intended to develop tactics for the Me 210, in a tactical support role to land forces, but the well known issues with the development of that type meant that the unit in fact operated the Bf 110 and Bf 109.

    It would be unfair to over emphasise the role of Erpr.Gr.210 and its two Bf 110 equipped Staffeln, but we should also remember that the Bf 110 was not a plentiful aircraft in 1939/40. On the outbreak of war just three Gruppen were equipped with the type, less than 100 machines. They suffered their first losses in air to air combat against Polish fighters, an ominous sign, and also undertook their first ground support missions.
    The Bf 110 did okay in Scandinavia in 1940, but losses to return fire from British bombers should have rung alarm bells.
    By the time of the opening of the campaign in the west there were more than 300 Bf 110s available. They were swiftly into action and the diversity of roles is illustrated by attacks on 10th May by II/ZG 2 on Vissingen airfield, while I./2 provided an escort to troop carrying Ju 52s. On 11th May I./ZG 2 met the RAF for the first time when it was attacked by a section of Hurricanes which shot down two of the 110s, a sign of things to come.
    I will quote John Vasco's comment on the action later around the Dunkirk pocket.

    "In the following days, the Zerstorer units began to meet Spitfires more frequently as the German land forces moved ever closer to the Channel coast, and Spitfire squadrons could operate from the southern airfields in England in support of the increasingly desperate Allied situation in France. During the period 21 to 25 May the losses were spread across the Zerstorer unit, and fairly minimal, but the pace began to pick up again on 26 May, the focus of Luftwaffe attacks turned to the Allied pocket around Dunkirk.
    With attention now firmly on Dunkirk, the RAF effort from bases in England increased considerably, and the losses for the Bf 110 units in the following days would reflect this, as the limitations of combat with modern single-engined enemy aircraft became clear."


    He then lists these substantial losses. This was a lesson learned by the Bf 110 units but not by the Luftwaffe. The role of the Bf 110s in the BoB was varied and despite the losses they were not unsuccessful. It is a myth that 'fighter' Bf 110 units were themselves escorted by Bf 109s. These units were generally assigned to escort duties, frequently penetrating British defences far further than their short legged contemporaries in the Bf 109. Only the bomb carrying Ds and Es of Erpr.Gr. 210 received fighter escort.

    The success of Erpr.Gr. 210 pointed to a future role for the Bf 110 as a strike aircraft, and the exploits of that unit, and ZG 1 on the Russian front from 1941 onward showed how good it could be at this.
    The Bf 110 was also pressed into service from 1940 as a night fighter, a role for which it was never intended as neither the Germans , nor the British, had envisaged night time bombing campaigns. It excelled in the role
    The Zerstorer units continued to serve in other theatres, from Iraq, the Mediterranean Theatre and across the entire Russian Front, they were not disbanded due to losses in the BoB, though a more realistic assessment of their capabilities against modern single -engined fighters had emerged. The death knell of the Zerstorer units didn't sound until mid 1944 when the units were thrown into daylight Defence of the Reich operations, and massacred by the Americans.

    None of this makes the Bf 110 a bad aircraft. I would argue that it makes it a versatile, capable, rather good one. It did have its limitations, somewhat exposed in the Battles of France and Britain, and revealed tragically for the crews in 1944, but all aircraft have limitations. The Bf 110s were less restrictive than many other types.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
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  14. bobbysocks

    bobbysocks Well-Known Member

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    in a SE fighter its very difficult to see 360 degrees around you... in the 110 you have a rear gunner who has eyes on your 6. getting bounced from high and above shouldn't have been as big a surprise as low and behind I would think.
     
  15. Pursuivant

    Pursuivant New Member

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    A WW2-era twin-engined aircraft is never going to win a maneuver dogfight against a decent contemporary single-engined fighter. And, the Bf-110 was a pre-war fighter kept in service long after it should have been retired due to the failure of the Bf-210. For those reasons, the Bf-110 was never the fastest or most maneuverable thing in the sky.

    But, the Bf-110 was never intended as an air superiority fighter. It was specifically designed as a "zersteorer" - a bomber destroyer. Later, it was turned into a long-range escort fighter, fighter bomber and night fighter. When the Bf-110 was expected to play any other role, it was unfair to the aircraft and to its crews, and the casualty roles showed it.

    Others have pointed out that the Bf-110 did a good job for an early/pre-war fighter in the Jabo role.

    I'll point out that the Bf-110 was very effective against unescorted bombers. Bf-110 intercepts of unescorted British bombers early in the war forced the RAF to abandon daylight raids over Germany. Once equipped with radar as a night fighter, the Bf-110 destroyed more British bombers than any other type. Bf-110 attacks against US heavy bombers could be deadly if the bombers were unescorted. Bf-110 night fighters pressed into the day fighter role helped direct German attacks against US bomber formations. Only massive US air superiority kept the Bf-110 from being more effective during the Battle of Germany.

    So, I think that what CPT Brown was talking about was the Bf-110's virtues in the role for which it was intended. If I recall, he wrote that the Bf-110 had no vices, was fairly reliable, reasonably fast, had decent endurance, and was exceptionally well-armed.

    Clearly, the Germans felt the same way. The Bf110 was built in massive numbers and was adapted to a variety of roles other than the role fore which it was designed.
     
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  16. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    Me 110 losses were not that bad actually. The biggest reason they were judged a failure was not so much the losses they suffered. It was the failure in their primary role of escort fighter. It was difficult to judge them a success in the "heavy fifghter" role, whatever that meant exactly. They were not able to fulfil the role of escort fighter when the time came to be tested in that role. neither were they themselves totally massacred either, just unable to fulfil the primary function for which they had been developed.


    To be fair, no twin engine aircraft could fulfil that role that had been designed prewar. Some may argue that the P-38 was capable, but event this a/c was hard pressed in the long range escort role until very late in the war
     
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  17. Peter Gunn

    Peter Gunn Active Member

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    I always thought the prewar concepts interesting, "Heavy Fighter" being one of them, almost like ships, light cruiser, heavy cruiser or tanks, light, medium and heavy plus scouting tanks. Seems they had a different notion on how things were going to play out in the sky, can't blame them just a different perspective.

    I always thought "Heavy Fighter" meant stuff like the P-38 or P-47... you know, heavy.:lol:
     
  18. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    The 'zerstorer' concept emerged from an amalgamation of a high speed bomber and heavy fighter, the original bomber-destroyer. This was not practical in the mid 1930s and the Bf 110 emerged as a 'zerstorer whilst special fast bombers were specified. Unlike its planned successor the Bf 110 did not have an internal bomb bay. The designation 'zerstorer' was actually officially superceded by the term 'heavy fighter' in the Procurement Plan No.6 of January 1937, yet everyone else was still referring to the establishment of 'zerstorer' Wings!
    As far as the Bf 110 is concerned the terms 'destroyer' and 'heavy fighter' are interchangeable.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
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  19. AnkitaMishra

    AnkitaMishra New Member

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    #19 AnkitaMishra, Jul 30, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2016
    Bungays was idiot and he is not historian. My copy of his book Most Dangerous Enemy is full of "misleading", "not proved", "nonsence", "mistake" and even "lie".

    Bf 110C and D-0 was good aircraft but can not stand a chance against Hurricanes and Spitfires in combat, unless in height and surprise advantage. Their pilots and gunners overclaimed a lot and British reports about cause of losses of their aircrafts, not mention serials etc, are very bad.
     
  20. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    I wouldn't go that far, but he does buy into and reinforce the popular myth of the BoB, so actively promoted at the time and ever after.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
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