Why was the Bf 110 obsolete as a night fighter

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by spicmart, Dec 17, 2012.

  1. spicmart

    spicmart Member

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    Why was the Bf 110 considered obsolete as a night fighter? It was sleeker than the Ju 88 and had about the dimensions as the specialized night fighter Ta 154.
    Was it not able to carry enough equipment?
    It is often said that it was slower than those but would it have been competitive if given the same engines?
    Maybe it had disadvantages construction wise?
    And what about the Me 410? Why was it not converted into a night fighter?

    Sorry for so many questions..
     
  2. treyzx10r

    treyzx10r Member

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    Size and performance,yes the 110 and 410 were 'sleeker' but they had smaller airframes. Consider you have to pack in Radar equipment and various armament packages then a lot of fuel. Consider also the Ju88 and Do217 were also fast bombers so they had capacity to offer that the others lacked. Still I would'nt say the 110 was obsolete as a Nachtjager the others just had more to offer.
     
  3. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    I think that is the answer.

    Me-110 could have more powerful DB605D engines. Possibly even DB603 or Jumo 211. But there's no way around the relatively small interior space and the Ju-88G turned out to be a superb night fighter aircraft.
     
  4. spicmart

    spicmart Member

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    I'm also asking about a comparison with the specialized Ta 154 which does not have really much more space to offer as far as I can see and yet it was envisaged to be THE night fighter (along the He 219) to replace them all.
    The Me 410 should have been easily converted into a night fighter considering it boasting DB 603s and having a spacious front fuselage. They were readily available.
     
  5. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    LW NFs were to pounce on heavy bombers, RAF's NFs were just a nuisance for them. So punch, endurance and performance was the order of the day. With Bf-110 carrying external fuel, in order to increase loiter intercept time, with antler antennae, they were hardly any more streamlined than Ju-88 flying without drop tanks. Toss in the issues with Notleistung DB-601/605 have had mid-war, and BF-110 does not look as a performer. It also took (too much?) time for Mtt to install the Schraege Musik into the Bf-110.
    LW dropped the ball when decided not to push the Me-410 into a night fighter role IMO. Together with Jumo-213 engined Ju-88/188, to hit hard RAF heavies.
     
  6. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Milch spent 1942 and 1943 trying to kill the Me-410 program. That must change before anyone can consider a night fighter version of the Me-410.
     
  7. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    #7 stona, Dec 18, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2012
    That's not supported by a read of the minutes of meetings between Milch et alter at the RLM.
    It was Goering who stopped and started the Me 210/410 program (first as early as March 1942,he even threatened to court martial three officers from the GL Division).
    Milch was confronted with dealing with the practicalities arising from these decisions and the fact that the Me 210 wasn't fit for service. He revived and kept Bf 110 production going,but that's not the same as trying to kill the Me 210/410. Milch remained ambivalent towards the Me 410,hardly surprising considering the mess it had made of German production plans,not just the failiure to be produced itself but having to keep several other types in production long after they were to have been discontinued. He did consider it a good heavy day fighter but considered it a waste of time as a bomber.He regarded the bombing of England as "harrasment" and thought the use of the Me 410 in this role a lot of effort to put one 500Kg bomb on target. Galland liked it,Pelz didn't want it,he considered it not robust enough for the hurly burly of service life. His units had written off 80 by November 1943,30 in take offs or landings,30 during training and only 20 to enemy action. Ultimately the two men convinced Goering and Galland got what Pelz didn't want. The Me 410 would be a heavy fighter.

    6 Oct 1942:
    NJG 2 reports that the Do 217 is unsuited for night fighting. The Bf 110's gross weight is already pushing the limit and even the He 219 might be too heavy.

    8 Jan 1943:
    The He 219 cannot met the needs of the night fighter service. Milch says that it is fortunate that in addition to the Bf 110 G the Ta 154 will soon be available to supplement the inventory.

    (Once again he didn't have the benefit of hindsight)

    On 16th July 1943 at a meeting about nightfighters it is clear that there are not enough Bf 110s to go around. The "General der Nachtjagd" is offered Ju 88 C-6s but declines,preferring Bf 110s for his force. He does demand the Ju 88 G and it is agreed that the "Technisches Amt."will ensure that this type enters production without any problem.

    On 30th July Kannhuber describes the Ju 88 C-6 as a "sick bird",too small and with too short a range. He wants Bf 110s equipped with SN-2 radars. At the same meeting the Me 410 is mentioned but Galland is adamant that they should be equipped as Zerstorer for day light use.
    It is this month that Oberfeldwebel Paul Mahle equips the first Bf 110 G-4 with two oblique upward firing MG FF/M. "Schrage Musik" was born.

    3rd Aug 1943:
    The Generalfeldmarschall (Milch) explains that an increase in Bf 110 production to 200 aircraft is not possible given the current resources.Converting another factory over to production of this older type of aircraft is not acceptable. Me 410 production will increase markedly during the second half of 1944........Milch would like to use the Me 410 in the day fighter role,leaving the Bf 110 for the night.

    It seems that the RLM/Luftwaffe did not consider the Bf 110 obsolete as a nightfighter at all.
    Milch was hardly killing off The me 410,he had to keep the Bf 110 in production as there was simply no viable alternative. The Me 210/410 did not work in 1942/43.
    It is not until September 1943 that Me 410 production is agreed:

    The Me 410 is to be built according to the following formula:the required number of reconnaissance aircraft (currently 10 per month),the remainder to be equally divided between zerstorers and bombers.

    No mention of night fighters. The earliest mention I have found of the possibility of the Me 410 as a nightfighter comes in a meeting on 25th Feb 1944 when,at a "Developmental Meeting at The General Staff" Eschenauer raises the possibility,saying that Luftflotte 3 are endeavouring to fit the type with oblique firing armament (schrage musik).He thinks that the Me 410 should be built as a heavy fighter only and the bomber version abandoned. Milch agrees with the caveat that he will need "to bring it up with the Reichmarschall". Von Lossberg interjects that the Me 410 will be an unsuitable night fighter "because of its landing characteristics".

    There were never enough Me 410s to go around and the RLM concentrated on fitting heavier and heavier armament to the zerstorer version. The Bf 110 soldiered on as a night fighter because it was available. There was never any serious consideration of the Me 410 as a nightfighter. It was used as a night intruder but that is an entirely different thing.

    Steve
     
  8. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    Eric Brown agrees with v. Lossberg on the landing characteristics of 410
     
  9. spicmart

    spicmart Member

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    Can you specify?
     
  10. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    #10 stona, Dec 18, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2012
    I'm not sure which specific comment of Brown's that "Juha" is referring to.
    Brown did say,

    " it was one of those aircraft that gave, in my view, a knife-edge feeling to its pilot; it was certainly about the last aeroplane that I would have wished upon myself if returning to base in bad weather after loosing an engine."

    Steve
     
  11. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    "Wings of the Weird and Wonderful" page 113.
     
  12. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    #12 stona, Dec 18, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2012
    Indeed, according to my note which I quoted and have checked :)

    I thought that it might have been from "Wings of the Luftwaffe" but obviously not.

    Edit: Actually it is repeated in "Wings of the Luftwaffe" p.256

    Steve
     
  13. spicmart

    spicmart Member

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    Thank you.
     
  14. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Forcing a light bomber to perform as a day fighter is just a bureaucratic way to kill the program. Just as he killed the Jumo 222 engine program through bureaucracy by continually changing specifications.
     
  15. Jabberwocky

    Jabberwocky Active Member

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    The Me 210/410 wasn’t explicitly a light bomber. It was designed as a multi-role fighter, useful as a heavy fighter, night fighter, reconnaissance aircraft AND dive/light bomber.

    If you look at the competing design that Arado submitted (Ar 240) they had plans for individual versions of the aircraft for the heavy fighter, night fighter, bomber and reconnaissance roles.

    There was no “forcing” the heavy day fighter requirement onto the Me 210/410. Given the aircraft’s origin as a direct successor to the 110, it was designed to be a fighter from the outset.

    Arguing that Milch tried to kill the programme by forcing a fighter requirement on the aircraft is like arguing that the Air Ministry tried to kill the Mosquito by recommending its use in the day fighter role.
     
  16. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    I dont know about the reasons why the ME 410 was not chosen as a NF, but i do know the NJGs suffered diabolical losses in landing accidents....roughly 20% of the force structure each and every month from 43 onward. There were, apparently, extreme flying losses due to the fear of the Mosquito intruders apparently (according to Gunston). If Gunston is correct, then RAF Night Fighters were not an irrelevant factor for LW losses, they were forcing errors on the LW aircrew that was driving their attrition rates through the roof
     
  17. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    I wasn't arguing that at all. Milch,whilst always remaining ambivalent about the entire Me 210/410 program,saw the best use of the type as a heavy fighter. It was promoted by Galland as a day light bomber destroyer with Milch's support. Both men were keen to get the KWK 5 cm guns fitted and see the 21 cm mortars as a stopgap..

    The bomber version was retained largely for political reasons (echoes of the Me 262 here). Pelz didn't want it as a bomber and Galland wanted it as a fighter.

    In November 1943 an "Erprobungskommando 25 Action Report" it is made clear that the Do 335 will replace the Me 410 in all three roles (reccon,fast bomber,heavy fighter).It will also assume the role of a high speed night fighter "since the Me 262s range is inadequate".
    Resources that might be freed up by the cancellation of the He 219 will be transferred to the Do 335.

    Milch makes very clear his views on the Me 410.

    "The Me 410 was an induced labour birth. It was unusable when the Amt accepted it. It has been fixed,sometimes sometimes by doing things that ran contrary to the company itself. However,from a technical standpoint,it is a type already on the way out".

    The minutes continue with Galland saying that he wants the 5 cm equipped Me 410,the Furher has seen the new weapon and wants a wing established. Pelz does not want the type at all but says that since the Ju 88 S is not available in sufficient numbers the Me 410 is "being foisted" upon him.He is happy for Galland to have them all. Pelz also says that the aircraft has adequate performance but that it is difficult to utilise,the machine is "quite sensitive". Eric Brown would agree.
    Milch then says that he "considers the Me 410 fantastic as a heavy day fighter". You have to get used to these men making blatant volte-face and changing their position,not just month by month but even within one meeting!
    They then decide to alter the delivery quotas. For April '44 they are set at 10 recon,10 heavy fighters and 52 bombers.They want monthly production to settle at 20 recon,80 heavy fighters and 50 bombers. The idea was to produce more fighters for Galland's defence of the Reich.

    Milch was a manager and he was managing a difficult situation. I think that if he could have killed of the Me 210/410 he would have done,but at a much earlier date. He was also pragmatic and realised that he needed the type until alternatives became available. In every meeting he backed Galland in supporting the Me 410 as a viable day fighter. He was pinning his hopes in late 1943 on the Do 335,not the Me 262. Post war we tend to view the Me 262 as some kind of wonder weapon but that is not how it was seen,by the Germans,at the time.

    The original requirement for the Me 210 makes no mention of recconnaissance or night fighters. It dates from as early as November 1938. The acquisition plan called for 16 heavy fighter wings,equipped with the Me 210 and 8 dive bomber wings,initially equipped with the Ju 87 but to be replaced with Me 210s.

    The RLM seems to have thought that they were getting a direct successor to the Bf 110. It was expecting something similar to the Bf 110,it's why it issued a contract for 2,000 aircraft before a prototype had been built. In 1938,as Messerschmitt's design bureau drew up various designs to fulfil the requirement Lusser concluded that an entirely new design was needed. The RLM must have been told this yet it remained a bone of contention between Messerschmitt and the RLM for years as the project foundered and accusations were hurled back and forth. It is often forgotten that the Me 210 was supposed to be in service by 1940.

    Cheers
    Steve
     
  18. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Just to return to the original question.

    There was a meeting at the RLM on 15th June 1943. It was to discuss the He 219 night fighter which had just become operational (in a limited sense) and had already enjoyed some success. During this meeting Milch said that the Bf 110 would not be suitable for the night fighter role in the future. Night fighting units would still like to acquire as many Bf 110s as possible throughout 1943 and for the first half of 1944. Their interest in the Bf 110 ceases for the second half of 1944 when a replacement becomes available.

    So,in mid 1943 Milch,the RLM and the Luftwaffe were planning to phase out the Bf 110 as a nightfighter by the second half of 1944. It soldiered on because the expected replacement did not materialise,at least not in sufficient numbers to replace the venerable Bf 110.

    In September 1944 the Luftwaffe accepted 187 Bf 110 G-4s

    In November 1944 the "Emergency Fighter Program" starts and development of the Bf 110 is halted. Production is reduced,but not stopped.

    15th December 1944,Aircraft Construction Program 227-1 is issued. It is the last construction program from the RLM. The Bf 110 is not mentioned.

    At the end of the war British troops find brand new Bf 110 G-4s at the Luther Works,Braunschweig Waggum. They have been sabotaged (blown up) by the manufacturer.

    The Bf 110 never became obsolete. It was a fine aircraft and served from its inception in 1935 until the end of the war. It had a very good innings!

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  19. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    By fall 1940 most Me-110s belonged to night fighter units. There was never a Me-410 night fighter variant so how can anyone suggest it was to succeed the Me-110?
     
  20. Jabberwocky

    Jabberwocky Active Member

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    Stona, I know you weren't arguing that. Davebender was, and I was pointing out his error.
     
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