Messerschmitt bf 109 vs spitfire

Yesterday I encoutnered an off-hand comment about whether the Spitfire or the Messerschmitt understood to be the Bf was the superior fighter. The aircraft that came to be the Supermarine Spitfire was the brainchild of R. Mitchell, a talented engineer that had designed some of the most iconic racing seaplanes of the interwar years.

Much too much has been made of these different pedigrees, and how they shaped the fighters that came to be. Still, both designs had much in common, being powered by large liquid-cooled V piston engines, relying on all-metal monocoque structures, and having a single low-slung set of wings.

In fact, the Spitfire and the Bf were amongst the first mature fighters to discard the biplane design in favor of the single low-mounted wing that has since dominated the world of fighter aircraft. The engines of the aircrafts deserve a closer study, as these played an integral part in the development of both series.

The Messerschmitt prototype flew with a rather unlikely powersource, namely a British-made Rolls-Royce Kestrel. In the early pre-war versions of the Bf this was then replaced with a Jumo V engine Jumo standing for Junkers Motorenbut by the time the war broke out the E-version of the Bf had introduced the excellent Daimler-Benz DB By mid a further upgraded version of the DB series had been launched in the form of the DB Compared to the Bfthe Spitfire had a more straightforward development, with the engine forever associated with the aircraft being the Rolls-Royce Merlin.

In parallel, a number of late-war Spitfire variants were also powered by the markedly bigger Rolls-Royce Griffon. It is easy to overlook exactly how huge these improvements were.

messerschmitt bf 109 vs spitfire

The aircraft was armed with eight light machine guns in the form of the 0. The armament consisted of two 20 mm cannons backed up by two heavy. This remarkable increase in power and speed was taken even further by the late- and post-war Griffon-engined versions, in which the final version of the Spitfire, a carrier-based version named Seafire F.

Herein lays the true remarkability of the aircrafts, the fact that they could take on ever larger amounts of power, and still maintain their fighting capability. Extremely few front-line aircraft stayed in production throughout the Second World War, and both the Spitfire and the Bf belong to this exclusive club. This puts the question of greatness into perspective.

Spitfire vs Bf 109

Both planes evolved continuously during their long careers, and any attempt at an answer will have to include a reference to the timeframe in question. There is no doubt that the post-war Griffon-powered Spitfires in the form of the land-based F.

Mk 47 were the all-out finest fighters, as the development of the Messerschmitt had almost ended by that time. During the early war years, the question is harder to answer. During the battle of Britain, it is impossible to pick one over the other. In capable hands, both aircraft could more than hold their own against any aerial adversaries. As the Bf G had been produced in the country during the German occupation, it was a natural choice.Secondary objectives were to destroy aircraft production and ground infrastructureto attack areas of political significance, and to terrorise the British people into seeking an armistice or surrender.

The British date the battle from 10 July to 31 Octoberwhich represented the most intense period of daylight bombing. German historians usually place the beginning of the battle in mid-August and end it in Mayon the withdrawal of the German bomber units in preparation for Operation Barbarossathe campaign against the Soviet Union.

The Battle of Britain was the first major campaign to be fought entirely by air forces ; the British in the defensive were mainly using fighter aircraft, the Germans used a mixture of bombers with fighter protection. It was the largest and most sustained bombing campaign attempted up until that date.

The failure of Nazi Germany to destroy Britain's air defence or to break British morale is considered its first major setback. Although the Spitfire has attracted more attention, [3] the Hurricanes were more numerous and were responsible for most of the German losses, especially in the early part of the battle. The turn-around time re-arm and refuel for the Spitfire was 26 minutes, while the Hurricane's was 9 minutes, which increased its effectiveness.

Many of the Spitfires used in the battle were purchased privately. The Spitfire and Bf E were well-matched in speed and agility, and both were somewhat faster than the Hurricane. The view from the "blown" clear cockpit hood of the Spitfire was considered fair, while upwards good; view to the rear was considered fair for a covered cockpit. The curved plexiglass windscreen however was very bad optically and caused considerable distortion, which made long-distance visual scanning difficult.

Spitfire pilot Jeffrey Quill made recommendations for the installation of "optically true" glass into the side panels to solve the problem. The upper canopy panels of the Bf through its E-3 subtype were curved, while the E-4 and later Emil subtypes were modified for better visibility with flat panels and the new design was often retrofitted to earlier s.

Each of the three main fighters had advantages and disadvantages in their control characteristics; much of the air combat during the battle occurred at about 20, feet or lower.

Aircraft of the Battle of Britain

Due to its sensitive elevatorsif the stick was pulled back too far on the Spitfire in a tight turn:. When this occurs, there is a violent shudder and clattering noise throughout the aeroplane which tends to flick over laterally and, unless the control column is put forward instantly a rapid roll and spin will result. During tight turns the "twist" or washout designed into the wing by Reginald Mitchell meant that the wing root would stall before the wingtips, creating the shuddering and clattering referred to.

This noise was a form of stall warning, reminding the pilot to ease up on the turn.

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The Bf used leading edge slats which automatically deployed prior to stalling, but also made it much more difficult to continue chasing either a Hurricane or Spitfire with a tight turn in aerial combat manoeuvres, from the slats intermittently opening in tight turns on the wing to the "inside" of a turn during dogfights.It was powered by a liquid-cooled, inverted-V12 aero engine. It was called the Me by Allied aircrew and some German aces, even though this was not the official German designation.

It was designed by Willy Messerschmitt and Robert Lusser who worked at Bayerische Flugzeugwerke during the early to mids. It was supplied to several states during World War II, and served with several countries for many years after the war. The Bf is the most produced fighter aircraft in history, with a total of 33, airframes produced from to April The Bf was flown by the three top-scoring fighter aces of all time, who claimed victories among them while flying with Jagdgeschwader 52mainly on the Eastern Front.

The highest-scoring, Erich Hartmannwas credited with victories. The aircraft was also flown by Hans-Joachim Marseillethe highest-scoring ace in the North African Campaign who shot down enemy aircraft in about a third of the time. It was also flown by many aces from other Axis nations, notably the Finn Ilmari Juutilainenthe highest-scoring non-German ace.

Through constant development, the Bf remained competitive with the latest Allied fighter aircraft until the end of the war.

messerschmitt bf 109 vs spitfire

Duringthe Technisches Amt C-Amtthe technical department of the Reichsluftfahrtministerium RLM "Reich Aviation Ministry"concluded a series of research projects into the future of air combat. The result of the studies was four broad outlines for future aircraft: [7]. In late March the RLM published the tactical requirements for a single-seat fighter in the document L.

The critical altitude of 6, metres was to be reached in no more than 17 minutes, and the fighter was to have an operational ceiling of 10, metres. The performance was to be evaluated based on the fighter's level speed, rate of climband maneuverability, in that order.

messerschmitt bf 109 vs spitfire

It has been suggested that Bayerische Flugzeugwerke BFW was originally not invited to participate in the competition due to personal animosity between Willy Messerschmitt and RLM director Erhard Milch ; [nb 1] however, recent research by Willy Radinger and Walter Shick indicates that this may not have been the case, as all three competing companies—Arado, Heinkel and BFW—received the development contract for the L.

Design work on Messerschmitt Project Number P. The basic mock-up was completed by May, and a more detailed design mock-up was ready by January V1 made its maiden flight at the end of May at the airfield located in the southernmost Augsburg neighborhood of Haunstettenpiloted by Hans-Dietrich "Bubi" Knoetzsch. After four months of flight testing, the aircraft was delivered in September to the Luftwaffe's central test centre at the Erprobungsstelle Rechlin to take part in the design competition.

V3 followed, the first to be mounted with guns, but it did not fly until May due to a delay in procuring another Jumo engine.JavaScript seems to be disabled in your browser. You must have JavaScript enabled in your browser to utilize the functionality of this website. This website uses cookies to provide all of its features.

By using our website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Cookie Policy. Enter your email address below to sign up to our General newsletter for updates from Osprey Publishing, Osprey Games and our parent company Bloomsbury. Spitfire vs Bf Battle of Britain. Add to Basket. About this Product. Churchill's words, 'never was so much owed by so many to so few', came to encapsulate how, in a few critical months, the entire fate of the British Empire, if not the war, hung in the balance, to be determined by a handful of pilots fighting tirelessly in the skies over Britain.

The growing influence of radar and the efforts of British air defences are also examined, as are real-life engagements - from both German and British perspectives. With a wealth of first-hand accounts from the veterans who strapped themselves into these legendary machines as well as illustrations and cockpit-view artwork, this book puts the reader in the midst of a dogfight, providing a unique insight into one of the greatest duels of history in the world's first major aerial battle.

Biographical Note. Tony Holmes has worked as Osprey's aerospace editor since He established the critically acclaimed and hugely popular Aircraft of the Aces series in Tony has written more than 20 books for Osprey in the past 17 years. He has had a lifelong fascination with the Battle of Britain and is in contact with the surviving veterans of this critical conflict.

He attended Paier School of Art in Hamden, Connecticut, fromand since he graduated with honours, he has been working professionally in the field of Fine Art and Illustration. He has been commissioned to paint for the US Air Force and has aviation paintings on permanent display at the Pentagon. Mark Postlethwaite is a leading aviation artist and currently does all the cover artwork for the Aircraft of the Aces and Combat Aircraft series for Osprey Publishing and is based in Leicester, UK.

Mark completed the battlesene painting in this volume. You may also be interested in the following product s. More info. Military History. Subscribe to our newsletter. Subscribe To see how we use this information about you and how you can unsubscribe from our newsletter subscriptions, view our Privacy Policy. Related Content. See all related content.

Google Books Search. Bundle Offer!Was either machine demonstrably better? The scope of the assessment has been limited to the period between andwhen these aircraft fought each other on roughly even terms. The Bfin its initial avatars, was generally regarded as marginally superior to contemporaneous variants of the Spitfire. At low to medium altitudes, where much of the air combat in the early war occurred, the Bf had the upper hand.

However, the Spitfire was superior at higher altitudes. The Bf employed several advanced technologies that gave it an edge. For instance, its DB engine was equipped with an automatic variable-speed supercharger that ensured better power delivery from the engine.

The Spitfire therefore had to roll over and dive, which cost precious seconds in combat. Yet another example would be automatic leading-edge slats that prevented the Bf from going into a stall at low speeds or in high-G turns. But the Bfowing to its higher climb rate, could sustain climbing turns that the Spitfire was unable to keep up with. This gave German pilots more freedom to engage and disengage from dogfights with British fighters.

Two quotes illustrate this advantage rather well:. Most of all, it instilled confidence in its pilot. Top 10 fighters of World War II here. They also featured improved high-altitude performance; their critical altitude was 1, feet higher than that of the Bf Es.

Combat ranges were comparable.

Luftwaffe Gun Camera: B-17 Attacked

The Bf was the first to be forced into an offensive role: first as a fighter that would provide top cover to an advancing German Army, and later as an escort for Luftwaffe bombers attacking Britain. The lack of range proved to be a major constraint in the second instance. It is well known by now that a Bf taking off from Northern France had about 10 minutes of flying time over London, not nearly enough to battle it out with RAF Spitfires and Hurricanes.

When tasked with as bomber escorts, the need to fly at sub-optimal altitudes and speeds often increased fuel consumption to the point where the s were forced to return to France before the bombers had reached their objectives.

Spitfires tasked to carry out offensive fighter sweeps and raids over Northern France in faced the same issue. Armament-wise, neither aircraft ever had a clear advantage over the other. But it is still useful to study how the initial designs started off, and how the rapidly changing requirements of a modern air war forced changes to the weapon fit.

Both machines where primarily designed with aerodynamic performance in mind, with armament being a secondary consideration. They therefore made use of thin, tapering wings. These were excellent for speed and turning performance, but bad for firepower. The Supermarine Type an early prototype of what would become the Spitfire was initially designed to be armed with only two machine guns.

The German the aviation ministry RLM specified two rifle-calibre 7. These were easy enough to concentrate in the nose.

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By mounting the guns in the nose and attaching the cantilever undercarriage to the fuselage rather than the wings, he could make use of a small, simple, low-drag wing that could be detached easily for maintenance and road transport. However, this relevance on a mere two machine-guns was to change. It was also asserted that this was an interim requirement. Follow-on designs would have to be armed with cannon. The Germans reached similar conclusions in combat over Spain.

The Bf would require cannon armament to damage metal airframes. But this was easier said than done.The Supermarine Spitfire was a very serious rival to the German Messerschmitt Bfabbreviated Meand it developed during the Battle of Britain in into a very worthy opponent, although one with different flying qualities.

Similar to the case of the Hurricane the Spitfire was superior to the Messerschmitt Bf fighter in a dogfight, since it had considerably better turning ability than its German arch rival.

The Spitfire turns as tightly to the left as possible which is more tightlythan the German Me is able to do. The better climbing and diving qualities of the latter are of no use to the pilot in this situation: the bullets from the two machine guns and the two cannon simply pass harmlessly by the tail of the pursued Spitfire and into empty space.

It is the same problem again only this time more perilous for the German pilot. Here a Spitfire is sitting on the tail of an Me in firing position. Instead of diving, which would be the correct action, the German pilot turns to the left. However the Spitfire turns more tightlyand is able to fire the bullets from its complement of eight machine guns ahead of the German Me fighter and into its flight path, greeting the pilot with a hail of bullets.

The Spitfire was somewhat faster at altitudes above 20, feet, it was slower at lower altitudes. The slight difference at level flight was of scarcely any significance, but when climbing—at least at altitudes below 20, feet—and diving, an Me pilot would be likely to leave any Supermarine Spitfire struggling in its wake. This had a considerable influence on the preferred combat tactics of the two sides.

The Germans would attempt to avoid being drawn into a dogfight, but would instead choose the surprise attack from above with the sun behind them, in order to blind their opponent. After the attack they would immediately dive away only to pull out of the half loop and initiate a further attack. The inflexible British formation with its section of three aircraft—the vic—was tailor-made for this kind of German attack strategy since a measured counter manoeuvre by the British was almost impossible.

The only way out for the British fighter aircraft would be for them to break formation and scatter. Consequently the British pilots would be reduced from a group that had strength in numbers to isolated, individual fighters. This engine had a specific, decisive advantage in relation to its British counterpart, the Rolls Royce Merlin II V engine, which was installed in both the Spitfire as well as the Hurricane: its fuel injection.

The Rolls Royce Merlin was a powerful 1, bhp kW carburetted engine, the float chambers of which were liable momentarily to interrupt the fuel supply when the aircraft was subject to negative G-force, thereby causing the engine to misfire.

If a Spitfire pilot were to attempt to perform the same manoeuvre, the negative centrifugal force would cause fuel starvation of the engine.

Comparison of the Supermarine “Spitfire” Mk. IA with the Messerschmitt Bf 109 E

The only option available then to the British pilot would be to half roll the aircraft onto its back, and pull it downwards, rolling upright again once he had reached his desired dive angle. Generally the latter would already have quite a head start, and the additional better diving speed of the Messerschmitt Bf would make it impossible to catch up.

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II and Hurricane Mk. Its superiority in the speed of climb in respect of the Spitfire, however, diminished more and more at altitudes of 20, feet and above. At level flight the Me with its maximum speed of mph was more than a match for the slower Hurricane with mph. In contrast the Spitfire and the Messerschmitt fighter were in this respect almost evenly matched and, therefore, during the war the Spitfire was to develop into its arch rival.

An Me pilot at that time was able to escape both of the Royal Air Force fighter aircraft with relative ease if he were to force his aircraft abruptly into a dive, when there would be very few British pilots capable of pursuing him fast enough. This would later change since the British would of course examine German fighter aircraft that had made emergency landings, and evaluate the findings for development purposes. Naturally the Germans would also be burning the midnight oil.

It was a different story when it came to the dogfight. In this respect both the British models were superior to the German Messerschmitt fighter, and could out-turn it effortlessly.

It was therefore inadvisable for a German pilot in an Me to get involved in this kind of combat, unless it were absolutely unavoidable. In such a case it would come down to individual flying expertise and in this was still in plentiful supply. Eventually however the relentless toll of the war in the air over the years would see that situation drastically change. The German pilot again held the upper hand in respect of armament. Whereas only a few direct hits from his canon would be needed to signal the end for an enemy fighter, the smaller calibre guns of the British aircraft required hits in a very large number to achieve the desired outcome.

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Consequently that was why the British fighters had twice as many weapons on board as the German Mealthough in the case of the almost exclusively installed A-wing model, these were without exception only ever machine guns. Weight 3. Over historical photos Detailed images of aircraft, maps and scenarios Technical data of all notable types of aircraft. We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website.Forums New posts Search forums. Media New media New comments Search media.

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messerschmitt bf 109 vs spitfire

JavaScript is disabled. For a better experience, please enable JavaScript in your browser before proceeding. DeWoitone D. Spitfire Bf Thread starter Jerry W. Loper Start date Mar 30, Jerry W. Loper Airman 1st Class Mar 30, If France hadn't got knocked out of the war so fast in and more DeWoitone D. I and Messerschmitt BfE? Colin1 Senior Master Sergeant. Mar 30, France's rapid demise was largely down to her economic situation prior to hostilities.

At the outbreak, France barely had enough Ds to equip a single squadron. Technically, the Dewoitine fighter had more potential for development than the Morane-Saulnier fighter though practically, I don't think France's defence industry had anything bigger or better up their sleeve powerplant-wise; nor did the incumbent 12Y have a lot of margin for development. Faster than a Hurricane I, slower than either a Spitfire I or a BfE but with a useful armament and good manoeuvrability, it acquitted itself well in the short conflict that it was thrust into; in my own opinion, keeping up with British and German technological developments after the Battle of Britain would have been difficult with French defence procurement in the state it was in but politics doesn't account for the galvanising effect that invasion has on a country.

My own view is that the D would progressively fall behind into obsolescence owing to the crisis that France's defence industry was in, not far behind the Hurricane, which is a shame. Thorlifter Captain. Not IMO, but it sure was close. I'm at work and doing this from memory so I may be wrong. I believe the Mk. I and the Emil were both faster, armament was good on the D. I know the early models were very slow and had issues with the engines or cooling or something like that.

Later models had a bigger engines. Not sure of their manuverability vs the Mk. I and E. Shortround6 Brigadier General. A problem with making a comparison of this type is that there were in effect several MK I Spitifires and the most up to date version was being replaced by the MK II within 3 months of France falling. The DeWoitone D. On the other hand it's performance didn't suffer from the installation of the extra weight either.

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