Messerschmitt Bf110G-2

The Bf110 is perhaps best known as a disappointment from the early part of the war.  But it proved to be capable in many roles, especially in the final “Gustav” variant.

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After the jump, a look at the Bf110 as a light attack aircraft.

In spite of its failure as a fighter, the Bf110 had proven useful as a fighter-bomber and night fighter.  In 1941 it was scheduled to be replaced by the new Me210.  But the Me210 had many problems and needed further development. So the Bf110 received an upgrade; the DB601 engines were upgraded to the DB605, and the type was put back into production as the Bf110G.  This would prove to be the most successful and long serving variant of the type.  It remained the Luftwaffe’s best light attack aircraft and night fighter until late in the war and when American heavy bombers began to operate over Germany in daylight, without fighter escort, it proved to be successful in the new role of heavy bomber destroyer too.

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The rear gunner has a twin 7.92 mm machine gun for defense. The yellow ladder retracts with the landing gear.

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This particular aircraft served with SKG210 in Russia, 1944.  The “SKG” part of the designation means it was a fast bomber group.  The “210” part could be called just a unit number, but it was chosen in this case specifically because the unit was intended to test the Me210 in combat.  And it would be the Me210 that first carried the unit’s famous “Wespen” nose art.  But ironically, SKG210 would replace their test aircraft with new Bf110Gs in 1941 and use them with great success against the Russians.

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Forward firepower is all in the nose. That 4 x 7.92 mm machine guns above, and 2 x 20 mm cannon below.

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That’s a bomb rack under the fuselage, and an extra gas tank under each wing.

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This example is from the Revell kit, with Aeromaster decals.

~ Up Next: Hawker Typhoon Mk Ib 

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About atcDave

I'm 53 years old and live in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I'm happily married to Jodie. I've been an air traffic controller for 30 years; grew up in the Chicago area, and am still a fanatic for pizza and the Chicago Bears. My main interest is military history, and my related hobbies include scale model building and strategy games.
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15 Responses to Messerschmitt Bf110G-2

  1. Ernie Davis says:

    The Bf110 is an interesting case of what you can get away with when you enjoy air superiority. This is not to totally dismiss this plane, it enjoyed great success as a fighter/bomber, though mostly in theaters where the Luftwaffe encountered limited opposition, and was very successful against unescorted American bombers. It was also a highly effective night fighter. But when pitted against a foe with an effective fighter force, they proved to be almost as helpless as the bombers they were initially intended to protect, or the enemy bombers they were so effective at destroying.

    But what I find so interesting about this plane is that I can’t see an allied counterpart. Usually there is a Zero for the Hellcat, a Me110 for the Spitfire, or a Fw190 for the Mustang, I can’t really point to an allied counterpart. I suppose it may come down to the fact that after the Blitz, and America’s entry in to the war Germany found itself in need of a heavy fighter in a way the Allies never did.

    • atcDave says:

      I think the problem with categorizing the type is that the Germans initially insisted it was a fighter. It was hopeless against a modern single seat fighter, so that was a terrible use of its potential.
      I would compare it to the Mosquito or Ki-45. When it was used as a high speed bomber it was very effective. Like a Mosquito, it was nearly as fast as any true fighter. So a high speed bombing mission would be almost impossible to intercept; as long as they didn’t do something stupid like try to tangle with intercepting fighters!
      And I think that’s why it found its greatest daytime success with “KG” type groups (bomber groups). They were trained to avoid interceptors, and didn’t have any silly notions of chasing after them.

      I completely agree about the heavy bomber destroyer role. The Bf110, Me410 and Ki-45 all found success at a role the allies never had any need for. But that success only lasted until long range fighter escorts were available, they couldn’t survive in the same sky true fighters.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I could see a Mosquito/Bf110 analogy, but I think the Mosquito was a much better plane. Any plane that doesn’t face fighter opposition is going to be successful at some level, and I think it is true of both the Mosquito and the Bf110 that a lot of their success depended on avoiding enemy fighters, but I feel like the Mosquito filled far more roles far more successfully.

      • atcDave says:

        Ultimately I agree, but it was also a generation more modern. The Bf110 had enough speed to avoid most trouble on fighter bomber missions like a Mosquito.
        Although it is also true later Mosquitoes preyed on night fighting Bf110s. It WAS a better plane.

  2. Theresa says:

    I think the only role this plane was good at doing was as a pilot plane for gliders. It did that role exceedingly well. However, it was a failure against any opposition.

    • atcDave says:

      I think that’s too harsh. It was a mistake to ever consider it a day time fighter, but the type actually brought down many thousands of British bombers at night, and hundreds of American bombers before fighter escort was available.
      It was always ALMOST as fast as the latest fighters. Like the Mosquito, many roles can be found for such an aircraft.

  3. Terry Brodin says:

    Allied counterparts? I’d put the Bell YFM-1 Airacuda, Lockheed XP-58 Chain Lightning and Beachcraft XA-38 Grizzly in the same category af the Bf-110. True they didn’t go into production, but the “heavy fighter” concept did spawn thier design thier design. The P-61 Black Widow, maybe, but it was designed from the start as a dedicated nightfighter
    I always thought the heavy fighter concept was simple short lived due to the rapid development of equipment and tactics. Kinda the same fate suffered by the Stuka; It was a winner until the Battle of BrItian, when radar and other early warning systems allowed for RAF fighters to be vectored to meet incoming Stukas.The result — find another role for the JU-86 to fill. The 110 was a good aircraft, but the Luftwaffe was forced to find “something else for it to do.”

    • atcDave says:

      I agree the maturing of tactics had a lot to do with some aircraft changing roles. The examples you cite are from a pretty wide range in that cycle. The Airacuda was a pure bomber destroyer, and never mass produced (it never even received an Air Corps designation!) The others were later projects.
      But I think an important thing about the Bf110 is not that they just found other roles for it; but that it excelled at other roles. Especially light attack; much like an A-20 but faster. Or like a Mosquito, but not quite that fast…
      I can see the P-61 comparison. There were even some attempts at using the P-61 as a long range escort fighter and attack plane (late Pacific War), but ultimately it was very good at one role, and only mediocre at the others.
      The Bf110 really was extremely capable as a night fighter. It brought down THOUSANDS of British Heavy Bombers. And early Mosquitoes couldn’t do much to stop it. It wasn’t until later Mks (NF30) with a 70 series Merlin that the Mosquito really became an effective Bf110 hunter. Of course by that point the Mosquito was a more advanced airframe with a more advanced engine.

      • John says:

        In 2005 a movie came out called ’The Great Raid’. During the attack on the prison camp, while the Raiders were sneaking up on the camp two aircraft strafed the road to distract the guards. Correct me if I am wrong but I believe in the actual incident P-61’s where the aircraft that were used.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah exactly right John, they should have been Black Widows.
        If memory serves, the movie substituted a Lodestar posing as a Ventura. Sort of an inappropriate choice, but movies have long been subject to what’s available.
        Of course now, CG keeps getting easier and cheaper. It might not be a big deal in the near future to see a P-61 flight on screen. I was VERY pleased in Unbroken to see a whole formation of B-24D Liberators, even though not a single aircraft of that model is airworthy.

  4. Terry Brodin says:

    I guess the bottom line is still the same today as it was back then —- sometimes the original idea behind something, for whatever reason, just plain don’t work out!

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah absolutely. But I think it’s a testimony of sound basic design that the aircraft proved to be very useful in a variety of roles.

  5. Pingback: Messerschmitt Me410B-1 | Plane Dave

  6. Pierre Lagacé says:

    Reblogged this on My Forgotten Hobby and commented:
    Bonus reblog!

  7. Pierre Lagacé says:

    I read the comments with interest.

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