Messerschmitt Bf 108B-1 Taifun

Every nation had light civil aircraft that were used for light duty currier and transport work.

Let’s look at one in the bloodline of a famous warrior.

We normally think of Willi Messerschmitt designs competing against those by Reginald Mitchell, Sidney Camm or Alexander Kartvali; but in the mid-1930s he was looking more at Clyde Cessna.
The Bf 108 was in a class of planes known as “touring” and was designed for a 1934 competition. It wasn’t clearly best of its class, but it was modern, fast and easy to fly.

A most obvious feature pioneered on the Bf 108 that later appeared on the Bf 109 is the landing gear. By putting the gear on the fuselage it makes it easy to detach the wings for land based transport. It also puts the stress all on the center structure and allows for lighter wings.

After a limited run of Bf 108A models, the main production Bf 108B appeared in 1935. It had 235 – 266 horsepower (choice of engines), it could cruise at 160+ with a 620 mile range. Even today that would put it in the upper tier of light, civil aircraft in every category (closer to a Cessna 210 than a 172).

This aircraft is slightly non-standard. Normally a four seater, here the right, rear seat has been replaced by extra fuel tanks. Presumably for long flights to Berlin.

With War coming the type was pressed into service by the Luftwaffe for moving personnel, documents and light cargo.
From 1942 production was shifted to Nord Aviation in France. That company continued production into the 1960s with gradual redesigns involving newer engines and tricycle landing gear. The later Nord designs remained in service with the French Air Force till the 1970s.

Not an uncommon look for a still flying Bf 108 [Small Scale Art photo]

Which brings us to this plane. It was attached to the German Embassy in London leading right up to the start of the War. I know four Bf 108s in England were seized by the British and used by the RAF throughout the War (as the “Messerschmitt Aldon”), I can only guess this was probably one of them. Several Taifuns flying today do so in the guise as faux warbirds, with full Luftwaffe fighter markings. This isn’t completely spurious, many fighter groups had one or two on hand as currier aircraft. And the type was prominently featured in the movie The Longest Day, when Pips Priller and his wingman make their “strafing run” over the beaches, its in Bf 108s. When the movie was made no Bf 109s or Fw 190s were in flyable condition (Fw 190 is the correct answer) so the Bf 108 was used.
This is from the Eduard kit. Its from the company’s earlier period and may count as more of a limited run kit than their current super kits. But it builds up with no great difficulties. Although I’m not very pleased with the canopy, through no fault of the kit. It is odd the way it has both the wing and fuselage color; I thought I had a plan to reproduce it, but it mostly failed. If I had it to do over I would just do it in the fuselage grey.

The wing and tail shape of these two aircraft are very similar. The Bf 109 owes a lot to the previous design.

About atcDave

I'm 5o-something years old and live in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I'm happily married to Jodie. I was an air traffic controller for 33 years and recently retired; 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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8 Responses to Messerschmitt Bf 108B-1 Taifun

  1. J. Allseits says:

    108’s also “stood in” for 109’s in “Von Ryan’s Express”…

  2. jfwknifton says:

    I seem to think that they were the Bf109s of “633 Squadron” as well.

  3. They certainly appeared in several films, quite a star really! It’s a nice little example you have put together there.

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