Messershmitt Bf 109E-3

Somewhere in Ohio, 1942.

Actually that’s Wright Field near Dayton.
Let’s take a look at a well travelled Messerschmitt.

This was the first Bf 109 captured intact during the War, and the first to be flight tested. Certainly not the manufacturer’s intent, but flight testing by the various allies became this aircraft’s main function.

On November 22, 1939 (during the Phoney War or Sitzkrieg) this aircraft, Messerschmitt Werk Number 1304 landed by mistake in France. It was transported to Orleans-Bricy which I believe was the Armee de l’Air main testing center where it underwent extensive flight testing. During this time it remained in Luftwaffe colors, but with the insignia overpainted and the French tail stripes added. It was flown against all standard French types and found to be superior, even against the new Dewoitine D.520 if only by a narrow margin. It was faster and had a higher dive speed than anything else, which of course played to the standard Luftwaffe tactic that emphasized speed and energy.
On May 4, six days before the Blitzkrieg into France, Werk Number 1304 was flown to Boscombe Down for the RAF’s turn with it. By this time it had its armament removed, and the French applied British insignia prior to delivery.

AE 479 is the serial number assigned by the RAF.

On May 14 the plane was flown to Farnborough for more rigorous testing. Over that summer, during the Battle of Britain, the plane was pushed to its limits and detailed technical performance was recorded. The most critical details from this analysis did not come available until late 1940 early 1941. Sometime at Farnborough it was repainted in standard RAF colors and markings (yellow undersides were standard for test aircraft).
Readers familer the type may recognize this plane has the later “E-4” style canopy, that is because on January 5, 1941 WNr 1304 suffered a landing accident. The tail and canopy were replaced with parts from Bf 109E-4 WNr 1980 that was brought down in England with too much damage to fix.
After these repairs it was sent the Enemy Aircraft Flight at Duxford for training fighter pilots.

WNr 1304 in earlier markings. Here it is still in Luftwaffe colors with its unit patch under the (original E-3 style) canopy. But it now carries British insignia as applied by the French (French colors were paler than RAF equivilents, and the tail flash is in the French style).

In April 1942 WNr 1304 was shipped to the United States. After reassembly at Wright Field it went through the flight testing phase again, and finally was disassembled for construction and technology analysis. During its time at Wright Field (current day Wright-Patterson Air Force Base) it was not repainted again, but late in its life someone applied a backwards swastika over the RAF fin flash.

The yellow patch on the wing is a gas detection patch. The RAF applied these to many tactical types, the paint is formulated to discolor if exposed to a number of toxic gasses. By late 1940 their use diminished as the German’s had not used such gas, and the patches were proven to be of dubious reliability.

This is the Hasegawa kit with Three Guys Replicas decals. Wonderful instruction sheet with the decals that had all the history of this aircraft that I just related. Its also worth mentioning the sheet dates from the mid-1990s, but performed perfectly.

WNr 1304’s most valuable work was in detailed comparisons with current RAF types. Consistently it was faster, especially in a dive, than allied aircraft.

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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9 Responses to Messershmitt Bf 109E-3

  1. Pierre Lagacé says:

    Something I didn’t know Dave.

  2. ericritter65 says:

    Love the build and the history of the BF-109E, but it just doesn’t look right in this colors!

  3. a gray says:

    What a fascinating history this plane has had. Thanks for the information.

    • atcDave says:

      It was fun to do too. Something as simple as putting the wrong colors on an airplane make it seem all wrong.

  4. jfwknifton says:

    Three beautifully made kits, as always.

  5. Pingback: Theme Build 4 – Complete | Plane Dave

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