The so-called “Douet theory” of primacy that existed in the mid-thirties aviation in future wars gave an impetus to the development of the concept of a “strategic” fighter. It was intended for air supremacy over the most important objects of military theaters, escorting armadas of bombers, deep into the air spaces of warring countries, for intercepting aircraft at great distances from their bases, as well as for striking ground targets and conducting reconnaissance. Long range, high firepower, good speed characteristics and maneuverability were the main requirements that a twin-engine multi-seat aircraft with a large fuel supply and formidable weapons had to meet. In Germany, this class of "strategic" fighters was called Zerstorer ("Destroyer").
The development of such a fighter began in the mid-thirties in several European countries. In France, it was Pote-63, in Poland - PZL R-38, in the USSR - “weaving” of V. Petlyakov and TIS N. Polikarpova. In Germany, the ministry of aviation issued five firms a task to develop a “strategic” fighter.
The aircraft, proposed by Willy Messerschmitt, designated Bf.110, was an all-metal monoplane with a low-wing and spaced vertical tail. His design was a lot from Bf.109, just launched in the series.
In front of the oval fuselage with a carrier skin there was a cabin for three crew members: a pilot, a navigator-radio operator, an arrow. The power plant - two water-cooled Daimler-Benz DB 600A engines with a capacity of 910 l. with. Screws were initially set bilobed variable pitch.
The prototype of the car was the first to fly test pilot Herman Verster 12 in May 1936. An airplane with a take-off weight of 5000 kg developed a speed of 505 km / h. The machine was easily controlled and had maneuverability acceptable for its type. There were, however, a number of shortcomings: a dangerous buildup on take-off and landing, poor acceleration characteristics.
Soon, Verster performed a demonstration flight in front of fighter aviation inspector Ernst Udet, who was surprised by the energetic maneuvers of a large twin-engine vehicle. Udet decided to immediately conduct a training fight with Bf.110 on the new Bf.109В. The fight ended in a draw, the famous ace of the First World War was never able to catch the sight of 110, who constantly eluded him at turns. The delighted inspector promised to support the new fighter. And it did: the Messerschmitt fighter was the winner in competition with Focke-Wulf (FW-57) and Henschel (Hs-124).
The decision to launch the “one hundred and tenth” series was made in January of the 1937 year, but only in April of the 1938 did the first four machines of the experimental series set about testing. Since the DB 600 engine had been removed from production by that time, and the new DB 601А was not yet manufactured, the fighters were equipped with 610-strong Junkers Jumo 210В motors, as well as new three-bladed propellers. Speed dropped to 430 km / h. Armament consisted of four 7,9-mm machine gun MC 17 in the nose fairing and one 7,9-mm MC 15 in the rear of the cab.
This was followed by a small (45 copy) series “B” with Yumo 210C engines, which have direct fuel injection into the cylinders and a two-stage turbocharger. These aircraft developed speeds of 450 km / h and were used mainly in training units. At the end of 1938, the DB 601А engines (1050 hp) began to arrive at the Messerschmitt plant in Augsburg. Machines of the “C” series with these engines developed 540 km / h speed at an altitude of 6000 m, and the flight range was 1100 km, with two suspension tanks for 550 l, the range increased to 1410 km.
Nazi propaganda so widely advertised the new fighter that they were interested in intelligence from other countries. The French secret service managed to recruit a certain Franz Ottil, a former military pilot. Having settled to work at the factory aerodrome as a mechanic, Ottili in May 1939, hijacked one of the first serial Bf.110С-1, intending to land him at a French air base. But in the mist the pilot got lost, and on a forced landing the plane exploded.
If initially the plant produced only two cars per month, then since the summer of 1939, Messerschmitt has dramatically increased production intensity, in addition, three more plants of other companies received an order for Bf.110 production, and these aircraft began to number in the hundreds.
The attack on Poland was attended by three air squadron Bf.110, numbering 95 machines. 1 September 1939, they escorted bombers that struck Warsaw and Krakow. At the same time, the first battle of Bf.110С with Polish fighters ПЗЛ Р-11С took place, their speed did not exceed 370 km / h. The Messerschmitts, hitting the P-11C, which were gaining altitude, shot down four and damaged up to 20 aircraft on their own. But during the raid on Lodz, the Germans were less fortunate - in the battle on bends, the lighter P-11С brought down three Bf.110С-1, having lost two of their cars. Soon, having broken the resistance of Polish aviation, the “one hundred and tenths” proceeded to actions on ground targets. From September 1 to 28, the Germans lost 12 "strategic" fighters.
Similarly, events developed during the seizure of Norway: the old Norwegian Gloucester Gladiator biplanes were destroyed in the air and on the ground, and then Bf.110 took off only to attack. This campaign was attended by fighters of the new modification - Bf.110D with increased flight range. The crew was reduced to two people (in place of the navigator, they installed a fuel tank). An optional pear-shaped tank with a capacity of 1200 l was suspended under the fuselage. Aircraft have proven themselves in long-distance raids to the Arctic ports - Narvik and Trondheim.
But the victorious euphoria began to fade: during the attack on France in the few battles, Bf.110 was forced to stand in a defensive circle, where each plane covered the tail of the front one. But such tactics did not always help. In three weeks of fighting, the Germans lost 82 from 248 Bf.110. And during the air offensive against England (Operation Flight of the Eagle), British fighter aircraft, numerous and ready to fight back, lightly and maneuverable Spitfires and Hurricanees defeated the hundredth tenth.
So, 15 August 1940, 21 Bf.110, escorted the non-111 air group to the bombardment of English airfields. On the approach to the Scottish coast, they were attacked by “Spitfires”. Throwing to the mercy of fate the bombers, who were immediately scattered, Bf.110 stood in the defensive circle. As a result, the Germans lost seven fighters shot down, bombers suffered no less losses. Only in August, the Germans lost 120 Bf.110 - more than 40% of those who took part in the operation. This forced the Luftwaffe command to detach to protect the "strategic" fighters of the Bf.109 group.
More effectively the aircraft was used as a fighter-bomber. In the summer of 1940, the next series (Bf.110С-4 / В) was equipped with the ventral pylons for two 250-kg bombs. The engines were modified - DB 601 horsepower 1200 hp A long-range reconnaissance aircraft Bf.110С-5 was also built, instead of 20-mm guns a camera was mounted in the cabin floor.
Turned out to be a bad offensive fighter, the “hundred dozen” became a successful air defense interceptor. Powerful weapons, long flight duration allowed to effectively deal with the bombers. 18 December 1939 of the year during the 24 raid of the "Wellington" on the Wilhelmshaven raid the Bf.110С-1 air group destroyed the 9 British bombers from the 12 downed. Soon, the British switched to the night bombing of Germany.
In June 1940, the crews of Bf.110С, trained in night tactics, began duty on Dutch airfields. The first Whitley shot down was Ober-Lieutenant Werner Streib on his account on the night of 1 July. Initially, the search for the enemy in the dark sky was carried out purely visually, but already in September, the first Bf.110D-1 / U-1 air defense units, equipped with IR direction finders, received air defense units. And since the summer of 1941, “one hundred tenths” were introduced from the ground by operators of the first radar stations, with a detection range of up to 48 km.
As high-speed bombers and attack aircraft, the “destroyers” were used in the Balkan campaign, as well as against the Allied ships in the Mediterranean and North Africa. In May, the Bf.1941С-110 air group with Iraqi markings painted over the crosses supported the putschists from the air during an anti-British nationalist insurgency in Iraq.
In the spring-summer of 1941, two modifications of Bf.110E and Bf.110F went into the series at once. The designers tried to take into account the experience of the first years of the war: they put the protected fuel tanks, updated the instrument equipment. The crew’s armor protection intensified: the pilot closed 12-mm armored plate and 57-mm bulletproof glass in front, 35-mm bulletproof glass from the sides, 8-mm armored rear panel from the sides. The tail gunner defended behind 8-mm broneshpangoumom and on top of 57-mm bulletproof glass.
As one hundred and tenth fighter-bomber, two bombs of up to 1000 kg each carried under the fuselage and four more 50 kg under the planes. In the variant of the night fighter, a thermal direction finder was installed, and the crew increased by one person - a guidance officer. The reconnaissance variant was also built - Bf.110-3. All aircraft were engines DВ 601N. Bf.110F produced in parallel was equipped with engines DВ 601Р afterburner power 1350 l. with. But since the take-off weight of the car reached 7200 kg, a significant increase in speed did not occur, and the aircraft’s handling only worsened.
The attack on the Soviet Union was attended by two air groups Me-110 (as they were designated here) in the II and VIII air corps. The Soviet pilots quickly found a way to fight the "one hundred and tenths" - they dragged them into battle on verticals, where the heavy, twin-engined Messer lost to our light fighters. In the future, on the Soviet-German front, they were used only as high-speed bombers, flying under the protection of Me-109. The use of Me-110 to combat even Po-2, night bombers was also ineffective. The wooden-linen “corn duster” was invisible to radars and heat finders. No wonder for the downed Po-2 was awarded the Iron Cross.
At the end of 1941, the Messerschmitt company developed the new Me-210 twin-engine fighter. But with the entry into the US war, the bombing of Germany increased sharply, and the Germans did not have time to retool factories to master the new machine. It was necessary to modernize the manufactured aircraft, to develop new weapon systems for them.
Daytime fighters suffered significant losses from the dense defensive fire of "fortresses" flying close groups. In order to successfully split their lines, the Bf.110F-2 interceptor series was additionally equipped with four 210 mm caliber missiles. On the Bf.110F-4 / 1 fighter jets, the 20-mm guns were replaced with the 30-mm MK 108, the same two guns were installed in the rear part of the cabin for firing up and forward. Aiming carried out the pilot through the prism of the collimator. For the first time night interceptors of this series were equipped with Telefunken's FUG 202 radar sights.
The first aircraft radars were heavy and bulky, and four large antennas mounted on the nose of the aircraft, significantly "slowed down" in flight. Take-off weight reached 9300 kg, maximum speed fell to 510 km / h, flight range - 840 km. This was not enough even for a night fighter, and in the spring of 1942, the designers tried once more to “reanimate” the aircraft by putting a more powerful DВ 605В engine (1457 hp on take-off).
The aircraft, designated Bf.110G, received reinforced armor (floor and sides of the cockpit) and weapons - instead of four machine guns, there were two 30-mm MK 108 guns. For the Bf.110G-2 series, two versions of the suspended armament were developed: instead of bomb-holders, two 20-mm MG 151 cannons or one 37-mm X-NUMX long-barreled cannon were suspended from the fuselage. The range of the gun allowed the Messerschmitts to hit American bombers outside the scope of their machine guns. But if the “fortresses” were accompanied by fighters, then Bf.3,7G-110 with a heavy cannon, closed by a bulky fairing, became their easy prey.
In order to somehow alleviate the aircraft, only the pilot was left in the crew, the tail machine gun and the gunner’s armor were removed. In addition, for a short-term increase in engine power, an injection system was introduced into the nitrous oxide cylinders. Such an “emergency” mode lasted 27 minutes.
Despite its many flaws. Bf.110G as a night interceptor in the hands of an experienced pilot was effective weapons. So, from June 1944 in the 1 squadron of night fighters II Air Group, staffed with "one hundred and tenths", recorded before the end of the war more enemy aircraft than the 1 air group, re-armed with new high-speed interceptors Non-219.
The following indexes were also released with this index: reconnaissance aircraft Bf.110G-3 with a maximum speed of 560 km / h and a radius of action (without tanks) 900 km and a night fighter Bf.110G-4 equipped with FUG 212 radar. The latter, in addition to standard weapons, carried two “vertical” XK 108 cannons in the back of the cabin.
In parallel with the Bf.110G, another option was being built - the Bf.110H, featuring a modified DВ 605Е engine, a reinforced chassis and tail assembly, and a hydraulic elevator control.
By the beginning of the 1943 of the 390 German air defense fighters of Germany, consolidated in 15 air groups, the majority were Bf.110. The tactics of the air defense units were worked out fairly well, and the British, who bombed the Reich, suffered significant losses. But since July 1943, the royal bombers began to drop strips of foil in flight, which was blinded by Nazi radars. Interceptors have become completely helpless in the night sky. The command was forced to re-target them on day missions. But the night-time untrained tactics, accustomed to flying close to the enemy, suffered heavy losses from the fire of the "fortresses". Only at the end of 1943, the Germans created a radar capable of selecting a target from the interference it created, FUG 220, and the fighters returned to action at night.
And although Bf.110, figuratively speaking, clung to the air with antenna whiskers, flame arresters on engines, and fairings of guns, because of which it had a clearly insufficient speed and poor maneuverability, it was still better than the converted Ju-88 interceptors from bombers Do-Xnumx. The new night fighters Me-217 and He-210 were just passing troop tests, so the mass production of the Bf.219 continued. In 110, 1943 aircraft were built, in 1509 - 1944. Total plants released 1518 Bf.6050. In January, 110, the number of night air groups increased to 1944, of which 22 are staffed with outdated "one hundred and tenths."
The strategic offensive of the Soviet Army and allies, which began in the fall of 1944, put the Nazis in such a critical situation that the Luftwaffe command threw all the aircraft at its disposal, including night fighters, at the bombing of the advancing Soviet units. Since air supremacy was long over Soviet aviation, for the “hundred men” a genuine beating began. For several months, almost all of them were destroyed. And in March, the Messerschmitt plant's 1945, having managed to release the 1945 BN.45 110 for three months, remained in the rear of the Soviet troops.
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