Thursday, August 25, 2011

Messerschmitt Bf 109 E

The Messerschmitt Bf 109 has earned a lasting place in history of combat aviation. Although throughout the Second World War several progressive variants were introduced, none made such a dramatic impact on the course of the war as the Bf 109 E, commonly known as the 'Emil'. The aircraft was powered by the Daimler Benz DB 601 engine, an advanced design for its times, whilst its aerodynamically refined airframe was a direct descendant of the Bf 108 Taifun, a light sports aircraft. Those components turned the Bf 109 E into a graceful yet lethal, high-performance, air superiority fighter. It was one of the spearheads of the German Blitzkrieg. The Emil drew its first blood during the Spanish Civil War; it mercilessly swept the skies over Poland in September 1939; in May and June 1940 it ruled the skies over the invaded France and Low Countries. In the autumn 1940 it finally found its match in RAF fighters over the English Channel, and for the first time Bf 109 E pilots were left with a bitter taste of defeat. It again came to its own over the Balkans, then in the North Africa, and finally over the boundless steppes of Russia, during the first months of the war in the east. In late 1942 it was duly retired to training units. Starting with the Battle of Britain, the 'Emil' was also successfully deployed as a fighter-bomber.