IXO Models IXJP022 German Messerschmitt Bf 110E-1 Fighter - 6./ZG1 'Wespa' Geschwader Unit, Caucasus, Russia, Autumn 1942 (1:72 Scale)
"Guns before butter. Guns will make us powerful; butter will only make us fat."
- Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering, Head of the German Luftwaffe
The Messerschmitt Bf 110 was an aircraft of very mixed fortunes. It has often been criticized for its failure during the Battle of Britain, while its successes in other fields have been largely ignored. Despite not living up to the Luftwaffe's expectations it did manage to serve Germany throughout the Second World War in the long-range escort fighter, fighter-bomber, reconnaissance, ground attack and night fighter roles.
The long-range multi-seat escort fighter is possibly the most difficult of combat aircraft to design. Certainly no entirely successful machine in this category emerged from the Second World War, and when Professor Willy Messerschmitt began design studies for such a warplane towards the end of 1934 at the Bayerische Flugzeugwerke at Augsburg his problems would have seemed insurmountable had he possessed a full knowledge of interceptor fighter development trends abroad. Such a machine as was required by Marshal Goering to equip the elite "zerstorer" formations that he envisaged had to be capable of penetrating deep into enemy territory, possessing sufficient range to accompany bomber formations. The fuel tankage necessary presented a serious weight penalty and called for the use of two engines if the "zerstorer" was to achieve a performance approaching that of the lighter interceptor fighter by which it would be opposed. Yet it had to be manaoeuvrable if it was to successfully fend off the enemy's single-seaters.
The Bf 110Es were capable of carrying a respectable bomb load of 4,410 lb (2,000 kg) as fighter-bombers, while straight fighter and reconnaissance versions were also built. These, and later versions, were operated with a fair degree of success in many war zones. The Bf 110F was basically similar to the E, but two new variants were produced - the 110F-2 carrying rocket projectiles and the F-4 with two 30 mm cannon and an extra crew member for night fighting. The last version, the Bf 110G, was intended for use originally as a fighter-bomber but, in view of the success of the F-4 and the increasingly heavy attacks on Germany by Allied bombers, was employed mostly as a night fighter.
Pictured here is a 1:72 scale replica of a German Messerschmitt Bf 110E-1 fighter that was attached to 6./ZG1 'Wespa' Geschwader Unit, then deployed to the Caucasus, Russia, during the Autumn of 1942. Sold Out!
Wingspan: 10 inches
Length: 8 inches
Release Date: June 2006
Original Issue Price: $24.99
Historical Account: "Alternatives to Escort Fighters" - The Boeing YB-40 Flying Fortress was a modification of the B-17 Flying Fortress bomber aircraft, converted to act as a heavily-armed escort for other bombers during World War II. At the time of its development, long-range fighter aircraft such as the P-51 Mustang were not yet available to accompany bombers all the way from England to Germany and back.
The aircraft differed from the standard B-17 in that a second dorsal turret was installed in the former radio compartment (between the top turret and the waist guns); the single 0.50-calibre (12.7 mm) machine gun at each waist station was replaced by a pair of 0.5-calibre (12.7 mm) guns; and the bombardier's equipment was replaced with two 0.50-calibre (12.7 mm) machine guns in a "chin" turret. The existing "cheek" machine guns, initially removed from the configuration, were restored in England to provide a total of sixteen and the bomb bay itself was converted to a magazine. However a significant portion of the 4,000 pound weight increase came from armor plates installed to protect crew positions. An indication of the burden this placed on the YB-40 is that while the B-17F on which it was based was rated to climb to 20,000 feet in 25 minutes, the YB-40 was rated at 48 minutes.
The YB-40's mission was to provide a heavily-gunned escort capable of accompanying the bombers all the way to the target and back. Overall the concept proved a failure because the YB-40 could not keep up with standard B-17Fs, particularly after they had dropped bombs. Of the initial order of 13, one was damaged in a forced landing on the Isle of Lewis en route to England, and the remaining 12 were assigned to the 92nd Bomb Group (H) and designated the 327th Bomb Squadron.