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109 Myths

Messerschmitt 109 - myths, facts and the view from the cockpit

Article version: 14.10.2006.
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Quick index:

Introduction

Part I: PILOT NOTES ON THE ME 109
General comments on Me 109 | Training to fly the Messerschmitt | Taking off | Landing | 109 undercarriage | Stalling the 109 | Flying Messerschmitt 109 | Climbing in combat | Diving - structural rigidity of 109 in dives | Stick forces and maneuvering in high speeds | Stick force and black outs | 109 needs constant rudder pressure to fly straight? | Trimming | Wing leading edge slats - good or bad? | Fighting in the 109 | Tactics with 109 | Me 109 as gun platform | Me 109 weapon effectiviness | Cannonboot (three cannon) Messerschmitts | Gunsight | Radios | Cockpit | Daimler-Benz engine and engine systems | Luftwaffe fuels | Other systems, radiators | Maintenance | Me 109 fuselage and drag

Part II: Breaking the myths | Forgetting the big picture | Was Me 109 hard or difficult to fly? Comparisons to Spitfire and Hurricane | Why many "western" pilots found it hard to fly the 109? | Various myths debunked | Messerschmitt 109 design features and comparisons by Markus Mikkolainen | Other interesting details on 109
Part III: Other subjects | 109 test flight reports
Primary sources

Introduction

This article and its sub sections are put together to dispell some of the persistent myths about the Messerschmitt 109 fighter. As the most ever built fighter which was the mainstay of German Luftwaffe and various other air forces, including Finnish, Spanish, Hungarian, Romanian air forces, the plane is also victim of intentional disinformation, many most persistent urban myths and just ignorance. Not having first hand information or poor understanding of the subject leads easily to absurd claims.

I've regularly seen same "reports", that are practically pure fantasy and filled with errors and disinformation, being quoted as facts in various bulletin boards and even articles. And it is very exhausting to see them again and again, needing to repeat same correcting statements again and again. Therefore this is an attempt to correct few of the worst myths. Most importantly, I'll try to round up important subjects/details about the Me 109 and quote actual pilot views about them. Who else knows better than the pilots who flew the planes?

There are also some material about 109 test flights. Those have been and most likely will be subject of endless debate. Fact is, some cannot be taken with face value, because they have interesting small print that are not always mentioned when the reports are shown as proof of whatever the author wants to prove.

The attempt here is to look at the subject, Messerschmitt 109, through the eyes of the 109 pilots.

Most of all, this article is a collection of pilot's anecdotes that relate to actual flying of the plane. The quotes are from interviews, articles and books. They are complemented with some additional technical bits and other comments. It is not a serious study - mainly just bunch of pilot opinions that might be conflicting to each other. Pilot's comments are always "their facts" and may and do contradict each other. Terminology may be faulty at times or the pilots use terms in different way than we're used to today. I do not guarantee 100% that the other materials are always completely correct. Errors may and most likely remain, but you can send corrections - the author is admits to be clueness about technical subjects, so all those bits have been written by others. All in all, reader should try to read between the lines to understand the bigger picture.

Again, this article is not and does not try to be a complete study. Far from it. It is fragmented and might seem as one sided. But after all - if this is attempt to show that some myths or beliefs are wrong, then there sure is material that might been "one sided" to a reader that is used to believe those myths are facts and real. So the author dared to claim that some usual claims about the Me 109 are incorrect and show why? Yup, must be biased, judging from some reactions.

The article has three parts. Part I is the beef, pilot quotes. Parts II and III are more like "bonus" than primary content and written only partially by the author. Mostly the bits on parts II/III were picked up from various sources and added, because they relate somehow to the main topic. All in all, this is a co-work by several different writers and couldn't have been possible without their help.

"All pilot comments are given in brackets."
- Sources are mentioned below like this.
- Also all interview questions and comments by other authors are in their own paragraphs starting with a dash.

All help is appreciated. Quotes from 109 pilots from different sources are most welcome. Please remember to always give the source, name/author and ISBN, if it is from a book. The readers are also encouraged to send other material and write expnalations, dispell myths and add or correct the information in it, be it technical or anything. I welcome you to even write whole paragraphs again, if you disagree with them. And I definitely would like to have more quotes from German, Italian and other Me 109 pilots. Please notice, that the intention here is NOT to have only praise - but to see what pilots have said and thought, both positive and negative. Parts II and III are of course harder, since their content can be debatable at times. If you know better, you're welcome to add or correct them as well.

The Air Warfare Forum's Pre WWII and WWII Aviation board is regarded as the official location for discussions about this article, and this thread as the place that I'll check for comments and possible additional material to the article.

Jukka "Grendel" Kauppinen
Send feedback
Ps. Personal comment from author: some have thought that this article must have been put together by a "109 fan", but that is quite incorrect. I have to say that actually I'm much more fascinated with the Brewster and Curtiss Hawk fighters than the Messer, if we're talking about fighters. The author is simply aviation history hobby researcher, who got fed up with all those false myths and disinformation spread about this one particular plane type. If you read through the article you'll notice that this is not a "fan article" that only sees the subject as the best thing ever, but there is also plenty negatives and critique. This is simply an attempt to bring more light to the subject of the Me/Bf 109, to offer food for thought and basis for discussion.

Part I

PILOT NOTES ON THE ME 109

Eric Brown and Me 109

Excerps from Eric Brown's test flight with 109 G:
"Longevity of service has never characterised the fighter. Indeed, until the last decade or so it was possible to count the years in the firstline lifespan of the average fighter aircraft on the fingers of one hand..Tending to prove the rule have been the few noteworthy exceptions to be found in the annals of fighter development, perhaps the most outstanding of these being Professor Willy Messerchmitt's Bf 109..
There was, in fact, nothing mysterious about the Bf 109. It was simply a well-conceived, soundly designed fighter that maintained during maturity the success that attended its infancy...
The blind flying panel appeared somewhat better equipped than that of the contemporary FW 190. The auxiliary services were mostly electrical apart from the undercarriage and radiator, which were hydraulically operated, and the flaps which were directly connected to a manually-operated handwheel and in consequence, tediously slow to lower.
At its rather disappointing low-level cruising speed of 240 mph (386 km/h) the Gustav was certainly delightful to fly.
This was then Gustav. By the time the evolution of Willy Messerchmitt's basic design had reached the G-series, it was no longer a great fighter, but it was still a sound all-rounder and the Bf 109G had greater flexibility from some aspects than preceding sub-types."

Read also: Flying the Messerschmitt Bf 109 by Mark Hanna

General comments on Me 109

Me 109 D:
"The longer one is at the flying business, the more firmly convinced he becomes that he knows very little about it. I must say, however, the Messerschmitt Me109 is the finest airplane I have ever flown.
Along with its delightful flight characteristics, the visibility in this Messerschmitt is all that a fighter pilot could reasonably ask. There are a great many single-seater fighters in the world that I have not flown, but I had formed my opinion of the flight characteristics of the Messerschmitt after studying it on the ground and before flying it. And those estimates were confirmed in flight. I had made my own estimates of the performance and maneuverability characteristics of a lot of other single-seater fighters, and I'd be willing to wager that none of them represent the general, all-around flight and fighting characteristics possessed by the Me109."
- US Marine Corps major Al Williams. Source: Bf 109D test flight, 1938.

Me 109:
"Apart from performance, it was also very important the plane to possess a sort of 'goodwill'. The Bf 109 - except for take-offs - was an easy-to-fly airplane, and in addition it brought back the pilot even with serious damage. My plane, 'Blue 1' received hits multiple times, in one case when attacking a Boston formation the skin on the left wing was ripped off on half square meter, the main spar was damaged and the undercarriage tire was blown to pieces, yet it dropped without a problem and the plane landed just like it was a training session. Not to mention it`s valuable quality that it never caught fire during landing on the belly after a fatal hit, in contrast to many other type, with which such emergency procedure put us at a serious risk because of the danger of fire and explosion. To summerize : we loved the Bf 109."
- Pinter Gyula, 2nd Lt., JG101. Source: internet account

Me 109 E:
"In personally facing the RAF in the air over the Dunkirk encirclement, I found that the Bf 109 E was faster, possessed a higher rate of climb, but was somewhat less manouverable than the RAF fighters. Nevertheless, during the campaign, no Spitfire or Hurricane ever turned inside my plane."
- Herbert Kaiser, German fighter ace. 68 victories. Source:The Great Book of WW2 Airplanes, page 470.

Me 109 E:
"Performance by 1940 standards was good. When put into a full throttle climb at low air speeds, the airplane climbed at a very steep angle, and our fighters used to have difficulty in keeping their sights on the enemy even when at such a height that their rates of climb were comparible. This steep climb at low air speed was one of the standard evasion maneuvres used by the German pilots. Another was to push the stick forward abruptly and bunt into a dive with considerable negative 'g'. The importance of arranging that the engine whould not cut under these circumstances cannot be over-stressed. Speed is picked up quickly in a dive, and if being attacked by an airplane of slightly inferior level performance, this feature can be used with advantage to get out of range. There is no doubt that in the autumn of 1940 the Bf.109E in spite of its faults, was a doughty opponent to set against our own equipment."
- RAF Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) Farnborough handling trials,Bf.109E Wn: 1304. M.B. Morgan and R. Smelt of the RAE, 1944.

Me 109 E/F/G:
"Yeah, the 109 could compete with the P51, no doubt.  Maneuverability was excellent.  But the P51 could do it longer! But in the battle itself, the 109 certainly could compete with the P-51, even the Spitfire. You couldn't follow the Spitfire in a tight turn upwards.  You couldn't follow it. But we knew exactly the Spitfire also had shortcomings. In the beginning when they dived away, they had problems with the carburetor.  cshhht shhht cht cht cht (shows engine cutting out) . Until they came up to speed.  So every airplane has some problems in some areas, and if you know it, you can overcome it. "   
- Major Gunther Rall. German fighter ace, NATO general, Commander of the German Air Force. 275 victories. Source: Lecture by general Rall.

Me 109 F:
"It was the 109 F.  This was my beloved aircraft.  It was the first aircraft with the round wing tips, no struts in the back, 601 engine. Excellent, and not too overloaded.  You know, later on they put in this, and put in this, and put in this.  The aircraft became heavier, but not this one.  The F was my ideal aircraft.  And it had a very good weapon set.  We had a 20 millimeter gun through the propellor, and two 15 millimeters (actually 2 x 7,92 mms) on top of the engine.  It was enough."
- Major Gunther Rall. German fighter ace, NATO general, Commander of the German Air Force. 275 victories. Source: Lecture by general Rall.

Me 109 G:
"It was very advanced and equipped with new, more sophisticated technology. Nicknamed Gustav, the 109G was well armed, but not as light as the early E and F versions. Its more powerful engine meant higher power settings whose initial climb rate sent it soaring to 18700 feet in six minutes, but at low speed the plane was difficult to handle."
- Major Gunther Rall in April 1943. German fighter ace, NATO general, Commander of the German Air Force. 275 victories. Source: Gunther Rall, a memoir.

Me 109 G-2/G-6:
- What was it like to sit in the Messerschmitt after Curtiss and Fokker?
"Dunno... Felt like an airplane. It was faster.
The Messerschmitt was exellent. You got always away when you pushed your nose down, and it then rose like an elevator. You soon had upper hand again."
- Mauno Fräntilä, Finnish fighter ace. 5 1/2 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association: Chief Warrant Officer Mauno Fräntilä.

Me 109 G:
"Comparing the Curtiss and the Messerschmitt (109 G), which one was the more pleasant to fly ?
Well, both were pleasant each in their own way. The Curtiss was as if in your control all the time. More speed would have been necessary. The Messerschmitt had speed, she climbed well and was well-armed. That was it. Both types were good aircraft in their age."
- Kyösti Karhila, Finnish fighter ace. 32 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G:
"Fast and maneuverable Me 109 (G) would be a tough opponent in the hands of a skillful pilot. Messerschmitt was during it´s time an efficient fighter and would not be in shame even nowadays. Eventhough the top speeds of the today´s fighters are high the differerencies would even up in a dogfight.
Mersu (Messerchmitt) had three meters long engine in the nose were with 1 500 horsepowers. The speed was at it´s best 750 kilometers per hour. It turned well too, if you just pulled the stick"
- Mauno Fräntilä, Finnish fighter ace. 5 1/2 victories. Source: Finnish Virtual Pilots Association: fighter ace Mauno Fräntilä was creating the glory of the war pilots.

Me 109 F/G:
"The F version was my favorite. It was not nearly as sluggish in the controls as the G version was. It was best suited as a dogfighter. The G6 however was better at higher altitudes and had a higher ceiling than the F's.
The 190 was over all a better a/c than the 109, but again the pilots liked the 109's climb and simply the fact that by the time they had flown 400 combat missions the 109 had become very very familiar to them. Fanz Stigler liked the 109G as well and also enjoyed flying the K-4. The K-4, he said was very much like the G yet could leave all other fighters behind in climb. In control feel he said the K felt identical to the G. He described on many occasions where they would just bank away from the fighters and climb away from them. He also flew a Spitfire once, saying that he liked the a/c."
- Franz Stigler, German fighter ace. 28 victories. Interview of Franz Stigler.

Me 109:
"The 109? That was a dream, the non plus ultra. Just like the F-14 of today. Of course, everyone wanted to fly it as soon as possible. I was very proud when I converted to it."
- Major Gunther Rall, German fighter ace, NATO general, Commander of the German Air Force. 275 victories.

Me 109 G (Spanish version):
"The Bf 109 is, without doubt, the most satisfying and challenging aircraft that I have ever flown."
- Mark Hannah of the Old Flying Machine Company  

Me 109 G-6:
Me109 had good performance values for its time, the weapons (1 x 20 mm + 2 x 13 mm) were accurate and effective. The option for 3x20mm cannons was well suited against IL-2s. I didn't regard the swerving during take-offs as anything special. In my opinion, the accidents were caused by poor training.
- Martti Uottinen, Finnish war bomber pilot, post war fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Me 109 G:
"So how does the aeroplane compare with other contemporary fighters ? First, let me say that all my comments are based on operation below 10,000 feet and at power settings not exceeding +12 (54") and 2700 rpm. I like it as an aeroplane, and with familiarity I think it will give most of the allied fighters I have flown a hard time, particularly in a close, hard turning, slow speed dog-fight. It will definitely out-maneuver a P-51 in this type of flight, the roll rate and slow speed characteristics being much better. The Spitfire on the other hand is more of a problem for the '109 and I feel it is a superior close in fighter. Having said that the aircraft are sufficiently closely matched that pilot abilty would probably be the deciding factor. At higher speeds the P-51 is definitely superior, and provided the Mustang kept his energy up and refused to dogfight he would be relatively safe against the '109.
I like the aeroplane very much, and I think I can understand why many of the Luftwaffe aces had such a high regard and preference for it."
- Mark Hanna of the Old Flying Machine Company flying the OFMC Messerschmitt Bf 109 G (Spanish version).

Spitfire vs Me 109 in general:
"Military Channel's program "Spitfire vs Me 109" with Bob Doe, B of B RAF vet and Ekkehard Bob LW JG54 B of B vet comparing the aircraft:"
"Ease of flying went to the Spit. The consensus was it took a veteran pilot to master the 109, but that the Spit was more forgiving to a new pilot."
"Doe remarked on the cramped feeling and the poor visibilty. He was in Black 6 the 109G2 of the RAF Museum."
"Ekkehard Bob was in a Spitfire Vb cockpit . His comment was on how roomy it was and how wonderful the visibilty was. He then said he'd really like to fly the airplane."
"They then went on to talk about hitting power, which went to the 109 20mms vs the Spit 303's."
"The final result was they were both good airplanes and that it would fall to the pilot to make the difference."
"An interesting sidebar was the discussion of turning circle. They believed that with average pilots the Spit would out turn the 109, but that if flown to the limit, the 109 could match the Spit. "
- Bob Doe & Ekkehard Bob. Source: Military Channel program.

Me 109 G through the opposition's eyes
"BF109 was very good, very high scale fighter plane. If was superior to our Yaks in speed and vertical combat. It wasn`t 100% superiority, but still. Very dynamic plane. I`ll be honest with you, it was my dream during my war years, to have a plane like this. Fast and superior on vertical, but that didn`t happen.
Messer had one extremely positive thing, it was able to be successful fight Yak`s at 2000m and Aircobras at 6000m. This is truly unique ability and valuable. Of course, here Yak and P-39 were inferior. As far as combat on different altitudes, BF109 was universal, like La-5.
Me109 was exceptional in turning combat. If there is a fighter plane built for turning combat , it has to be Messer! Speedy, maneuverable,(especially in vertical) and extremely dynamic. I can`t tell about all other things, but taking under consideration what i said above, Messerschmitt was ideal for dogfight. But for some reason majority of german pilots didn`t like turn fight, till this day i don`t know why.
I don`t know what was stopping them, but it`s definitely not the plane. I know that for a fact. I remember battle of Kursk where german aces were starting "roller-coaster" rides where our heads were about to come off from rotation. No, seriously... Is it true it`s a common thing now that Messer wasn`t maneuverable?
Interviewer: Yes.
Heh.. Why would people come up with something like this... It was maneuverable...by god it was."
- Major Kozhemyako, Soviet fighter ace. Source: translation from Russian language.

Me 109 G:
"The speed, rate of climb and armament were suberb compared to our other planes. The best feature was the excellent rate of climb. The reflector sight was good as well as the radio and the throat microphone, which eliminated the engine noise from transmissions.
Before starting the engine one you had to set the propeller pitch to small, as otherwise the plane would start to swerve left as soon as the tailwheel was raised from the ground. There was nothing special in landing the plane. It was heavy but the wing slats opened up when speed slowed down and helped flying in slow speed.
Comparing the flying characteristics against the FIAT G.50, the Me109G was just a weapons platform, albeit a great one. "
-Kullervo Joutseno, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Me 109 G:
"The worst thing about Me109 was its bad reputation which caused unnecessary nervousness on many (new) pilots. The tendency to swing was related to this. As a plane the Me was a typical wartime fighter equipped with a powerful engine. A cool pilot could easily control the plane's direction and change it when accelerating."
-Jorma Karhunen, Finnish fighter ace. 36 1/2 victories, fighter squadron commander. . Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy"

Me 109 G-2:
"Best things in the Me: speed, power and climb. Weaponry was good, as well as the control systems and radio. The turning ability was poor (when compared to other FiAF types, like Brewster, Curtiss Hawk and Fiat).
-Lasse Kilpinen, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy"

Me 109 G:
"For the pilot the plane was definitely a good package. The climb rate was good as well as the cannon and machinegun weaponry. The cockpit arrangements were good, though close-fitting to a large man."
-Mikko Lallukka, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy"

Me 109 G:
"Me 109 had good and accurate weapons, but those were the only good points of it. To me, it's unacceptable that somebody had built a fighter plane that couldn't be dived without limits. Me109 had a dive limit of 880km/h - you weren't to exceed it or the plane would break up. Just this happened to Sgt Mäittälä. I (and Pokela) was forced to exceed this limit twice, I can't describe how it felt just to sit in the cockpit waiting, if the plane would break up. I have never gotten rid of that feeling, of being trapped."
-Heimo Lampi, Finnish fighter ace. 13 1/2 victories. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Me 109 G:
"Good in the Me? Good flying characterics, powerful engine and good take-off and landing characterics."
- Onni Kuuluvainen, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Me 109 G:
"I got about 150 hours and over 30 aerial combats on the Messerschmitt 109. It was a fine "pilot's airplane" and there was no big complaints about the technical side, as long as you operated it within envelope, inside the performance parameters. It is hard to find any negative things about the plane from pilot's perspective when taking the development of technology into account. But the heavy and visibility limiting hood of the G-2 should have been changed into the G-6 "Galland hood" earlier.
It can be said that Me109 was at it's best (compared against other planes) at high altitudes. Until the summer '44 Me109 gave the pilots a dangerous feeling of superiority, then the new magnificient soviet plane types forced us to adopt a more humble attitude."
-Hemmo Leino, Finnish fighter ace. 11 victories. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Me 109 G:
"The Me had good speed and rate of climb. It was easy and steady to control in all conditions of flight. Worse was the poor controls in longitudinal stability, especially in higher speeds.
In the war skies the Messerscmitt was stiff and wasn't fit for turning combat against more agile opponents. "Strike and out" was a good rule. We didn't have time for acrobatics but we weren't forbidden from doing them, though. Snap roll was fast and easy, and the engine didn't cough as in older planes. Immelman turn was splendid when you tightened the stick a bit on the top. The automatic wing slats did their trick and you didn't need ailerons at all for straightening the plane."
-Otso Leskinen, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Me 109 G:
"It was amazing feeling to take off in Messerschmitt after the Fiat (G.50). It was gung ho and no hesitation! The performance and handling of the plane were excellent and all systems were in their correct place. Of all different planes I have flown the easiest to fly were the Pyry (advanced trainer) and the Messerschmitt."
- Esko Nuuttila, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Me 109 G:
"Good in the Me? Speed and climb. It was responsive to controls and suited well to the "pendulum tactics". The weaponry was good when compared to the planes I'd flown earlier, Fokker D.XXI and Brewster.
Some planes had problems with material quality, as the plane was a war time product. G-2 radios caused sometimes worries. G-6 was much better in this regard."
- Atte Nyman, , Finnish fighter ace. 5 victories. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Me 109 G:
Aircraft was confidence inspiring, one felt like being the king of the skies when sitting in the cockpit. All controls were in logical order and in the reach of the pilot.
The plane responded to your piloting like a dream, from takeoff to landing. It is still the plane of my dreams.
- Kauko Risku, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Me 109 G-2/G-6:
The Messerschmitt was good to fly and beautiful - I wish I could fly it one more time…
- Aulis Rosenlöf, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Me 109 G:
The best things in the plane were its speed compared to the contemporary planes, and its weapons.
- Reino Suhonen, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Me 109 G-6:
One thing that was absolutely good about it, was the wild performance of the aircraft. Other good points were the visibility during the flight, the sitting position, the cockpit wasn't unnecessary roomy, the impression of controlled flight and sturdy construction: no vibrations or shakings, the electrically heated flightsuit and gloves.
- Torsti Tallgren, Finnish post war fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Me 109 G:
Me109 was almost a dream come true for a pilot. Good controllability, enough speed, excelent rate of climb. The feel of the controls were normal except when flying over 600km/h - some strength was needed then.
When Me109 came to the squadron it was without a doubt the best tool in use. The La-7 and Yak-9 that were introduced into service in summer '44 were equal or in some areas somewhat better than Me109.
- Erkki O. Pakarinen, Finnish fighter pilot, Finnish Air Force trainer. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Training to fly the Messerschmitt

Me 109 E/G-2:
The first Finnish Messerschmitt pilots
In February 1943 the first batch of Finnish pilots had been sent to Germany for training into the Messerschmitt. The training period kept extending and the pilots were getting frustrated, as no-one had yet gotten any flights on the Messerschmitts. Finally the group leader, Ehrnrooth, marched angrily to the plane halls, catched the German responsible for the planes and gave him a loud, hard worded dressing in broken German, demanding to get a Messerschmitt. Us others were on side side, watching the event amused, as the German was clearly clueless what was going on, not understanding Erhnrooth.
Finally the German managed to call his superior, a leutnant, who got the same loud treatment. The poor officer surrendered in front of this mad Finnish major. If he wanted to kill himself, let him. One Me 109 E was pulled out of the hangar. The cloud level was 400 meters and the German leutnant suspected, that it is way too low. Ehrnrooth explained, that 400 metes is usual in Finland, at this time of the year. A short inspection of the plane and soon the 1100 HP engine pulled the major into the sky.
Erhnrooth was an experienced fighter pilot and he tested how the plane reacted and controlled in different speeds. Then he made some acrobatics and one touch'n'go. After 45 minutes he landed, with fine 3-pointer. The plane was refueled and also Pive managed to fly a familirization flight, before the weather got too poor for flying.
Both thought the plane was enjoyable and easy to fly, but suggested us to land in slower speed than the Germans taught. Many Germans had ended up in the fields, after running out of runway when landing with too high speeds.
Now the German leutnant was conviced of our skills and promised our four planes for the next day. I flew my familirization flights with Emil and found it easy and enjoyable to fly. As the day progressed all our pilots managed to fly the Emil at least once. Ehrnrooth, Ervi and Lahtela managed to fly also the Gustav.
The German trainer was amazed to see how our Messerschmitt familization flights progressed without difficulty. The most amazing detail was how our pilots were immediately landing 3-pointers even with the Gustav, requiring less than half of the lenght of runway the Germans needed.

The Germans' proglem with the 1475 HP Gustav was, that they raised the tail immediately after pushing the throttle fully forward. The strong engine created a tendency to swing the tail. When landing the Germans had way too much speed, so it was hard to control to plane when the wheels touched ground and the plane bounced back into air.
On 21st February (1943) I got my second flight with a Emil. I felt ready to move into the Gustav, but the weather turned bad and flights had to be suspended.
Finally the fog lifted, on 27.2., I flew my first flight with Gustav and all others finished their flights with Emils. However, on next day all flights were interrupted, when the German pupils wrecked for Messerschmitts. 1.3. I finally got my second flight with Gustav and I felt ready to continue to the Messerschmitt factory, to get our own planes.

(Snipped. Jumping over the visit at the factory, the parties and singing and return flight towards Finland, though Germany and Baltics.)

The last phase was flown in most perfect weather. We flew a honorary sweep over Helsinki, in tight formation, kind like showing that here we are now, ready to protect you from enemy bombings. The landing to Malmi airport were faultless. The Germans thought the Malmi airfield, with its only partially coated runways, as a hard place. They had lost here many planes, that were transferring towards north (to Luftloffe 5). The local German detachment was waiting for us in the field, with their fire-brigade in readiness, expecting the worst. He had been told that we had only had a few flights in the Messerschmitts. The fire-brigade chief was clearly very relieved after all planes had landed, without mishaps.
- Lauri Pekuri, Finnish fighter ace. 18 1/2 victories. Source: Lauri Pekuri, Hävittäjälentäjä. WSOY 2006, ISBN 951-0-31907-4.

Me 109 G-2:
" Lunch was served at 1100, and while we ate, an instructor sat next to each of us, showing the Messerschmitt manual about speeds and dimensions. While we were eating they told us that now we are in a hurry and you must be sent in the air as soon as possible. As we finished our lunch we went to the airfield at once, each of us was assigned a fighter and we studied the instruments and speeds. After a few random questions we were ordered to take off and we did."
- Did you have any problems (when in training) with the Me 109?
None whatsoever."
- Kyösti Karhila, Finnish fighter ace. 32 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G-2:
"It felt dangerous when we were flying the introductory flights in the Messerschmitt. It was winter and the runway in Suulajärvi was just a narrow strip ploughed in the snow. Then we set about it. It was an insecure feeling, can I stay on the strip. There was no interim types between Brewster and 109 G-2.
You just had to remember to keep her in contact with the ground long enough, you did not try to use too little speed. Then you could control her."
- Jouko "Jussi" Huotari, Finnish fighter ace. 17 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G-2:
"I was in the same situation, switching Morane to Messerschmitt without any interim type. There were three interim types in Utti that I should have flown. But all of them were being repaired, so Capt. Puhakka said, "no, let us leave them alone, have you done your homework about her ? (the Messerschmitt, tr.rem.) "Yes I have" I told. Go ahead, he said, "just remember that a Morane veers to the right and this one veers to the left, be prepared for that". I said, all right, and taxied off. At my first takeoff (with a MT) it was about ten degrees that I veered to the left. I had planned to fly over the hangar no. 1 but ended up flying between the hangars no. 3 and 1. That much difference there was."
- Antti Tani, Finnish fighter ace. 21,5 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G-2:
"On 29.3.1043 after captain Luukkanen and Oberleutnant Götz had briefed me about the technical and flying characteristics of the plane, I flew a 35 minute familiarization flight at 700 meters and made one landing. I had no problems whatsoever, the plane was easy to fly and I had no trouble in landing."
- Joel Savonen, Finnish fighter ace. 8 victories. Source: Memoirs of a reserve military aviator 1934-1945.

Me 109 G-2:
"In 1943 Mauno Fräntilä went to Austria together with 17 other pilots to fly the first Messerschmitts to Finland.
We didn´t know the language. We sat in the cockpit and just looked around. The Germans were standing by our side. The plane was quite new for them as well. After a few introductory flights the Finnish pilots already prepared to fly home. The Germans said hold on and explained that you have not flown enough.
Well, we reminded that there is a war going on in Finland and that we are in a hurry. The planes are needed immediately and so we left."
- Mauno Fräntilä, Finnish fighter ace. 5 1/2 victories. Source: Finnish Virtual Pilots Association: fighter ace Mauno Fräntilä was creating the glory of the war pilots.

At night fighter training in Germany 1944, Me 109 G-6:
"-How was the quality of the training? You previously told that the quality of instrument flying training was really good?
First the Germans put us in a Gotha, which is pretty close to our Tuisku. They probably wanted to see if we could fly at all. Of course we could, as all of us came from combat units. Then we flew Arado a lot. I got about 27 flying hours in a Messerschmitt at the end (with some more in two seater 109 G-12).. When we got to Ludwigslust and got the type training to Messerchmitt, we also did some daytime flying, IFR flying in clouds and gunnery etc. The night flights begun with takeoff and landing rehearsals.
- Did any of the Finns have previous Messerschmitt training before going there?
No, I didn't have any experience. We were taken from these, how should I put it, weaker squadrons. After a quick check it seems that there's only one guy who might have had type training for Messerschmitt. Overall we flew about 80 hours, about half of them in Messerschmitt. But a lot of it was day flying. Cloud flying during daytime."
- In your opinion was the training good enough for night operations?
Yes it was. At least compared to any Finnish training it was good, competent training. Even then, summer of '44. Especially in the way they pressed instrument flying through. You might not think about it, but if you are flying in Finland at night, you can almost always see at least a trace of the horizon. But in Central Europe you can't see it. It's that much darker and there is much more haze in the air, so there's no visual aid from the horizon. It's total instrument flying, from the beginning to the end."
 - Olli Sarantola, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Interview of Olli Sarantola by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G:
" After the war I was the head trainer (in Utti) for the MT's (Messerchmitt 109s). I made up the training program, I could choose my assistants and I took Salmela and Onni Karhunen. That was our club of three, they did all the work and I got all the honor. Since there were no limits, I chose two of the best mechanics. They (trainees) flew appx. 28 hours each.
- About the MT training, how badly did it pull to the side? Was it really difficult to take off?
It was a big problem.
The reason was that the new pilots had flown Pyry before, which was sensitive as hell to fly. Old pilots had Fiat experience, and that one has stiff stick. The usual reason for turning (when taking off) was that they forgot to lock the heel.
If you forgot to lock the heel, the plane began to turn when speeding up. When the plane was taxiing to starting place, the heel was locked from the cockpit and you began to speed up. By pulling the stick you kept the tail in the ground until you felt in the pedals that the plane is responding to the fin. Then you let the tail rise and kept the plane level, until you took off. It wasn't difficult to take off, but if you left the heel to turn freely, the plane began to turn when speeding up, and the results were often destructive.
It was a difficult plane. You had to learn it all over from the beginning, to climb into tree's top from the ground.

- The case of one trainee...
When the training began I said, you take that other plane and we'll fly to Kymi. He started first and I watched him go. Began to turn, hit a ditch and caught fire. I came there, so did the fire squad. But I couldn't go close because he had full armament and the rounds were going off at the nose. I took his burned wallet to his parents later.
When I could look in the cockpit, I saw he had forgotten to lock the heel. I had told this fellow too, many times over. "Always when you increase the throttle, push both brakes to feel if it turns." When the tail wheel brake is open (not locked), it can turn anywhere. And the propeller was so big that it took the plane with it.
This is why I expressed it so much, always remember to lock the tail wheel. It was the main reason why we lost MT's and pilots in take-offs.
- By the way, how was it in start? Heel still down?
The heel was still in the ground... or there was bad visibility to front. All you had to do was to keep the heel down and let go, and when you felt the rudders move, then you let the tail rise."
- Väinö Pokela, Finnish fighter ace and Me 109 trainer. 5 victories. Source: Interview of Väinö Pokela by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G:
"My own experiences with the Me are quite modest, but I didn't have any trouble moving from Pyry trainers to the Mersu. Before my first flight in Me captain Tuormaa made a flight to check if it was ok. Then I climbed at runway 36 into the plane, with its engine running. I took off, made the landing pattern and landed. The landing came from a bit high altitude but there was nothing special on the whole thing."
-Kauko Juvonen, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Me 109 G:
"The worst thing about Me109 was its bad reputation which caused unnecessary nervousness on many (new) pilots. The tendency to swing was related to this. As a plane the Me was a typical wartime fighter equipped with a powerful engine. If you pushed the throttle to full suddenly you might lose control, if the pilot's legs were stiffened because nervousness. But if one was calm, he could control the plane. A cool pilot could easily control the plane's direction and change it when accelerating.
To get rid of this dangerous phenomenan I flew the first flights as the squadron commander in winter 1944, when the squadron was equipped with Messerschmitts. The idea was that "if that old man can do it, then I can do it as well". I did the same at Pori at LentoRykmentti 1 (Flying Regiment 1) in the 1950s, when they were equipped with Messerschmitts. There was no "Messerschmitt scare" and the training proceeded surprisingly well. But when the pilot applied the correct procedures there wasn't any real danger. I didn't notice any special hardships in landings."
-Jorma Karhunen, Finnish fighter ace. 36 1/2 victories, fighter squadron commander. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Me 109 G:
"In my opinion the Messerchmitt's tendendy to swing in takeoff was the result of incorrect training and pilot attitude. Perhaps too hasty takeoffs were sometimes responsible. If you pushed the throttle fully open immediately, the plane tried suddenly to turn right and lean towards the left wing, especially if you had not locked the tailwheel. If the pilot now strongly pushed the left rudder to correct the rightways swing, the plane now started a powerful swing leftwards towards the "Messerschmitt corner". The plane was now hard to control if you didn't use the right brake. But I think the accidents in takeoff were mostly because lack of knowledge and lack of piloting skills."
-Mikko Lallukka, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy"

Me 109 G:
"Väinö Pokela was tasked with the mission of teaching us Brewster pilots into Messerschmitts. I made it in just two familiarization flights directly into the Me squadron, but not all did it. Some had to return to Brewsters.
After the war I had to teach wing-commander Holm to fly the Messerschmitt. I felt that forcing an old man into this was suicide. But order was order. But I knew how to give orders as well. I told him: "You don't force this plane up from the runway, but you let it fly off by itself!" The flight succeeded excellently. It was amazing performance from an old man."
-Heimo Lampi, Finnish fighter ace. 13 1/2 victories. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Me 109 G:
"The performance and handling of the plane were excellent and all systems were in their correct place. Of all different planes I have flown the easiest to fly were the Pyry (advanced trainer) and the Messerschmitt."
- Esko Nuuttila, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Me 109 G:
"Takeoff and landing are known as troublesome, but in my opinion there is much more rumours around than what actually happened. There sure was some tendency to swing and it surely swerved if you didn't take into account. But I got the correct training for Messerchmitt and it helped me during my whole career. It was: "lock tailwheel, open up the throttle smoothly. When the speed increases correct any tendency to swing with your feet. Use the stick normally. Lift the tailwheel and pull plane into the sky.
Training to Me? It depended on the teacher. I got good training. First you had to know all the knobs and meters in the cockpit. Then you got the advice for takeoff and landing. Landing was easy in my opinion. In cold weather it was useful to have some RPMs during the finals and kill throttle just before flaring."
- Atte Nyman, , Finnish fighter ace. 5 victories. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy"

Me 109 G:
My introduction to Messerschmitts was normal. My squadron commander said to me "what are you doing here, you're in wrong squadron. You're to report tomorrow at Utti, to major Luukkanen." I looked at him and "but the Messerschmitt squadron is at Utti…" Ahonius replied "what, isn't that enough to you?" And that night I could barely sleep… Next day I arrived to Utti and major Luukkanen told me that it will take 3-4 days until I can fly my first sortie on Messerscmitt. Lietnant Pokela taught me the little tricks of the Messerschmitt and he was an excellent teacher, telling about the strange plane to me. We had a Morane Saulnier 406 and I made to takeoffs with it, it was said that its takeoff was similar to Messerschmitt's. Finally I got my own MT, MT-206, I climbed to 1000 meters and made to landings. I don't know why but everything felt like I had flown the plane earlier. That's how I learned how to fly with my new tool.
- Pekka Tanner, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Taking off

Bf 109 D:
"The ground control was excellent. Without using the wheel brakes, on the way out to the take-off position, I found that a propeller blast on the rudder brought a surprisingly pleasant reaction, in spite of the fact that the vertical fin and the rudder were both rather small.
The take-off was normal, and I estimated that the ground run was fully one-half the distance used by the Hawker Hurricane and about one-fourth the distance used by the Supermarine Spitfire."
- US Marine Corps major Al Williams. Source: Bf 109D test flight, 1938.

"Care had to be taken to prevent any swing as the combination of narrow-track undercarriage and minimal forward view could easily result in directional problems."
- Eric Brown

Me 109 E:
"(Takeoff) is best done with the flaps at 20 degrees. The throttle can be opened very quickly without fear of choking the engine. Acceleration is good, and there is little tendency to swing or bucket. The stick must be held hard forward to get the tail up. It is advisable to let the airplane fly itself off since, if pulled off too soon, the left wing will not lift, and on applying aileron the wing lifts and falls again, with the ailerons snatching a little. If no attempt is made to pull the airplane off quickly, the take-off run is short, and initial climb good."
- RAF Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) Farnborough handling trials,Bf.109E Wn: 1304. M.B. Morgan and R. Smelt of the RAE, 1944.

Me 109 E-4:
"The tail felt like it should be raised just as the airspeed started to register i.e., at 50-60 kmh. Once the tail was off the runway the familiar extreme change in directional stability became apparent - from almost absolute stability to almost absolute instability. The aircraft flew herself off at 110 kmh."
- Charlie Brown, RAF Flying Instructor, test flight of restored Me 109 E-4 WN 3579. Source: Warbirds Journal issue 50.

Me 109 G-2/G-6:
"You had to be careful in take-off and landing, though. The rudder was small, you shouldn't lift the tail right away, but accelerate gradually and keep the direction with brake. When you felt the rudder had effect, you had no trouble any more. And you shouldn't let it bank at all when landing. Remember that you had a three meter long engine in front of you, a big propellor and narrow landing gear, if it started to roll you had to let loose. "
- Mauno Fräntilä, Finnish fighter ace. 5 1/2 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association: Chief Warrant Officer Mauno Fräntilä.

Me 109 G-6/R6 (with wing cannon pods):
"The forward view for taxying was terrible but at least the aircraft was easily steerable owing to its positive toe pedal-operated wheel brakes, and using 15 deg of flap and 1,3 ata boost the take-off was commendably short and certainly superior to that of the Spitfire IX in distance of run. The strong swing to port could easily be held on rudder, but it was advisable to raise the tail as quickly as possible owing to the poor forward view. This could be done fairly coarsely without fear of the airscrew hitting the ground as the high thrust line of the inverted engine gave ample clearance. The Gustav had to be flown off as any attempt to pull it off the ground early resulted in aileron snatching as the wing slats opened unevenly."
- Eric Brown
- Take notice. That is the first quote on Eric Brown's 109 G fligt test report, where he speaks about the slats and the aileron snatch. So what? If you try to take off with too little airspeed something strange and surprising is sure to happen! The plane will rock and no wonder if slats open unevenly. Yet, Brown does not describe anything catastropic here, just normal aircraft behaviour. Also, the plane is equipped with cannon pods and its engine is limited to 1,3 ata boost, making it inferior to a normal Me 109 G-6.

Me 109 G:
"-About the tendency of the Messerschmitt to veer at start and takeoff. This is a mythical subject. Some say it was very difficult, others say that as long as you knew what you were doing it was an easy to control plane.
It was not difficult if you had a good instructor who told you what she would do. And you can control her if you only hold the tailwheel on the ground and let her up not until there is enough speed for you to feel the vertical rudder having effect.
- In Tampere in a meeting of Ilmasilta I met two younger Messerschmitt pilots who had been trained in 1946: one of them had the opinion that there were two styles of takeoff: one veering and one not veering. Some applied full power at once, treading on the right pedal. Others applied power slowly and allowed the thousand hp.s pull the plane up at leisure. "She took off by that method too".
"You moved the power lever slowly and as you felt that the vertical rudder responds, the tail could be allowed to rise and then she took off on her own."
- Kyösti Karhila, Finnish fighter ace. 32 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.
 
Me 109 G:
"Antti Tani: The first starts were often risky for many pilots. Many of them went in the forest, there was a "Messerschmitt corner " at Utti.
Jussi Huotari: If they allowed the plane to lose ground contact at underspeed, she was gone.
Antti Tani: Yes, you could no more control her.
- So you had to keep the tailwheel on the ground long enough ?
Jussi Huotari: The wheels had to be kept in contact with the ground.
Antti Tani: Even if you did that she tried to (veer off). First you kept the tail on the ground, then picked up some speed and after the tail lifted you kept her straight with pedal.
Jussi Huotari: And you had to keep the ground contact until the rudder responded, you had to take enough speed to be able to control her. She kept veering to the left. There is the Messerschmitt corner in Utti.
Antti Tani: Yes, I wonder how many planes crashed there? Must have been five or six at least."
- Antti Tani, Finnish fighter ace. 21,5 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.
- Jouko "Jussi" Huotari, Finnish fighter ace. 17 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G:
"- The Messerschmitt was very sensitive if you forgot to lock the tailwheel, wasn't she ?
 That is true, she would turn very quickly."
- Jouko "Jussi" Huotari, Finnish fighter ace. 17 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.
 
Me 109 G-6:
"Only on takeoff, if you raised the tailwheel before you had enough speed to control the yaw with the rudder, you would be in serious trouble. The torque of the prop would take over and the plane would veer to the side. Without enough speed to control it with the rudder, this usually lead to a broken plane. Therefore it was important to keep the tailwheel down until you had enough speed for rudder control. Flying and landing was easy. Like it is well known, many young pilots wrecked MT's on takeoff, usually because they lifted the tailwheel too soon."
- Olli Sarantola, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Blitz '01 - Meeting With The Veterans by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G-2:
"To my understanding the right tire had slightly less pressure than the left. So if you increased the throttle too slowly at take-off, the plane tried to swerve to right - you had to correct it before the real tendency of swerving to left came into effect. The type G6 was much better than G2 regarding this behavior. Anyway: experience made this problem small or outright eliminated it."
-Lasse Kilpinen, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy"

Me 109 G-2/G-6:
The plane had the tendency for swerving to the left during the take-off, but if this led to an accident, it was purely the fault of the pilot.
- Aulis Rosenlöf, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Me 109 G-6:
There was only one way to keep the swerving in control during take-offs: Fully open up the throttle with firm and swift movement, because you needed good airflow for the control surfaces from the very start. Keeping the tailwheel on the ground eliminated the initial swerving to the right, compensating that with left rudder would have been very dangerous. Swerving to left started as soon as the tail was raised and this had to be compensated with full right rudder, pushing the rudder to the very bottom. The plane would leave the ground in level flight without pulling the stick.
- Torsti Tallgren, Finnish post war fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Me 109 G-6:
I didn't regard the swerving during take-offs as anything special. In my opinion, the accidents were caused by poor training.
- Martti Uottinen, Finnish war bomber pilot, post war fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Me 109 G-6:
The cooling system was a little too tricky, you had to do taxiing with high rpm to ensure the cooling to work.
The take-off was executed in following way: Hand was placed lightly to the stick, stick to center position. Slowly open up the throttle, revs would increase gradually. Small directional corrections were done with brakes. As the speed increased, the tail would come up on its own, and the nose was held horizontal with light stick movement. Plane would take off from this position without any further control at the take-off speed. If the take-off was performed like this, the plane went like on rails, without the smallest swerve.
The takeoff and landing accidents were largely result from lack of experience in training. People didn't know what to do and how to do it. As a result the plane was respected too much, and pilots were too careful. The plane carried the man, and the man didn't control his plane.
- Erkki O. Pakarinen, Finnish fighter pilot, Finnish Air Force trainer. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Me 109 G:
"109 needs a lot of power to get moving so you need to allow the engine to warm a little before you pile the power onto it. Power up to 1800 RPM and suddenly we're rolling... power back... to turn, stick forward against the instrument panel to lighten the tail. A blast of throttle and a jab of brakes. Do this in a Spitfire and you are on your nose ! The '109 however is very tail heavy and is reluctant to turn - you can very easily lock up a wheel. If you do not use the above technique you will charge off across the airfield in a straight line ! Forward view can only be described as apalling, and due to the tail/brake arrangement this makes weaving more difficult than on other similar types. I prefer to taxy with the hood open to help this a little.
Pretake off checks... Elevator trim set to +1 degrees, no rudder trim, throttle friction light. This is vital as I'm going to need to use my left hand for various services immediately after take-off. Mixture is automatic, pitch fully fine... fuel - I know we're full (85 gallons); the gauge is unserviceable again, so I'm limited to a maximum of 1 hour 15 minutes cruise or 1 hour if any high power work is involved. Fuel/Oil **** is ON, both boost pumps are ON, pressure is good, primer is done up. Flaps - crank down to 20 degrees for take off. Rad flaps checked at full open; if we take off with them closed we will certainly boil the engine and guaranteeed to crack the head. Gyro's set to Duxford's runway. Instruments; temps and pressures all in the green for take off. Radiator is now 102 degrees. Oxygen we don't have, hood rechecked down and locked, harness tight and secure, hydraulics select down in the gear and pressurise the system check 750 psi. Controls full and free, tail wheel locked. Got to go - 105 degrees. There's no time to hang around and worry about the take off. Here we go... Power gently up and keep it coming smoothly up to +8 (46")... it's VERY noisy ! Keep the tail down initially, keep it straight by feel rather than any positive technique... tail coming up now... once the rudders effective. Unconcious corrections to the rudder are happening all the time. It's incredcibly entertaining to watch the '109 take off or land. The rudder literally flashes around ! The alternative technique (rather tongue in cheek) is Walter Eichorn's, of using full right rudder throughout the take-off roll and varying the swing with the throttle!
The little fighter is now bucketing along, accelerating rapidly. As the tail lifts there is a positive tendancy to swing left - this can be checked easily however, although if you are really agressive lifting the tail it is difficult to stop and happens very quickly. Now the tail's up and you can see vagualy where you are going. It's a rough, wild, buckety ride on grass and with noise, smoke from the stakcs and the aeroplane bouncing around it's exciting !
Quick glance at the ASI - 100 mph, slight check back on the stick and we're flying. Hand off the throttle, rotate the gear selector and activate the hydraulic button. The mechanical indicators motor up very quickly and you feel a clonk, clonk as the gear comes home. Relect Neutral on the undercarriage selector. Quick look out at the wings and you see the slats fully out, starting to creep in as the airspeed increases and the angle of attack reduces.
Start to frantically crank the flap up - now up the speeds, increasing through 150, power back to +6 (42") and 2650 for the climb. Plenty of airflow through the narrow radiators now, so close them and remember to keep a careful eye on the coolant gauge for the next few minutes until the temperature has settled down. With the rad flaps closed the aircraft accelerates postively. I'm aware as we climb that I'm holding in a little right rudder to keep the tail in the middle, but the foot loads are light, and it's no problems. Level off and power back to +4(38") and 2000 RPM. The speed's picked up to the '109 cruise of about 235-240 mph and now the tail is right in the middle and no rudder input is necessary."
- Mark Hanna of the Old Flying Machine Company flying the OFMC Messerschmitt Bf 109 G (Spanish version).

Me 109 G:
"There was only one correct procedure. Open up the throttle calmly and quickly fully open, because you needed prop wash and airspeed to control  the plane. The temptation to wash left was negated by keeping the tail wheel down at the runway for a moment. It would have been extremerely dangerous to correct the twist by pushing left rudder. Push the stick to raise tail, now the plane tried to twist left. Push right rudder fully down, to the last centimeter - now the plane rolled steadily straight ahead. The right pedal was relatively heavy first, but the force lessened as speed increased, so you could slowly ease up on the rudder. No aileron control was needed to correct the twist. Raise the wheels and start climbing normally."
- Torsti Tallgren, Finnish post war fighter pilot. Source: Interview of Torsti Tallgren by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G:
- How badly did it pull to the side? Was it really difficult to take off?
It was a big problem.
The usual reason for turning (when taking off) was that they forgot to lock the tail wheel.
If you forgot to lock the heel, the plane began to turn when speeding up. When the plane was taxiing to starting place, the heel was locked from the cockpit and you began to speed up. By pulling the stick you kept the tail in the ground until you felt in the pedals that the plane is responding to the fin. Then you let the tail rise and kept the plane level, until you took off. It wasn't difficult to take off, but if you left the heel to turn freely, the plane began to turn when speeding up, and the results were often destructive.
This is why I expressed it so much, always remember to lock the tail wheel. It was the main reason why we lost MT's and pilots in take-offs.
All you had to do was to keep the heel down and let go, and when you felt the rudders move, then you let the tail rise."
- Väinö Pokela, Finnish fighter ace and Me 109 trainer. 5 victories. Source: Interview of Väinö Pokela by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G:
"Before starting the engine one you had to set the propeller pitch to small, as otherwise the plane would start to swerve left as soon as the tailwheel was raised from the ground. There was nothing special in landing the plane. It was heavy but the wing slats opened up when speed slowed down and helped flying in slow speed."
-Kullervo Joutseno, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Me 109 G:
"I didn't notice the tendency of swerving towards left on take-offs, or I never saw it either - but I had heard of such a thing. "
-Kauko Juvonen, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Me 109 G:
"As a plane the Me was a typical wartime fighter equipped with a powerful engine. If you pushed the throttle to full suddenly you might lose control, if the pilot's legs were stiffened because nervousness. But if one was calm, he could control the plane. A cool pilot could easily control the plane's direction and change it when accelerating. When the pilot applied the correct procedures there wasn't any real danger."
-Jorma Karhunen, Finnish fighter ace. 36 1/2 victories, fighter squadron commander. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Me 109 G:
"In my opinion the Messerchmitt's tendendy to swing in takeoff was the result of incorrect training and pilot attitude. Perhaps too hasty takeoffs were sometimes responsible. If you pushed the throttle fully open immediately, the plane tried suddenly to turn right and lean towards the left wing, especially if you had not locked the tailwheel. If the pilot now strongly pushed the left rudder to correct the rightways swing, the plane now started a powerful swing leftwards towards the "Messerschmitt corner". The plane was now hard to control if you didn't use the right brake. But I think the accidents in takeoff were mostly because lack of knowledge and lack of piloting skills. We certainly didn't think about swinging, when we left to our last patrol mission, 17.10.1953, taking off in a close formation of four Messerschmitts.
At Utti air base were had a "seven point rule", that we had to follow before takeoff. We had to check the cockpit hood, trim position, flap position, tailwheel lock, make sure the propeller was on automatic and the overheat circuit breakers activated."
-Mikko Lallukka, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy"

Me 109 G:
"Good in the Me? Good flying characterics, powerful engine and good take-off and landing characterics.
Takeoff: if you pushed full throttle immediately and your tailwheel was still at ground, the plane carries away to the right. When speed increases the electrical propeller pitch control system increased the pitch and the plane started to swing strongly leftwards. So if the pilot wasn't careful here, the plane might get loose. But because I had been warned about this I never had any problems when taking off or landing in the Me."
- Onni Kuuluvainen, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Me 109 G:
"I never suffered any tendency to swing in takeoff, because I had patience to keep the tailwheel on ground until the small sized rudder could keep the plane in wanted heading. All high powered single engine propeller planes, especially with large blades, have swing effect when you increase power suddenly. This tendency had to be eliminated following the instructions given by the manufacturer."
-Hemmo Leino, Finnish fighter ace. 11 victories. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Me 109 G:
"Takeoff: the swerve (to left) was easy to control if one remembered to lock the tail wheel, open the throttle slowly (movement range of the throttle was really short) and didn't raise the tail up too early."
-Otso Leskinen, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Me 109 G:
"I didn't feel the tendency to swing in takeoff was troublesome. I think they were exaggerated by a large margin. MT could "sit down" on field easily, without any problems. Of all different planes I have flown the easiest to fly were the Pyry (advanced trainer) and the Messerschmitt."
- Esko Nuuttila, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Me 109 G:
"Takeoff and landing are known as troublesome, but in my opinion there is much more rumours around than what actually happened. There sure was some tendency to swing and it surely swerved if you didn't take into account. But I got the correct training for Messerchmitt and it helped me during my whole career. It was: "lock tailwheel, open up the throttle smoothly. When the speed increases correct any tendency to swing with your feet. Use the stick normally. Lift the tailwheel and pull plane into the sky."
- Atte Nyman, , Finnish fighter ace. 5 victories. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy"

Me 109 G:
I noticed that people always kept warning about the swing at takeoff. I never let it do so, maybe I resisted it automatically. Visibility forwards was minimal during landing approach.
- Kauko Risku, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Me 109 G:
The best things in the plane were its speed compared to the contemporary planes, and its weapons. The worst was perhaps the tendency to turn during take-offs, which was because the plane's horizontal and vertical stabilizers were of small size. One a young ensign made a takeoff: he was supposed to take off from Luonetjärvi's runway 31, but when he got up he had swerwed 90 degrees left from his original direction.
The best way to takeoff was to increase throttle slowly and push the stick at the same time, so the tail had enough airstream.
There wasn't any special problems with landing.
- Reino Suhonen, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Me 109 G:
Takeoff with Messerchmitt: after stepping into cockpit check following: belt locked, hood locked, tail wheel locked, start engine, propeller to manual at 12 o'clock, open radiator flaps on manual, radio open, check fuses, check altitude meter (at 0 meters). If you have to roll to starting position swerve to see ahead. Before takeoff set full brakes, calmly increase throttle to normal RPM and decrease it. Continue: release brakes, maximum RPM, propeller to automatic, increase speed to 100-120 km/h, raise tail, when speed is 180-200 km/h the plane lifts off by itself, raise gear, flaps in. Throttle to cruise speed, check meters, make sure radiator flaps are on automatic. If all ok, continue mission.
- Pekka Tanner, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Landing the 109

** Muistaakseni Lentäjän näkökulma sanoi, että laskuun voi tulla kahdella tapaa, kovaa ja hiljaa. Kovaa tullen ajetaan niin, että solat pysyy kiinni ja hiljaa tullessa pudotetaan vauhti jo korkealla, jolloin kellutaan alas solat auki vakaasti.

Bf 109 D:
"The controls, sensitive ailerons, and tail group were fully effective to the time the wheels touched the ground. So much for that."
- US Marine Corps major Al Williams. Source: Bf 109D test flight, 1938.

Me 109 E:
"Stalling speeds on the glide are 75 mph flaps up, and 61 mph flaps down. Lowering the flaps makes the ailerons feel heavier and slightly less effective, and causes a marked nose-down pitching moment, readily corrected owing to the juxtaposition of trim and flap operating wheels. If the engine is opened up to simulate a baulked landing with flaps and undercarriage down, the airplane becomes tail-heavy but can easily be held with one hand while trim is adjusted. Normal approach speed is 90 mph. At speeds above 100 mph, the pilot has the impression of diving, and below 80 mph one of sinking. At 90 mph the glide path is reasonably steep and the view fairly good. Longitudinally the airplane is markedly stable, and the elevator heavier and more responsive than is usual in single-seater fighters. These features add considerably to the ease of approach. Aileron effectiveness is adequate; the rudder is sluggish for small movements.
(Landing) This is more difficult than on the Hurricane I or Spitfire I. Owing to the high ground attitude, the airplane must be rotated through a large angle before touchdown, and this requires a fair amount of skill. If a wheel landing is done the left wing tends to drop just before touchdown, and if the ailerons are used to lift it, they snatch, causing over-correction. The brakes can be applied immediately after touchdown without fear of lifting the tail. The ground run is short, with no tendency to swing. View during hold-off and ground run is very poor, and landing at night would not be easy."
- RAF Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) Farnborough handling trials,Bf.109E Wn: 1304. M.B. Morgan and R. Smelt of the RAE, 1944.

Me 109 E-4:
"I established a speed of 200 kmh to enter the downwind leg, 150 at the end of the downwind, a curving final approach aiming to reduce speed to 130 kmh halfway around, 120 kmh with 30 degreed to go to the centreline and a threshold speed of 110 kmh with a dribble of power to stabilise the rate of speed decay.
Compare this with Black 6 (109 G) where I aimed to be at 200 kmh at the end of the downwind leg and not less than 165 kmh at the threshold."
- Charlie Brown, RAF Flying Instructor, test flight of restored Me 109 E-4 WN 3579. Source: Warbirds Journal issue 50.

Me 109 G:
"Once the tailwheel was firmly on the ground the brakes could be applied quite harshly, thus giving a short landing run, but care had to be taken to prevent any swing as the combination of narrow-track undercarriage and minimal forward view could easily result in directional problems."
- Eric Brown
- That is the only mention about the narrow undercarriage. Take notice that even this is just an objective note and Brown doesn't say anything else about it.

Landing battle damaged Me 109 G-2:
"I did my best landing ever. Wind blew from the right and the plane tends to veer to that direction. I hit the left brake but it was all slack. No response, but giving brief bursts of power with the engine I managed to create enough slipstream to keep the plane in straight course. Then I saw I cannot use any more power or I shall hit the tree stumps at the far end of the runway. I cut the ignition and said to myself, here we go.
By the by the plane began to veer to the right, at an ever faster rate and then the tail went up, the soil off the runway was soft. The tail went up, then the plane began to tilt to the left, the left wingtip, a 50cm piece hit the ground with a crunch and was bent. The plane was just about to nose over, but not even the prop did contact the ground, and the plane stopped there in the normal position."
- Kyösti Karhila, Finnish fighter ace. 32 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G-2/G-6:
- Pokela has told me that he took special care to teach the proper take-off and landing on the Me. How about the Germans, I've heard they didn't believe you could fit the planes in our small fields?
"They spoke of how the final approach speed should be 220 km/h. That would overshoot the field, we said. We landed at 180. "
- Mauno Fräntilä, Finnish fighter ace. 5 1/2 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association: Chief Warrant Officer Mauno Fräntilä.

Me 109 G-6:
In landing the Me was stable. The leading edge slats were quick and reliable, and they prevented the plane from lurching in slow speeds and made it possible to make "stall landings" to short fields. The problem in landings was the long nose, so the plane was partly controlled by touch in the final seconds of landing.
- Torsti Tallgren, Finnish post war fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Me 109 G:
"-Was the Messerschmitt difficult to land?
She was not difficult to land but after touchdown you must not let her curve. In Malmi there was a 10 by 10 m spot where German night fighter pilots broke at least six of their Messerschmitts. After touchdown they had veered to the right and the plane tilted to the left until the wingtip and prop contacted the ground. Yet they had logged thousands of hours with the Messerschmitt. In the night they flew like angels and landed without any veering, but in daytime they couldn't do anything."
- Kyösti Karhila, Finnish fighter ace. 32 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G-6:
"The Me was stable on landings. The quickly reacing automatic wing slats  negated any swaying on slow speeds and made it possible to make "stall landings" to small fields. The problem in stall landings was the long nose, which hindered visibility forward. Because this controlling at the last stages of landing was done partly by sense of touch on the controls."
- Torsti Tallgren, Finnish post war fighter pilot. Source: Interview of Torsti Tallgren by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G-6:
Landing was slightly problematic if the approach was straight, with slight overspeed at about 180 km/h. Landing was extremely easy and pleasing when done with shallow descending turn, as then you could see easily the landing point. You had a little throttle, speed 150-160 km/h, 145 km/h at final. You controlled the descent speed with the engine and there was no problems, the feeling was the same as with Stieglitz. If I recall correctly the Me "sits down" at 140-142 km/h.
The takeoff and landing accidents were largely result from lack of experience in training. People didn't know what to do and how to do it. As a result the plane was respected too much, and pilots were too careful. The plane carried the man, and the man didn't control his plane.
- Erkki O. Pakarinen, Finnish fighter pilot, Finnish Air Force trainer. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Me 109 G:
"Speed at 150 knots or less, gear select to DOWN and activate the button and feel the gear come down asymmetrically. Check the mechanical indicators (ignore the electric position indicators), pitch fully fine... fuel - both boost pumps ON. If you have less than 1/4 fuel and the rear pump is not on the engine may stop in the three-point attitude. Rad flaps to full open and wings flaps to 10 degrees to 15 degrees. As the wing passes the threshold downwind - take all the power off and roll into the finals turn, cranking the flap like mad as you go. The important things is to set up a highish rate of descent, curved approach. The aircraft is reluctant to lose speed around finals so ideally you should initiate the turn quite slow at about 100-105. Slats normally deploy half way round finals but you the pilot are not aware they have come out. The ideal is to keep turning with the speed slowly bleeding, and roll out at about 10 feet at the right speed and just starting to transition to the three point attitude, the last speed I usually see is just about 90; I'm normally too busy to look after that!
The '109 is one of the most controllable aircraft that I have flown at slow speed around finals, and provided you don't get too slow is one of the easiest to three point. It just feels right ! The only problem is getting it too slow. If this happens you end up with a very high sink rate, very quickly and absolutely no ability to check or flare to round out. It literally falls out of your hands !
Once down on three points the aircraft tends to stay down - but this is when you have to be careful. The forward view has gone to hell and you cannot afford to let any sort of swing develop. The problem is that the initial detection is more difficult. The aeroplane is completely unpredictable and can diverge in either direction. There never seems to be any pattern to this. Sometimes the most immaculate three pointer will turn into a potential disaster half way through the landing roll. Other times a ropey landing will roll thraight as an arrow!"
- Mark Hanna of the Old Flying Machine Company flying the OFMC Messerschmitt Bf 109 G (Spanish version).

Me 109 G:
"I didn't notice any special hardships in landings."
-Jorma Karhunen, Finnish fighter ace. 36 1/2 victories, fighter squadron commander. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Me 109 G-2:
"Landing was normal."
-Lasse Kilpinen, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy"

Me 109 G:
"It was beneficial to keep the throttle a little open when landing. This made the landings softer and almost all three-point landings were successful with this technique. During landings the leading edge slats were fully open. But there was no troubles in landing even with throttle at idle."
-Mikko Lallukka, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy"

Me 109 G:
"Good in the Me? Good flying characterics, powerful engine and good take-off and landing characterics."
- Onni Kuuluvainen, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Me 109 G:
"Landing: landing glide using engine power and the following light wheel touchdown was easy and non-problematic. I didn't have any trouble in landings even when a tire exploded in my first Messerschmitt flight."
-Otso Leskinen, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Me 109 G:
"MT could "sit down" on field easily, without any problems. Of all different planes I have flown the easiest to fly were the Pyry (advanced trainer) and the Messerschmitt."
- Esko Nuuttila, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Me 109 G:
"Takeoff and landing are known as troublesome, but in my opinion there is much more rumours around than what actually happened. There sure was some tendency to swing and it surely swerved if you didn't take into account. But I got the correct training for Messerchmitt and it helped me during my whole career. It was: "lock tailwheel, open up the throttle smoothly. When the speed increases correct any tendency to swing with your feet. Use the stick normally. Lift the tailwheel and pull plane into the sky.
Training to Me? It depended on the teacher. I got good training. First you had to know all the knobs and meters in the cockpit. Then you got the advice for takeoff and landing. Landing was easy in my opinion. In cold weather it was useful to have some RPMs during the finals and kill throttle just before flaring."
- Atte Nyman, , Finnish fighter ace. 5 victories. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy"

Me 109 G:
There wasn't any special problems with landing.
- Reino Suhonen, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Me 109 G:
Landing: approach field with about 250 km/h speed. When turning to landing direction slow down to 200-210 and always try to land as close to the beginning of runway as possible, so you won't have problems in small fields. Gear is out, flaps out, radiator open - those operations were done at 220-240 km/h speed. Bring plane to landing direction's center and sit down on three points at 180 km/h.
- Pekka Tanner, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

109 undercarriage

"The 109 had a big drawback, which I didn't like from the start. It was that rackety - I always said rackety - undercarriage; that negative, against-the-rules-of-statics undercarriage that allowed the machine to swing away."
- Generalleutnant Werner Funck, Inspector of Fighters, 1939.

ME 109 E/F/G:
"The 109 had not for us, maybe not for the long time pilots of the 109, but the new comers had problems starting with the gear.  You know it was a high, narrow gear.  And we had many ground loops. And then the gear breaks. That is not a norm, this is a exception, but it anyway happens. "
- Major Gunther Rall. German fighter ace, NATO general, Commander of the German Air Force. 275 victories. Source: Lecture by general Rall.

Me 109 G-6:
The locking mechanism of the landing gear was unreliable. The gear locking mechanism's indicator was mechanical, so it was best to kick the plane sideways to both directions before landing to be sure that the gear was surely locked.
- Martti Uottinen, Finnish war bomber pilot, post war fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Stalling the 109

Me 109 E:
"The airplane was equipped with a 60 foot trailing static head and a swiveling pitot head. Although, as may be imagined, operation of a trailing static from a single-seater with a rather cramped cockpit is a difficult job, the pilot brought back the following results:
Lowering the ailerons and flaps thus increases CL max of 0.5. This is roughly the value which would be expected from the installation. Behaviour at the stall. The airplane was put through the full official tests. The results may be summarized by saying that the stalling behaviour, flaps up and down, is excellent. Both rudder and ailerons are effective right down to the stall, which is very gentle, the wing only falling about 10 degrees and the nose falling with it. There is no tendency to spin. With flaps up the ailerons snatch while the slats are opening, and there is a buffeting on the ailerons as the stall is approached.. Withs flaps down there is no aileron snatch as the slats open, and no pre-stall aileron buffeting. There is no warning of the stall, flaps down. From the safety viewpoint this is the sold adverse stalling feature; it is largely off-set by the innocuous behaviour at the stall and by the very high degree of fore and aft stability on the approach glide.
It is important to bear in mind that minimum radii of turn are obtained by going as near to the stall as possible. In this respect the Bf.109E scores by its excellent control near the stall and innocuous behaviour at the stall, giving the pilot confidence to get the last ounce out of his airplanes turning performance."
- RAF Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) Farnborough handling trials,Bf.109E Wn: 1304. M.B. Morgan and R. Smelt of the RAE, 1944.

Me 109 E-4:
"I was amazed at how docile the aircraft was and how difficult it was to depart, particularly from manoeuvre - in a level turn there was lots of warning from a wide buffet margin and the aircraft would not depart unless it was out of balance. Once departted the aircraft was recovered easily by centralizing the controls."
- Charlie Brown, RAF Flying Instructor, test flight of restored Me 109 E-4 WN 3579. Source: Warbirds Journal issue 50.

Me 109 G:
"- How the Messerschmitt reacted to hard pull? Did she stall?
There is the general opinion that you could not make her stall by pulling but she could 'slip'."
- Kyösti Karhila, Finnish fighter ace. 32 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Flying Messerschmitt 109:

Me 109 E-4:
"I was amazed at how docile the aircraft was and how difficult it was to depart, particularly from manoeuvre - in a level turn there was lots of warning from a wide buffet margin and the aircraft would not depart unless it was out of balance. Once departted the aircraft was recovered easily by centralizing the controls. I established a recommended minimum looping speed of 450 kmh and found that the gearing of the propellor control was just right for looping with a little practise it was easy to keep the RPM at 2300 throughout looping manoeuvres. I would not however describe looping as easy. The ailerons were light and extremerely effective. The rate of roll is at least 50 % faster than a Mk V Spitfire with full span wingtips. During the VNE dive I achieved an IAS of 660 kmh. The original limit was 750 kmh. I was only limited by the height avalable, not by any feature of the aircraft which was extremerely smooth and stable at 660 kmh."
- Charlie Brown, RAF Flying Instructor, test flight of restored Me 109 E-4 WN 3579. Source: Warbirds Journal issue 50.

Me 109 G:
- How difficult was it to control the 109 in high velocities, 600 kmh and above?
The Messerschmitt became stiff to steer not until the speed exceeded 700kmh.  The control column was as stiff as it had been fastened with tape, you could not use the ailerons. Yet you could control the plane."
-  Kyösti Karhila, Finnish fighter ace. 32 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G:
"-Someone asked of the top speed of the Me. Mr Väinö Pokela told earlier it's 720 km/h, when I interviewed him.
Normally we flew the Me at 500 km/h, but at a tough spot we could go some 600 km/h. But the absolute speed limit is found in dive. I had to do some over 900 km/h dives. The speedometer scale ends at 900, and at that you feel the flutter effect in the wings. Guess it was very near the top speed, when the plane felt like falling apart."
- Edvald Estama, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Recollections by Eino and Edvald Estama by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G:
"Sarantola recalled that the MT was a very stable plane, but not the most maneuverable. The stick forces were quite large and elevator trim was used quite frequently while maneuvering.
MT was easy to fly and overall a safe plane. Flying and landing was easy."
- Olli Sarantola, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Blitz '01 - Meeting With The Veterans by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Bf 109 D:
"I have my own little formula to be followed in flying a new ship, and I stick to it religiously. Leaving the landing gear extended, I climbed up to about a thousand feet, set the propeller blades at the required high pitch, checked the engine instruments, and then slowed the engine down. The air speed indicator, of course, was calibrated in kilometres. I slowed the ship down to about 130 kilometres, pulled the nose up, and let it fall away.
Repeating the motion again by pulling the nose of the ship up this time beyond the stalling angle, I watched it sink evenly and steadily, with no hint of crankiness.
Flying along at about 20 miles above stalling speed, the ailerons had excellent control along with a fully effective rudder and elevator. This was all I could ask. A few turns to the right and to the left at reduced speed, a couple of side slips, and I was ready to come in for my first landing. It has always been my practice, irrespective of the new type of ship I'm flying, to take off, go through such procedures to become adjusted to its flight characteristics, and then go around for the first landing within two minutes after the take-off.
I was amazed when I brought the Messerschmitt around, tipped it over on one side, and slid toward the ground. Leveling out we got away with a three-point landing with the air-speed indicator reading about 105 kilometres per hour. The Me109 was an easy ship to fly, and with one landing behind me, we went to work - or rather to play.
I said this Messerschmitt was fast. The Germans had said so, too, to the tune of 350 to 360 mph, and their claims were demonstrated to be accurate. It is also interesting to note, in 1940, that the British concede the Messerschmitts to be good for 354 mph.
The most delightful features of the Messerschmitt were, first, in spite of its remarkably sensitive reaction to the controls, the ship showed no disposition to wander or "yaw" as we call it; neither was there any tendency to "hunt". It was a ship where the touch of a pianist would be right in keeping with the fineness of the response. And, likewise, I am sure that any ham-handed pilot who handled the controls in brutal fashion would soon be made to feel ashamed of himself.
Seldom do we find a single-seater that does not stiffen up on the controls as the ship is pushed to and beyond its top speed.
I checked the control reaction in three stages - one as I have already mentioned, slightly above the stalling speed, and the controls worked beautifully.
In the second stage, about cruising speed, a movement of the control stick brought just exactly the reaction to be expected. And at high speed, wide open, the control sensitivity checked most satisfactorily.
Then I wanted one more check and that was at the bottom of the dive where the speed would be in excess of that ship's straightaway performance. So down we went about 2,000 feet with the air speed indicator amusing itself by adding a lot of big numbers - to a little over 400 mph. A gentle draw back on the control effected recovery from the dive; then up the other side of the hill.
It was at that point that I subjected the ailerons to a critical test. I had pulled out of the dive around 400 mph and had started in a left-hand climbing turn. The ship was banked to about 40 degrees with the left wing low.
I touched the right rudder, pressed forward on it slowly but steadily, moving the control stick to the right, and that Messerschmitt actually snapped out of the left-hand climbing turn into a righthanded climbing turn. That satisfied me. From there on, I tried every acrobatic maneuver I had ever executed in any other single-seater fighter with the exception of the outside loop and the inverted loop."
- US Marine Corps major Al Williams. Source: Bf 109D test flight, 1938.

Bf 109 D:
"I got in the cockpit while one of the officers described the instruments and controls. The greatest complication lay in the necessity of adjusting the propeller pitch for take-off, cruising, and diving. Then there were the controls for the flaps, the retracting gear, for flying above 2,000 metres, for locking and unlocking the tail wheel, and for the other usual devices on a modern pursuit plane. After studying the cockpit I got out and put on a parachute, while a mechanic started the engine. Then, after taxying slowly down to the starting point, I took off.
The plane handled beautifully. I spent a quarter of an hour familiarising myself with the instruments and controls, then spent 15 minutes more doing manoeuvres of various types - rolls, dives, Immelmanns, etc. After half an hour I landed, took off again, circled the field, and landed a second time. Then I taxied back to the line. The 109 takes off and lands as easily as it flies."
- Charles Lindbergh, October 1938. US Marine Corps major Al Williams, Bf 109D test flight 1938.

109 G:
"The roll rate is very good and very positive below about 250 mph. Above 250 mph however the roll starts to heavy up and up to 300 or so is very similar to a P-51. After that it's all getting pretty solid and you need two hands on the stick for any meaningfull roll rates. Pitch is also delighful at 250 mph and below. It feels very positve and the amount of effort on the control column needed to produce the relevant nose movement seems exactly right to me. The aircraft is perfectly happy carrying out low-level looping maneuvers from 300 mph and below. Above 300 mph one peculiarity is a slight nose down trim change as you accelerate. The rudder is effective and if medium feel up to 300. It becomes heavier above this speed but regardless the lack of rudder trim is not a problem for the type of operations we carry out with the aeroplane."
- Mark Hanna of the Old Flying Machine Company flying the OFMC Messerschmitt Bf 109 G (Spanish version).

Me 109 G:
"I got about 150 hours and over 30 aerial combats on the Messerschmitt 109. It was a fine "pilot's airplane" and there was no big complaints about the technical side, as long as you operated it within envelope, inside the performance parameters. It is hard to find any negative things about the plane from pilot's perspective when taking the development of technology into account."
-Hemmo Leino, Finnish fighter ace. 11 victories. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Me 109 G:
"The speed, rate of climb and armament were suberb compared to our other planes. The best feature was the excellent rate of climb.
Comparing the flying characteristics against the FIAT G.50, the Me109G was just a weapons platform, albeit a great one. "
-Kullervo Joutseno, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Me 109 G-2:
"Best things in the Me: speed, power and climb. Weaponry was good, as well as the control systems and radio. The turning ability was poor (when compared to other FiAF types, like Brewster, Curtiss Hawk and Fiat)."
-Lasse Kilpinen, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy"

Me 109 G:
"For the pilot the plane was definitely a good package. The climb rate was good as well as the cannon and machinegun weaponry."
-Mikko Lallukka, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy"

Me 109 G:
"Good in the Me? Good flying characterics, powerful engine and good take-off and landing characterics."
- Onni Kuuluvainen, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Me 109 G:
"I got about 150 hours and over 30 aerial combats on the Messerschmitt 109. It was a fine "pilot's airplane" and there was no big complaints about the technical side, as long as you operated it within envelope, inside the performance parameters. It is hard to find any negative things about the plane from pilot's perspective."
-Hemmo Leino, Finnish fighter ace. 11 victories. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Me 109 G:
"The Me had good speed and rate of climb. It was easy and steady to control in all conditions of flight. Worse was the poor controls in longitudinal stability, especially in higher speeds.
In the war skies the Messerscmitt was stiff and wasn't fit for turning combat against more agile opponents. "Strike and out" was a good rule. We didn't have time for acrobatics but we weren't forbidden from doing them, though. Snap roll was fast and easy, and the engine didn't cough as in older planes. Immelman turn was splendid when you tightened the stick a bit on the top. The automatic wing slats did their trick and you didn't need ailerons at all for straightening the plane."
-Otso Leskinen, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Me 109 G:
"It was amazing feeling to take off in Messerschmitt after the Fiat (G.50). It was gung ho and no hesitation! The performance and handling of the plane were excellent and all systems were in their correct place. Of all different planes I have flown the easiest to fly were the Pyry (advanced trainer) and the Messerschmitt."
- Esko Nuuttila, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Me 109 G:
"It was responsive to controls and suited well to the "pendulum tactics".
- Atte Nyman, , Finnish fighter ace. 5 victories. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Me 109 G:
In flight the plane felt slightly rigid to manouver and it performed best between 5000 and 8000 m. Once I was fighting at 10000m and there the Me 109 felt like flying a "barndoor".
- Pekka Tanner, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Climbing in combat

Me 109 E:
"In personally facing the RAF in the air over the Dunkirk encirclement, I found that the Bf 109 E was faster, possessed a higher rate of climb, but was somewhat less manouverable than the RAF fighters."
- Herbert Kaiser, German fighter ace. 68 victories. Source:The Great Book of WW2 Airplanes, page 470.

Me 109 E:
"When put into a full throttle climb at low air speeds, the airplane climbed at a very steep angle, and our fighters used to have difficulty in keeping their sights on the enemy even when at such a height that their rates of climb were comparible. This steep climb at low air speed was one of the standard evasion maneuvres used by the German pilots."
- RAF Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) Farnborough handling trials,Bf.109E Wn: 1304. M.B. Morgan and R. Smelt of the RAE, 1944.

Me 109 E-4:
"I took a performance climb at 1,15 ATA and 2300 RPM (30 minute limit). A climb speed of 250 kph gave an average rate of climb of 2145 ft/min. Bearing in mind the maximum boost limit of 1,35 ATA the "all out" climb must be impressive."
- Charlie Brown, RAF Flying Instructor, test flight of restored Me 109 E-4 WN 3579. Source: Warbirds Journal issue 50.

Me 109 F/G:
"The G6 however was better at higher altitudes and had a higher ceiling than the F's.
The K-4, he said was very much like the 10 G yet could leave all other fighters behind in climb. "
- Franz Stigler, German fighter ace. 28 victories. Interview of Franz Stigler.

Me 109 G:
"- Was the Me109G equal to the enemy aircraft in summer 1944?
The Me could be a little better in climb, which could be some kind of last resort, you knew that if you start climbing the enemy is left behind in the end. But I used that trick seldom only."
- Kyösti Karhila, Finnish fighter ace. 32 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G-2/G-6:
"Now we had better climb rates than the Russians and we could split better. And of course gain surprise. With speed, you could hit and run. And not spend much time in their sights.
The Messerschmitt was exellent. You got always away when you pushed your nose down, and it then rose like an elevator. You soon had upper hand again. "
- Was the Me so good a climber that you could run by pulling up?
"You should never lose your speed. Always get back up. The one who is higher has the advantage. You could shake the other with a climbing turn, he had to turn harder. Tighten the turn when the other tries to get into shooting position. The Messerschmitt climbed better, so it got away. Handy."
- Mauno Fräntilä, Finnish fighter ace. 5 1/2 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association: Chief Warrant Officer Mauno Fräntilä.

Diving - structural rigidity of 109 in dives

- The Me 109 was dived to Mach 0.79 in instrumented tests. Slightly modified, it was even dived to Mach 0.80, and the problems experimented there weren't due to compressility, but due to aileron overbalancing. Compare this to Supermarine Spitfire, which achieved dive speeds well above those of any other WW2 fighter, getting to Mach 0.89 on one occasion. P-51 and Fw 190 achieved about Mach 0.80. The P-47 had the lowest permissible Mach number of these aircraft. Test pilot Eric Brown observed it became uncontrollable at Mach 0.73, and "analysis showed that a dive to M=0.74 would almost certainly be a 'graveyard dive'."
- Source: Radinger/Otto/Schick: "Messerschmitt Me 109", volumes 1 and 2, Eric Brown: "Testing for Combat".
- (Comment: it seems Eric Brown's analysis is flawed, though, and test pilot Herb Fisher performed 150+ such dives: an example of a 0.79 dive. Several of the dives achieved Mach 0.83. Sources: Herb Fisher, Herb Fisher Jr., and Curtiss-Wright.

- Versuchs-Bericht Nr 109 05 E 43 - Date 15.4.43
This original German test document refers to dive tests of 109s with the tall tail. Result of this test was that the new tail reduced highspeed diving ozillations (which sometimes appeard with the old tail). More interesting is the fact, that in this tests, which had not the aim to estimate the highest mach number or to test the structure, they reached
max. Mach 0,805@7.0km
max. TAS 906km/h@5.8km
max. IAS 737km/h@4.5km
Even more interesting is the fact that they tried different positions of the trimming. With the wrong trimset - the one for cruising at high altitude it was not possible to pull out of the dive just by using the stick. They needed to use the trimwheel to recover the plane from the dive. This happened in such violent manner that the testpilot had to push the stick foreward to be not blacked out...
If the trim was set to +1.15° it was possible to recover without using the trimwheel - both flightpaths, with and without the trimwheel, are very similar. So even with the concrete stick the limitating factor seems to be the pilot.
Also interesting in the dive the canopy iced, also the mechanism of the trim, so it was not possible to set it smooth, but in \"jumps\", but it was still adjustable...
- Source: Hochgeschwindigkeitsversusche mit Me 109, Messerschmitt AG, Augsburg.

- 109 didn't "compress" but the elevators became heavy. When adjusting trim the entire horizontal tail plane moved and reduced the force needed to pull out.

Bf 109 D:
"So down we went about 2,000 feet with the air speed indicator amusing itself by adding a lot of big numbers - to a little over 400 mph. A gentle draw back on the control effected recovery from the dive; then up the other side of the hill.
- US Marine Corps major Al Williams. Source: Bf 109D test flight, 1938.

Me 109 E:
"Steep climb at low air speed was one of the standard evasion maneuvres used by the German pilots. Another was to push the stick forward abruptly and bunt into a dive with considerable negative 'g'. The importance of arranging that the engine whould not cut under these circumstances cannot be over-stressed. Speed is picked up quickly in a dive, and if being attacked by an airplane of slightly inferior level performance, this feature can be used with advantage to get out of range. There is no doubt that in the autumn of 1940 the Bf 109E in spite of its faults, was a doughty opponent to set against our own equipment'."
- RAF Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) Farnborough handling trials,Bf.109E Wn: 1304. M.B. Morgan and R. Smelt of the RAE, 1944.

Me 109 E-4:
"During the VNE dive I achieved an IAS of 660 kmh. The original limit was 750 kmh. I was only limited by the height avalable, not by any feature of the aircraft which was extremerely smooth and stable at 660 kmh."
- Charlie Brown, RAF Flying Instructor, test flight of restored Me 109 E-4 WN 3579. Source: Warbirds Journal issue 50.

Me 109 G:
"The maximum speed not to be exceeded was 750kmh. Once I was flying above Helsinki as I received a report of Russkies in the South. There was a big Cumulus cloud on my way there but I decided to fly right through. I centered the controls and then something extraordinary happened. I must have involuntarily entered into half-roll and dive. The planes had individual handling characteristics; even though I held the turning indicator in the middle, the plane kept going faster and faster, I pulled the stick, yet the plane went into an ever steeper dive.
In the same time she started rotating, and I came out of the cloud with less than one kilometer of altitude. I started pulling the stick, nothing happened, I checked the speed, it was about 850kmh. I tried to recover the plane but the stick was as if locked and nothing happened. I broke into a sweat of agony: now I am going into the sea and cannot help it. I pulled with both hands, groaning and by and by she started recovering, she recovered more, I pulled and pulled, but the surface of the sea approached, I thought I was going to crash. I kept pulling until I saw that I had survived. The distance between me and the sea may have been five meters. I pulled up and found myself on the coast of Estonia.
If I in that situation had used the vertical trim the wings would have been broken off. A minimal trim movement has a strong effect on wings when the speed limit has been exceded. I had 100kmh overspeed! It was out of all limits.
The Messerschmitt's wings were fastened with two bolts. When I saw the construction I had thought that they are strong enough but in this case I was thinking, when are they going to break
- What about the phenomenon called "buffeting" or vibration, was there any?
No, I did not encounter it even in the 850kmh speed."
- Kyösti Karhila, Finnish fighter ace. 32 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G:
"- The vertical dive was how to disengage.
Jussi Huotari: That was the remedy.
Antti Tani: That is how I survived when attacking two of them and losing the first round. They had more speed because I was coming from a lower altitude.
It was nothing special, the (Yak-9) planes were climbing and began to turn back. I had planned to get to shoot at them as they have lost their speed in the turn. But I was not in the right position. I turned at them and pulled the nose up - and I lost my speed, I had to turn below them. I had to push the stick to get behind them, and as they dived at me I dived right down. I turned with ailerons a couple of times, and had full power on.
Then I started recovery from the dive, of course in the direction of home, then checked the dials, the reading was eight hundred plus kmh. Then I started pulling the stick, pulled harder as hard as ever: never in my life did I pull so hard. I pulled with right hand and tried to trim the horizontal rudder with my left hand. But it did not budge, as if it had been set in concrete. But by the by the nose began to rise, but terribly slowly. As my angle was about 45 I heard over the radio as Onni Paronen said, "hey lads, look, a Messerschmitt is going in the sea!" I wanted to answer back but I could not afford to do anything put pull with two hands. As soon as I had returned to level flight and had been able to breath normally for a while, I in a way regained consciousness. I pushed the transmitter key and said "not quite". It was a close shave.
- It was so hard that you almost blacked out?
Antti Tani: I felt I was on the edge, pulling as hard as I ever could."
- Antti Tani, Finnish fighter ace. 21,5 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.
- Jouko "Jussi" Huotari, Finnish fighter ace. 17 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G-6:
After landing Me 109 with damaged rudder trim tab, which shook the rudder heavily in flight:
"Antti Tani: It had to be strong, both the rudder and the pedals, they withstood the damn shaking without any further damage.
Jussi Huotari: The Messerschmitt was a very tough aircraft. You could do vertical dives and the tailplane hang along..."
Antti Tani: But Mäittälä, what happened to him, he lost the tailplane? Mäittälä dived like that, and being a strong man he was able to pull harder than I did. And so the tailplane was ripped off
- The day before a similar dive and recovery had happened to the same plane. Two steep dives in succession and a strong pilot pulling the stick each time, so...
Antti Tani: It certainly was a risky job. It must be that I remember him because I did a dive like that and remembered his tailplane had been ripped off. I, too pulled as hard as I could, because I thought that I am going to die if I don't."
- Antti Tani, Finnish fighter ace. 21,5 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.
- Jouko "Jussi" Huotari, Finnish fighter ace. 17 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G-6:
"The story of Valte Estama's 109 G-6 getting shot down by a Yak-6 was also an interesting one. Their flight of nine planes was doing high-altitude CAP at 7,000 meters (23,000').
(snip) So it happened that the devil fired at him. One cannon round hit his engine, spilling out oil that caught fire. Estama noticed that it wasn't fuel that leaked or burned, just oil.
He pushed the nose of the plane and throttled up. His feet felt hot, but the fire was extinguished and there was no more smoke. The speedometer went over the top as the speed exceeded 950 km/h. The wings began to shake and Estama feared the fighter would come apart. He pulled the throttle back, but the stick was stiff and couldn't pull the plane out of the dive. Letting the flaps out little by little gradually lifted the nose. The plane leveled at 1,000 meters (3,300').
Clarification of the escape dive: "It didn't stay (vertical) otherwise, it had to be kept with the stabilizer. I trimmed it so the plane was certainly nose down. Once I felt it didn't burn anymore and there was no black smoke in the mirror, then I began to straighten it up, and it wouldn't obey. The stick was so stiff it was useless. So a nudge at a time, (then straightening off with trims).
Then the wings came alive with the flutter effect, I was afraid it's coming apart and shut the throttle. Only then I began to level out. To a thousand meters. It was a long time - and the hard pull blacked me out."
- Edvald Estama, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Recollections by Eino and Edvald Estama by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G:
"-Many claim that the MT becomes stiff as hell in a dive, difficult to bring up in high speed, the controls lock up?
Nnnooo, they don't lock up.
It was usually because you exceeded diving speed limits. Guys didn't remember you shouldn't let it go over.
We had also Lauri Mäittälä, he took (unclear tape), he had to evade and exceeded the speed, and the rudders broke off. He fell in a well in the Isthmus. He was later collected from there, he's now there in Askola cemetery.
The controls don't lock up, they become stiffer of course but don't lock. And of course you couldn't straighten up (shows a 'straightening' from a dive directly up) like an arrow."
- Väinö Pokela, Finnish fighter ace and Me 109 trainer. 5 victories. Source: Interview of Väinö Pokela by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G:
"- How fast could you go with it? How fast did you dare to fly in a dive, what was the limit?
It was ... 720 (kilometers/hour), if I remember right. You weren't supposed to exceed it but we did it many times. And as the air was thin up there, so we often had to go vertical when escorting a photographing plane."
- Väinö Pokela, Finnish fighter ace and Me 109 trainer. 5 victories. Source: Interview of Väinö Pokela by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

"- Are the stories true, that the 109 had weak wings and would loose them easily?
He has never heard of a 109 loosing its wings from his experience or others. The wings could withstand 12 g's and since most pilots could only handle at most 9 g's there was never a problem. He was never worried about loosing a wing in any form of combat."
- Franz Stigler, German fighter ace. 28 victories. Interview of Franz Stigler.

Me 109 F/G:
"- What's the fastest you ever had a 109 in a dive?
I've taken it to about 680 to 750 km/hr at which point you needed 2 hands to pulls it out of the dive."
- Franz Stigler, German fighter ace. 28 victories. Interview of Franz Stigler.

"During a dive at 400 mph all three controls were in turn displaced slightly and released. No vibration, flutter or snaking developed. If the elevator is trimmed for level flight at full throttle, a large push is needed to hold in the dive, and there is a temptation to trim in. If, in fact, the airplane is trimmed into the dive, recovery is difficult unless the trimmer is would back owing to the excessive heaviness of the elevator."
- RAF Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) Farnborough handling trials,Bf.109E Wn: 1304. M.B. Morgan and R. Smelt of the RAE, 1944.

Through the eyes of the enemy - possibly Me 109 G:
"My flight chased 12 109s south of Vienna. They climbed and we followed, unable to close on them. At 38,000 feet I fired a long burst at one of them from at least a 1000 yards, and saw some strikes. It rolled over and dived and I followed but soon reached compressibility with severe buffeting of the tail and loss of elevator control. I slowed my plane and regained control, but the 109 got away.
On two other occasions ME 109s got away from me because the P 51d could not stay with them in a high-speed dive. At 525-550 mph the plane would start to porpoise uncontrollably and had to be slowed to regain control. The P 51 was redlined at 505 mph, meaning that this speed should not be exceeded. But when chasing 109s or 190s in a dive from 25-26,000 it often was exceeded, if you wanted to keep up with those enemy planes. The P 51b, and c, could stay with those planes in a dive. The P 51d had a thicker wing and a bubble canopy which changed the airflow and brought on compressibility at lower speeds."
- Robert C.Curtis, American P-51 pilot.

Through the eyes of the enemy - possibly Me 109 G:
"Thomas L. Hayes, Jr. recalled diving after a fleeing Me-109G until both aircraft neared the sound barrier and their controls locked. Both pilots took measures to slow down, but to Hayes' astonishment, the Me-109 was the first to pull out of its dive. As he belatedly regained control of his Mustang, Hayes was grateful that the German pilot chose to quit while he was ahead and fly home instead of taking advantage of Hayes' momentary helplessness. Hayes also stated that while he saw several Fw-190s stall and even crash during dogfights, he never saw an Me-109 go out of control."
- Thomas L. Hayes, Jr., American P-51 ace, 357th Fighter Group, 8 1/2 victories

Me 109 G:
"Me 109 had good and accurate weapons, but those were the only good points of it. To me, it's unacceptable that somebody had built a fighter plane that couldn't be dived without limits. Me109 had a dive limit of 880km/h - you weren't to exceed it or the plane would break up. Just this happened to Sgt Mäittälä. I (and Pokela) was forced to exceed this limit twice, I can't describe how it felt just to sit in the cockpit waiting, if the plane would break up. I have never gotten rid of that feeling, of being trapped."
-Heimo Lampi, Finnish fighter ace. 13 1/2 victories. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Me 109 G-2/G-6:
"The Russkies never followed to a dive. Their max dive speeds were too low, I suppose. It was the same in the Continuation War, their La-5's and Yak-9's turned quickly back up. "
- How heavy did the Me controls get at different speeds?
"It got heavy, but you could use the flettner. It was nothing special, but a big help.
Once in '43, there was a Boston III above the Gulf of Finland. I went after it, and we went to clouds at 500 meters. Climbing, climbing, climbing and climbing, all the way to seven kilometers, and it was just more and more clouds. It got so dark that I lost sight. I turned back down, and saw the Russkie diving too. Speed climbed to 700 km/h. I wondered how it'd turn out. I pulled with all my strength when emerging from the clouds, then used the flettner. I was 50 meters above sea when I got it to straighten out. I was all sweaty. At that time the Me's were new to us."
- Did the roll capabilites change?
"Not so much. It got stiffer, but you still could bank."
- Were you still in full control at high speeds, like at 600-700 km/h?
"Yes. "
- Mauno Fräntilä, Finnish fighter ace. 5 1/2 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association: Chief Warrant Officer Mauno Fräntilä.

Stick forces and maneuvering in high speeds

Bf 109 D:
The most delightful features of the Messerschmitt were, first, in spite of its remarkably sensitive reaction to the controls, the ship showed no disposition to wander or "yaw" as we call it; neither was there any tendency to "hunt". It was a ship where the touch of a pianist would be right in keeping with the fineness of the response. And, likewise, I am sure that any ham-handed pilot who handled the controls in brutal fashion would soon be made to feel ashamed of himself.
Seldom do we find a single-seater that does not stiffen up on the controls as the ship is pushed to and beyond its top speed.
In about cruising speed, a movement of the control stick brought just exactly the reaction to be expected. And at high speed, wide open, the control sensitivity checked most satisfactorily.
Then I wanted one more check and that was at the bottom of the dive where the speed would be in excess of that ship's straightaway performance. So down we went about 2,000 feet with the air speed indicator amusing itself by adding a lot of big numbers - to a little over 400 mph. A gentle draw back on the control effected recovery from the dive; then up the other side of the hill.
- US Marine Corps major Al Williams. Source: Bf 109D test flight, 1938.

Me 109 E-4:
"I established a recommended minimum looping speed of 450 kmh and found that the gearing of the propellor control was just right for looping with a little practise it was easy to keep the RPM at 2300 throughout looping manoeuvres. The ailerons were light and extremerely effective. The rate of roll is at least 50 % faster than a Mk V Spitfire with full span wingtips. During the VNE dive I achieved an IAS of 660 kmh. The original limit was 750 kmh. I was only limited by the height avalable, not by any feature of the aircraft which was extremerely smooth and stable at 660 kmh."
- Charlie Brown, RAF Flying Instructor, test flight of restored Me 109 E-4 WN 3579. Source: Warbirds Journal issue 50.

109 G-2/Trop:
"Roll performance is similar to a Hurricane or elliptical wing tipped Spitfire. A full stick roll through 360 degrees at 460 kph [=285 mph] takes 4 to 4.5 seconds without using rudder, and needs a force of around 20 lbf. One interesting characteristic is that rolls at lower speeds entered at less than 1g, such as a roll-off-the-top or half Cuban, have a markedly lower roll rate to the right than to the left. Therefore, I always roll left in such manoeuvres."
- Dave Southwood, test pilot.

109 G:
It turned well too, if you just pulled the stick"
- Mauno Fräntilä, Finnish fighter ace. 5 1/2 victories. Source: Finnish Virtual Pilots Association: fighter ace Mauno Fräntilä was creating the glory of the war pilots.

Me 109 G:
- How difficult was it to control the 109 in high velocities, 600 kmh and above?
The Messerschmitt became stiff to steer not until the speed exceeded 700kmh.  The control column was as stiff as it had been fastened with tape, you could not use the ailerons. Yet you could control the plane."
-  Kyösti Karhila, Finnish fighter ace. 32 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G:
"Sarantola recalled that the MT was a very stable plane, but not the most maneuverable. The stick forces were quite large and elevator trim was used quite frequently while maneuvering.
MT was easy to fly and overall a safe plane. Flying and landing was easy."
- Olli Sarantola, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Blitz '01 - Meeting With The Veterans by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

109 G:
"The roll rate is very good and very positive below about 250 mph. Above 250 mph however the roll starts to heavy up and up to 300 or so is very similar to a P-51. After that it's all getting pretty solid and you need two hands on the stick for any meaningfull roll rates. Pitch is also delighful at 250 mph and below. It feels very positve and the amount of effort on the control column needed to produce the relevant nose movement seems exactly right to me. The aircraft is perfectly happy carrying out low-level looping maneuvers from 300 mph and below. Above 300 mph one peculiarity is a slight nose down trim change as you accelerate. The rudder is effective and if medium feel up to 300. It becomes heavier above this speed but regardless the lack of rudder trim is not a problem for the type of operations we carry out with the aeroplane."
- Mark Hanna of the Old Flying Machine Company flying the OFMC Messerschmitt Bf 109 G (Spanish version).

Me 109 G:
"-Many claim that the MT becomes stiff as hell in a dive, difficult to bring up in high speed, the controls lock up?
Nnnooo, they don't lock up.
It was usually because you exceeded diving speed limits. Guys didn't remember you shouldn't let it go over.
The controls don't lock up, they become stiffer of course but don't lock. And of course you couldn't straighten up (shows a 'straightening' from a dive directly up) like an arrow."
- Väinö Pokela, Finnish fighter ace and Me 109 trainer. 5 victories. Source: Interview of Väinö Pokela by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G-2/G-6:
- How heavy did the Me controls get at different speeds?
"It got heavy, but you could use the flettner. It was nothing special, but a big help.
Once in '43, there was a Boston III above the Gulf of Finland. I went after it, and we went to clouds at 500 meters. Climbing, climbing, climbing and climbing, all the way to seven kilometers, and it was just more and more clouds. It got so dark that I lost sight. I turned back down, and saw the Russkie diving too. Speed climbed to 700 km/h. I wondered how it'd turn out. I pulled with all my strength when emerging from the clouds, then used the flettner. I was 50 meters above sea when I got it to straighten out. "
- Did the roll capabilites change?
"Not so much. It got stiffer, but you still could bank. "
- Were you still in full control at high speeds, like at 600-700 km/h?
"Yes. "
- How about slow and medium speeds, could you do stunts?
"Yes, but it was heavier than the earlier planes (Fokker D.XXI, Curtiss Hawk 75). But better in combat. I got to fly the Hornet simulator last summer. That stick moved only little. "
- Mauno Fräntilä, Finnish fighter ace. 5 1/2 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association: Chief Warrant Officer Mauno Fräntilä.

Me 109 G-6:
Me109 was almost a dream come true for a pilot. Good controllability, enough speed, excelent rate of climb. The feel of the controls were normal except when flying over 600km/h - some strength was needed then.
- Erkki O. Pakarinen, Finnish fighter pilot, Finnish Air Force trainer. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Stick force and black outs

Me 109 G:
"- What I would like to know is what it feels like when a Messerschmitt pilot pulls or pushes the stick? Could a pilot push the stick so that he felt it in his head?
Not really...You can do that but it was not done that way. First you tilt then you push
- Did the horizontal rudder have much effect in that situation?
You could have done that, nothing wrong in principle, but it could happen as it happened with me, the gunsight dropped out as I gave a couple of negative Gs. But that is not the usual way to dive, not even when attacking. You tilt first..."
- Hemmo Leino, Finnish fighter ace. 11 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

After diving 850 km/h speed:
"-In this high speed recovery you did not have enough G to black out ?
There was a lot of G thinking about the speed. But you could not make your plane bend like a clasp-knife.
- Did you get tunnel vision due to G force?
I did. Recovery from it depended on your plane and the situation. With the Curtiss you could bank and get a high G. "
- Kyösti Karhila, Finnish fighter ace. 32 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G:
"- Did you ever black out in a battle when flying the Messerschmitt ?
Antti Tani: Me never
Jussi Huotari: I never pulled so hard as to black out but sometimes I did pull the stick so hard that I felt I was about to.
- Do you both think that sooner a plane is lacking performance in a turn than the pilot is out of endurance ?
Antti Tani: The fact is that banking a pilot can black himself out. If you just pull hard enough and you have enough speed, you are bound to lose your consciousness. If there is speed enough, the plane is gong to spin or something. What would happen, I never pulled a Messerschmitt so that she would have spun. Yet I did pull so hard that the slats came out. I do not know how much more I could have pulled, but the result would have been a vertical dive. What is the use if you pull hard and your plane spins, your target is gone, there is no way to catch it."
- Antti Tani, Finnish fighter ace. 21,5 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.
- Jouko "Jussi" Huotari, Finnish fighter ace. 17 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G-6:
Edvald Estama disengaged after being damaged by a Yak-9's cannon shell by pushing into full power vertical dive from 7000 meters.
" The speedometer went over the top as the speed exceeded 950 km/h. The wings began to shake and Estama feared the fighter would come apart. It didn't stay (vertical) otherwise, it had to be kept with the stabilizer. I trimmed it so the plane was certainly nose down. Once I felt it didn't burn anymore and there was no black smoke in the mirror, then I began to straighten it up, and it wouldn't obey. The stick was so stiff it was useless. So a nudge at a time, (then straightening off with trims).
Then the wings came alive with the flutter effect, I was afraid it's coming apart and shut the throttle. Only then I began to level out. To a thousand meters. It was a long time - and the hard pull blacked me out."
- Edvald Estama, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Recollections by Eino and Edvald Estama by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G-2/G-6:
- In the newspaper Pohjalainen there was a story where you remembered the Me and said how it turned well, as long as you could pull hard.
"Yeah, you could pull yourself to the twilight zone. Eyes clouded, but you still didn't lose consciousness. The speed dropped surprisingly quickly in a tight pull, though. "
- Mauno Fräntilä, Finnish fighter ace. 5 1/2 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association: Chief Warrant Officer Mauno Fräntilä.

109 needs constant rudder pressure to fly straight?

This is interesting subject, with much disinformation floating around. Take a moment to read there two quotes:

Me 109 G:
"The first 30 of the Me 109 G-2s (delivered to Finnish Air Force 1943) were delivered right from the factory production line. After that the delivered planes were more or less used, they were rebuilt. Also the first of the G-6s (delivered in 1944) were new, then later deliveries were rebuilds. The Germans did not make any distinction between new and rebuilt planes, the rebuilds were upgraded with new gear. The used planes were however found to be more awkward in use. They were unfinished. Some individuals could in higher speeds be held in straight course by constant application of vertical rudder. You had to throttle back as your leg began to shake and you were no more able to keep the pedal down. It got the worse the more speed you had. This kind of things. The planes used to veer to the right at takeoff and when airborne to the left. Products of the wartime, I say. Yet some 32000 of them were made after all."
- Kyösti Karhila, Finnish fighter ace. 32 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 E:
"Absence of rudder trimmer is a bad feature, although at low speeds the practical consequences are not so alarming as the curves might suggest, since the rudder is fairly light on the climb. At high speeds, however, the pilot is seriously inconvenienced, as above 300 mph about 2 1/2 degrees of port (left) rudder are needed for flight with no sideslip and a very heavy foot load is needed to keep this on. In consequence the pilot's left foot becomes tired, and this affects his ability to put on left rudder in order to assist a turn to port (left). Hence at high speeds the Bf.109E turns far more readily to the right than to the left."
- RAF Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) Farnborough handling trials,Bf.109E Wn: 1304. M.B. Morgan and R. Smelt of the RAE, 1944.

- Take notice: this RAE report seems to be the primary source of all the claims, that 109 needs foot pressure to fly straight. But RAE tested a captured and battle damaged 109 E, which clearly wasn't even trimmed correctly. As the 109 DID have a ground adjustable rudder trim, which was incorrectly aligned, making the plane sideslip.    So far we haven't found a single primary 109 pilot source, which would support the RAE statement in general. On the other hand the Finnish ace Kyösti Karhila mentions the quality problems with the used 109 airframes - some airframes were so bad that they really did require foot pressure. This demonstrates that the problem could have been more about the quality of the airframe - was it re-built, used, poorly put together? - than a design problem.

Trimming

Me 109 G:
"- When I was over here in June, Mr. Tani told that he did not have to adjust the trim of a Messerschmitt after takeoff, what about the Brewster?
Jussi Huotari: You had to turn it pretty much, if your speed varied. You had to adjust according to your speed.
- But the Messerschmitt needed less adjustment, did it ?
Jussi Huotari. Flying a Messerschmitt you did not have to trim very much
- How much rudder did a Messerschmitt pilot have to apply, or was the rudder trim so adjusted that on a defined speed the plane stayed on straight course ?
Antti Tani: I think usually she went right on when doing 400 kmh. During takeoff you had to push the pedal. You got so used to it that you no more paid any attention to it."
- Antti Tani, Finnish fighter ace. 21,5 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.
- Jouko "Jussi" Huotari, Finnish fighter ace. 17 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G:
"- How about trimming to level flight?
It flew like on rails even when shooting."
- Väinö Pokela, Finnish fighter ace and Me 109 trainer. 5 victories. Source: Interview of Väinö Pokela by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

109 E:
"Longitudinal Trim
Five three-quarter turns of a 11.7 in diameter wheel on the pilot's left are needed to move the adjustable tailplane through its full 12-degrees range. The wheel rotation is in the natural sense. Tailplane and elevator angles to trim were measured at various speeds in various condition; the elevator angles were corrected to constant tail setting. The airplane is statically stable both stick fixed and stick free.
Lateral Trim
There is no procounced change of lateral trim with speed of throttle setting provided that care is taken to fly with no sideslip."
- RAF Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) Farnborough handling trials,Bf.109E Wn: 1304. M.B. Morgan and R. Smelt of the RAE, 1944.

Wing leading edge slats - good or bad?

Information about slats

- The 109 included the leading edge slats starting with the very first versions which were powered by Kestrel engines, and it is quite funny that the very first version was equipped with a Rolls-Royce engine. It is fascinating that these slats were built under licence of the British Handley-Page. Up to the start of the war Germans paid license fees for every Messerschmitt to H-P. Also the oval wing employed in the Spitfire was originally conceived by Heinkel. Heinkel and Supermarine had a lot of co-operation before the war. Heinkel tried to buy a licence for the Merlin engine in Germany.
- Lower wingloading does not automatically equals better turn rate, it is more a factor of actual liftloading. Depending on the wing`s design, it may develop more or less lift. As it stands, the P-51D had laminar flow wings, which lowered the drag, but this came at the cost of lower lift, especially under high G loads. The 109 had a conventional wing and was equipped with automatic leading edge slats. These opened out at low speed or at high speed under high G loads, and restored to airflow (=lift) which would have been long separated otherwise due to turbulance. That`s why it become so common on modern jets. This seems to be supported by the AFDU`s test, where they pitted the higher wingloading FW 190A vs. P-51B, yet they found their turning performance basically identical. I`d like to add that 109s were generally found to be the better turning machines in all German and Soviet tests vs. 190s. Also, stall characteristics of the 109 were very gentle and forgiving with plenty of warning, as opposed to the P-51. This also helped the pilots to push their aircraft to the limits of stall.


- At least in case of a Gustaf (which is the same as F-4, including the slat mechanism) the slats tend to droop out of the leading edge when the plane stands on ground. They however move in by pressing the leading edge with one finger, extremely easily. After having been pushed in, they either stay in or slowly glide out again. This is very sensitive to the plane's actual angle on ground, and may be affected even by the relative tire pressures of main and tail landing gear wheels. But in flight they bang in and out driven by the aerodynamic forces. There are no springs or such, both the movement out and movement in are totally driven by aerodynamic forces. Those forces are controlled by the wing AoA, and there is no "deadband" in the function at any AoA. The operating function has very narrow transfer from stable position to an another. This means that in normal flight it should be almost impossible to control the AoA with such precision that the slats would slowly slide in or out. I have talked about this with several Bf 109 veterans and none of them has claimed gradual operation, they all explain their working as slamming in and out. On the other hand none of them has descibed the slat extension to be associated with any sudden increase of drag either. Which is as it should operate also theoretically. Slats extend up the range of AoA where the airflow stays attached to the wing. Withouth slats the wing would stall at certain AoA, the airflow turning turbulent at the same moment with sudden enormous increase in drag. With slats the airflow stays non-turbulent for some extra amount of AoA, and there should not be any "stepped" increase in drag when the slats deploy, only at the point where even the slats cannot prevent the wing entering a stall. - Pentti Kurkunen, enthusiast

Pilot comments

Me 109 E:
"I was particularly interested in the operation of the slats, the action of which gave rise to aileron snatching in any high-G manoeuvres such as loops or tigh turns so I did a series of stalls to check their functioning more accurately. The stall with the aircraft clean, with half fuel load and the engine throttled right back occurred at 105 MPH (168 km/h). This was preceded by elevator buffet and opening the slats about 20 mph (30 km/h) above the stall, these being accompanied by the unpleasant aileron snatching as the slats opened unevenly. The stall itself was fairly gentle with the nose dropping and the port wing simultaneously dropping about 10 degrees."
- Eric Brown
- The author writes about an "unpleasant" event. Nothing catastrophic! Surely all of the planes of that time had features, that were unpleasant, just as well as many planes today have. Curtiss Hawk 75 was surely unpleasant to fly with the rear fuselage fuel tank filled, as flying acrobatics could get you killed. P-51 was at least unpleasant with fuselage tanks filled.

Me 109 E:
"The Bf 109s also had leading edge slats. When the 109 was flown, advertently or inadvertently, too slow, the slats shot forward out of the wing, sometimes with a loud bang which could be heard above the noise of the engine. Many times the slats coming out frightenened young pilots when they flew the Bf 109 for the first time in combat. One often flew near the stalling speed in combat, not only when flying straight and level but especially when turning and climbing. Sometimes the slats would suddenly fly out with a bang as if one had been hit, especially when one had throttled back to bank steeply. Indeed many fresh young pilots thought they were pulling very tight turns even when the slats were still closed against the wing. For us, the more experienced pilots, real manoeuvring only started when the slats were out. For this reason it is possible to find pilots from that period (1940) who will tell you that the Spitfire turned better than the Bf 109. That is not true. I myself had many dogfights with Spitfires and I could always out-turn them.
One had to enter the turn correctly, then open up the engine. It was a matter of feel. When one noticed the speed becoming critical - the aircraft vibrated - one had to ease up a bit, then pull back again, so that in plan the best turn would have looked like an egg or a horizontal ellipse rather than a circle. In this way one could out-turn the Spitfire - and I shot down six of them doing it. This advantage to the Bf 109 soon changed when improved Spitfires were delivered."
- Erwin Leykauf, German fighter pilot, 33 victories. Source: Messerschmitt Bf109 ja Saksan Sotatalous by Hannu Valtonen; Hurricane & Messerschmitt, Chaz Bowyer and Armand Van Ishoven.

Me 109 E:
"And there I discovered the first thing you have to consider in a 109. The 109 had slots. The slot had a purpose to increase the lift during takeoff and landing. In the air automatically it's pressed to the main wing. And if you turn very roughly you got a chance, it's just by power, the wing, the forewing, comes out a little bit, and you snap. This happened to me. I released the stick immediately and it was ok then. "
- Major Gunther Rall in April 1943. German fighter ace, NATO general, Commander of the German Air Force. 275 victories. Source: Lecture by general Rall.

Me 109 E/F/G: - The plane had these wing slats and you mentioned they pop open uneven?
"Two meter slots on fore wings.  The reason was to increase the lift during low speed take off and landing.  To reduce the length of runway you need.  In the air, if you make rough turns, just by gravity, the outer slot might get out.  You can correct it immediately by release of stick, you know? Only little bit, psssssssht, its in, then its gone.  You have to know that.  And if you know it, you prevent it."
- Major Gunther Rall. German fighter ace, NATO general, Commander of the German Air Force. 275 victories. Source: Lecture by general Rall.

Me 109 G:
"- How often did the slats in the leading edge of the wing slam open without warning?
They were exteneded always suddenly but not unexpectedly. They did not operate in high speed but in low speed. One could make them go out and in by moving the stick back and forth. When turning one slat functioned ahead of the other one, but that did not affect the steering. In a battle situation one could pull a little more if the slats had come out. They had a positive effect of the slow speed handling characteristics of the Messerschmitt.
- Could the pilot control the leading edge slats?
No. The slats were extended when the speed decreased enough, you could feel when they were extended. "
- Kyösti Karhila, Finnish fighter ace. 32 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G:
"- In a battle, which was the case: did the pilot endure more than the Messerschmitt could do or vice versa?
 The fact is that when you pulled hard enough the wing leading edge slats slammed open. After that the pilot could not tighten the turn. The plane would have stalled. I don't know, I never tried to find out what the plane would do after that. I never heard anybody else saying that he would have banked so hard that the slats came out. I did that a few times, for example once over the Isthmus I tried to turn after an enemy, banking so hard that both slats came out, but I had to give up.
- How did the slats behave in such a situation, did they go in and out ?
 It depended on speed, if you pulled more,they came out, then back in
The slats came out completely, never half-way?
 I never came to watch them so intensely. You just knew they had come out, you could see them and feel that the lift increased pretty much.
- So the plane warned that now you are on the edge.
Yes, you knew the plane is about to spin."
- Antti Tani, Finnish fighter ace. 21,5 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 F/G:
"- Did pilots like the slats on the wings of the 109?
Yes, pilots did like them, since it allowed them better positions in dogfights along with using the flaps. These slats would also deploy slightly when the a/c was reaching stall at higher altitudes showing the pilot how close they were to stalling.....this was also useful when you were drunk "
- Franz Stigler, German fighter ace. 28 victories. Interview of Franz Stigler.

Me 109 G:
"As CL max is reached the leading edge slats deploy - together if the ball is in the middle, slightly asymmetrically if you have any slip on. The aircraft delights in being pulled into hard manuevering turns at these slower speeds. As the slats pop out you feel a slight "notching" on the stick and you can pull more until the whole airframe is buffeting quite hard. A little more and you will drop a wing, but you have to be crass to do it unintentionally."
- Mark Hanna of the Old Flying Machine Company flying the OFMC Messerschmitt Bf 109 G (Spanish version).

Me 109 G:
"There was nothing special in landing the plane. It was heavy but the wing slats opened up when speed slowed down and helped flying in slow speed."
-Kullervo Joutseno, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Me 109 G:
"It was beneficial to keep the throttle a little open when landing. This made the landings softer and almost all three-point landings were successful with this technique. During landings the leading edge slats were fully open. But there was no troubles in landing even with throttle at idle."
-Mikko Lallukka, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy"

Me 109 G:
"We didn't have time for acrobatics but we weren't forbidden from doing them, though. Snap roll was fast and easy, and the engine didn't cough as in older planes. Immelman turn was splendid when you tightened the stick a bit on the top. The automatic wing slats did their trick and you didn't need ailerons at all for straightening the plane."
-Otso Leskinen, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

"Unexperienced pilots hesitated to turn tight, bacause the plane shook violently when the slats deployed. I realised, though, that because of the slats the plane's stalling characteristics were much better than in comparable Allied planes that I got to fly. Even though you may doubt it, I knew it [Bf109] could manouver better in turnfight than LaGG, Yak or even Spitfire."
- Walter Wolfrum, German fighter ace. 137 victories.

Fighting in the 109

Me 109 E:
"During what was later called the 'Battle of Britain', we flew the Messerschmitt Bf109E. The essential difference from the Spitfire Mark I flown at that time by the RAF was that the Spitfire was less manoeuvrable in the rolling plane. With its shorter wings (2 metres less wingspan) and its square-tipped wings, the Bf 109 was more manoeuvrable and slightly faster. (It is of interest that the English later on clipped the wings of the Spitfire.)
For us, the more experienced pilots, real manoeuvring only started when the slats were out. For this reason it is possible to find pilots from that period (1940) who will tell you that the Spitfire turned better than the Bf 109. That is not true. I myself had many dogfights with Spitfires and I could always out-turn them. This is how I shot down six of them."
- Erwin Leykauf, German fighter pilot, 33 victories. Source: Messerschmitt Bf109 ja Saksan Sotatalous by Hannu Valtonen; Hurricane & Messerschmitt, Chaz Bowyer and Armand Van Ishoven.

Me 109 E:
"Personally, I met RAF over Dunkirk. [During this] battle not a single Spitfire or Hurricane turned tighter than my plane. I found that the Bf 109 E was faster, possessed a higher rate of climb, but was somewhat less manouverable than the RAF fighters. Nevertheless, during the campaign, no Spitfire or Hurricane ever turned inside my plane, and after the war the RAF admitted the loss of 450 Hurricanes and Spitfires during the Battle of France." In the desert there were only a few Spitfires, and we were afraid of those because of their reputation from the Battle of Britain. But after we shot a couple of them down, our confusion was gone."
- Herbert Kaiser, German fighter ace. 68 victories.

Me 109 E/F/G:
"Yeah, the 109 could compete with the P51, no doubt.  Maneuverability was excellent.  But the P51 could do it longer! But in the battle itself, the 109 certainly could compete with the P-51, even the Spitfire. You couldn't follow the Spitfire in a tight turn upwards.  You couldn't follow it. But we knew exactly the Spitfire also had shortcomings. In the beginning when they dived away, they had problems with the carburetor.  cshhht shhht cht cht cht (shows engine cutting out) . Until they came up to speed.  So every airplane has some problems in some areas, and if you know it, you can overcome it. "   
- Major Gunther Rall. German fighter ace, NATO general, Commander of the German Air Force. 275 victories. Source: Lecture by general Rall.

Me 109 G:
"Pilots, who liked turnfights, could use it [Bf109] in that style. I avoided that."
- Erich Hartmann, German fighter ace. 352 victories.

"Unexperienced pilots hesitated to turn tight, bacause the plane shook violently when the slats deployed. I realised, though, that because of the slats the plane's stalling characteristics were much better than in comparable Allied planes that I got to fly. Even though you may doubt it, I knew it [Bf109] could manouver better in turnfight than LaGG, Yak or even Spitfire."
- Walter Wolfrum, German fighter ace. 137 victories.

Me 109 G:
"- Was the Me109G equal to the enemy aircraft in summer 1944?
The Me could be a little better in climb, which could be some kind of last resort, you knew that if you start climbing the enemy is left behind in the end. But I used that trick seldom only."
- Kyösti Karhila, Finnish fighter ace. 32 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G:
" I think I had logged 2.20hrs landing and turning training before my first real mission with Messerschmitt. I happened to encounter two LaGG-3 which I shot down."
- Kyösti Karhila, Finnish fighter ace. 32 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G - Kyösti Karhila in one encounter:
"As I looked back, there was a big white spinner at the distance of 20 or 30 meters behind my tail.  That is the worst situation you can find yourself in, but I was prepared for it. Should I ever be surprised, I should engage evasive action at the same moment. I kicked my right foot down and shoved the stick ahead and to the right, resulting in outside barrel manouver. At the same moment the La fired, tracers flew all over my fighter.
As I manouvered, the sand in the bottom of the fuselage was thrown about by the negative G force. Since I did not have my goggles on, some of the sand got in my eyes. I did some external barrel rolls, it is an uncomfortable manouver because you are hanging by your belt and straps. In the same time I tried to see where the La was, but I did not see anything. I recovered, but immediately dived again and looked back: there he was, a little farther behind already. I tried to think what the heck to do now, I thought of the situations I had experienced, of the standing orders, but in vain. I decided to keep on diving. If the enemy is going to shoot, it is more difficult for him to hit me because he has to dive deeper to get a lead on me. The La did not shoot, I continued the dive and thought that I really must do something.
I recollected my teacher of Finnish in the school, he was a Home Guard officer and he used to say: " Remember, lads, attack is the best defense!" I never found out why he kept repeating this phrase, but now for some reason I remembered it. I thought: how to get to attack? I must do something! I pulled the stick and climbed, I saw the La follow, but then I ran out of speed. I turned and kept watching the Russian. Due to my turn he was climbing higher than I was, I saw that now I have a chance to attack him although I am below. I picked some speed, then I gave the La some lead and fired. It was a good shot because the La pulled a turn immediately. Again I took deflection and fired, and he changed his turn. This manouvering enabled me to get behind his tail fairly easily. Then I just waited for a chance to get a good deflection. When I had a chance to shoot, the salvo hit the La and the plywood fuselage broke behind the cockpit. The front part dived, the rear part fell slowly and the red star was flashing as the rudder kept going."
- Kyösti Karhila, Finnish fighter ace. 32 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Two P-51 shootdowns with three-cannon Messerschmitt 109 G-6/R6:
"I got both in a turning battle, out-turning them. We did several times 360 degrees until he became nervous, then pulled a little too much. His plane "warned", the pilot had to give way a little and I was able to get deflection. When I got to shoot at the other one, the entire left side was ripped off.
- So you did several full circles, you must have flown near stalling speed. Did you fly with "the seat of your pants" or kept eye on the dials? What was the optimum speed in such a situation, it was level flight?
It was level flight and flying by "the seat of your pants". What should I say, I should say I was doing 250kmh and the Mustang must have more than 300kmh. That is why I was able to hang on but did not get the deflection.
- And you was flying a three cannon plane?
Yes, but I did fly another one as mine was under maintenance. It was the experience that counted. Experience helped to decide when you had tried different things.
- In which altitude did these Mustang dogfights take place?
It must have been about 2000m."
- Kyösti Karhila, Finnish fighter ace. 32 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G:
"I got in a dogfight against a Yak-9. I was the underdog, quite close to the water. The Yak-9 had bounced me from behind somewhere and the turning started. I pulled the stick, clenching my teeth, and he followed me. We completed four circles about, but then he disengaged and headed for East, for home. We had been on wavetops, altitude no more than 50m. I arrived at the base. I looked for holes but found only one, in the right wing (of the Me 109 G-6)."
- Jouko "Jussi" Huotari, Finnish fighter ace. 17 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G:
"-Introduction: Ilmari Juutilainen's 44th war flights against five La-5's, the fight goes higher and higher, reinforcements arrive and he separates with a vertical dive, levels out with the trim.
I know that incident. We came from the shore and one plane wasn't refueled yet, it was Illu Juutilainen's plane. So five La-5's came over the base, and Illu went and started up. It was a crazy act. "Now he's going to kill himself!" We had an AA team nearby, and I ran there, some 50-100 meters, and told the Sub- Lieutenant there to "shoot all who go after Illu, so he can take off properly. He'll cope when he gets up." And so he did.
And then he climbed higher and higher, he had to scratch the windows with his nails to see around. And those five La-5's couldn't make a single hole in his plane."
- Väinö Pokela, Finnish fighter ace and Me 109 trainer. 5 victories. Source: Interview of Väinö Pokela by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G:
"Erich's tactic was to strike quickly, getting as close as possible before firing, and then "hit and run", using the Messerschmitt's excellent climbing ability to advantage. Then he would repeat the process, taking advantage of his plane's good acceleration in dive .Unlike Hans Joachim Marseille, Hartmann hardly ever scored multiple victories in a single pass.Bubi generally looked for a high cloud behind which to hide between attacks.His tactics were not unlike those of Manfred von Richthofen, the top scorer of the First World War."
- Erich Hartmann - the world's top ace article by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G:
"-What is the strongest image in your mind from Summer 1944?
Our fighting spirit which was strong. Some times I saw hundreds of enemy planes in the air at one time, bombers and escort fighters. I felt that even if all the fighters of the Finnish Air Force were sent against them in one formation, we would have been overwhelmed. Also the escort missions covering our bombers remain clear in my memory, because our success rate was 100%."
- Kyösti Karhila, Finnish fighter ace. 32 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

"I cast a quik glance at the machine and then climbed up after the other enemy aircraft. Damn, he could turn! Finally I was sitting behind him. I turned so tightly that condensation trails formed behind both wingtips and my Me shuddered on the verge of a stall more than once. Fortunately, the 109 turned extremely well.
The whole air battle took place at a very low altitude. I sat behind the Russian like a shadow, and now and then I succeeded in hitting him.......
He (Russian pilot) turned sharply, leaving a heavy vapor trail, and dove away towards the northeast.......... I cut him off and closed in at high speed. My airspeed indicator was showing more than 750 km/h.
I opened fire rather too soon, but he didn't change direction, instead he put his nose down briefly so that I was suddenly a level higher than he was. I put my nose down as well, but as I was about to fire he pulled up again, and this time I ended up below him."
- Helmut Lipfert, German fighter ace. 203 victories. Source: The War Diary of Hauptmann Helmut Lipfert.

Me 109 G:
"I got about 150 hours and over 30 aerial combats on the Messerschmitt 109. It was a fine "pilot's airplane" and there was no big complaints about the technical side, as long as you operated it within envelope, inside the performance parameters. It is hard to find any negative things about the plane from pilot's perspective when taking the development of technology into account.
It can be said that Me109 was at it's best (compared against other planes) at high altitudes. Until the summer '44 Me109 gave the pilots a dangerous feeling of superiority, then the new magnificient soviet plane types forced us to adopt a more humble attitude."
-Hemmo Leino, Finnish fighter ace. 11 victories. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Me 109 G:
"The Me had good speed and rate of climb. It was easy and steady to control in all conditions of flight. Worse was the poor controls in longitudinal stability, especially in higher speeds.
In the war skies the Messerscmitt was stiff and wasn't fit for turning combat against more agile opponents. "Strike and out" was a good rule."
-Otso Leskinen, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Me 109 G-2/G-6:
- Did your flying and tactics change with the new plane?
"No, it was basically the same. Except now we had better climb rates than the Russians and we could split better. And of course gain surprise. With speed, you could hit and run. And not spend much time in their sights.
The Russkies never followed to a dive. Their max dive speeds were too low, I suppose. It was the same in the Continuation War, their La-5's and Yak-9's turned quickly back up.
The Messerschmitt was exellent. You got always away when you pushed your nose down, and it then rose like an elevator. You soon had upper hand again.
You should never lose your speed. Always get back up. The one who is higher has the advantage. You could shake the other with a climbing turn, he had to turn harder. Tighten the turn when the other tries to get into shooting position. The Messerschmitt climbed better, so it got away. Handy.
The one who is in the inside of the circle loses his speed and doesn't get into position. You could use it against Yak-9's and La-5's, they were no more nimble."
- Boom'n'Zoom was your main tactics all the time?
"Yes. Surprise, and always using the sun when you could. "
- When you spotted an enemy plane, you circled to the sun side and then approached?
"Yes, using the sun and clouds. It was always good to gain surprise, too. You were in control of the situation and could break away for another attempt. "
- Speed was essential, but how about the Me's slow flight abilities? It had the opening slats in the wings?
"I dunno. It got so slack at 10,000 meters that it just swam. Lost speed and all. It didn't make any sudden moves, even if the speed was lost. You could handle it. "
- Did you ever get into old fashioned dogfight with the Me?
"Nobody liked to go into one. Same with shooting head-to-head. The Airacobra had the 40mm cannon. Like getting a tree trunk in your face. You had to avoid such a situation, it'd end up in a tie. Too risky. "
- In the newspaper Pohjalainen there was a story where you remembered the Me and said how it turned well, as long as you could pull hard.
"Yeah, you could pull yourself to the twilight zone. Eyes clouded, but you still didn't lose consciousness. The speed dropped surprisingly quickly in a tight pull, though. "
- Mauno Fräntilä, Finnish fighter ace. 5 1/2 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association: Chief Warrant Officer Mauno Fräntilä.

Me 109 G-6:
When Me109 came to the squadron it was without a doubt the best tool in use. The La-7 and Yak-9 that were introduced into service in summer '44 were equal or in some areas somewhat better than Me109.
According to my observations the Me109 excelled in climbs and in climbing turns. Turning fights with La-5s were avoided as La was the better turner. Instead swift thrusting attacks from above or below were recommended.
- Erkki O. Pakarinen, Finnish fighter pilot, Finnish Air Force trainer. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Tactics with 109

Spiral climb with Me 109 G:
"It was a case as two Yak-9s came toward me. They approached from the north and made me turn at them. The altitude was about one and a half thousand (meters). They engaged me, being a little above. I was coming from south and my red light was on (indicating low fuel), because our base was nearby. I was heading for Lappeenranta but as they slipped behind my back I had to start climbing.
- In a spiral climb??
Yes, a spiral. We kept climbing. Finally we were at 5000m. All the time I was worrying how far my petrol reserve would take me. We kept going round and round in a spiral. Each time I saw the enemy was about to shoot I pulled some more and each time he missed. But I heard two snaps and I came to Lappeenranta with two holes. But my underlying intention was that in case there is enough fuel, I shall take a shoot. I thought this is such a juicy situation that I shall not let them out of my hands even though I should run out of petrol, because there was an airfield just below.
My plane was so light that I was able to climb better than they could. There were no problems. We flew nose to tail and the rearmost Yak had no chance of shooting. But the one behind me kept jerking, trying to get deflection ...
Then I saw the (Russian) boys were being left behind. First one turned and dived, then the other one and I as the third. Then I kept shooting at them as long as I could. I was sure that the first one I fired at was in my opinion definitely going to fall. I got to shoot at the other one too, but then I throttled back and took direction to Lappeenrant I was not sure, I could not be sure because I had not seen them crash. Yet I reported them. Now that I can find in the Geust list both names, so they both fell down.
And the very next day the same thing. Another two, another two Yak-9s (shot down) according to Geust."
- Hemmo Leino, Finnish fighter ace. 11 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G:
"- According to the statistics you have at least one Yak-9 on your account. Is it true that the Messerschmitt was able to shake off the best Russian fighters using climb or climbing turn ?
Jussi Huotari: Well, my idea about the relative performance of the Messerschmitt is different. Once I tried but I could not disengage but resorting to vertical dive.
- So the vertical dive was how to disengage.
Jussi Huotari: That was the remedy."
- Jouko "Jussi" Huotari, Finnish fighter ace. 17 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G-6:
According to my observations the Me109 excelled in climbs and in climbing turns. Turning fights with La-5s were avoided as La was the better turner. Instead swift thrusting attacks from above or below were recommended.
- Erkki O. Pakarinen, Finnish fighter pilot, Finnish Air Force trainer. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Me 109 as gun platform

Me 109 F:
"And it had a very good weapon set.  We had a 20 millimeter gun through the propellor, and two 15 millimeters (actually 2 x 7,92 mms) on top of the engine.  It was enough."
- Major Gunther Rall. German fighter ace, NATO general, Commander of the German Air Force. 275 victories. Source: Lecture by general Rall.

Me 109 G:
"How steady were the Brewster and the Morane as gun platforms, compared with the Messerschmitt for example? There are stories about Morane being a bit unstable with its short fuselage?
The Morane was far more unstable than the Messerschmitt. It was far more stable in flight. Whether you were going fast or slow, she was steadier."
- Antti Tani, Finnish fighter ace. 21,5 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

About gun muzzle flashes on Me 109 G:
"I have specifically asked this from Kyösti Karhila, a FiAF H75A and Bf 109 ace.
Of the shake he noted that there practically was none, and in fact you had hard time even hearing your guns firing because there is so much other noise in a fighter aircraft. This is specially interesting as his preferred ride in Bf 109's was the three cannon Bf 109 G-6/R6. Same with the muzzle flash, he dryly noted that there was none visible to the pilot, not even from the 13mm cowl guns.
For marketability reasons these effects just seem to be generally overmodelled in some flight simulators. Possibly because of the muzzle flashes in Hollywood movies, where blanks are being fired. Blank ammo does cause sizable muzzle flash, because the powder is different from the one used in live ammo, and because there practically is no bullet slowing down the exit of the hot gases."
- Pentti Kurkinen, enthusiast

Me 109 G:
"- The Messerschmitt was equipped with two 13 mm MGs in the nose, were there muzzle flames or anything else visible in the cockpit when shooting?
You see just the tracers if any. No glare, no flames. The rate of fire of the MGs was so high that you cannot see anything. The cannon ammunition comprised five types of shells each smoking in their way. There were high explosive, armour piercing, tracer and some other types."
- Kyösti Karhila, Finnish fighter ace. 32 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G:
"- The Messerschmitt had weapons placed in the nose...
That is the ideal place, one cannot think of anything better! The guns fire straight without dispersal!
- Did you apply the same range (with the Messerschmitt)? Did the cannon affect shooting in any way?
The weapons did not need to be focused because they were side-by-side. Only wing cannons, if installed, needed that."
- Hemmo Leino, Finnish fighter ace. 11 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G:
"My easiest victory (happened) on the 28th of May 1944. I was based at Malmi. Suursaari sent us a report: buzzing to the west. I was sent to identify. The coastline was covered by a thin veil of cloud, having climbed above it I saw a contrail. I began to climb to it, and when I reached the same altitude the contrail stopped. I kept a sharp lookout and saw a Pe-2. I caught it easily, and because the gunner shot at me, it was an enemy. Since it did not have any chance of escaping, I decided to play cat and mouse. I pulled a 360 degree turn, during which the bomber got about 2000 m away. As I approached again, the Pe went into a slightly left-turning glide. I took aim and estimated that the range was 1000 m. I further estimated that taking into account the range and the turn, the correct deflection would be 8 plane lengths. I decided to test my cannon and pushed the trigger with my thumb as briefly as ever possible. Some pieces flew off from the left wing of the Pe and it went into deeper dive. I thought the bomber is trying to escape, so I followed and more debris flew off from it. The dive became deeper and deeper, I could not follow because my speed was approaching the red line. I had to pull out, but I kept watching the Pe. It crashed near the village of Kuusalu, east of Tallinn. At Malmi I told the armourers to check my guns. They found three spent 20mm cases. "
- Kyösti Karhila, Finnish fighter ace. 32 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G-2/G-6:
"- Messerschmitt 109 G2 and G6: when both were in good condition which one was the more pleasant?
It was the G6 due to the better armament, it was a great plus. Thinking about the ammunition capacity the nose cannon had a fairly small magazine. Maybe 180 shells.
All cannons were fired with one pushbutton, the MG button was under the index finger. There were also two buttons. The triggers were electric. The safety was flipped over the triggers. In this position the safety was on. It was possible and easy to use both triggers at the same time, because they were electric.
- Did you fire with all weapons at the same time?
Depending on the situation. For example in Tali I fired at an IL-2 with all weapons.
- Did you at first fire the MGs and when hitting the target, used the cannon?
Again it depends on the situation. If the target was very near the fuselage MGs would hit the target. The (wing) cannons could miss the target on both sides in that case. But usually I fired with all guns. "
- Kyösti Karhila, Finnish fighter ace. 32 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G:
"Comparing the armament of the Brewster with that of the Messerschmitt, that is .50 caliber compared with 20mm, which one was more efficient in your opinion?
Jussi Huotari: Since the cannon of the Messerschmitt was placed in the middle of the plane, it did not make the plane veer in any direction. All the guns were placed on the nose of the plane.
- In your experience, which was the better weapon: four machine guns or one cannon ?
Jussi Huotari: I think the cannon of the Messerschmitt was about better, more powerful. And the weapons were concentrated in one group...
Antti Tani: The machine guns were next to the cannon, the distance was no more than this.
Jussi Huotari: Yes, the cannon was situated between the machine guns. If the cannon was working it was destructive."
- Antti Tani, Finnish fighter ace. 21,5 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.
- Jouko "Jussi" Huotari, Finnish fighter ace. 17 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G-6:
"I have to say that the weapons were excellent. They were all so closely grouped."
- Olli Sarantola, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Interview of Olli Sarantola by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G-6:
"-Did you ever fire the Messerschmitt cannon? If you did, how did it feel? It was a big piece, the butt of the gun was in the cockpit, did it kick back when firing?
Yes, there it was between your legs and I fired it many times. But it didn't feel at all. There was the engine roar and radio headset on ears, you didn't feel the gun over those. "
- Eino Estama, Finnish bomber/fighter pilot. Source: Interview of Eino Estama by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G-6:
"The Morane cannon was really accurate, you could hit at 400-500 meters with half a meter accuracy."
- What was it like compared to the Messerschmitt cannon?
The Me cannon had the advantage that it worked. The Morane cannon on the other hand, sometimes you pushed the trigger for nothing."
- Edvald Estama, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Recollections by Eino and Edvald Estama by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G:
"- What effect does the weapons' recoil have?
Nnooo, it has no effect, you don't push the trigger all the time. You fire accurate shots. And you don't have so many rounds.
- Smoke? The smoke of the cannon or the mg's? Does it affect visibility when firing?
Nothing, no smoke, no effect to view."
- Väinö Pokela, Finnish fighter ace and Me 109 trainer. 5 victories. Source: Interview of Väinö Pokela by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G:
"It flew like on rails even when shooting."
- Väinö Pokela, Finnish fighter ace and Me 109 trainer. 5 victories. Source: Interview of Väinö Pokela by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G-6:
"During air combat, the pilots always tried to get as close as possible. He told that the gunsight was not that important in aiming itself, but it helped immensely in estimating the required deflection for the shot. When the target filled the gunsight, it was in range. The fact that all the guns of the MT were located in the nose helped gunnery, since you didn't have to worry about convergence too much. The BW was a different story, since 2 machine guns were in the wings, therefore it was more demanding in regards to shooting distance. The MT had 3 ammunition counters in the cockpit, on the left side of the Revi gunsight: for the 20mm cannon in the middle and for both of the mg's on the sides."
- Olli Sarantola, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Blitz '01 - Meeting With The Veterans by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Bf 109 D:
"The guns on this ship - five of them, all hunched on the fuselage - certainly made me feel as if I were aiming guns and not flying an airplane. In addition, I was particularly intrigued to find the control stick equipped with a tiny flap which was hinged to lie on top of the stick when not in use and to be swung forward and down - parallel with the front edge of the control stick handle. This little flap was the electric trigger which completed the circuit, when pressed by the forefinger, to operate all five machine guns.
I found this trigger sensitive to the touch and extremely light, later ascertaining that a pressure of 3 milligrams was required to close the circuit and actuate the guns.
The trigger arrangement was the final little detail which brought me the impression that instead of actually flying an airplane upon which guns were mounted, I was actually aiming a delicately balanced rifle."
- US Marine Corps major Al Williams. Source: Bf 109D test flight, 1938.

Me 109 G:
"For the pilot the plane was definitely a good package. The climb rate was good as well as the cannon and machinegun weaponry. "
-Mikko Lallukka, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy"

Me 109 G-2:
"Best things in the Me: speed, power and climb. Weaponry was good, as well as the control systems and radio."
-Lasse Kilpinen, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy"

Me 109 G:
"Me 109 had good and accurate weapons."
-Heimo Lampi, Finnish fighter ace. 13 1/2 victories. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Me 109 G:
"The weaponry was good when compared to the planes I'd flown earlier, Fokker D.XXI and Brewster."
- Atte Nyman, , Finnish fighter ace. 5 victories. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Me 109 G-6:
Me109 had good performance values for its time, the weapons (1 x 20 mm + 2 x 13 mm) were accurate and effective. The option for 3x20mm cannons was well suited against IL-2s.
- Martti Uottinen, Finnish war bomber pilot, post war fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Me 109 G-6:
Weapons were effective, the cannon was positioned between the legs. The problem with the weapons was the softness of the belt material. When you shot from high-G turns, the links of the ammunition belt stretched too much, so that the reloading mechanism didn't catch the next cardridge anymore.
- Erkki O. Pakarinen, Finnish fighter pilot, Finnish Air Force trainer. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Me 109 weapon effectiviness

Kyösti Karhila's 2nd victory with the Messerschmitt 109 G-2:
"When shooting at the first one, he was so close that my burst missed him below. I adjusted my point of aim to the top of his fuselage and fired again. I hit him right in the fuel tank and he exploded into shreds. The enemy leader saw this, applied full power and headed for the Oranienbaum bridgehead. We were off Seivästö on the Gulf of Finland. He was flying with maximum power just as I did. He kept evading, I pursued him but did not shoot, I had decided to "grill" him a little. As he banked slightly I got a good deflection on him and he exploded on the spot. That 20mm cannon was a good weapon if you only hit your target."
- Kyösti Karhila, Finnish fighter ace. 32 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G:
"The Il-2 had to be fired at from the side, you could not down him from any other direction. It was in vain to shoot a well armoured plane like the Il-2 from behind. You could not accomplish anything. But fighters were vulnerable from every quarter. And the bombers had a lot of weak spots. Although I did not get to shoot at bombers very often! I cannot tell much about them. We were shooting at a Boston and that was a piece of experience. You do know what would happen if you approach very close behind, you shall be hit by the debris. Next time you know to avoid that."
- Hemmo Leino, Finnish fighter ace. 11 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G:
"Antti Tani: Of course hits damage the aircraft, its fuselage in any case The fuselage is not armoured. For example the IL-2, the fuselage could be holed. But its armour could not be pierced easily. It could not be shot down by shooting at the fuselage with a cannon, I never did succeed in that. I used my ammunition once so that I fired at the radiators of the IL-2 and having got drops in my windscreen I knew they were holed. Then I fired the rest of the ammunition in the fuselage. It was to no effect. If you fired from the rear in the fuselage, you could see if you hit him. If the target continues straight flight, the pilot must be dead, but if evading, then he must be...
This one belly landed on a field, but he created new field for another 150m.
Jussi Huotari: I mean, if the enemy pilot does not evade, he must be dead.
Antti Tani:Yes, then you know that the man is dead. But the Il-2 for example was so well armoured that the pilot was behind three armour plates and often ignored being fired upon
Jussi Huotari: They did not do much of evasive action..."
- Antti Tani, Finnish fighter ace. 21,5 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.
- Jouko "Jussi" Huotari, Finnish fighter ace. 17 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G:
"- Was it easy to hit the target with the weapons of the Messerschmitt?
Easy if you had a chance to aim decently, and if you fired at a short range but not too short. 150m was about right from the point of view of your own safety, for one. Oippa Tuominen approached a Pe-2 and fired at a range of 20m, the victim lost one wing which hit his airscrew. "
- Kyösti Karhila, Finnish fighter ace. 32 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G:
"- Did you use the 7.9mm machine guns of the G2 model as an aid to aiming and only then fired the cannon? Were the light MGs good for anything ?
We used to fire all guns when in good position. The G2 had more ammo for the MGs than for the cannon, so it was worthwile to shoot with every weapon. Our idea was that if the cannon was jammed so the 7mm guns were worthless, then it was time to go home.
- Many a fighter pilot tells in their memoirs that the rifle caliber MG was almost useless. It could not penetrate the rear armour nor make leaks in the fuel tanks. Well, if you hit a carburator it might be split.
It pays to shoot always, you might hit for example the aileron mechanism or some other weak spot. "
- Kyösti Karhila, Finnish fighter ace. 32 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Cannonboot (three cannon) Messerschmitts

Me 109 G-6/R6:
"- What about the Cannon Messerschmitt?
Kössi (Karhila) said, "I can fly her, I take her." But I said, very well, I don't want... She was such an unwieldy one. I got in a dogfight flying one against (P-38) Lightnings and was unable even to climb up to them. They were a little higher, and I tried to climb to get at them but ran out of speed... I don't know how Kössi managed to fly her. He must have his own tricks or he had a different starting point. I had to fly one in battle only two or three times. If all the enemy planes had been Il-2s or bombers, I would have preferred her. It would have been another matter to engage them with three cannons."
- Hemmo Leino, Finnish fighter ace. 11 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

"I learned to fly with the "Cannon-Mersu" (MT-461). I found that when fighter pilots got in a battle, they usually applied full power and then began to turn. In the same situation I used to decrease power, and with lower speed was able to turn equally well. I shot down at least one Mustang (on 4th July 1944) in turning fight. I was hanging behind one, but I could not get enough deflection. Then the pilot made an error: he pulled too much, and stalling, had to loosen his turn. That gave me the chance of getting deflection and shooting him down. It was not impossible to dogfight flying a three-cannon Messerschmitt."
" When the enemy decreased power, I used to throttle back even more. In a high speed the turning radius is wider, using less speed I was able to out-turn him having a shorter turning radius. Then you got the deflection, unless the adversary did not spot me in time and for example banked below me. 250kmh seemed to be the optimal speed."
- Kyösti Karhila, Finnish fighter ace. 32 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G-6/R6:
"The single time I got to shoot with the three cannon Messerschmitt, I did not like her, even though I shot down three IL-2. I fired one brief burst and at the second burst she began to veer as one of the wing cannons did not fire. Then I had to get as close to the target as ever possible and then take deflection in the wrong direction...
- Was the other wing cannon jammed all the time in that mission ?
Yes, it did not work, not a single shot did it fire. I had to kick down one pedal just as I fired to make the plane go straight for an instant during firing. I managed to shoot a brief burst when next to the target, pretty close.
- The wing cannon recoil was tremendous, wasn't it ?
Yes, just huge."
- Antti Tani, Finnish fighter ace. 21,5 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Gunsight

Me 109 G:
"I never really suffered from jammed guns but I had a couple of times such trouble with the gunsight that it ruined my mission. I was flying the Messerschmitt then, as a pair with Myllylä at Lavansaari and we encountered some LaGGs or Yaks. They approached from the other side of the island. Myllylä was flying ahead of me and he attacked one of them. Of course he got the second enemy behind his tail and I tried to get behind him.

I pushed the stick - and the gunsight left its slot and fell in my lap! (Loose screws) Myllylä kept yelling, "shoot him, get rid of him!" I had to tell him that how could I shoot as the gunsight was in my lap. I tried to shoot according to tracers but it was no good. Sometimes if you have good luck you might hit something."
- Hemmo Leino, Finnish fighter ace. 11 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G:
"The speed, rate of climb and armament were suberb compared to our other planes. The best feature was the excellent rate of climb. The reflector sight was good as well as the radio and the throat microphone, which eliminated the engine noise from transmissions."
-Kullervo Joutseno, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Radios

Me 109 G:
"- Did you frequently have radio problems?
Well, I did have them fairly often! Often, even though the FuGs were pretty good pieces of equipment.
- Judging by the literature there were frequently problems with the radios?
Yes, there were lots of radio problems everywhere. But thinking about it, the least with the Messerschmitts. They were equipped with good radios. But...in a crucial moment they did not work. It was bad luck."
- Hemmo Leino, Finnish fighter ace. 11 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G:
"I had this one incident in Germany with my radio. We had been emphasised that we should use the radio as seldom as possible, because the Germans tried to babble on them. There were also other courses going on at Ludvigslust at the same time. When I was starting the plane, I switched the radio on for a moment to check that it was working, it did and I switched it off. After flying in clouds for an hour I started to contact the air traffic control to get a bearing home, but my transmitter wouldn't work. The received had worked, but the transmitter didn't."
- Olli Sarantola, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Interview of Olli Sarantola by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G:
"Sometimes I wondered in the air, how you can get such confusion despite orders... Once there was a terrible lot of Russians in overcast sky, at least 100-200 Russians, 40-50 Finns and same amount of Germans. And how can it be that they're all speaking on the same radio frequency. Then somewhere among the chatter you hear Joppe Karhula's order, "let's go home boys, we can't do shit here." So we came home. We could but wonder how the frequencies could all be so confused. They were so close to each other that some inversion layer reflected the radiowaves back. You could hear the Russians babble, Finns yell, Germans chatter. Radio was just crazy. Normally the waves stayed separate just fine."
- Edvald Estama, Finnish bomber/fighter pilot. Source: Recollections by Eino and Edvald Estama by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G:
"The reflector sight was good as well as the radio and the throat microphone, which eliminated the engine noise from transmissions. "
-Kullervo Joutseno, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Me 109 G:
"Some planes had problems with material quality, as the plane was a war time product. G-2 radios caused sometimes worries. G-6 was much better in this regard."
- Atte Nyman, , Finnish fighter ace. 5 victories. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Cockpit

Bf 109 D:
"We came upon the Me 109 that was waiting for me. This was my first chance really to study the gadgets and instruments in its cockpit. Each was christened with a name that ranged anywhere from an inch to an inch and a half in length. None of them meant anything to me, and I was compelled to identify their location and their uses by following the instructions of the patient chap who explained them to me.
I stalled around a little bit, until I became somewhat familiarised with gadgets and controls, retractable landing gear, controllable-pitch propeller switch, auxiliary hand pumps, manually controlled flaps, and the various gauges and main and reserve gasoline cut-off valves.
Standing still, the controls were light and delicate to the touch. The engine sounded like a dream, no rattling or vibrating as in the case of aircooled radials. This was a 12-cylinder in-line job, and it ran like a watch."
- US Marine Corps major Al Williams. Source: Bf 109D test flight, 1938.

Me 109 F/G:
"You know the 109 is way tight and you have the cannon between your legs and there isn't very much left and visibility to the back is poor. The cockpit, as such, was very narrow, VERY narrow. You have as I mentioned, the cannon between your two legs in rather like in a tunnel, you know? Later on they made a steel plate to protect the head, backwards.  But they cut off the side through the back.  You know?  Because we had this steel plate, here. "
- Major Gunther Rall. German fighter ace, NATO general, Commander of the German Air Force. 275 victories. Source: Lecture by general Rall.

Me 109 G-2/G-6:
- Fit like a glove?
"Yes, fit in my hand right away."
- How comfortable was the Me cockpit? Did your glove fit well on the stick? I suppose the gauges were well positioned and it was easy to command?
"Yes, it fit like a glove."
- Was it a tight fit?
"You got used to it. Both shoulders were against wall, which didn't help when you had to look all around in a battle. But we weren't wearing too much either."
- How did you see out?
"The armored glass made it a bit difficult to see behind, you had to kick the rudder a little to get a view. "
- How about when doing a climbing turn, how well did you see behind?
"Surprisingly well. "
- Tightly strapped in your seat and still could look behind?
"The straps weren't so tight you couldn't move. Sometimes a lot. "
- Mauno Fräntilä, Finnish fighter ace. 5 1/2 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association: Chief Warrant Officer Mauno Fräntilä.

Me 109 G-2/G-6:
The cockpit was cramped and the visibility wasn't good. This was evident when landing in bad conditions, especially with the G-2's cabin. This was evident when landing while it was snowing and the landing field was covered with pure white snow.
- Aulis Rosenlöf, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Me 109 G-6:
One thing that was absolutely good about it, was the wild performance of the aircraft. Other good points were the visibility during the flight, the sitting position, the cockpit wasn't unnecessary roomy, the impression of controlled flight and sturdy construction: no vibrations or shakings, the electrically heated flightsuit and gloves.
- Torsti Tallgren, Finnish post war fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Me 109 G:
Hemmo Leino's Messerschmitt 109 G being followed by two Yak-9s, while mr. Leino climbed from them using spiral climb:
"-How well could you observe those pursuers?
It could be done quite well. There was nothing. I did see when he would...I learned to notice that there, now he is about to shoot because he tightened his turn and it could be seen that he tried... Actually it was very amusing. I was not in any trouble.
- About looking down, could you stretch yourself to look down or were you tightly strapped in the seat?
We used to pull the belts tight"
- Hemmo Leino, Finnish fighter ace. 11 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.
- Notice that mr. Leino tells he is tightly strapped in his seat, yet he was able to see the two Yaks on his tail. So he had both good neck - and good visibility backwards from the cockpit.

Me 109 G:
"I got about 150 hours and over 30 aerial combats on the Messerschmitt 109. It was a fine "pilot's airplane" and there was no big complaints about the technical side, as long as you operated it within envelope, inside the performance parameters. It is hard to find any negative things about the plane from pilot's perspective when taking the development of technology into account. But the heavy and visibility limiting hood of the G-2 should have been changed into the G-6 "Galland hood" earlier."
-Hemmo Leino, Finnish fighter ace. 11 victories. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Me 109 G:
"The Messerschmitt pilot's suit was electrically heated from the system of the plane and it was warm. As to gloves, you had to have your own. The Air Force mitts could not be worn in the cockpit."
- Kyösti Karhila, Finnish fighter ace. 32 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G:
"- The travel of the control column of the Messerschmitt was fairly short, especially sideways, I think?
The cockpit was narrow and then the pilot's legs were on the way, there was not much space for the stick. When the pilot called "Long Jimmy" was flying, he had to keep his legs bent and it was told he held the stick with his arm under his leg. "
- Kyösti Karhila, Finnish fighter ace. 32 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G:
"- How well did you see out of the cockpit of a Messerschmitt ?
As we got the Galland canopies they were a little better, wasn't it? The frames were darn wide. The lighter canopy was much better, you could see much better from there. The G-2 canopy was a problem. I remember once we had been scrambled over the Gulf of Finland, we were flying around Seiskari island and there was a lot of planes in the air. The first leg of the flight went well, but then I got more and more oil on the windscreen. I sprayed it clean with petrol, but as soon as the petrol had evaporated there was oil blocking my view. I had to do it time and again, I saw many times a Messerschmitt and the enemy he was shooting at. Then the windscreen was again blocked. I sprayed, banked, saw nothing, then three or four planes, spray, again nothing visible. I was turning about for a while, then thought, "hell no, this is no good. It is useless to stay here". I flew to the base and the mechanics worked hard to eliminate the leak."
- Antti Tani, Finnish fighter ace. 21,5 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109:
"- How did the cockpit feel in the 109?
The cockpit was small, but one got used to it after a while. In the end it felt comfortable since you felt like part of the plane. The Spitfire's cockpit did not feel that much roomier to him either. The 262 cockpit however was larger in comparison. It also had a long flight stick, giving the pilot lots of leverage in flight."
- Franz Stigler, German fighter ace. 28 victories. Interview of Franz Stigler.

109 G:
"From left to right, the co-located elevator trim and flap trim wheels fall easily to hand. You need several turns to get the flaps fully down to 40 degrees and the idea is that you can crank both together. In practice this is a little difficult and I tend to operate the services separately. Coming forward we see the tailwheel locking lever. This either allows the tailwheel to castor or locks it dead ahead. Next is the throttle quadrant, consisting of the propeller lever, and a huge throttle handle. Forward and down, on the floor is an enormous and very effective ki-gass primer and a T shaped handle. DIrectly above this and in line with the canopy seal is the yellow and black hood jettison lever. Pulling this releases two very strong springs in the rear part of the canopy, causing the rear section to come loose and therefore the whole main part of the hood becomes unhinged and can be pushed clear away into the aiflow. Looking directly forwards we have clustered together the standard instument panel with vertical select magnetos on the left, starter and booster coil slightly right of center and engine instruments all grouped together on the right hand side. Our aeroplane has a mixture of British, Spanish and German instruments in this area.
The center console under the main instrument panel consists of a 720 channel radio. E2B compass and a large placard courtesy of the Civil Aviation Authority warning of the dire consequences if you land in a crosswind equal to or greater than 10 knots, or trim the aircraft at speeds in excess of 250 knots. Just to the left of the center console, close to your left knee is the undercarriage up/down selector and the mechanical and electrical undercarriage position indicator. On G-BOML this is a rotary selector with a neutral position. Select the undercarriage up or down then activate a hydraulic button on the front of the control column. This gives 750 psi to the system instantly. Immediately beneath the undercarriage selector is the control for the Radiator flaps. These are also hydraulically controlled with an open/close and neutral position, and activated by the trigger on the stick at 375 psi. If you leave the radiator flap control in anything other than neutral and then try to activate the undercarriage you will not have enough pressure to enable the gear to travel.
Right hand side of the cockpit sees the electrical switches, battery master boost, pumps, pitot heat and a self contained pre-oil system and that's it ! There is no rudder trim, or rudder pedal adjust; also the seat can only be adjusted pre-flight and has the choice of only three settings. If you are any bigger than 6 feet tall, it's all starting to get a bit confined. Once you are strapped in and comfortable close the canopy to check the seating position. Normally, if you haven't flown the 109 before you get a clout on the head as you swing the heavy lid over and down. Nobody sits that low in a fighter ! The OFMC aeroplane has the original flat top ot it - however the Charles Church aircraft has a slight bulge to the top of the canopy - about an inch or so. This is practically indescernable externally, but gives a very helpful lift to the eyeline over the nose."
- Mark Hanna of the Old Flying Machine Company flying the OFMC Messerschmitt Bf 109 G (Spanish version).

"Other factors affecting the '109 as a combat plane include the small cramped cockpit. This is quite a tiring working environment, although the view out (in flight) is better than you might expect; the profuseion of canopy struts is not particularly a problem.  In addition to the above the small cockpit makes you feel more a part of the aeroplane."
- Mark Hanna of the Old Flying Machine Company flying the OFMC Messerschmitt Bf 109 G (Spanish version).

Me 109 G:
"The cockpit arrangements in the plane were good, but visibility from the cockpit was poor when rolling on narrow taxiways."
-Kauko Juvonen, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Me 109 G:
"The MT had a very clear cockpit. It was big enough for a normal man. You had a firm feeling about sitting in a robust plane.@
-Jorma Karhunen, Finnish fighter ace. 36 1/2 victories, fighter squadron commander. . Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy"

Me 109 G:
"The cockpit arrangements were good, though close-fitting to a large man."
-Mikko Lallukka, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy"

Me 109 G:
"The performance and handling of the plane were excellent and all systems were in their correct place."
- Esko Nuuttila, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Daimler-Benz engine and engine systems

Me 109 E:
"Pilots verbatim impressions of some features are of interest. For example, the DB 601 engine came in for much favourable comment from the viewpoint of response to throttle and insusceptability to sudden negative 'g'; while the throttle arrangements were described as 'marvellously simple, there being just one lever with no gate or over-ride to worry about'. Suprisingly though, the manual operation of flaps and tail setting were also liked; 'they are easy to operate, and being manual are not likely to go wrong'; juxtaposition of the flap and tail actuating wheels in an excellent feature."
- RAF Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) Farnborough handling trials,Bf.109E Wn: 1304. M.B. Morgan and R. Smelt of the RAE, 1944.

Me 109 F/G:
"- Did most of the 109's have MW-50 or GM-1?
Of all the 109G's he ever saw and flew, all had Water Methanol injection. This could be used in combat for up to about 2 min. any further use would have resulted in the engine being damaged and needing replacement upon landing. The F's did not have this boost system. It helped pilots in emergency situations in catching up to fighters or running away from them."
- Franz Stigler, German fighter ace. 28 victories. Interview of Franz Stigler.

Me 109 G-2:
"I was flying the Messerschmitt (after the Curtisses), did a horizontal roll and wondered why nothing happened. After landing I asked why the engine did not cough. It was not until then that I was told the engine had fuel injection. This feature was not utilized enough. With a plane like this the pilot can make one external manouver after another, and if pursued by a fighter with carburator fed engine, it is going cough at some phase.
- How did the Messerschmitt and Curtiss react to rapid power setting change, was there any difference in reaction?
I seem to remember that the Messerschmitt reacted faster, having fuel injection. The Messerschmitt engine control has been praised in general and not in vain.
- What about the boost pressure, it could be adjusted to above the allowed level even by accident?
Yes, there was no limiter and in different altitudes the boost pressure is different.
- The Messerschmitt supercharger was powered over a liquid clutch which maintained even boost pressure.
If the airscrew governor breaks down, then the too high speed of rotation causes increase in boost pressure. Then the engine is very soon worn out.
The prop was automatically adjusted, but you could adjust the pitch manually in case the automatic system broke down."
- Kyösti Karhila, Finnish fighter ace. 32 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G-2/G-6:
- The first batch of Messerschmitts were in good shape, there were no bad accidents? "The first batch came directly from the factory. The second were used G-6's. The G-2 engine had no durability, it had to be changed even after only 30 hours. G-6 was better in that respect." - I wonder why? I'd imagine those made in '44 were poorer. "This was February '43, and they were G-2's. We got G-6's only later. The worst of them lasted only 30 hours. It was always guesswork if the engine would hold together. "
- Mauno Fräntilä, Finnish fighter ace. 5 1/2 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association: Chief Warrant Officer Mauno Fräntilä.

Me 109 G-6:
The pitch control system of the propellor didn't have any material or structural problems in the beginning; misuse of the system , however, led to serious issues. As long as the system was ran on automatic the situation was OK.
- Erkki O. Pakarinen, Finnish fighter pilot, Finnish Air Force trainer. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

Luftwaffe fuels

- C3 fuel was used like water/methanol to cool down the mixture so that you can increase the pressure in the cylinders. It could be used up to 5500m.
- With the 190A5, field kits were provided, which were installed on the plane like internal fuel tanks, which injected C3 grade fuel, which acted in a way very simular to how MW50 worked - as an anti-detonant, enabling the engine to retain higher boost pressure for a longer time. This boost, as I recall, was available for 10 minutes at level flight, schnellflugstellung. Then it would need a cool-down time, and then could be engaged again.

- The C3 injection system was widely used after the A5. I'm not sure about the MW50 on Fw190As - I hear controversial things, which one side claims the MW50s on A4s, A5s or A8s are a myth, while others claim such configuration really did exist, albeit in small numbers.
What mw50 or C3 injection does is cool down the mixture so that you can increase the pressure in the cylinders. You can run at a higher boost. Both prevent detonation and damage to the cylinders.

- For the most part the allies used higher-octane fuel, and this allowed them to run at higher boost then if they ran at a lower octane. Mw50 and C3 allowed the LW to run at higher boost even with lesser octane fuel.
00 octane C3 fuel was equivalent to 100/145 grade fuel by Allied standards, which is remarkably good.

MW50 would allow higher boosts for any fuel, and in fact the inferior 87 octane B4 fuel would yield similar power as C3 fuel if the B4 was used in combination with MW50 injection.

Fuel sources:
http://www.fischer-tropsch.org/primary_documents/gvt_reports/MofFP/ger_syn_ind/mof-secth.pdf
http://www.fischer-tropsch.org/primary_documents/gvt_reports/USNAVY/tech_rpt_145_45/rpt_145_45_sec2.htm
Based on these reports it seems that C3 was by octane rating about 100/130 PN fuel and by aromatic content close 100/150 PN.

Other systems, radiators

Me 109 G:
"What about the use of the MT radiator flaps, did the pilot adjust them ? As far as I know the automatics was of type on/off?
The automatics adjusted them according to the coolant temperature. When manually adjusted they were fully open when on ground and at take-off, because the temperature of the liquids rose tremendously when taxiing. It was better for the engine to keep the temperatures down. When airborne, the automatics was switched on.
- In (Helmut) Lipfert's book it is told that opening the radiator flaps fully could be used to decelerate the plane in ceratin situations?
The width of the radiator was like this (showing with hands, a small space). The flaps were this wide, and the movement was this much (again showing with hands). Think of it, such a small area, it cannot create great resistance. Such a small piece in each wing, I cannot see they could have had great effect. Of course, in an emergency every little thing may help.
- Another analoguous case is described in Knokke's book, when he was chasing a Spitfire in reconnaissance mission. He manually closed the flaps completely.
That is another matter. He had time. He could decide to close every vent to diminish friction, flying in level flight in high altitude. Yet the radiators create a small flow, you cannot close them completely. But I do not think they are a drag-inducing factor.
- Some sources claim that the effect on the maximum speed was 50kmh if the flaps were closed manually.
I do not believe that. The vent openings were so small, and they could be adjusted but half their travel. They could be opened just a little. "
- Kyösti Karhila, Finnish fighter ace. 32 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Me 109 G:
"The Messerschmitt was equipped with radiators in the wings. The air intake was a large opening near the fuselage, and the outlet was adjustable. The automatics adjusted the system according to the temperature of the glycol coolant.
- Was it possible to adjust the radiators manually?
Of course you could shut the flaps, the effect on speed was minimal. (Showing the position of air intake and outlet in the wing in relation to the fuselage.) If you took a hit there, the glycol would leak out. But you could shut off (the damaged radiator).
- Were the Finnish planes equipped with the shut off valves?
All our planes had these valves
- Was it so that the radiator flaps had to be open at takeoff, the engine would overheat easily?
Yes, it was absolutely necessary to take off as soon as possible to avoid overheating. "
- Kyösti Karhila, Finnish fighter ace. 32 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Maintenance

Me 109 D:
"It is necessary to include a comment on that already offered concerning the accessibility of the engine for maintenance service. I will give it to you point blank and let you estimate its value. The engine of the Messerschmitt can be removed, replaced with another - ready to go - inside of 12 minutes.
You can imagine the uproar of doubt and incredulity in official circles when I returned to the States and spread that word around. The reason for the uproar was quite obvious, in that in very many instances, between 24 and 36 hours were required to remove one engine and replace it with another in many of our standard types of fighting planes.
But, when other Americans returned home from an inspection of the German Air Force and told the same story, great impetus was given to the development of a quick motor replacement in service ships.
The Germans had developed the technique and trained the ground crews to effect this change of engines in the specified length of time on the open airdrome - given, of course, decent weather conditions.
It was explained to me that, from a tactical standpoint, this ultra-rapid change of motors was of utmost importance. For instance, a pilot returning from an active front to his own airdrome could radio ahead and notify the field force that ne needed a new engine. By the time he landed, they could be ready for him.
Ordinary service to an aircraft, such as filling the gasoline tank, checking and replenishing the oil supply, and reloading ammunition belts, requires between ten and fifteen minutes. The new development, therefore, enables the Germans to change an engine while the rest of the service is going on. It's startling performance - namely, yanking one engine and replacing it with another, and turning it over to the pilot inside of 12 minutes."
- US Marine Corps major Al Williams. Source: Bf 109D test flight, 1938.

Me 109 G:
"The service intervals were: 12.5h, 25h and 50h. Later on the interval was increased to to 100h or to 110h providing that the engine had been running smoothly. "
-Esko Laiho, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy"

Me 109 G:
"Some planes had problems with material quality, as the plane was a war time product. G-2 radios caused sometimes worries. G-6 was much better in this regard."
- Atte Nyman, , Finnish fighter ace. 5 victories. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy"

Me 109 G-6:
In one flight exercise the wings started to vibrate. In post-flight check, it was found that both wings (at the wingtips) moved 10cm back and forth. The reason for this was that the hindermost bolt from both of the wings were broken off and the other bolts were pretty much worn too.
- Aulis Rosenlöf, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.


Part II: Breaking the myths

The text in Part II and III are extra and secondary parts to the main article, and are mostly written by contributors. The intention here is to point out some deficiencies in the 'common knowledge' and show that the full picture might be actually somewhat different. The writers do not claim absolute knowledge though and do not claim this chapter is absolutely correct and without errors. The primary author admits being clueless on technical matters and welcomes any corrections, additions and new information.

Forgetting the big picture

Various discussions about aircraft performance usually center on some details. The writers however tend to pick only single details and forget all other aspects that also contibute to the matter, forget the big picture.
When we're talking about airplanes there are unbelievable many parameters that affect the flying characterics and performance. To talk about airplanes sensibly you should understand at least a small part of them. But the more you know, the dumber you feel yourself.
Even modern airplanes, which today's people can actually fly unlike WW2 airplanes, have various solutions that lead to situation, where it is very hard to say how a certain airplane flies unless you've really flown it. WW2 planes on the other hand have so many little details that affect whole big picture, like the ballast weights at wings, dampening of various air flows and so on. You should know all these things pretty well before you can really speculate on them.

Was Me 109 hard or difficult to fly? Comparisons to Spitfire and Hurricane

Yes - and no.
It was in a way tricky in takeoffs for novice pilots (experienced ones, even Allied ones test flying captured specimens, did not think so however) and somewhat tricky in landings, but not more than other planes with similar wingloading.
But once you got it to air, it was one of the safest, if not THE safest of single engined prop fighters to fly. You could not stall it by accident, that needed a definite trying to do so. And if stalled, it did not spin, but just dropped nose. To spin it, it was necessary to kick full rudder deflection at the moment of stall.
Even the spin, if intentionally induced, never developed into an unrecoverable flat state, but was always recoverable provided you had enough altiude.

Compare these mentions about flying Hurricane/Spitfire to 109. The problems in takeoff and landing are similar. The pilot needs to push full right rudder to keep the plane straight. Landing approach pattern is similar to 109 approach. The planes handle more or less same way.
"Hurricane: With that big rudder it was easier to control early direction than the Spit and the forward view was better, as the seat is farther forward on the wing and higher up. It did not fly itself off as the Spit would, but it took only slight back movement of the stick to unstick. The ailerons were lighter than the Spits, which could become quite heavy at higher speeds. On the other hand the elevators were fairly heavy whereas on the Spit the elevators could be moved with two fingers, at slower speeds. On the ground the wide undercarriage made it steadier than the Spit, whose narrow undercarriage caused it to rock on rough ground.
Once you got accustomed to the curved landing approach for better visibility it was a piece of cake
Spitfire: We were briefed on the Spitfire's characteristics, which differed considerably from types previously flown. The 1,000+ hp, liquid cooled, RR Merlin 2 or 3 required the coolant temperature to be monitored and controlled by a manually operated radiator shutter. On June 16 , when my instructor told me to take Spit B-R and fly it around a bit, I was probably a bit nervous since the first guy to fly the day before had killed himself, taking off in coarse pitch, clipping the top of a hangar and crashing into into a paint storage building. With this in mind I began my first long zig-zag taxi to the far end of the field.
At the holding point on the grass I did my run up and check, winding on full right rudder trim. On getting the green I released the brakes, and with the stick right back gradually opened the throttle to takeoff power, then carefully brought the stick forward to neutral (too far and the prop could hit the ground). Almost immediately the tail was up to flying attitude, and almost full right rudder was needed to keep straight.
After having straight-in finals from 500 feet drummed into me at earlier schools, it took some time getting comfortable with the recommended Spitfire approach, which was to combine the base and final legs into a continuously descending curve, to reach a point just off the end of the runway, at about 30 degrees off line, and ready to begin the round out. Then line up the left side of the nose with the landing path and round out to a few feet off the ground."
- Canadian Spitfire pilot. 401 Squadron.

More on same topic:
"Spitfire: I have mentioned how badly I felt about the ailerons of the Spitfire at the time of the battle of Britain. In October 1940 I flew captured Me109; to my surprize and relief I found the aileron control of the German fighter every bit as bad - if not worse - at high speeds as that of the Spitfire I and II with fabric covered ailerons."
- Jeff Quill, RAF Spitfire pilot. Source: Great aircraft of WW2, Alfred Price and Mike Spick

"The aeroplane behaves in a similar fashion to the Mark I Rotol Spitfire in a dive i.e. the controls become heavier with speed, especially near the limiting speed. Considerable forward pressure on the control column is necessary to keep the aeroplane in the dive; the elevator is sensitive throughout the speed range. The rudder and ailerons become very heavy at speeds about 400 m.p.h. A.S.I., the latter being almost immovable then."
- Source: Spitfire Mk IIA Testing, Aeroplane and armanent experimental establishment, Boscombe Down, .

Russian experiences with Spitfire Mk. VB:
- "Spitfires had a bunch of other problems besides poor performance at low and medium altitudes, and none of that was due to lack of 100 octane avgas. Another thing was the narrowly spaced landing gear, poor rear view from the cockpit, and the tendency to stick its nose in the mud when taxiing."
- Unconfirmed internet source.

Why many "western" pilots found it hard to fly the 109?

"(Physical exercise) was up to everyone himself. There was, however, organised games between the squadrons: track and field sport, swimming, cross-country skiing, shooting etc. Every pilot participated in some sport. For me, flying and fighting was a sport in itself.
- How difficult was it to control the 109 in high velocities, 600 kmh and above?
The Messerschmitt became stiff to steer not until the speed exceeded 700kmh.  The control column was as stiff as it had been fastened with tape, you could not use the ailerons. Yet you could control the plane."
- Kyösti Karhila, Finnish fighter ace, Me 109 G pilot. 32 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

- This give an important clue why there is very large differencies in opinion about the heaviness of the 109. In high speeds the plane stiffened - but 109 pilots could still control if. So why the Allied test pilots have so different opinion? Simple. They were not used to the plane. Many of them had flown planes, that had for example hydraulically enhanced controls. Or had flown other types, that had very different feeling. Real 109 pilots on the other hands were used to the heaviness - and practised according to it. Although the high control forces were undoubtedly an undesirable feature, or a problem, restricting the manoeuvrability of the aircraft, especially at high speeds, they were perhaps partly compensated by the emphasis put on physical exercise in the Luftwaffe and FinAF. Numerous accounts by pilots of those forces mention the amount of exercise and sports conducted by the aircrew. Daily physical training might be mandatory, depending on your unit. And every flight was practically a work out session, given the admittably heavier control forces of 109 in higher speeds. It is easy to see how the Me 109 pilots flying it regularly were markedly more adapted to its requirements than a pilot who was only flying limited number of test sorties.

Various myths

It's not Me 109, it is Bf 109, you dork!
Both are correct for the Messerschmitt 109 fighter. Both the factory and the Luftwaffe used both designations throughout the life of the 109. Both Bf 109 and Me 109 appear in "official" documents from a variety of 'official sources, from the production facilities themselves to internal RLM docs. It is wrong to say that 'Me 109' is incorrect or that Bf was terminated during construction of the 108-109-series fighter. These alternative designations didn't stop at the Gustav; many Augsburg documents from the last months of the war still used the Bf prefix. For simplicity, this article usually refers to the plane as Me 109.

"Me 109 was outdated aircraft by 1945."
- The Spitfire was a 1935 design and is not considered outdated at the end of the war. Me 109 was equally developed through its life. 109 development's big changes were between D-E, E-F and G-K models, with improved aerodynamics, larger engines and many modifications installed. The Me 109 on the other hand was completely re-designed with the Friedrich, with new wings, radically different radiators, and a completely new tail section. The 109 K-4 again had numerous improvements over the G series.
- The Me 109 airframe was a proven design with no major flaws, and it still could mount the best fighter engines the Luftwaffe had available. Did it have weaknesses? Certainly! Was it obsolete? No. Did it have much more development potential? No. Agreed, it had been pushed to and over the original limits, but it was certainly good combat aircraft. So what was the problem? It was a combination of bad tactical decisions and poor planning for a prolonged war. The attrition of Luftwaffe experten and poor training for the Nachwuchs cost Luftwaffe more pilots then the "out dated 109".  It's not as clear as some claim. There have been lots of claims and rumors passed on as fact. The late war 109s (109 G-6/AS, 109 G-10, and 109 K-4) were very completive aircraft. But there was never enough and by the time the K-4 was ready it was too late.

The 109 was a bad design, as it needed ballast to fix the center of gravity
- A certain Kit Carson wrote about the 109, that "the engineers screwed up the center of gravity, and 60 pounds of permanent ballast had to be added to the rear of the fuselage to get the C.G. back." Well, pardon me, this isn't the only place where this mr. Carson - who never flew a 109 - happens to be wrong. The claim happily ignores that any plane that is modified during its lifetime undergoes changes - and their COG moves when new equipment is added to the plane or other larger modifications are done. But output was the key - radical changes couldn't be easily done to the airframe, as that might disrupt the production. Therefore a quick way to balance the plane was to add ballast.
- To put the matter into comparison, 60 pounds marking max 1,1% of the plane's total weight was ballast by mr. Carson's words, though he does not mention which model he means. Maybe Emil? Spitfire Mk.IX on the other hand carrier 87,5 pounds of ballast - more than Carson's example. We can find more recent examples easily. F-15C needs huge block of 600 lbs (!) of ballast, when it is upgraded to APG-63(V)2 radar. Fact is, ballast is normal in any aircraft, especially when retrofitted with new equipment.

"109s kill ratio."
- According to Edward Sims' "The Fighter Pilots", the Luftwaffe claimed about 70000 victories, for the loss of 8500 pilots KIA, 2700 POW and 9100 wounded in action, for a total of ca. 20000 losses. Not knowing the real numbers, we could speculate there were another 20000 pilots who bailed out OK, that we arrive at a 70000:40000 kill ratio for the Luftwaffe, or 1.75:1. That's not bad at all considering the catastrophic finale.
- From April 1941 to November 1942, the Luftwaffe scored 1294 confirmed victories for about 200 Me 109 lost in combat. During this period, the Luftwaffe almost exclusively used the Me 109F. They identified their victims as 709 Tomahawks, 304 Hurricanes and 119 Spitfires, plus others/unidentified. That's a ratio of about 6.5:1. (location missing, but looks like North African campaign. Author suggests that these numbers should still be taken with a grain of salt, I have no clue if these are post war verified numbers or wartime claims)

"Auto deploying slats killed many, many pilots / slats were bad / useless."
- Messerschmitt put automatic wing-slats on the outer part of the wings. At sufficient AoA, these open, effectively extending the lift vs AoA curve. Basically this means that in the Bf109, the outer wing sections stall at a considerably higher AoA than the inboard parts of the wing. What does this do? It virtually eliminates the wing-drop of the wing when the wing starts to stall. Plus, it allows full aileron usage up to the point at which the outer part of the wing starts to stall. This leads to a very gentle stall until the wing slats themselves stall.
- Automatically deploying slats were British invention and patented by Handley Page, created originally by Sir Frederick Handley Page around 1919. They were used by all nations and could by found from lots of other airplanes than just the Messerschmitt 109 and 110. The American F-86 Sabre was equipped with similar passive leading-edge slats and same principle is used in all modern jet airliners and fighters, just that they're these days computer controlled.
As Duane Sheppard, a Canadian F-86 Sabre pilot told: "I used to fly the F-86 Sabre back in the 50's. Our high level battle formations went as high as 55,000 feet. At that altitude approachs your cruising speed so that any sharp turns could have you falling out of the sky. Our engines were the Orenda engine made by Canadair, I think. Anyway they were superior in terms of thrust to the American F-86's. On the Air Division in Europe, where the Canadians and Americans had the odd dogfight, our F-86's had a definite edge on theirs. Especially the Mark 6's which were equipped with leading edge slats. This kept a laminar flow of air over the wings as the jet approached the stall in turns." - The auto-deployment of the slats was subject to extensive testing prior to WW2, and was found to be beneficial in all situations. In fact, the Me 109 had been designed with the slats locking down upon retraction of the flaps, but this mechanism was removed because the tests showed that it was much better to have the slats operating freely. Willy Messerschmitt first tested the wing leading edge slats with the Messerschmitt 108 plane and found them useful. If they wouldn't have been the Me 109s would not have been equipped with the slats.
- Usually whoever claims that slats caused problems ignore that slats were only "problem" up to the E models. With 109 F model and upwards the automatic wing leading edge slats were much improved and they operated smoother.
- Claus Colling, one of the men behind Flug Werk says following: "The Me (Bf ) 109 "E" through "F" used the swing arm parallelogram mechanism to agitate the slats. From the "G" onwards the Me 109's used the roller-track mechanism to guide the slats in and out. It all follows a patent bought by Messerschmitt from DeHavilland just prior to the war. The slats are driven out by means of low air-pressure if the AOA gets higher ( slow flight ) and retract by means of air-pressure when accelerating." Source: 109 Lair.
- Please see this article about 109 slats at 109 Lair for more information.

In addition, the Russian test flights with MiG-3 with similar slats are quite informative of their effects:
"- On the night before enemy forces invaded our country, concurrent testing was concluded by the Scientific Research Institute of VVS and LEE NKAP in testing the effectiveness of elongated automatic slats on the MiG-3. With slats, the engineers and test pilots noted that the fighter ceased to stall without warning, the fighter also proved easier to control while executing aerobatic maneuvers. The MiG-3 was easily leveled prior landing; in other words, it gave more control and did not have a tendency to roll over to the side when the pilot pulled on the control stick.
- The results noted: Automatic slats, length 2004 mm, on the serial MiG-3 considerably eliminated stalls and increased controllability when speed was lost. Before a stall, the aircraft would warn the pilot by rocking, and when a stall was imminent, the aircraft dipped its nose and banked to the right. The installation of the slats considerably simplified piloting and made it possible to control the aircraft with a loss of speed.
- From empirical tests it was seen that fighters with “smooth” wings, critical speed leveled off at 190 km/h but when the slats were added the speed dropped to 155-160 km/h. In certain conditions, for example when turning, the MiG-3 completely stopped stalling. Its behaviour tended to give more warnings than with 1573 mm slats.
- The majority of test flights were done by test pilots A.I. Zhukov, V.N. Savkin, V.T. Sahranov, noting that thanks to the slats, piloting the plane was a lot easier."

"109 pilots wired slats shut was because the slats would cause them crash / ruin aim / they'd get close in behind a target and the propwash/slipstream would jostle their aircraft around, causing the slats to deploy unevenly and ruining their gun solution."
- Urban myth. We haven't yet seen a single reliable account about pilots wiring the Bf 109's slats shut in the western front. Only rumours and claims. In Africa this might have happened - primary reason why to do it was the dusty conditions. The sand dust made the slats jam, also early E versions were prone to slat jam. Wiring slats shut is plausible if you're operating in dusty conditions of Africa or Russian plains at summer. If other slat deployed and other was jammed, that would be most problematic. But if you had long, good runways - like you most likely would in Africa - wiring slats might not be a problem for landing. Myths that Luftwaffe Messerschmitt pilots in the Western front had the slats locked in closed position have no basis though, and there hasn't yet been a single verified document or pilot account about it actually being done. Asking about this from real life Messerchmitt 109 combat pilots and 109 experts from aviation museums has only brought confused replies about them never hearing about whole thing, that to their knowledge nobody had ever done anything like that.

"Me 109 was hard/dangerous plane to take off."
- The standard takeoff procedure for 109 was to use rudder to keep the plane straight. There was basically to ways to take off the plane. Either you throttled up fairly fast and gave full  right rudder, easing it off as speed increased, or you throttled up slowly so there was minimal torque effect. In practise that was similar to anybody who had flown other types before and it took usually just one flight to know how to do it. The myth that there was something hard in taking off in 109 stems mostly from highly exaggerated claims - or the fact that for new pilots converting to 109 from various trainers had not flown such highly powerful aircraft before. With proper teaching - no problems. In Germany that was rare thing in the last years of war though. The Finnish Air Force chief instructor colonel Väinö Pokela told, that one of his key points in teaching new pilots to 109s was to instruct them very carefully - and told them to forget any horror stories they've been told.  He said, that many pilots were already scared from the horror stories other pilots and non pilots had been telling, and after showing how easy 109 was to handle there was seldom any problems.
- Colonel Pokela also told that most 109 crashed he had seen resulted because the pilot had forgotten to lock the tailwheel before applying takeoff power. If that happened then the pilot couldn't keep the plane straight when accelerating. Take notice that you need to push rudder in all other planes as well - for example Spitfire requires similarly full right pedal while accelerating.
- Torque can indeed send a plane off the runway during a takeoff, especially if there's a crosswind to start it off. But 109 is no different from a P-40 or a Spitfire in this situation. The bad reputation most likely comes from pilots flying it for the first and perhaps only time, and that the veteran pilot would instinctively make the adjustments needed to keep it straight while rolling on the ground.

"109s were so difficult to take off and land that half the 109s lost in the war were lost to take off and landing accidents."
- 5 % of the 109's were lost in take off/landing accidents.

"11,000 of the 33,000 built were destroyed during takeoff and landing accidents - one third of its combat potential!" (direct quote)
"Me-109 had an astonishing 11,000 takeoff/landing accidents resulting in destruction of the a/c! That number represents roughly one-third of the approximately 33,000 such a/c built by Germany." (usual internet claim)
- Source: FLIGHT JOURNAL magazine
- The magazine has it wrong or has misintepretated the numbers. Luftwaffe lost about 1500 Me-109's in landing gear failures. Note that German loss reports often lump destroyed and damaged (10 to 60% damaged) together. It was also a standard practise to rebuild even heavily damaged airframes. While rebuilding/refurnishing these planes were also upgraded to the latest standards and latest equipment. This means that large proportion of these damaged/destroyed planes were not complete losses, but returned to squadron service.

"The specific problem with the Bf 109 was the very narrow / weak undercarriage track."
- Narrow landing gear was not that uncommon at the time - all biplanes also had narrow landing gear. Me 109's undercarriage was connected to the fuselage rather than the wings. This had several reasons. Most importantly the wings were easily and quickly changed if needed, without special preparations or tools. Wings were also one single structure, which made it possible to make them very strong. Because this the plane needed some care when operating. The claim that the narrow undercarriage was a problem is a myth, though. In comparison the undercarriage of Supermarine Spitfire was even narrower - it had its own share of problems from this. Imagine what it was to takeoff and land the Spitfire's carrier version to carriers for example? Especially later marks of Spitfire with enormous amount of installed power were quite a handful to operate. But that is conveniently usually ignored.
- The width of undercarriage in Me 109 E is 1,97 meters; 109 G 2,06 meters and 109 K 2,1 meters. However - Spitifre's undercarriage width was 1,68 meters.
- The real problem was the center of gravity behind the undercarriage. This made it possible to brake unusually hard in landings, but it also required the pilot to keep the plane straight in takeoff and landing. Because this it was easier for a small sideswing to develop into a groundloop or the plane might drift off the runway, if the pilot was not awake. Of course, if the tailwheel was not locked, the tendency would be pronounced and more difficult to counter. As with any plane.
- Contrary to the popular myth, the landing gear could take the plane 'dropping' in from about 8-10 feet.

"The 109 was flown down to the runway at relatively high speed and "wheel" landed: it was to make sure the leading edge slats did not deploy.  Because of the high speed at touchdown, there was more time for something to go wrong during the rollout, and it often did."
- Now that is some science fiction. For example the Finnish Me 109s always did stall landings, because the airfields were mostly very smal. The landings were almost similar to carrier landings - the plane approached field in shallow descending turn, aligning to the runway just seconds before touchdown. By "hanging" in the air at stall speed, with slats open, the plane touched down at minimum speed at three points and the pilot could apply full brakes immediately. 109 had very good brakes and the gear was so forward, that the was no worries about nosing over with full braking. Landing could be made with higher speeds, slats not open, or they could intentionally be "popped" out even in higher speed approach (take notice: pilot did not have direct control on the slats, but he could still force them out by creating right flight condition). "Stall landing" to three points with slats open was the favoured method in Finland though. And don't forget, there was even a carrier version of the Messerchmitt, and you just don't land to carrier at high speeds. Of course these planes didn't actually operate from carrier, they they were built and operated by normal squadrons.
- As a side note, Finnish pilots who visited Germany on war time and saw some of the German training or how the German combat pilots took off and   landed their planes, they were quite horrified. German training in '44 seemed very rough and no 3 points landings was taught to the pilots, who approached with high speeds and came down on two wheels. At that time Germans put as many pilots through the training as possible, and didn't bother to teach the finer things about piloting to the green pilots. The runways were paved and long, so the finesse of "good" landings could be ignored.

"109's weakness was the poor / wooden propellers"
- The 109 was equipped with full metal VDM electrically-operated contant-speed propellors. I don't know if the blades was forged or extruded, but they were definitely metal. The Journal of the Aircraft Engine Historical Society (here is their web-site http://www.enginehistory.org/ ) has an excellent article on this device.
- Written by Steve Zielinski
- (can any of the readers find the mentioned article from the site? The author didn't....)

"109's controls locked up in high speed."
- Another very mythical subject. Before answering one must be asked: "What model are you talking about?"
- There was large differences between various types in the high speed controls. Each newer version handled better in high speeds, the best being the 109 K series which had flettner tabs for enhanced aileron control - at least in theory, as it is debated whether many Me 109 K-4s actually had those flettners enabled. 109 G series were much better on this regard compared to 109 E, which yet again wasn't such a dog as many claim. 109 test pilots, Russians included, have said that the 109 had pretty good roll at higher speeds - again not as good as the 190s, P-51 or P-47 - but it maintained a good lateral control ability. Recovering from extremerely fast 750-900 km/h vertical dives was the problem - not level flight or even normal combat flying.
- Spitfire and a 109 had equal roll rates at up to 400 mph speeds. Not even the favourite warhorse of the Americans, P-51, exactly shined with its roll rate at high speeds. P-51 pilots have actually said that flying P-51 at high speeds was like driving a truck.
- An often quoted British report made of a Me 109 E talks about the "short stick travel", "due to the cramped cockpit a pilot could only apply about 40 pounds side force on the stick" and "at 400 mph with 40 pounds side force and only one fifth aileron displaced, it required 4 seconds to get into a 45 degree roll or bank. That immediately classifies the airplane as being unmaneuverable and unacceptable as a fighter."
- The report claims that The 109-E needed 37lb stick force for a 1/5 aileron deflection at 400mph. Coincidentally, the Spitfire 1 required 57 lb stick force from the pilot for similar deflection at similar speed. This is a 54% higher stickforce for the Spitfire pilot.
- The British test is taken as gospel by many, while it is just one test, made by the enemy, using a worn out and battle damaged airframe. German flight tests report pilots using aileron forces of over 45 lbs and 109's stick was designed for elevator stick forces of up to or over 85kg, over 180 lbs. Finnish Bf 109 G-2 test revealed that at 450 km/h the stick could be still fully taken to the limit with ~10 kg force (20 pounds). Aileron roll without rudder could be performed to both direction from 400-450 km/h in 4-5 s. This is better than the Spitfire with fabric ailerons, about the same as Spitfire with metal ailerons and slightly below clipped wing Spitfire. So it was more matter of the pilot and the test procedures, than maneuverability of the Bf 109. Several details of that test are suspicious and German chief test pilot Heinrich Beauvais disagreed with it and with Eric Brown. Beauvais tried to get into contact after the war with Eric Brown to discuss the matters, but Brown refused to discuss with him. This being the case, it seems that Brown wasn't willing to listen a pilot who'd flown more on the 109 than he ever had, and was more interested on believing his negative findings of the 109 than being proven wrong by a real expert.

- AFDU 28 October 1941: TACTICAL TRIALS - Me.109F AIRCRAFT
- 7. No manoeuvrability trials were carried out against other aircraft but the Me.109F was dived up to 420 m.p.h., I.A.S., with controls trimmed for level flight and it was found that although the elevators had become heavy and the ailerons had stiffened up appreciably, fairly tight turns were still possible. [...] It is considered that recovery from a high speed dive near the ground would be difficult, as the loss of height entailed is considerable. This may account for occasional reports of Me.109F being seen to dive straigth into the ground without apparently being fired at. Please see sections diving and stick forces for pilot comments on the subject.

The actual speed of Me 109 F-4?
- Me 109 F-4 is one mythical airplane. Practically all its performance reports stem from a single British test flown with a damaged airplane with derated engine. All other test "reports" are copied from this one test. To read more about this case please read Article about the performance of the Bf 109 F-4, written by Michael Rausch. Quotes below:
- In summary, from the article: " After the review of several hundred pages of British reports about planes of the variants Bf 109 F-1/-2/-4 the picture became apparant, that only with exactly one captured Bf 109 F-4 and its engine performance measurement were done. As already the climbing time, then also the British maximum speeds give a clear reference to, that the available engine did not even obtain the power output for climb/combat power. As best climbing rate for the climbing on 4876 m are indicated about 1006 m/min, for the climbing on 6705 m 8.2 minutes. Again these are values, which were clearly below the German for climb/combat power. These were on one hand a maximum climbrate of 1111 m/min for the climbing to 5000 m. The British values for the maximum climbrate lay thereby even below the German mean value. On the other hand according to German data sheets the climb time to 7000 m altitude was 7.4 Minuten.
- The American test, "Combat Evaluation Report Nr. 110" for the Bf 109 F, 7th February 1943", are only a compilation of the British test reports sent to the USA and no American flight tests were flown with F-4s. And to top it, the transferred report is riddled with errors in converting the numbers and drawing the performance curves. For example the reported climb rate is the British climb time for 16,500 feet converted to 15,000 feet. Also in the American summary are existing further serious transfer errors. This becomes clear due to a comparison of the fire trials results from the British and the American test. In the British original version is told, that .5" B. Mk. II armor penetrating ammunition had no chance to penetrate the pilot armor of the Bf 109 F-4 under the listed conditions, if the projectile punched in below the fill level of the fuel tank. In the US version this projectile received a 30% chance for penetration of the pilot armor independing of the location the fuel tank was entered. This way on the US side the British firing trial results were wrongly mixed for .5" and 20 mm ammunition.
- On the British sources all test protocols are missing, which would document the real power output of the DB 601 E during the test flights by telling boost pressure and revolutions per minute. Also complete top speed/climbtime curves instead of the few listed measurement points would be very helpfull. The source situation permits nevertheless to make some evaluations. The German sources present for the whole timeframe from sommer 1941 till spring 1943 consistent performance values for top speeds as well as climb ability. There was clearly differentiated between the power settings take off/emergency power and climb/combat power. The period of the initial prohibition of use of the take-off/emergency power of the DB 601 E could be narrowed down very exactly. For the British sources it is totally unclear with which engine power settings the test was flown. Problems with the available engine were indicated, but not mentioned in the final report. Additionally there were inconsistent specifications, like the reaching of higher speeds in spite of a higher weight specification for the test plane. Anglophone authors seem to have known the German sources not at all. The performances told by them are all in a range, which is only told by Allied sources."
- So you can see how hard it is to rely only on one or even a few sources, because the original one might be already faulty.

Visibility from the cockpit and how cramped it war?
- Me 109 cockpit is often mentioned to be very cramped and to have poor visibility. Both are true to large extent, but we have to also remember that both are faily common features for the planes of the day. The Spitfire cockpit is very cramped as well and many Spitifre pilots felt the same as the Messerchmitt pilots - the felt they wore the plane around them.
- Let's see what a USN report has to say about P-51B for comparison: "Vision in the P-51B is notably poor forward, because of the low pilot position and heavy framing. VIsion aft also is poor, because of the limited head travel allowed by the narrow cockpit. The cockpit is cramped for space." That's pretty comparable to the 109.

Please see section cockpit for pilot comments on the subject.

Me 109 fuselage and drag
"Bf 109's drag issues. It did not employ the Merideth Effect radiator ducting, did not use boundary layer splitters and had all manner of protruding humps, bumps and scoops that contributed to a very high level of parasitic drag. I don't have a copy of the article, but is was based upon an engineering analysis performed at Langley Field in late 1945, including some wind tunnel runs."
- The G-6 sure had its bumps, but the rest is certainly not true. 109 used Meredith effect and used at least up to the F model boundary layer bypass in the radiators. The 109 K-4, and to some extent the 109 G-10 as well, were considerably cleaned up aerodynamically compared to earlier 109 G's, especially the 109 G-6. The 109 K-4 reintroduced the retractable tail wheel and had among other features completely covered wheel wells (like the P-51).
- The efficiency of the 109 airframe was proven very early in 1937, when a Emil airframe was prepared and a DB-601 engine was tuned to deliver 1700PS. This machine reached 611km/h at sealevel, world record. Except for a very careful surface finish, all difference to the serial 109E were a different spinner, no weapons, and a modified hood. This plane was not the 209, also called 109R, which reached later a much higher speed. Even 8 years later this speed was barely reached with such a power.
- The aerodynamic efficienc of the 109 was based on several reasons. The three most important were:

  • Small overall surface, especially wingarea. To compensate for the high wingloading during takeoff and landing, very efficient slats and flaps system was installed. The usually turbulent flow in the tail section lead to a very low overall surface area in this area.
  • Inverted V-engine, giving the airframe an larger angle to the usually low mounted wing. This reduced interferenz drag and THIS was also the reason why the pilot head space was rather small. Nevertheless it was one reason why the 109 had a surpisingly high diving speed, what saved also their lives quite often.
  • Centered propellor position, thrust line going right through the COG, also allowing for better view forward down
- Meredith effect was nothing of unusual to be used in WW2 fighter radiators. Spitfire, Yakolevs AND Bf 109 enjoyed this effect. In fact the Bf 109F`s radiators were designed to take maximum advantage of it. To quote the relevant part from the Wright Field evaluation of Bf 109 F:
"Each flap is divided in two sections : the outer section is a modified split arrangement serving the additional purpose of controlling the airflow through the internally mounted wing radiators. At the front edge of the radiator is a hinged plate, linked with the trailing edge flaps to open with them. This plate picks up the boundary layer on the underside of the wing, and discharges it on the trailing edge. This form of boundary layer control causes smoother flow through the radiator, thereby reducing the area for proper cooling".
- In other words : the same principle as on the Mustang. Take notice that also the oil cooler on the 109 worked the same way and it dissipated one third of the engine heat, practicaly acting like an extra engine cooler. Very clever design there.
- After the re-design that occurred with the Friedrich, the Me 109 fully employed the Meredith effect. It's radiator had boundary layer separation with separate discharge, a continously adjustable intake and a continously adjustable outlet that was automatically regulated to create thrust. That's the same degree of sophistication as found on the Mustang.  The thermodynamic effect of the engine cooling was well-known in the 1920s and 1930s and in fact had been first pointed out by Hugo Junkers in 1915 when he acquired a patent for the "Düsenkühler" ('jet radiator'). Thermodynamics probably were the most advanced science in the late 19th/early 20th century due to their tremendous economical value in a society that based its wealth primarily on steam engines. The "Meredith" effect probably was painfully obvious to Junkers, who included it right in the first aircraft he ever built.
"The Messerscmitt fusalge is remarkably clear and bulletlike. The engine is compactly mounted in the nose and enclosed by easily removeable cowling. Proturbulances that mar the clean lines are cut to the minimum by partially submerging the coolant radiators in the wing."
- Wright Field evaluation of Bf 109 F

- From what I understand the Bf109F and later models used a "boundary layer bypass duct which significantly improved pressure recovery at the radiator face."
- Lednicer, Aeronautical Journal June/July 1995

More input on this subject appreciated.

Facts

- The top 3 aces (of any conflict) all flew 109's exclusively. Of the 20 top aces (of any conflict) 12 flew 109's exclusively.
- Me-109 was credited with shooting down more enemy aircraft and producing more aces than any single fighter in the annals of aerial warfare.
- Comparing the 109 to other fighters, like P-51, is quite usual. One thing that must be remembered is that 109 was designed as short range interceptor. P-51 was designed as a long-range escort fighter. Both planes featured many compromises to achieve their design plans. This is easy to ignore, just as well that P-51, for example, had nasty tendency to stall without warning and when fuselage fuel tanks were filled, it was quite unstable and downright dangerous to fly. P-51 pilots described that the vertical elevator was very hard to move in high speeds and required both hands. But these charasteristics come up much less often in popular literature and discussion.

Messerschmitt 109 design features and comparisons

In some aspects the Messerschmitt 109 is an even better fighter than people usually make of it. It has some of the legendary "how did they think of that", high-tech-like, aspects as North American P-51 and Supermarine Spitfire had. While Spitfire had the much vaunted elliptical wing (effect of which is much debated), the P-51 had its (again , much debated) laminar flow wing (trapeze in this case) and a very interesting cooler arrangement with a device for splitting and separation of the "dirty" turbulent boundary layer, and the capacity to generate thrust by heating the air flowing through it to negate the otherwise very high cooler drag (again, much debated); 109 had some very nice aspects too.

109 had a hydraulically driven (fluid coupled) clutch driving its supercharger, which made it capable of avoiding wasting power at lower altitudes. At those altitudes normal gear+clutch driven supercharger equipped planes were wasting a significant amount of their HP compressing air which could not be used by the engine. Later 109s even had a two gear, fluid coupled supercharger which gave very good power up to 11km.Even a normal 109G could produce full power up to 7 km (around 21.000 ft) with a normal single-gear supercharger. This supercharger was a low tech (sic), single stage single gear (sic) device, while the Allied designers used up to two stage, intercooled (in some cases) two gear superchargers to achieve similar power as the simple fluid clutch.

Later on (P-38, P- 47, bombers) Allied designers used bulky and hard-to-manufacture turbo-superchargers to keep up with the latest German advances. The engine used by 109s (DB601, DB603, DB605) had a direct to chamber fuel injection. Daimler Benz engines could compete with British and US engines using high octane fuels and very hard alloys, while itself using only 87 octane fuel.

As for some interesting details on the 109, it had a very interesting cooler arrangement that actually resembles very much that of the P-51. It happens that the coolers, which look like very small, are in fact embedded into the wings and have a very low wetted surface. Also they look like normal coolers which just dip into the airflow , but they are a bit more complex. The cooler is embedded in the wing so that a plate over the cooler would skin off the dirty boundary layer like in the P-51 cooler and let it pass , while using the "clean" air for cooling. This makes it possible to use less surface for cooling which means more speed. The similarities don't end here, just as in P-51 the cooler rear end has a plate designed to adjust the amount of air flowing through the cooler (it is opened and closed automatically or with manual override). The design of this flap seems quite the same as the one on P-51, which was designed to generate the "Meredith Effect". The Meredith Effect is actually a cooler acting like a jet engine. Jet engines are actually very simple, you have a compressor compressing air, fuel heating it and a nozzle turning the heat into momentum. In this case you have a cooler heating the air, the mouth of the cooler (and airspeed) compressing the air and the flap on the back working as a nozzle to convert heat to momentum. This effect could generate up to 300hp on the P-51 and it would in most cases (high speeds) almost zero out the drag of the cooler scoop.

On landing modern combat aircraft drop flaps and as they drop flaps, also their ailerons "droop" down to act as flaps for the rest of the wing. This same feature was also in the 109. The boost control on 109 was automatic up to the critical altitude of the supercharger (as was the mixture control). The oil cooler and cooler flaps were automatic (with manual override). The 109 tail was almost like the ones on modern fighters, the whole tailplane could be moved with trim.

As for ammunition, the Germans were ahead of their time. They used similar centrifugal fusing in the 20mm and 30mm shells that was common before the modern proximity fusing became available. They used thin-shelled cannon shells which could contain up to 4 times more explosive than normal shells. They used very high order explosives (compared to the ones Allied were using, HA41 and PETN against torpex).

Germans also realized that the most efficient way to kill an aircraft, in addition to penetrating it with armor piercing rounds (which do little damage unless they hit one of the important parts), is to make large holes with large explosive shells or to use incendiary ammunition to light the plane up. The incendiary devices used by the Germans were excellent and were made of materials like magnesium, elektron thermite and phosphor. Phosphor has the effect of lighting up in room temperature and in general burning everything if it is in contact with oxygen. Elektron thermite on the other hand (a mixture of magnesium and aluminium) burns at a VERY high temperature (so high that it will light up airplane aluminium).

Most German aircraft had electrically operated (fired) armament, which made selection of different weapons configurations and counting of ammunition easy. Some of the planes also had a mechanism to pneumatically reload guns when the trigger was released if the last shell was not fired. This made it possible to unjam the guns just by pressing the trigger repeatedly.

The wing of the 109 was made with no warp from tip to root (same angle all the way), this made it very efficient liftwise compared to "Allied wings", which had up to 2 degrees of washout to avoid tip stalling of the wing. Messerschmitt solved the same problem by adding excellent (British licensed, Handle Page invented) automatic slats to extend when the tip would stall. This made the 109 almost impossible to spin.

It was possible to change the whole engine and/or wings of a 109 standing on its wheels in a matter of a few hours with no special lifts (only a mechanical hoist was required).
- Written by Markus Mikkolainen

Other interesting details on 109

Drop tanks:
The droptank system in every Messerschmitt worked the same way. Fuel to the engine was always drawn from the main tank. The droptank replenished the main tank. This was done with an automatic float controlled device that opened the flow from droptank if the fuel level in main tank dropped. There was no pump driving the fuel from the droptank, it was kept pressurized by bleeding compressed air from the engine supercharger into the droptank.
The plumbing was routed from the droptank to the right upper forward edge of the cabin, and from there along the cabin edge to rear, into the fuel tank. There was a piece of perspex tube at the right side of pilot, from where he could see the fuel flowing. When the tube became filled with air (easy to see from the colour) it was time to release the droptank.
A nice system. If you had to jettison the droptank, you always knew that your main tank was full. And it also did not heed any preliminary actions like turning a feed selection valve or somesuch, just tug the release cord...

Radiators and exhaust thrust:
The 109s had automatic radiators that opened or closed according to the readings from the thermostats. Normally the radiators would be kept on automatic operation where they gradually open and close depending on the engine temperature.
The 109 used exhaust thrust to gain more speed. Daimler-Benz charts show 120 PS of exhaust power at 600 km/h at 4.5 km for the 109 Emil's engine. Another German paper shows 200-300hp produced by thrust alone at 600km/h at 10000m, unfortunately the exact plane/engine version were not mentioned in text referring to this.
The Me 109 F used actually just the same kind of radiators as the P-51, with the associated increase in top speed, though they were embedded in the wings and not implemented as belly scoop as in the case of the Mustang. As comparison, The P-38, P-47 and a couple of others extract all that exhaust energy to drive their turbos. By the time the exhaust actually leaves the aircraft there is no appreciable thrust left.
For more information about 109 radiators please read this article about Bf 109F-G-K Radiator Flap Systems from 109 Lair.
A DVL chart shows that a mechanically supercharged engine provides superior total power compared to an engine of equal size equpped with a turbo-supercharger at low altitudes and high airspeeds. (At 6 km, the mechanical supercharger was superior above 500 km/h.) The DVL chart is provided by von Gersdorff et al., the bible on German engines co-authored by several WW2 industry VIPs, including Kurt Prestel who was responsible for the single-lever control on the BMW801. Von Gersdorff et al. also provide a dimensional drawing for a DB600 exhaust stub. It shows a 34 mm wide jet nozzle - height is not given in the overhead view, but it must be 108 mm or less -, angled at 20° outward from the engine's centreline.


Part III

The text in Part II and III are extra and secondary parts to the main article, and are mostly written by contributors. The intention here is to point out some deficiencies in the 'common knowledge' and show that the full picture might be actually somewhat different. The writers do not claim absolute knowledge though and do not claim this chapter is absolutely correct and without errors. The primary author admits being clueless on technical matters and welcomes any corrections, additions and new information.

Other subjects

Differences between 109 G-2 and G-6

"The differences between the G2 and G6 were small. It was the armament, just nothing else. The engine was the same. The G6 had better armament and the undercarriage was stronger and wheels wider, else the difference with G2 was small. The larger wheels resulted in bulges on the top of the wing.
- The G2 also had the wing bulges due to wheels. They extended half the wheel width from the wing surface. Did those bulges affect flying characteristics?
The bulges on the nose had a bigger effect on air resistance, they were quite large and no way beautiful. There were bulges in the wings of the previous models before the G6 was introduced. "
- Kyösti Karhila, Finnish fighter ace. 32 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

"Usually we flew (Morane-Saulnier 406) at two-eighty as cruising speed. The Brewster cruised at three-twenty. The Messerschmitt went 420 kmh.
The G-6 did less than that, the G-2 was faster. It must have been due the bulges and heavier weapons. You could notice the difference between the G-2 and G-6. The G-2 climbed better, too."
- Antti Tani, Finnish fighter ace. 21,5 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Can you hear other sounds from the plane?

Kyösti Karhila being attacked by Soviet La-5:
"Do you hear the sound of passing enemy projectiles?
No, it is masked by the sound of your engine and the airflow, but I heard the tac-tac-tac of the enemy guns."
- Kyösti Karhila, Finnish fighter ace. 32 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

"-Can you hear the engine of another plane if you are flying next to it?
No, since your own engine is closer and its noise drowns that of the other one. But you can feel taking a hit, it is like "clack, clack". The holes then were the holes of the splinters of a heavy AAA shell."
- Kyösti Karhila, Finnish fighter ace. 32 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.

Spitfire elliptical wings vs 109 wings

(Ok, this is a bit off topic but since the Spit and Me 109 are so close adversaries, I decided to let this stay)
Claim:
"Spitfire has eliptical wings. That means that the lift is spread ellipticaly over the wings... Therefore it is THE MOST EFFICENT WING CONFIGURATION POSSIBLE".

Answer:
The elliptical planform has very small theoretical advantage, but only theoretical, and only valid if the planform is truly elliptical. Spitfire's planform is only approximating elliptical, and what is left has been sold out by the aerodynamic twist it's wing has. It has effect on just one of several factors of wing efficiency, causing a whopping 0.05 improvement in comparison to a trapezoidal planform used in for example Bf 109, that is, IF Spit's wing were truely elliptical...
You also have to take into account the fact that the profile thicknes ratio of Spit's wing is VERY thin, both in maximum and in average. This in turn leads to the small coefficient of lift. This pretty much takes away the advantage of the large wing area.
BTW, ever wondered where did all the elliptical wings go?
If they are so magically efficient, why nobody uses them anymore?
Answer is simple, later aerodynamic research has proven that most of the benefits of elliptical wing were a fallacy created by insufficient or faulty research methods. They simply were not worth the trouble.
Even the developements of Spitfire, Spiteful and Seafang gave up on the elliptic planform and went to normal trapezoid form. Wonder why?
Only thing special in it is the elliptic planform, that dropped of favour just after it, when it was found out that the theoretical benefits of elliptic planform were actually only theoretical, and practical applications did not yield benefits that would justify the almost astronomical manufacturing difficulties and costs.
In Spitfire's case the benefits of elliptic planform (even lift distribution along the span) are nullified by the 2 degree twist (washout) that was needed for at least partially taming the nasty and violent stall behaviour of such wing. In short, the wing twist negated the effect of the elliptical wing. Although the wing was physically elliptical, its lift was not.
Besides, wing aspect ratio has larger effect on the lift/drag characteristics than the Oswald efficiency factor (where the theoretical difference between Spit's and Bf 109's wing is only of magnitude of 0.05), and Bf 109's wing has higher aspect ratio than Spit's...
Spit's wing uses the exactly same NACA 2300 root profile as Bf 109's wing, but with only 13 % thickness ratio, while Bf 109 has 14.2 % thickness ratio. Lower thickness ratio translates to lower Cl max. Bf 109 uses the same NACA 2300 with thickness ratio of 11%, but Spit's wing profile gradually changes along the span to NACA 2200 (more symmetric profile with smaller Cl max) with thickness ratio of only 9 %.
All the above leaves the lower wingloading as the only even theoretical advantage for Spit's wing, but even that is somewhat negated by wingprofile that has less Cl max and Cl in general.
- Pentti Kurkinen, enthusiast

Another reader responded to the above paragraph with following text but unfortunately did not give his name: - True, eliptical wing has less drag coefficient than other, but not because of "lift is spread ellipticaly over the wings", but because of less induced drag. It is connected with shape of wing tip and wing tip vortex (stronger if you have bigger tip chord - elliptical wing tip chord is 'almost zero', so tip vortex is also weak). Unfortunately elliptical wings are also harder to built, and stalls first at tips (when are usually placed ailerons ), so they are also less safe. Difference in drag coefficient between taper (like 109) and elliptical (Spitfire) wing depends also from aspect ratio (influents to induced drag), not only from wing shape. And 109's wing aspect ratio (about 6 ) is higher than Spitfire's (about 5.4), what can balance Spit's induced drag reduction from wing shape . Of course, it depends also, how is 'taper ratio' (I am not sure how it is called in English) of a taper wing.

Me 109 turning

Bf 109 is supposed to be able to maintain a constant 3G level turn at 360km/h IAS, that is around 225mph in furlongs and forthnights. So obviously Bf 109 IS NOT SUPPOSED to lose velocity in such turn. That 3G constant turn at 360 km/h is from test flight report written by Capt. Pekka Kokko, the Co of the FiAF test flight unit, dated spring 1943. The plane was Bf 109G-2, altitude 1000m, and power level used was the 30-minute rated climb/combat power. Full fuel and ammo load. And yes, it specifically was constant turn, that the plane was able to maintain infinitely (relatively speaking, 30 minutes being an obvious limit). Bf 109G-2 weights just over 3000kg in that condition, and the 30-minute rated power is around 1300hp. This means worse wingloading than in Emil, and about equal powerloading.
That was part of the verbal part of the test flight report, called "subjective flight characteristics evaluation" that was always a part of a FiAF test flight report. The other parts were the weight disribution and load definitions of the tested airframe, and calibrated and corrected hard data like topspeed (flown to 4 directions to counter possible wind directions), climbrate up to practical service ceiling and stall speeds.
- Pentti Kurkinen, enthusiast

"The fact of the matter is that some planes turn better than others. Wingloading is a common reason why one plane can turn tighter and faster than another. Wingloading isn't everything. The P-38 is a perfect example of a plane that had a relatively high-wingloading yet out-turned many planes with lower wingloading. "
- Yep, not the wingloading alone, but the combined effect of wing- and powerloading. P-38 has very fine powerloading. It also has fairly efficient very high aspect ratio wing that does help, as also do the slotted manouver flaps. The extra airflow over the inner parts of the wing produced by the counter rotating propellers also helps in maintaining the airflow energized.
There are no miracles in aerodynamics. Everything can be explained with measurable physical factors.
- Pentti Kurkinen, enthusiast


109 test flight reports

The problem with Me performance numbers

When talking about the Messerchmitt 109 performance, we must take into account that many western sources are simply wrong. They are based on original wartime allied test flights flown with damaged planes, or with such equipment that the planes do not represent a normal fighter variant. Also western sources often fail to quote the used power setting. Was the engine runnign on continuous, 30 minute or 5 minute power? Western performance numbers (US/FAF/RAF) are always quoted with maximum power settings. Luftwaffe standard was to test all climb and level speed performance with the 30 minute setting, which really gives a more "real life" performance. Some Allied tests are quite good, but especially Me 109 tests are often very suspicious.

A good example this are the 109 F-4 tests. The only test flight of the type was flown by the RAF. All other "tests", American reports included, are copies of the British test. US never flew a single test flight of a Me 109 F-4 and their "report" fails to mention that the plane ran roughly, engine was derated and did not develop its full power, hence "the numbers must be regarded as absolute minimum performance for the plane". These numbers have since changed into gospel in western aviation literature, and these numbers are copied from book to book as the maximum performance of the plane.

German level speed tests are usually recorded with "Steig & Kampfleistung", "climb & combat" power, 30 minute maximum.
The "Start & Notleistung" - "takeoff and emergency" setting was not in tests. If it was used, the sheet mentions it. These settings were usually available for 1 to 5 minutes, depending on engine series, hence it is often referred as the 5 minute power setting.

But what is the reliability of German tests? Some have argued that they are propaganda and cannot be trusted. Incorrect. For example with the 109s, RLM had aggressively committed themselves to the Me 109 as the only single-engined fighter the Luftwaffe was going to purchase, and there was no competition at all. The Kennblatt figures weren't provided for the benefit of the marketing department, but they were the yardstick against which the aircraft delivered by Messerschmitt were measured. Failing to meet the figures would result in customer complaints, corrective action and financial consequences - and in the Third Reich perhaps even more severe results. If anything, the factory and test flight centers produced usually very accurate information. As the Finnish State Aircraft Factory test flight pilots commented, only two of all the fighter planes delivered to FiAF in the war years actually matched the factory papers: the Brewster B-239 and Messerschmitt 109. Other types, including the British, French, American and Italian planes, different often wildly from their "paper performance".

Case: Bf.109E
RAF Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) Farnborough handling trials,Bf.109E Wn: 1304. http://www.geocities.com/capecanaveral/hangar/9378/flybf109.html
Messerschmitt Me (sic) 109 Handling and Manoeuvrability Tests, M.B. Morgan and D.E. Morris, Communicated by the Principal Director of Scientific Research - Air, Reports and Memoranda No. 2361, Great Britain, September 1940. (Probably also using data from RAE Jan 1941 testing).
Comparitive Trials between Me109E and British Fighter Aircraft, RAE (?), 14 August 1941
Here we have two interesting reports. They're actually a 1941 report from tests conducted in September of 1940 from an aircraft that was captured by the French in 1939 (see next chapter). At the time the tests were conducted in 1940, they didn't have oxygen bottles for the 109, so test could only be done at low to medium altitude, where they thought combat would take place anyway. At these altitudes the result was indeed that both the Spitfire and Hurricane could out-turn the Bf109, and this was reported to the squadrons, whose pilots would have reacted in combat according to this perceived strength. Later, well after the Battle was over, testing at higher, "combat" altitudes showed the opposite to be true at these heights.
There is even more confusion. The 109 tested is claimed to be "Me 109E-3 Werk-Nr 1304" which is documented to have been captured. However, there is some discrepency as to WerkNr 1304 actually being an Me109E-1. So what have they tested? E-1? E-3? E-4? Did they test one of the crash landed, damaged planes? So we got major confusion with the tested plane. Also, Bf 109 E-3 WNr. 1304 (RAF AE 479) was at one point crash landed, among other things, and it received a new tail section from a Bf 109 E-4 WNr. 1980.
Another problem is with the test itself, when compared to a Spitfire. Overall the accuracy of the test suffers from the fact that it was flown with a crash landed plane wirh a worn, several years old engine producing less power than usual. It was then flown against a brand new Spitfire with a 1940 engine. As shown by the test data, the turns were made in the 120mph range which is too slow for the 109 slats to be deployed, which doesn't compare the maximum turning abilities of each aircraft. Further inspection of the report will show that the test was conducted with the "Rotol" Spitfire. The Rotol Spitfire had a Merlin III engine, not the Merlin II. At 11,000 feet it had a climb rate of 2,905 ft/min, the turn test was conducted at 12,000ft. This test was conducted 19 March 1940. Now look at the other two Spitfires in the test. Their test date was in July 1939. The climb rate of the 1939 aircraft at 12,000 feet was only about 2,000ft/min vs the 2,900 ft/min of the Rotol aircraft. The Rotol aircraft is inconsistant with the performance of the aircraft in the field. The 109 was captured in 1939, therefore for an accurate representation to be made it should be compared to other 1939 aircraft. We are talking about taking 1940 technology and applying it to a 1939 matchup, taking an aircraft with 45 % more climb rate than aircraft available at the time the 109E was in service in 1939.
The 1940 report clearly states that the performance of the 1939 aircraft was not even near equal to that of the 1940 test (2100ft/min vs 2900 ft/min @ 10,000ft). The 109E matchup was done with the Spitfire employing 1940 technology, a constant speed propeller that was not in use in 1939. The matchup was also done with a Merlin III engine that was not available in 1939 aircraft. Also, it was done with a captured battle worn aircraft of questionable service against a brand new aircraft. The report does not state the maximum speed of the 109E by which one could gauge the relative engine horsepower output compared to other known DB601 engines. Also, it doesn't state a matchup between the 109E and Spitfire MkI employing a Merlin II engine and a standard propeller at the time, rather with the new 1940 constant speed propeller.
The French flew their test with the same Me 109 E-3 (E-1?). The test results are not available in English, but to author's knowledge their recorded performance numbers are higher than in the British tests. Since British tests do not give the used power setting, it is extremerely hard to find the truth between different test results.

References: Impossible to Follow? http://users.bigpond.net.au/mantis/FW/Bob/Best.htm The 109 tested is claimed to be "Me 109E-3 Werk-Nr 1304" which is documented to have been captured. http://www.luftwaffe-experten.co.uk/usa.html However, there is some discrepency as to WerkNr 1304 actually being an Me109E-1: http://www.ww2.dk/pictures.html Could this aircraft have been mixed up with other E-1's and E-3's captured and may have been damaged resulting in lower performannce: http://www.luftwaffe-experten.co.uk/allied.html

Case: French test report of the above aircraft, White 1, WerkNr 1304, AE479:
Read it here
This is the test of White 1, WerkNr 1304, AE479. It was captured in 1939 and tested by the French, where they made a couple dozen flights testing it against a D.520. During a high power climb test, the engine malfunctioned due to lack of proper oil and coolant. The aircraft was subsequently handed over to the British, who tested up until September of 1940 or after, nearly a year after it had been captured.
The important things to note are that the climb rates listed are based on averaging time to climb. There is also a second climb table near the very end of the report that appears to correct the original. I believe the second table reflects climb with the radiators in a different configuration. The French seem to have considered 1100 PS, 1.4 ata as the 5 minute setting. The climb table looks to have been compiled at that power setting. There is also a table of Vmax values along with the altitude, rpm and MAP for each speed. The one I found most interesting is 490 kph at 2500 meters, 2400 rpm and 1.26 ata ( 960 mm Hg ). I make that 990 PS, 282 mph Vmax at sealevel. But, my speed conversion from altitude to sea level could be wrong. If I grokked the comment after the last part of the report, they roasted the engine during testing. This is important to note, as the British tested later the same 109!
Or to make things yet more confusing, did the Brits test two different Emils? The Rolls-Royce speed tests were only done at partial power and with radiators open (or I'm missing the pages with full-power tests), but they conform well with the French speed tests at full power and with radiators open. The conclusion is that the French speed data, though not calibrated, is nevertheless correct (or even slightly low). In other words, the French top speed figure of 570 km/h for the Me 109E-3 is perfectly realistic. What's more, the French had an early DB601A with the low full throttle height, a late-model DB601A (which became available at some time between December 1939 and August 1940) would have given an even higher top speed due to the reduced air density at the higher full throttle height.
This French test was flown with open radiators up to 4000 meters, then gradually closing the radiators up to 8300 meters. At that time test had to be abandoned due to engine problems, as the engine malfunctioned. They related that to the temperature outside. The temperature was +6c on the ground and -17c at 5000m. The French considered it possible to make the climb radiators closed, which would enhance climb rate. Engine problem stems most likely from the French substitute oil and coolant, that had a lower calorific value which induced serious engine troubles.
Also note that the 109's leading edge slats may have been taped shut during these tests. Both the French and the British used this captured aircraft in mock dogfights to test the relative performance of the aircraft to the D.520 and the Spitfire. The French and British may have been so afraid of the slats, that they taped them shut so as not to interfere with their maneuvering during mock dogfights. Almost all jet aircraft today have leading edge slats to increase lift during takeoff and landing. Most military jets automatically regulate the use of slats during maneuvering. If these slats were operational on this particular 109, there would have been a marked change in the stall boundary when the wing camber changed due to deployment of the leading edge slats. This change is not present in the graph. The only conclusion that can be made is that the slats were not operational during testing. Without use of operational leading edge slats to increase lift at low speeds and high g's, the entire stall boundary curve on this graph is not representational of combat aircraft.
So the conclusion? The French data, supported by the Rolls-Royce data, suggests a top speed of 570 km/h (or above) at 1.2 ata. WEP is 1.3 ata. The French data is for an early-type DB601A with low full throttle height, while at the time of the Battle of Britain, the new type with increased full throttle height and accordingly increased top speed was available. The French data suggests a 482 km/h sea level speed. This is confirmed by the Me 109V15a (the Emil prototype) which achieved a sea level speed of 486 km/h @ 951 PS. (The DB601A-1 provides 990 PS at sea level at the 5 min rating.) The French climbed to 5000 m in 6:18 min with radiators fully open in an aircraft that probably wasn't cooling correctly.

Case: Bf 109 E-3/4
Auszüge aus Flugzeugdatenblatt Bf 109 E-1, E-3 nach L.Dv.556/3. German flight test numbers.

Case: Me 109 F-4
Practically all Me 109 F-4 its performance reports stem from a single British test flown with a damaged airplane with derated engine. All other test "reports" are copied from this one test.
In summary, from the article: " After the review of several hundred pages of British reports about planes of the variants Bf 109 F-1/-2/-4 the picture became apparant, that only with exactly one captured Bf 109 F-4 and its engine performance measurement were done. As already the climbing time, then also the British maximum speeds give a clear reference to, that the available engine did not even obtain the power output for climb/combat power. As best climbing rate for the climbing on 4876 m are indicated about 1006 m/min, for the climbing on 6705 m 8.2 minutes. Again these are values, which were clearly below the German for climb/combat power. These were on one hand a maximum climbrate of 1111 m/min for the climbing to 5000 m. The British values for the maximum climbrate lay thereby even below the German mean value. On the other hand according to German data sheets the climb time to 7000 m altitude was 7.4 Minuten.
The American test, "Combat Evaluation Report Nr. 110" for the Bf 109 F, 7th February 1943", are only a compilation of the British test reports sent to the USA and no American flight tests were flown with F-4s. And to top it, the transferred report is riddled with errors in converting the numbers and drawing the performance curves. For example the reported climb rate is the British climb time for 16,500 feet converted to 15,000 feet. Also in the American summary are existing further serious transfer errors. This becomes clear due to a comparison of the fire trials results from the British and the American test. In the British original version is told, that .5" B. Mk. II armor penetrating ammunition had no chance to penetrate the pilot armor of the Bf 109 F-4 under the listed conditions, if the projectile punched in below the fill level of the fuel tank. In the US version this projectile received a 30% chance for penetration of the pilot armor independing of the location the fuel tank was entered. This way on the US side the British firing trial results were wrongly mixed for .5" and 20 mm ammunition.
On the British sources all test protocols are missing, which would document the real power output of the DB 601 E during the test flights by telling boost pressure and revolutions per minute. Also complete top speed/climbtime curves instead of the few listed measurement points would be very helpfull. The source situation permits nevertheless to make some evaluations. The German sources present for the whole timeframe from sommer 1941 till spring 1943 consistent performance values for top speeds as well as climb ability. There was clearly differentiated between the power settings take off/emergency power and climb/combat power. The period of the initial prohibition of use of the take-off/emergency power of the DB 601 E could be narrowed down very exactly. For the British sources it is totally unclear with which engine power settings the test was flown. Problems with the available engine were indicated, but not mentioned in the final report. Additionally there were inconsistent specifications, like the reaching of higher speeds in spite of a higher weight specification for the test plane. Anglophone authors seem to have known the German sources not at all. The performances told by them are all in a range, which is only told by Allied sources."
Source: Article about the performance of the Bf 109 F-4, written by Michael Rausch.

Case: AFDU 28 October 1941: Tactical trials - Me.109F aircraft
4. The controls are well balanced and the aircraft is pleasant to fly, but is not so easy to take off as the Me.109E. The elevator control is fairly heavy but the rudder control is light and is effective even at low speeds, the aircraft being very sensitive to over-correction on the rudder during take-off. The Me.109F is not as easy to land as the Spitfire, although it is a little easier than the Me.109E, due to its slightly better forward view. The speed of appraoch for landing is about 110 m.p.h. and the angle is rather steep, which necessitates a big change of attitude before the final touch down. Although the landing speed is high, the resultant run is short and brakes can be safely applied as soon as the aircraft is on the ground.
7. No manoeuvrability trials were carried out against other aircraft but the Me.109F was dived up to 420 m.p.h., I.A.S., with controls trimmed for level flight and it was found that although the elevators had become heavy and the ailerons had stiffened up appreciably, fairly tight turns were still possible. [...] It is considered that recovery from a high speed dive near the ground would be difficult, as the loss of height entailed is considerable. This may account for occasional reports of Me.109F being seen to dive straigth into the ground without apparently being fired at.

Case: Me 109 G-2
There are some trustworthy numbers of the 109s as well. The Finnish test flight report of Me 109 G-2 "MT-215" was flown 6.5.1943 by captain Pekka Kokko, famoust Finnish test pilot, with a regular combat squadron plane with full combat equipment, including all ammo for all guns and full fuel load. The report specifically mentions the radiators opening fully at some points during the climb test. The max-speed tests were run with the radiators manually shut. Its level speed peaked at about 6400 meters at roughly 645 km/h on 30 minute power setting. The climb rate peaked at 2000 meters when the plane grabbed altitude 24,7 meters per minute. Height/climbrate: 3000m / 18,9 m/sec - 4000 m / 17,2 m/sec - 5000 m / 17,2 m/sec - 6000 m / 15,1 m/sec - 7000 m / 13,4 m/sec - 8000 m / 13,7 m/sec, 9000 m / 9,0 m/sec, 10 000 m / 5,9 m/sec. Climb to 4000 meters: 3,2 mins - 5000 meters: 4,1 mins - 6000 meters: 5,1 mins and 8000 meters: 7,6 minutes.
Other data: stall speed clean 170 km/h (could not be clearly defined). The nose sunk and the plane banked calmly to the right wing. At landing configuration the stall speed was 145 km/h. With full power the plane could be held hanging from the prop at 60° nose-up attitude ASI showing 130-140 km/h. Up to 350 km/h with a hard pull in the bank plane could be stalled (!) At 1000m altitude 180° turn required 10 s (G-2), starting speed 450 km/h, final speed 380 km/h. Full circle 18 s with final speed 330 km/h. Full 360° bank required 22 s with 360 km/h, bank angle 70° acceleration 3 g.

Case: Me 109 G-6
For example 109 G-6 model's performance numbers are usually quoted from a flight test flown by mr. Brown. The actual plane was a 109 G-6/U2, which is a three cannon night fighter variant with night fighting equipment. Authors now take these numbers, drop away the information that it was a 3-cannon night fighter and voila, we got weak performance numbers for the G-6. The 3-cannon night fighter G-6 made 621 km/h in 30 minute power setting. A clean G-6 does 635-640 km/h with 30 min setting and 650+ km/h with 5 min WEP setting. So you can see that the wing cannons not only decreased speed, but they decreased the climb rate, roll rate and overall agility of the plane.

Case: Spitfire Mk XIV versus Me 109 G/K A Performance Comparison
An article looking and correcting the errors at Mike Williams's "Spitfire Mk XIV versus Me 109 G/K A Performance Comparison" article. The foreword says: The following article is intended to correct the various errors, flaws presented in a series of articles on the relative performance of the Messerschmitt Bf 109 and Supermarine Spitfire by Mike Williams. The article can be read at http://users.atw.hu/kurfurst/articles/MW_KvsXIV.htm.

Quotes from the article:
"G-5/-6/-14/AS could maintain 620 kph at 8.4km in cruise (385mph at 27 550 ft ), the G-10 628kph (390mph), the K-4 645 kph (400mph) at the same alttiude. Naturally at full power much higher speeds could be reached at this altitude - 700 kph/435mph in case of the K-4. Datasets for G-10 and K-4 are with the early production, and weaker DB 605 DM engine. Even with this they compare favourably at the same altitude to the all-out level speed of the Spitfire L.F. Mk IX, 631 kph or 392 mph at 8.4km / 27550 ft. Maximum continous cruise speed of the Spitfire F. Mk. XIV was 380 mph 25 000 ft (611 kph at 7620m), given by AIR 15/741."

Me 109 G-14
Allied examination of a captured plane, W.Nr. 413601, can be read at 109 Lair by selecting Articles / evaluations / G-14.

Something to read

"Messerschmitt Bf 109 A-E, Development - Testing - Production" by Willy Radinger & Walter Schick. In the foreword it states that work on the book was begun in 1994 and Walter Schick died in 1995. It states he is writing the book to correct the many errors that have crept into aviation books over the years. Several Messerschmitt employees helped out in the book, one of which is Lukas Schmid who began working there in 1934 and was group leader on the project in 1937 and subsequently a flight test pilot.
The book lists many statistics, even the Werknummer of the prototypes and types of aircraft produced in low numbers. It also contains a reproduction of the certification of the 11 November 1937 world speed record flight of 610.950 kph set by the Vf 109 V13 recorded as a Bf113R.

The statistics laid out in the book for Me 109 E-3 are:
Takeoff weight minus useful load = 2053kg 4526lbs (including 100kg for pilot, parachute, special clothing, additional equipment, fuel 400ltr oil 29.5 ltr 3000 rnd MG 17 120 rnds MG FF and ballast 25kg)

Max allowed takeoff weight = 2610kg 5754lb

Speed with 30 minute continuous power:
km kph mph
0 460 285.85
1 480 298.25
2 500 310.68
3 520 323.11
4 540 335.54
5 555 344.86
6 555 344.86
7 550 341.75

Climb
km min ft
1 1 3,280
3 3 9,842
6 6.3 19,685
9 16 29,527

Service ceiling 10.3km (33,792 ft)
Tightest turn radius at ground level = 125 m = 410 ft
Tightest turn radius at 6km = 230 m = 754 ft

Power Plant DB601A
ground level : 4km altitude
_hp_ rpm ltr/hr
1175 2500 433 1 min increased output
1015 2400 321 5 min increased output
0950 2300 288 30 min increased output
0860 2200 260 Continuous output

_hp_ rpm ltr/hr
1100 2400 318 5 min increased output
1100 2400 318 30 min increased output
1000 2400 283 Continuous output
0975 2250 269 Continuous output economic

Propeller: VDM variable-pitch, three blades, 3.10m diameter


Primary sources used, including but not limited to:

Interview of Captain Hemmo Leino by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.
Interview of Captain Kyösti Karhila by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.
Memoirs of Joel Savonen - Memoirs of a reserve military aviator 1934-1945.
Interview of Antti Tani and Jussi Huotari by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association
Article about Mauno Fräntilä, Finnish fighter ace. 5 1/2 victories. Source: Finnish Virtual Pilots Association: fighter ace Mauno Fräntilä was creating the glory of the war pilots.
Interview of Olli Sarantola, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Interview of Olli Sarantola by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.
Interview of Eino Estama, Finnish bomber/fighter pilot. Source: Interview of Eino Estama by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.
Interview of Eino Estama, Finnish bomber/fighter pilot. Source: Recollections by Eino and Edvald Estama by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.
Interview of Edvald Estama, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Recollections by Eino and Edvald Estama by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.
Interview of Väinö Pokela, Finnish fighter ace. 5 victories. Source: Interview of Väinö Pokela by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.
Interview of Olli Sarantola, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Blitz '01 - Meeting With The Veterans by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.
Report by US Marine Corps major Al Williams, Bf 109D test flight 1938.
Article about Erich Hartmann - the world's top ace article by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.
Interview of Franz Stigler, German fighter ace. 28 victories. Interview of Franz Stigler.
RAF Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) Farnborough handling trials,Bf.109E Wn: 1304. M.B. Morgan and R. Smelt of the RAE, 1944.
Mark Hanna of the Old Flying Machine Company Flying the Messerschmitt Bf 109
109 Lair.
Lecture by Major Gunther Rall. German fighter ace, NATO general, Commander of the German Air Force. 275 victories. Source: Lecture by general Rall.
Interview of Mauno Fräntilä, Finnish fighter ace. 5 1/2 victories. Source: Chief Warrant Officer Mauno Fräntilä.
Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5. Quotes used with author's permission.
Various test flight reports.
Performance of the Bf 109 F-4, written by Michael Rausch.

Other sources: other primary sources, books, pilot recollections, test reports, articles and tidbits collected from aviation bulletin boards and other sources. Source mentioned below the quote when possible.

Thanks to following persons for adding or correcting this article:
Mikko Pietilä
Markus Mikkolainen
Timo Kovanen
Peter Pissulla
Juha Hayashi

Viimeksi muokattu: 2006-10-14 13:33