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Bf 109F-4 7/JG5 Red 1, 1941

Bf 109F-4 7/JG5 Red 1, 1941

Messerschmitt Bf-109F, with production deliveries to Luftwaffe commencing the spring, 1941, was top of development of plane Bf-109. On aerodynamics and a controllability this machine could be considered as an ideal of a fighter. High flight performances have been achieved due to reduction of armament. In result production Bf-109F has been stopped after manufacturing 2300 machines. Modification: Bf-109F-1, two 7,92 mm machine guns and one 20-mm cannon in disorder of cylinders of the engine; F-2 had 15-mm a cannon ; F-3 was equipped engine DB-601E (1350 hp); on model F-4 20-mm cannon and has improved armoring, and F-6 was the reconnaissance aircraft.

The airplane could bear the under-fuselage expendable fuel tank - this half measure tried to increase range of an airplane

The Bf 109F-2 No. 9209 at the Soviet Scientific Research Institute. The takeoff and landing qualities of our machines are not satisfactory7 (the LaGG-3 is especially bad). The ground roll is long and the tendency to pull to the right makes takeoffs in formation difficult and takeoffs from limited field areas require special attention. The high landing speed and long rollout also require exceptional attention and sufficient experience for an accurate landing approach....

These conclusions aside, the need to carry out detailed trials of the Messerschmitts continued to have significance. Just by luck, on 22 February 1942 Ober-Lieutnant A. Niss, commander of the JG51 Squadron's 8th Detachment, got lost and was fired on from a machine gun near Tushino Airfield. His radiator and fuel tank were damaged and the German officer was forced to land within Soviet troop unit positions.

Captured by Red Army soldiers, the fighter was quickly restored by technical personnel from the 47th Aviation Division based in Tushino, but the first flight of the captured Messerschmitt ended in a crash landing. The right undercarriage leg and wing tip were broken. The machine had to undergo one more repair (this time by a TsAGI team) and then Me 109F No. 9209 was handed over to the Air Forces Scientific Research Institute for comprehensive testing. Engineer-Captain A. S. Rozanov, one of the institute's foremost experts on German aircraft, accepted the bird.

He encountered serious problems from the outset. The experienced engineer noticed that the aircraft had undergone major repair at least four times and was completely worn out. The unstable spring -weather and frequent Air Defense Command flight bans also retarded his efforts. On 5 April, Rozanov wrote the following to his direct supervisor A. N. Frolov: "While plotting the altitude curve, I faced a serious obstacle. Supercharger pressure slightly decreases up to the altitude limit of 2900 meters and then sharply falls off. It is possible that the supercharger coupling is worn out and it becomes "powerless" at altitude. I report to the command element regularly and, of course, they swear at me for dragging out the testing. I will have to "pump up" the altitude-airspeed performance curve using science..."

A few more days passed and the test report on the Bf 109F was finished. Rozanov's conclusions did not differ much from those Frolov had drawn before the testing began, but were more detailed. It was noted that the Bf 109F was faster near the ground by 70 km/h than the Bf 109E. About half of this was due to the powerful DB 60IN engine, and the other half due to enhanced aerodynamics. The fighter's operational qualities were also evaluated. Soviet specialists noted the good access to the engine, especially to the spark plugs, convenient cowling, and easy handling thanks to various automatic devices (including those regulating oil and water temperatures).

Our evaluation of the canopy was not so unambiguous. On the one hand, it provided for a good view forward and to the side and its flat panes did not distort visible objects. On the other, the canopy could not be opened when the engine was running; it could only be jettisoned. Colonel Stefanovskiy, a leading institute pilot, noted that vision to the rear was unsatisfactory, because a heavy frame with armor headrest did not allow one to see an enemy aircraft attacking from the rear.

During the trials, Institute specialists simulated aerial combat between a Bf 109F and a Russian Yak-1 (No. 0511), and worked out recommendations for Red Army Air Forces flight personnel. It turned out that the Soviet fighter had more chances to- win the greater the altitude. If the Me 109F was superior close to the ground and head-on attacks were recommended to our pilots then, at an altitude of 3000 meters, the chances were even and at 5000 meters, the Yak allegedly outperformed its adversary in speed and maneuverability. In other words, the suggestion was for pilots to draw German fighters to high altitudes.

Alas, these recommendations did not reflect the true state of affairs. From German materials and test results obtained in Britain, it turned out that the Bf 109F with a DB 60IN engine had a maximum speed of 597-600 km/h16 at an altitude of 6000 meters, rather than at the 552 km/h registered at the Air Forces Scientific Research Institute. It meant that the Messerschmitt surpassed all domestic fighters here, the series-produced MiG-3 included. But, it is quite clear why principal attention in the Soviet Union was paid to enemy fighter performance near the ground. It was just there where the main battles of the first phase of war took place and our aircraft designers were required urgently to improve the flight performance of domestic aircraft at low altitudes.

Crew 1
Wing span, m 9.92
Length, m 8.94
Height, m 2.60
PE DB-601A, hp 1200
Weight, kg:
Empty weight 2353
Maximum takeoff weight 3066
Maximum speed, km/h 600
Time to 5000m, min 5
Service ceiling, m 11000
Service range, m 880
15mm cannon 2 × 7.92mm machine guns in the nose  


Photo Description
Drawing Bf 109F 4/R6

The Me 109F-4/R6 with under wing MG 151/15 cannon (manufactured spring - summer 1942)

Repaired Bf 109F-2 No. 9209

Repaired Bf 109F-2 No. 9209 prior to test flights at the Soviet Air Forces Scientific Research Institute, March 1942

The Bf 109F-4/B of the commander of 10./JG2.

The Bf 109F-4/B of the commander of 10./JG2.


  • "Aviation of Luftwaffe" /Viktor Shunkov/
  • "The German Imprint on the History of Russian Aviation " /D.A. Sobolev, D.B. Khazanov/
  • "Encyclopedia of military engineering" /Aerospace Publising/
  • "The air war" /№ 60/