Aviation of WWII
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Me-410 Hornisse

Heavy Fighter


Me-410 Hornisse

The Me 410B-2 at the Soviet AF Scientific Research Institute. In 1944, our specialists used materials our allies published in order to study gun mounts used in aviation in Italy, Britain, and Germany. Engineer E. M. Peysakhovich wrote the following: "the Germans and Italians used movable gun turrets containing one or two heavy 12.7-13mm machine guns to protect their bombers from attack by modern fighters... They proved to be quite effective". In these movable turrets, mechanical drive replaced manual control. The most interesting were remotely operated gun turrets that made it possible to rationally position the gunners and their weapons.

Peysakhovich thought that the most successful design solution was the German FDSL-B131 remotely controlled machine gun turret that made it possible to lay the gun vertically at angles of 72° and horizontally at angles of -3° to +48° to the Me 210 aircraft axis. This turret provided better protection than the Bf 110 flexible gun mount. The control unit comprised a tube fitted with gun-laying control device containing an electropneumatic loader and firing solenoid. The tube was positioned at eye level for the gunner-radio operator. Revi 25B gun sights synchronized with the airplane's speed were mounted on both sides of this tube.

The Germans did not employ the Me 210 on the Eastern Front and, therefore, Soviet armament specialists could not test the effectiveness of the remotely controlled device. Me 410B-2 from II/ZG26 Group (factory No. 130379) was captured after the war and extensively tested (lead engineer Engineer-Lieutenant Colonel V. Ya. Magon, pilot Major I. P. Piskunov), which confirmed that the FDSL-B131 gun turret operated reliably and easily.

The following phrase the Air Forces Scientific Research Institute leadership formulated and used in their test reports was typical in evaluations of captured German aircraft in the concluding phase of the war: "Individual structural elements and aggregates of the propeller engine group, armament, and special equipment are of interest from a technical point of view and must be the subject of study by the design bureaus within the People's Commissariat of the Aviation Industry".75 As for the German remote controlled devices, their design was partially used in developing the domestic DEU turrets (for the UBK machine gun) on the Pe-2I and VU-5-20 (for the UB-20 cannon) on the Pe-2M (both aircraft designed by V. M. Myasishchev).

Messerschmitt special equipment differed little from that in other German aircraft and, by 1945, it had been sufficiently studied. Its placement, as noted in the Me 410 test results report, provided convenient access to individual aggregates and facilitated operation of the aircraft. The quality of the assembly of instruments, electrical equipment, and wiring remained high up till the end of the war, thus significantly contributing to trouble-free operation of special equipment. Very good direct current tachometers, oxygen sets, and economizers were recommended for copying at Soviet production plants.

While evaluating the Me 410 from a tactical point of view, Lieutenant Colonel Magon pointed out that the modern Soviet Yak-3, Yak-9U, and La-7 fighters outperformed the Messerschmitt where speed and maneuverability were concerned. The latter was unable to engage them in offensive aerial combat other than by attacking them head-on. At the same time, the Me-410B-2 was a threat to all types of Soviet series-produced bombers, the Tu-2 included, due to its high capabilities. It had a maximum speed of 600 km/h at 6750 meters, could climb to 5000 meters in 8.6 minutes, and carried powerful offensive armament comprising two standard 20mm MG-151 cannon and the semiautomatic VK-5 cannon that could deliver a 1-second salvo weighing 4.65 kg.

The German designers had worked out the best methods of employing the Me 410B-2's fire power. The two-engine fighter was fitted with a combined gun sight comprising a four-power telescope with collimator. This made it possible to deliver precision fire from a range of 1000 meters and more, where the 50mm high-explosive fragmentation ammunition could destroy Petlyakov, Il'yushin, Boston, and other aircraft. In theory, a German pilot could shoot down enemy aircraft while out of defensive fire range (although hitting a modern bomber from 800-1000 meters was a matter of pure chance).

Me 410A-2/U4 Specification
Crew 2
Wing Span, m 16.35
Length, m 12.48
Height, m 4.28
Wing Area, m² 36.2
Powerplant 2хDB603A
Power, hp at sea level 1750
at altitude 2,100 m 1850
Speed, km/h at sea level 507
at altitude 6,700 m 624
Maximum cruise speed, km/h 587
Maximum range, km 1,690
Weight, kg:
Empty weight 7,518
Loaded weight 9,651
2 X 20-mm MG-151 cannon, cartridges, pc. 2 x 350
4 X 7.9-mm MG-17 machine guns, cartridges, pc. 4 x 1000
2 X 13-mm FDSL machine guns, cartridges, pc. 2 x 500


  • "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/