Aviation of Word War II

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Me-410 Hornisse

Heavy Fighter



The urgent need to replace the obsolete Me-110 and unsuccessful Me-210 in the Luftwaffe combat squadrons served as an excuse for the Messerschmitt company to create a new twin-engine heavy fighter. It was decided to develop this aircraft on the basis of the Me-210 in order to be able to use the existing technological equipment and prepared parts and components. In addition, this approach facilitated the development of a new aircraft by the flight crew.

The Me-210 fighter was used to develop the Me-410 in the literal sense of the word: six serial Me-210 variants A-1 and A-2 were taken and converted into a new aircraft; at the same time, the length and midsection of the fuselage were changed, significant changes were made to the design of the wing, and the installation of forced 12-mm DB-603A-1 cylinder engines with an HP 1850 power was provided. (Me-410 prototypes flew with DB-601 engines).

Me-410 tests were carried out in the autumn of 1942, and already in December of the same year, mass production of the first modification of the Me-410A Hornisse (Hornisse - hornet) began at the Messerschmitt factories in Germany and at the Danube Aircraft Plant in Hungary. At the same time, the production of the Me-110 was retained not only out of unwillingness to take risks, but also due to the fact that the Me-410 did not have any fundamental advantages over this obsolete aircraft.

The main differences between the Me 410 and the Me 210 V17 were the new powerful DB 603 motors with 1850 hp. at an altitude of 2700 m, 5 ° less sweep of the leading edge of the wing panels and slats. In addition, the aerodynamics of the radiators were somewhat improved and the shape of the flaps was changed. The closeness of the design with the Me 210 made it possible to withdraw the first Me 410 from the shop already 9 months after the decision to terminate the mass production of its predecessor. It was a converted Me 210A-0 (No. 27), which went on flight tests in the fall of 1943. In total, more than 20 prototype aircraft, mostly converted from Me 210A and another six aircraft with old DB engines, were involved in the unprecedented Me 410 test program. 601F.

The controllability of the new "hunter" is now back to normal, although due to more powerful engines it has become worse than that of the Me 210 with an extended fuselage, and, most importantly, the Me 410's flight data has finally turned out to be higher than that of the Bf 110 (mainly due to new engines). The internal suspension of bombs on the Me 410 allowed it to maintain a higher speed when performing bomber tasks compared to the "one hundred-tenth" - the latter by that time (1942-43) was used on the war fronts almost exclusively as a "high-speed bomber". All this made it possible to make a decision to start serial production of Me 410 in two versions: Me 410A-1 - "schnelbomber" and Me 410A-2 - "hunter".

Powerplant The Me 210 was powered by a pair of 1005 kW (1350 hp) 12-cylinder inverted V-shaped in-line DB 601F engines, while the Me 410 was powered by a more powerful and modified DB 603A power plant with a power output of 1300 kW ( 1750 hp). The Me 410B used the DB 603G, whose high-speed supercharger and increased compression ratio brought power up to 1415 kW (1900 hp).

The main problems of the Me 210 were solved before the start of mass production, so the Me 410 turned out to be much more successful, since it was basically a modification of the Me 210 with improved engines and all the necessary improvements. Controllability has improved, takeoff has improved, and the tendency for the aircraft to suddenly stall into a tailspin has disappeared.

Armament In the standard version, the armament of the Me-410 did not differ from the armament of the Me-210. These were two 7.92-mm MG-17 machine guns and two 20-mm MG-151/20 cannons fixed in the forward fuselage, as well as two 13-mm MG-131 machine guns in mobile rifle mounts - blisters mounted on both sides of the fuselage behind the trailing edge of the wing.

The bomb bay was located at the bottom of the bow under the cockpit. The aircraft could carry two bombs weighing up to 500 kg, which were hung on the lower holder and then pulled into the bomb bay.

The Me-410 was in mass production until September 1944, when the factories producing it were finally destroyed by the Allied bombers. In total, 1160 (according to other sources - 1013) aircraft of this type were produced. In less than two years, German designers managed to develop four main modifications (A, B, C and D) and about thirty different options.

Me 410 Hornisse

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 2 × DB603A
Power, hp at sea level 2 × 1750
at altitude 2,100 m 2 × 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 × 20-mm MG-151 cannon, cartridges, pc. 2 × 350
4 × 7.9-mm MG-17 machine guns, cartridges, pc. 4 × 1000
2 × 13-mm FDSL machine guns, cartridges, pc. 2 × 500

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).

Photo Description
Drawing Me-410

Drawing Me-410

The Me 410B-2 (No. 130739) from II/ZG26 Group

The Me 410B-2 (No. 130739) from II/ZG26 Group captured in Eastern Prussia in the spring of 1945.


  • "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/