Luftwaffe

Arado AR-193 C-2 Floatplane

The Arado AR-196 was a shipboard reconnaissance aircraft that entered service in 1937 and became the standard aircraft of the Kriegsmarine throughout WWII serving on all of Germany’s capital ships. The AR-196 was well liked by its pilots who found it handled well both in the air and on the water. The Arado was one of the few seaplanes to see service in the Atlantic and Mediterranean and its primary duties consisted of reconnaissance and shadowing of service vessels. With the loss of the German surface fleet the AR-196 was added to coastal squadrons and continued to fly reconnaissance missions and ASW missions into late 1944. While in most respects the AR-196 is not a formidable aircraft, for a seaplane its performance exceeded its Allied counterparts and is generally considered the best of its type. In one memorable incident 2 AR-196s captured the mine laying submarine HMS Seal. She was the only submarine the Germans captured at sea during WWII. Because of its good handling on water, the Finnish Air Force utilized AR-196 solely for transport and supply of Special Forces patrols behind enemy lines, landing on small lakes in remote areas. About 50 planes served with Balkan air forces in the Adriatic and Black Sea. 541 AR-196s were built. The AR-196 C-2 was armed with 1 7.92 mm MG 15 machinegun in the nose, 1 7.92 mm MG 15 machinegun in a flexible mount in the rear cockpit and 2 20 mm MG FF cannons and could carry 2 110 lb. bombs. This model shows a AR-196 C-2 flown by the 2/SAGr (Seeaufklärungsgruppe) 125 in 1942 in the Aegean Sea.

Arado AR-196 Float Plane

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Bücker BU-133 Trainer

The Bücker BU-133 Jungmeister was considered one of the finest aerobatic training and competition aircraft ever built prior to 1945. The BU-133 was produced in Germany prior to WWII and in Spain during the war. Designed by Carl Bücker and produced in Germany for the Luft Sports Bund, it became the advanced aerobatic trainer for the future fighter pilots of the Luftwaffe. Almost every German pilot who flew against the Allies during WWII was trained in a Jungmeister. The BU-133 was popular in aerobatic competitions around the world. Because of its agility and lightness on the controls, it was selected by a number of European flying clubs and air services as an advance trainer for aerobatics. Several BU-133s still exist.

Buckmunster BU-133 Trainer

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Blohm & Voss BV-40 Glider Fighter

The Blohm & Voss BV-40 was a glider fighter designed to attack Allied bomber formations. By eliminating the engine and positioning the pilot laying down the cross sectional area of the aircraft was much reduced, making the aircraft much harder for bomber gunners to hit. The pilot lay in a heavily armored cockpit that made up almost 20% of the total weight of the glider. Almost all of the rest of the plane was made of non strategic wood construction. The BV-40 was to be towed either singly or in a pair above a bomber formation by a ME-109 G. It would then be released and begin its 500 mph attack dive through the bomber formation and then glide back to land. The first flight of the BV-40 was in the May of 1944 and about 20 BV-40s were produced. Several prototypes were completed, but the project was stopped later in the year as the end of the war drew near. It was armed with 2 30 mm Rheinmetall Borsig MK 108 cannons.

Blohm & Voss BV-40 Armored Glider Fighter

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Heinkel HE-100 Fighter

The Heinkel HE-100 first flew in January 1938. In spite of being the fastest fighter in the world at the time, the design was not ordered into production. This was largely due to political pressure and an attitude of the Luftwaffe that considered the ME-109 to be adequate for their needs. Even though the plane was not accepted for service use, Heinkel had decided to build a total of 25 HE-100s. These fighters were used to form Heinkel's Marienehe factory defense unit, flown by factory test pilots. The HE-100 was also used for propaganda purposes as the HE-113 night fighter The HE-100 was armed with one 20 mm MG/FF-M in the engine V firing through the propeller spinner and two 7.92 mm MG 17s in the wings.

Heinkel HE-100 Fighter

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Heinkel HE-162 A-1 Jet Fighter

The Heinkel HE 162 Volksjäger ("People's Fighter") was the second jet engine fighter aircraft to be fielded by the Luftwaffe in WWII. Faced with increasing shortages of materials caused by the Allied bombing campaign, the Luftwaffe needed to develop a fighter design that would be quick to produce and that would not use great amounts of strategic materials. Heinkel designed the HE-162 in only 3 weeks. First flying in late 1944, the HE-162 became operational in early 1945. By the end of the war 120 HE-162s had been delivered with a further 200 aircraft completed and awaiting collection or flight testing. The HE-162 A-1 was armed with 2 30 mm MK 108 cannons. About 600 more were in various stages of production. Examples of the HE-162 were sent to Great Britain, the USSR, France and the United States for testing and evaluation. This model shows a HE-162 A-1 flying with 2./JG 1 flown by Lt.Gerhard Hanf at Leck airfield, Nordfriesland, Germany in May 1945.

Heinkel HE-162 Jet Fighter

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Horton HO-229 v7 Jet Fighter

The Horten HO-229 (sometimes called the Gotha GO-229) was a late WWII jet powered flying wing design. The result of a series of designs going back to the early 1930s by the Horton brothers, the unpowered version of the HO-229 first flew on March 1, 1944 and the powered version on February 2, 1945. Testing continued until the end of WWII and the HO-229 never reached operational status. There are some reports that during one of these test flights, the HO-229 flew a simulated dogfight against a ME-262 and that the HO-229 outperformed the ME-262. The HO-229 was a revolutionary aircraft and was the first pure flying wing powered by a jet engine and the first aircraft to incorporate stealth technology. At the end of WWII a Horten glider and the HO-229 V3 were captured and sent to the Northrop Corporation in the US for evaluation. Today there is only one surviving HO-229 at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and one glider version at the Planes of Fame museum. After the war, Reimar Horten said he mixed charcoal dust in with the wood glue to absorb electromagnetic waves which he believed could shield the aircraft from detection by British radar. In 2008 Horten's theories were tested by Northrop-Grumman by building a replica of the HO-229 and it was found that it gave a radar cross section only 40% of that of conventional aircraft. The HO-229 was to be armed with 2 30 mm MK 108 cannons, R4M rockets and could carry 2 1,100 lb. bombs. This model shows the projected HO-229 v7 night fighter version.

Horton HO-229 V7 Jet Flying Wing Fighter

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Henschel HS-123 A-1 Dive Bomber

The Henschel HS-123 was a biplane dive bomber that first saw action in 1937 in Spain with the Condor Legion. Although designed as a dive bomber, the HS-123 was initially tried out in Spain as a tactical bomber, a role to which the plane was not suited. However shortly after their operational debut, the HS-123 began to be used in its intended role. The combat evaluation of the HS-123 showed that the aircraft was very accurate and could take a great deal of damage, including direct hits on the airframe and engine. The Nationalist Spanish were impressed enough to order 16 of the plane. In 1937 the JU-87 began to enter service and the HS-123 began to be withdrawn from front line units. By 1939 the Luftwaffe considered the HS-123 obsolete and there was only one unit still flying it. At the beginning of WWII the surviving HS-123s were sent into action in the Polish Campaign were they proved to be very effective. They again went into combat over the Netherlands and France in 1940 where they flew more missions per day than any other unit. The Luftwaffe again retired the plane after the fall of France, but brought it back again for the invasion of Russia in 1941. The HS-123 continued to fight on the Eastern Front until 1944 although its numbers continued to dwindle as time went on in spite of pulling all available aircraft from training units and even dumps. The HS-123 was so well liked that in January 1943 Generaloberst Wolfram von Richthofen asked whether production of the HE-123 could be restarted. However the factory had already dismantled all the tools and jigs. The few remaining planes were finally withdrawn for the last time and by 1945 they were reassigned to secondary duties. The HS-123 was armed with two 7.92 mm MG 17 machineguns and could carry 992 lbs. of bombs. This model shows a HS-123 A-1 based in Germany in October 1937.

Henschel HS-123 Dive Bomber

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Junkers JU-87 G Stuka Dive Bomber

The Junkers JU-87 Stuka was the most famous of all planes used by the Germans as a sturzkamfflugzeug (dive-bomber). The Stuka was designed strictly as an army cooperation dive bomber. It is instantly recognizable with its inverted gull wings and fixed-undercarriage. The JU-87 was ugly, sturdy, accurate, but very vulnerable to enemy fighters. The Germans learned in the Battle of Britain that its use demanded air superiority. It was too slow, un-maneuverable and under armed, but its effectiveness in destroying vehicles, fortifications or ships, or just scaring people was undoubted. The Germans fitted the wheel covers with sirens that were used once the planes went into a dive to shatter the morale of enemy troops and civilians. Over 5,700 Stukas were built. With the advent of the G model of the JU-87 the aging Stuka found new life as an antitank plane. It was the final operational version of the Stuka and was deployed on the Eastern Front. The JU-87 G featured a more powerful engine and added two 30 mm cannons under the wings in addition to its normal bomb load of 1 2,200 lb bomb. The G model influenced the design of the USAF A-10 Thunderbolt II. The most famous pilot of this type of aircraft was Hans-Ulrich Rudel who flew about 2,530 combat missions (a world record), during which time he destroyed almost 2,000 ground targets (including 519 tanks, 70 assault craft / landing boats, 150 self-propelled guns, 4 armored trains and 800 other vehicles, as well as a battleship, two cruisers, a destroyer and 9 planes ( two IL-2's and 7 fighters). He was shot down or force-landed 32 times (several times behind enemy lines), always somehow managing to escape capture despite Stalin himself having a 100,000 ruble bounty placed on his head. Rudel's book was required reading for all members of the A-10 project and Rudel was called in to consult on the design. This model shows the JU-87 G antitank version of the Stuka used on the Russian Front in Winter.

Junkers JU-87 G Stuka Dive Bomber

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Messerschmitt ME-109 D-1 Fighter

The Messerschmitt ME-109 was a German WWII fighter designed by Willy Messerschmitt in the mid 1930s. The ME-109 was originally designed as a short range interceptor and throughout the years was developed into a multipurpose fighter bomber. The first prototype was completed by May 1935. Ironically, the German engine was not yet ready and the RLM traded Roll-Royce a Heinkel HE-70 for four Rolls-Royce Kestrel engines. The ME-109 then won a fly off against entries from Arado, Focke Wulf, and Heinkel in March 1936. In July 1937 the ME-109 B won in several racing prizes and in November 1937 a ME-109 V13 set a new world air speed record for land planes with piston engines of 379.38 mph and in April 1939 set a record of 469.22 mph. The world record for a propeller driven aircraft stood until 1969. The ME-109 became the backbone of the Luftwaffe fighter force, serving on all fronts and in the air forces of its European allies. Even though the FW-190 began to replace the ME-109 in some units as early as the summer of 1941, production of the ME-109 actually rose until the closing months of the war and it remained the most numerous Luftwaffe fighter. By war's end, 30,573 ME-109s had bee built during the war and a total of 33,984 of all versions were made making it the most produced fighter aircraft in history. Production of the ME-109 continued on after the war in Czechoslovakia until 1949 and in Spain until 1958. The ME-109 was flown by the Bulgarian Air Force, Croatian Air Force, Republic of China Air Force, Czechoslovakian Air Force, Finnish Air Force, Royal Hungarian Air Force, Israeli Air Force, Regia Aeronautica, Italian Social Republic, Royal Romanian Air Force, Slovak Republic Air Force, Spanish Air Force, Swiss Air Force and the Royal Yugoslav Air Force. The ME-109 D was developed from the V10 and V13 prototypes and was the standard version of the ME-109 in service with the Luftwaffe just before WWII. During the war against Poland, Belgium, Holland, and France in 1939-40 the D series bore the brunt of the fighting. However, it was rapidly replaced by the ME-109 E and used in a few night fighter units until late 1940. 647 ME-109 Ds were produced and several were sold to Hungary and Switzerland. The ME-109 D-1 was armed with two nose mounted 7.92 mm MG 17 machinegun and one MG-FF 20 millimeter canon in the nose. This model shows a ME-109 D-1 in mid 1939. Also see the ME-109 E-4, the Avia S-199, the ME-109 G-6/AS and the ME-109 F-4 Trop, the ME-109 B and the ME-109 group.

Messerschmitt ME-109 D-1 Fighter

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Messerschmitt ME-109 E-4 Fighter

The Messerschmitt ME-109 was a German WWII fighter designed by Willy Messerschmitt in the mid 1930s. The ME-109 was originally designed as a short range interceptor and throughout the years was developed into a multipurpose fighter bomber. The first prototype was completed by May 1935. Ironically, the German engine was not yet ready and the RLM traded Roll-Royce a Heinkel HE-70 for four Rolls-Royce Kestrel engines. The ME-109 then won a fly off against entries from Arado, Focke Wulf, and Heinkel in March 1936. In July 1937 the ME-109 B won in several racing prizes and in November 1937 a ME-109 V13 set a new world air speed record for land planes with piston engines of 379.38 mph and in April 1939 set a record of 469.22 mph. The world record for a propeller driven aircraft stood until 1969. The ME-109 became the backbone of the Luftwaffe fighter force, serving on all fronts and in the air forces of its European allies. Even though the FW-190 began to replace the ME-109 in some units as early as the summer of 1941, production of the ME-109 actually rose until the closing months of the war and it remained the most numerous Luftwaffe fighter. By war's end, 30,573 ME-109s had bee built during the war and a total of 33,984 of all versions were made making it the most produced fighter aircraft in history. Production of the ME-109 continued on after the war in Czechoslovakia until 1949 and in Spain until 1958. The ME-109 was flown by the Bulgarian Air Force, Croatian Air Force, Republic of China Air Force, Czechoslovakian Air Force, Finnish Air Force, Royal Hungarian Air Force, Israeli Air Force, Regia Aeronautica, Italian Social Republic, Royal Romanian Air Force, Slovak Republic Air Force, Spanish Air Force, Swiss Air Force and the Royal Yugoslav Air Force. In late 1938 the ME-109 E entered production. It featured a new more powerful engine, a 3 bladed propeller, bomb racks, improved radios and structural strengthening. The E-4 version was the main fighter during the Battle Of Britain, and had an improved canon, improved head armor for the pilot, new ammunition and redesigned cockpit canopy. A total of 561 of all E-4 versions were built. The most well known of all ME-109 E operations was the contest of air superiority between the Royal Air Force and the Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain in the summer of 1940. The new engine proved it usefulness against the Supermarine Spitfire and Hawker Hurricane as it could outperform the British planes in dives. In August 1940 comparative trials were held and the was determined that the ME-109 E had superior level and climb speed compared to the Spitfire and Hurricane at all altitudes, but also noted the significantly smaller turning circle of the British fighters. The roll rate of the ME-109 was deemed superior as was its stability on target approach. During the Battle of Britain the ME-109's chief disadvantage was it’s short range. During the battle, when escorting bombers from their bases in northern France, The Netherlands and Germany, the Messerschmitt had only around 15 minutes of fuel for combat over southern England before having to turn back. The ME-109 E-4 was armed with two nose mounted 7.92 mm MG 17 machinegun and 2 MG-FF/M 20 millimeter canons in the wings. This model shows a ME-109 E-4 during the Battle Of Britain in 1940. Also see the ME-109 D-1, the Avia S-199, the ME-109 G-6/AS and the ME-109 F-4 Trop, the ME-109 B and the ME-109 group.

Messerschmitt ME-109 E-4 Fighter

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Messerschmitt ME-163 Komet Rocket Fighter

The Messerschmitt ME-163 Komet was one of the most unusual aircraft of World War II. It was a rocket powered point defense interceptor designed by Alexander Martin Lippisch. It is the only rocket powered fighter to have ever been operational. The ME-163 can trace its design to a series of gliders beginning in the late 1930s that then progress to propeller driven models and finally a rocket powered prototype in 1941. Further powered flight testing of more advanced models was delayed until August 1943 by engine and fuel problems. Although the Komet's rocket engine gave it a phenomenal climb rate, range was severely limited by its high fuel consumption and the hazardous fuels used were extremely volatile and sometimes exploded without warning, killing a number of pilots. Production ME-163 Bs were not ready for operational use until July 1944. The performance of the ME-163 far exceeded any piston engine fighters. The Komet could climb to 39,000 ft. in an unheard of three minutes. With a maximum speed of 596 mph no Allied fighter could touch it. The chief test pilot of the ME-163 said it could "fly circles around any other fighter of its time". The Luftwaffe planned to have small units of Komets dispersed to intercept Allied bomber formations, but only 279 ME-163 Bs were delivered by the end of the war. The sole operational Komet group, JG 400, scored 9 kills while losing 14 of its own aircraft. The ME-163 B Komet was armed with 2 30 mm Rheinmetall Borsig MK 108 cannons.

Messerschmitt ME-163 Rocket Powered Fighter

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Messerschmitt ME-262 B-1a/U1 Jet Fighter

Amongst the most significant aircraft in aviation history, the Messerschmitt ME-262 became the first jet powered aircraft to enter combat. Plans for the ME-262 were first drawn up in April 1939 and although the airframe was ready to fly by 1941, the engines were suffering prolonged development delays and the first flight was accomplished by placing a single piston engine in the nose. Development of the design was greatly delayed by technical issues involving the new jet engines. Funding was also reduced to a very low level. The first jet powered prototype did not fly until July 18, 1942. Testing continued over the next 23 months and a host of technical difficulties had to be overcome leading to a large number of changes to the design. In addition to the technical challenges, Hitler wanted the plane changed into a bomber. His orders resulted in the development of and concentration on, the bomber version to the detriment of the fighter design. Hitler also blocked the mass production of the ME-262 until early 1944 believing that it would not be effective. The first operational ME-262s were not ready until June 1944. The Luftwaffe began committing the ME-262 A-1a to combat in mid 1944. When flown by an experienced pilot the ME-262 was very difficult to fight due to its high speed. ME-262 pilots claimed a total of 509 Allied kills for the loss of about 100 planes. The only real counter to the ME-262 was a lucky shot or to attack the aircraft on the ground or while landing or taking off. Despite being well armed, the ME-262 was too little too late to turn the tide of war in Germany's favor. In March 1945 the first really large scale attack by ME-262s against US bombers occurred. 37 ME-262s went in against 1,221 bombers and 632 fighters. They shot down 12 bombers and one fighter for the loss of three planes. Although a 4:1 ratio was exactly what the Luftwaffe would have needed to make an impact on the war, there were not enough planes to make a real difference. About 1,430 aircraft were built, though only about 300 ever saw combat. The ME-262B-1a was a two seat fully armed trainer version of the ME-262 A. As the war progressed they were quickly converted into the B-1a/U1 night fighter version equipped with the Neptun radar and Hirschgeweih antennas. These few aircraft accounted for most of the 13 Mosquitoes lost over Berlin in the first three months of 1945. Quite a few ME-262s were captured after the war by allied and Soviet forces. They were so far in advance of their existing fighters that they were extensively studied and greatly contributed to early US and Soviet jet fighters designs. The ME-262 B-1a/U1 was armed with four 30 mm MK 108 cannons and could carry 24 55 mm R4M rockets. This model shows a plane flown by Ace Major Kurt Welter. Welter ended the war with 63 victories, 20 of them in the ME-262 making him the second highest scoring jet ace of all time. Welter died in 1949.

Messerschmitt ME-262 B-1a u1 Jet Night Fighter

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Bachem BA-349 Natter Rocket Interceptor

The Bachem BA-349 Natter (Viper) was an experimental rocket powered interceptor aircraft. As the Luftwaffe gradually lost the air war over Germany, radical designs were proposed to attack the massive allied bomber streams. The BA-349 was one result of the Emergency Fighter Program. The Natter was built using glued and screwed wooden parts with an armored cockpit and was powered by a Walter HWK 509A-2 rocket engine and carried four jettisonable Schmidding solid fuel RATO units. The plane was launched from a 50 foot steel tower. After take off the flight to the bombers was radio controlled from the ground. The main mission of the pilot was to aim the aircraft at its target, jettison the plastic nose cone and fire its rockets. At this point the pilot was to climb above the bombers and then execute a ramming attack against a bomber while ejecting just before impact and jettisoning the rocket motor. Unmanned prototypes of the BA-349 first flew in November 1944. The only manned test flight, on March 1, 1945, ended with test pilot Lothar Sieber being killed. It is believed that a total of 36 Natters were built. 18 were used in unmanned tests and two crashed with pilots, one during a glide and one with Sieber. Of the remaining 16, 10 were burned at the end of the war while four were captured by Americans, one went to Britain and one ended up with the Soviets. It is possible, but not confirmed, that an operational unit of Natters was set up by volunteers in Kirchheim. There are unconfirmed reports that one of the US Natters was fired at Muroc Army Air Base in 1946, crash landing somewhere near Las Vegas. The Natter was armed with 24 73 mm Henschel Hs 217 Föhn rockets.

Bachem BA-349 Natter Rocket Powered Point Defense Fighter

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Blohm & Voss BV-141 B-02 (V10) Reconnaissance Plane

The Blohm & Voss BV-141 was one of the most unusual and asymmetric aircraft ever flown. Designed in the late 1930s as a tactical reconnaissance aircraft the unusual configuration was adopted to give an excellent all round view from a single engine aircraft. The more powerful BV-141 B had some handling and hydraulic problems. Development was slow and only 13 were built. The BV-141 B was armed with 2 7.92 mm MG 17 machineguns and 1 manually aimed 7.92 mm MG 15 machinegun mounted in the dorsal bubble and 1 manually aimed 7.92 mm MG 15 mounted in the tail and could carry 4 110 lb. bombs This model shows a BV 141 B-02 (V10) at the test center at Rechlin Germany in 1941.

Blohm & Voss BV-141 B Reconnaissance Plane

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Focke Wulf FW-190 A-8 Fighter

The Focke-Wulf FW-190 was one Germany's best fighters in WWII. Designed in the late 1930s by Kurt Tank, the FW-190 became one of the mainstays of the German fighter bomber force. It made its first flight on June 1, 1939 and appeared in action over northwestern France in September 1941 where it rapidly proved its superiority over the Mark V Spitfire. Only in July 1942 did the improved Spitfire match the FW-190. On the Eastern Front the FW-190 began to be used as a specialized ground attack plane with great success against Soviet ground units. The A model of the FW-190 performed best at low to medium altitudes a shortcoming that was rectified in the D model. The FW-190 A-8 entered production in February 1944 and featured a more powerful engine, thicker armor new paddle bladed wooden propeller, new bubble canopy design, more fuel and improved armament. The A-8 was the most produced of the A models, with over 6,550 made out of a total production run of more than 20,000 of all types. The FW-190 A-8 was armed with 2 13 mm MG 131 machineguns and 4 20 mm MG 151/20 E cannons. This model shows a FW-190 A-8 “Black 8", flown by Unteroffizier Willi Maximowitz, IV./JG 3, 11.Staffel, at Dreux, France in June 1944.

Focke Wulf FW-190 A-4 Fighter

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Henschel HS-129 B-3 Ground Attack Plane

The Henschel HS-129 was designed as a dedicated ground attack plane in May 1939 and entered service in April 1942. The HS-129 was expected to take considerable fire while making its attack runs. The plane was designed around a single large bathtub of steel sheeting that made up the entire nose area of the plane and enclosed the pilot up to head level. The canopy was also steel with only small windows on the side and two angled blocks of glass for the windscreen. The fuselage sides were angled inwards into a triangular shape that resulted in almost no room to move at shoulder level. There was so little room in the cockpit that the instrument panel was put under the nose below the windscreen, some of the instruments were moved outside onto the engine nacelles and the gun sight was mounted outside on the nose. The fall of France provided access to a new more powerful engine and the HS-129 was finally able to achieve barley acceptable performance. The production rate was very slow and by May 1942 only 50 planes had been delivered. The first unit equipped with the HS-129 went into action on the Eastern Front that month. It was quickly found that the 20 mm canons on the HS-129 were not effective against the Soviet T-34 and a new 30 mm canon was mounted on the center line pod. Later on it was decided to increase the armament of the plane. Rheinmetall adapted their PaK 40 antitank gun into an aircraft mountable version that became the Bordkanone BK 7.5. A huge hydraulic system was used to dampen the recoil of the gun and an autoloader system with 12 rounds in the magazine was fitted in the large empty space behind the cockpit. The resulting system was able to knock out any tank in the world but the weight slowed the already poor performance of the plane to barely flyable. This version began arriving in June 1944 and only 25 were delivered by the time production was shut down in September. The 75 mm Bordkanone BK 7,5 cannon was the heaviest forward firing gun installation ever produced for a production military aircraft until the General Electric GAU-8 Avenger was used on the A-10. Total production had amounted to only 879, including prototypes. Because of attrition and other problems, the HS-129 was never able to fully equip the giant antitank force that could be seen to be needed as early as winter 1941-42, their overall effect on the war was not great. In autumn 1944 operations began to be further restricted by shortage of high octane gas and by the final collapse of Germany only a handful of these aircraft remained. The HS-129 B-3 was armed with two 13 mm MG 131 machineguns, two 20 mm MG 151/20 cannons and a 75 mm BK 75 antitank gun in an under fuselage pod. This model shows a HS-129 B-3 flying on the Eastern Front in late 1944.

Henschel HS-129 B-3 Attack Plane

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Junkers JU-88 C-6 Night Fighter

The Junkers JU-88 was a twin engine, multi role aircraft. Designed by Hugo Junker in the mid 1930s, it suffered from a number of technical problems during the later stages of its development and early operational roles, but became one of the most versatile combat aircraft of the war. It was used as a bomber, dive bomber, night fighter, torpedo bomber, reconnaissance aircraft, heavy fighter and a flying bomb. The assembly line ran constantly from 1936 to 1945 and more than 16,000 were built in dozens of variants and hundreds were still in use when the war ended. The JU-88 C was designed as a heavy fighter and fighter bomber. It replaced the glass nose of the bomber version with a solid nose and retained some of the bomb carrying ability of the bomber version. The ventral gondola was also removed. The C version was quickly adapted into a very successful night fighter that soon became the main role of the JU-88. The C-6 carried the FuG Lichtenstein airborne intercept radar. The JU-88 C-6 was armed with one 20 mm MG FF cannon and two 7.92 mm MG 17 machineguns in the nose and one flexible mounted rearward firing 7.92 mm MG 17 machineguns and two 20 mm MG 151/20s in a Schräge Musik installation firing upwards at an 30-45 degree angle. This model shows a plane flown by night fighter Ace Major Prinz Heinrich zu Sayn Wittgenstein shortly before he was shot down on January 21, 1944 with 83 kills to his credit.

Junkers JU-88 C-6c Night Fighter

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Messerschmitt ME-109 F-4 trop Fighter

The Messerschmitt ME-109 was a German WWII fighter designed by Willy Messerschmitt in the mid 1930s. The ME-109 was originally designed as a short range interceptor and throughout the years was developed into a multipurpose fighter bomber. The first prototype was completed by May 1935. Ironically, the German engine was not yet ready and the RLM traded Roll-Royce a Heinkel HE-70 for four Rolls-Royce Kestrel engines. The ME-109 then won a fly off against entries from Arado, Focke Wulf, and Heinkel in March 1936. In July 1937 the ME-109 B won in several racing prizes and in November 1937 a ME-109 V13 set a new world air speed record for land planes with piston engines of 379.38 mph and in April 1939 set a record of 469.22 mph. The world record for a propeller driven aircraft stood until 1969. The ME-109 became the backbone of the Luftwaffe fighter force, serving on all fronts and in the air forces of its European allies. Even though the FW-190 began to replace the ME-109 in some units as early as the summer of 1941, production of the ME-109 actually rose until the closing months of the war and it remained the most numerous Luftwaffe fighter. By war's end, 30,573 ME-109s had bee built during the war and a total of 33,984 of all versions were made making it the most produced fighter aircraft in history. Production of the ME-109 continued on after the war in Czechoslovakia until 1949 and in Spain until 1958. The ME-109 was flown by the Bulgarian Air Force, Croatian Air Force, Republic of China Air Force, Czechoslovakian Air Force, Finnish Air Force, Royal Hungarian Air Force, Israeli Air Force, Regia Aeronautica, Italian Social Republic, Royal Romanian Air Force, Slovak Republic Air Force, Spanish Air Force, Swiss Air Force and the Royal Yugoslav Air Force. The second major redesign of the ME-109 was the F version. This was featured a complete redesign of the wings, the cooling system and fuselage aerodynamics with a new engine. When compared with the ME-109 E, the ME-109 F was much improved aerodynamically. The engine cowling was redesigned to be smoother and more rounded. The enlarged propeller spinner now blended smoothly into the new engine cowling. Underneath the cowling was a revised, more streamlined oil cooler radiator and fairing. A new ejector exhaust arrangement was incorporated and a metal shield was fitted over the left hand banks to deflect exhaust fumes away from the supercharger air intake. The wings were also redesigned. A new three blade light alloy propeller was used. These changes increased the maximum range of the ME-109 F to 1,060 miles. The ME-109 F-4 was armed with a 20 mm Mauser MG 151/20 canon firing through the spinner and two 7.92 mm MG 17 machineguns in the cowling. Produced from May 1941 to May 1942, 1,841 F-4s were made, of which 576 were the tropicalized F-4 trop. This model shows a ME-109 F-4 Trop flown by Oberleutnant Hans-Joachim Marseille, Staffelkapitan 3./JG 27 in June 1942 in North Africa. Hans-Joachim Marseille was a Luftwaffe ace with 158 kills. One of the best fighter pilots of World War II, he was nicknamed the "Star of Africa" and all but seven of his victories were in North Africa. No other pilot claimed as many Western Allied aircraft as Marseille. In one day, flying 3 sorties, he shot down 17 enemy fighters. Marseille was killed in a flying accident, when an engine failure forced him to abandon his fighter. After he exited the smoke filled cockpit, Marseille's chest struck the vertical stabilizer killing him instantly. Also see the ME-109 E-4, the Avia S-199 and the ME-109 D-1, the ME-109 G-6/AS, the ME-109 B  and the ME-109 group.

Messerschmitt ME-109 F-4 Trop Fighter

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Dornier DO-335 A-6 Pfiel Night Fighter

The Dornier DO-335 Pfeil (Arrow) was a WWII heavy fighter. The DO-335’s performance was much better than any similar design due to its unique tandem push-pull engine layout. The prototype first flew in October 1943. On May 23, 1944 Hitler ordered maximum priority to be given to DO-335 production. The first ten DO-335’a were delivered for testing in May 1944. By late 1944 the DO-335 was in production. Delivery commenced in January 1945. When the US Army overran the Oberpfaffenhofen factory in late April 1945, only eleven DO-335 A-1 single seat fighter-bombers and two DO-335 A-12 conversion trainers had been completed. At the end of 1944 the A-6 night fighter version was designed equipped with FuG 220 Lichtenstein SN-2 or FuG 218 Neptun V radar. The radar operator cockpit was located behind the pilots cockpit. There was only one operational DO-335 A-6, flown by Werner Baake in I./NJG3. The DO-335 was capable of a maximum speed of 474 mph at 21,300 ft with boost and able to climb to 26,250 ft in under 15 minutes. The DO-335 could easily outrun any Allied fighters it encountered. Even with one engine out it could reach about 350 mph. French ace Pierre Clostermann claims the first Allied combat encounter with a Pfeil in April 1945. Leading a flight of four Hawker Tempests from No. 3 Squadron RAF over northern Germany, he intercepted a lone DO-335 flying at maximum speed at treetop level. Detecting the British aircraft, the German pilot reversed course to evade. In spite of the Tempest's speed the RAF fighters were not able to catch up or even get into firing position. The DO-335 A-6 was armed with Two 20 mm MG 151/20 machineguns above the nose and one 30 mm Mk 103 cannon firing through the propeller hub.

Dornier DO-335 A-6 Night Fighter

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Dornier DO-17 Z Light Bomber

The Dornier DO-17 “Flying Pencil” light bomber was originally designed as a fast airmail plane for Lufthansa in 1935. After slight modifications the design was placed in service with the Luftwaffe as a light bomber and reconnaissance plane. The DO-17 Z was the final production version of the plane and fought in all of the early campaigns of WWII. The DO-17 was used extensively in the Battle of Britain where its light defensive firepower and slow speed showed its obsolescence. Production ended in 1940 with about 1,500 produced. The DO-17 was withdrawn from front line operations in 1941 after serving in the initial attack on the Soviet Union. The DO-17 was armed with six 7.92 mm MG 15 machine guns and carried 2,200 lb of bombs. This model shows a DO-17 Z of KG.53 Legion Condor 7th Staffel in 1940 during the Battle of Britain.

Dornier DO-17 Z Light Bomber

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DFS-346 Rocket Plane

The DFS-346 was designed as a rocket powered, high speed reconnaissance aircraft. It was intended to be air launched from the back of bomber. After launch from the bomber the plane's two Walter 509B rocket engines would accelerate the craft to about Mach 2.6 where they would cut out. The plane would then glide over its target for a photo reconnaissance run. After the run was complete the engine would be briefly fired again to raise the altitude for a long low speed glide back to base. By the end of WWII the prototype was only half finished, but was taken to the Soviet Union. They renamed it the Samolyot 346 and constructed 3 additional planes only the last one of which actually flew. The Soviets maintained for some time that the craft broke the sound barrier in 1946, but later evidence has made this claim look highly unlikely. Soviet testing of the DFS-346 ended in 1951 after the crash of the sole flying version.

DFS-346 Experimental Rocket Reconnaissance Plane

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Fieseler FI-103 Reichenberg IV Piloted Bomb

The  Fieseler FI-103 Reichenberg IV was a piloted version of the V-1 flying bomb. After the Normandy invasion German officials, prompted by test pilot Hanna Reitsch and SS-Haupsturmfuhrer Otto Skorzeny, became more receptive to the idea of a manned bomb. Officially the pilot was intended to aim the craft at the target and then bail out, however the odds of success were very slim. The FI-103 was designed to be launched from a HE-111 bomber and while 175 were produced, none were fired in anger. The FI-103 had a maximum speed of 497 mph with a powered endurance of 32 minutes and a range of 205 miles. Also see the JB-2 Loon for the USN version of the V-1 and the V-1 for the original V-1.

Fieseler FI-103 Reichenberg IV Piloted Jet Bomb

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Focke Wulf TA-283 Experimental Jet Fighter

The Focke Wulf TA-283 was a design for a ramjet and rocket powered fighter. It was to be powered by a Walter HWK rocket engine for take off and two Pabst ramjets once their operating speed was reached. The ramjets were located on the tips of the sharply swept tail planes to avoid any disturbance of the airflow. The aircraft sat very low on a retractable nose wheel undercarriage and had low mounted 45 degree swept back wings. Armament was to be two MK 108 30mm cannon. The TA-283 never reached the prototype stage.

Focke Wulf TA-283 Experimental Jet Fighter

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Henschel HS-132 Jet Dive Bomber

The Henschel HS-132 was designed in early 1944 to take advantage of the idea that a prone pilot could better resist g forces. By having the pilot lie down the frontal area of the plane was also considerably reduced making it harder to hit. However, this position severally reduced visibility so the basic design was suitable for only certain roles. The resulting design bore a strong resemblance to the HE-162 fighter with a cigar shaped fuselage, short span mid set wings and a horizontal stabilizer ending in twin rudders. The BMW 003 engine was mounted on the back of the aircraft above the wing. The HS-132 was intended to be a naval strike aircraft that would begin its attack in a shallow dive and after reaching a speed of 565 mph the pilot would toss the bomb at the target using a simple computerized sight and then climb back out of range. Construction of the first HS-132 began in March 1945 with the first flight scheduled for June 1945. The fuselage was captured by Soviet forces in May 1945 and the wings were never moved from their factory in France. The HS-132 was to be armed with a 1,100 lb bomb.

Henschel HS-132 Jet Powered Dive Bomber

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EMW A-4 Piloted Rocket

Developed from the successful V-2 rocket, the EMW A-4 B was the winged version of the V-2 ballistic missile. Design studies on the A-4 B began in 1940. Wooden wings were added to the design in an attempt to provide extra lift and range and a pilot was added to improve accuracy. The A-4 B would have been a little lager than the V-2 with a more powerful engine. The design languished 1944 when several V-2s were modified to the general configuration of the original design. The first test launch on December 27, 1944 was a total failure. The second launch attempt on January 24, 1945, was partially successful. One wing broke off but the rocket still managed to become the first winged guided missile to break the sound barrier and attain Mach 4, reaching an altitude of 40 km.

EMW A-4 B Experimental Piloted Rocket

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EMW A-9 Piloted Rocket

The EMW A-9 was the second stage of the proposed A-9/A-10 ICBM that was intended to attack New York. A pilot was added to the design to improve accuracy. Work on the 100 ton 41 meter long A9/A10 "Amerika Rakete" was started in the summer of 1940, postponed in October 1942 and resumed again in September 1944. The Test Stand VII launch pad was built at Peenemünde to test the A9 and A9/A10. However no test flights were ever made. It was intended to launch the A9/A10 from western Spain or France in order to reach it’s intended targets.

EMW A-9 Experimental Piloted Rocket

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Messerschmitt ME-110 E Fighter

The Messerschmitt ME-110 (or BF-110) was a twin engine heavy fighter (Zerstörer) that served with the Luftwaffe from the beginning to the end of WWII. The Zerstörer concept was born in the 1930s as aircraft began to change from Biplanes to monoplanes. The twin engine heavy fighter was designed to overcome the range and carrying capacity issues with the early single engine monoplanes. Most of the major countries in WWII fielded at least one heavy fighter design. The only one that truly succeeded as a fighter (as opposed to night fighter, bomber, ground attack plane, etc..) was the US P-38 Lightning. Despite having to cope with underpowered engines and late deliveries, the ME-110 first flew on May 12, 1936. All of the early versions of the ME-110 suffered poor performance due to the correct engines not being available. In late 1938 the correct engines finally became available and the planes speed increased to 336 mph and the range to 680 miles. Hermann Göring was a fan of the ME-110 and pushed its continued production and development. Work on an improved version, the ME-210 began before the war started but development problems kept both the ME-210 and its successor the ME-410 from replacing the ME-110. By Göring’s order, all the ME-110s were made available for the Polish campaign where they ran up an impressive total of kills and several aces were created. During the Phony War the ME-110 was used mostly as an air defense plane, attacking British bombers. At this stage of the war the ME-110 was very successful, causing Bomber Command to consider aborting the daylight bombing of Germany in favor of night actions. The ME-110 played an important part in the invasions of Denmark and Norway. Two Zerstörergeschwaders were committed with 64 aircraft. In one famous incident, Victor Mölders took the official surrender of the town of Aalborg after landing at the local airfield. In Norway the ME-110 attacked airfields and troops and was instrumental in securing the German victory. Based on combat experience, the D model was developed with extended range. It was during the Battle of France in 1940 that the shortcomings of the ME-110 began to become apparent. It performed well against the Belgian, Dutch and French Air Forces, suffering relatively light losses, but was quickly outclassed by increasing numbers of Hurricanes and Spitfires. 60 were lost in the Battle of France. The Battle of Britain revealed the ME-110s fatal weaknesses as a daylight fighter against single engine aircraft. It lacked the agility of the Hurricane and Spitfire and was easily seen. Its size and weight meant that it had high wing loading, which limited its maneuverability. Even though it had a higher top speed than the Hurricane, it had poor acceleration. Although outclassed as a day fighter it was still used frequently as a high escort for bombers using diving tactics deliver a long range burst from its armament, then breaking contact to run for it. In one day, August 15, 1940, 30 ME-110s were shot down and 23 more were lost over the next 2 days. Probably the most well known flight of a ME-110 was on May 10, 1941 when Rudolf Hess flew a ME-110 from Augsburg to Scotland in an attempt to broker a peace deal between Germany and Great Britain. The E model was designed as a fighter bomber able to carry four 110 lb bombs under the wings and an 1,100 lb. bomb under the fuselage. The E model also featured upgraded engines, armor and a strengthened fuselage. A total of 856 ME-110 Es were built between August 1940 and January 1942. In addition to the bomb load the ME-110 E was armed with 2  20 mm MG 151 cannons, 4  7.92 mm MG 17 machine guns and a flexible mounted 7.92 mm MG 81Z twin machinegun in the  rear cockpit. This model shows a ME-110 E flying with I./LG 1. during the battle of Britain.

Messerschmitt ME-110 E Fighter Bomber

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Arado AR-234 C Jet Bomber

Although the Arado AR-234 Blitz did not have a major effect on the outcome of WWII it was the world's first operational twin jet bomber, the first 4 jet bomber and the first single seat jet bomber. Designed in 1941 and first flying in February 1943 the AR-234 was designed as a high speed twin engine bomber. The aircraft was very slender and entirely filled with fuel tanks so there was no room for an internal bomb bay and the bomb load was carried on external racks. This reduced the maximum speed and two 20 mm MG 151 cannons were added in a remotely controlled tail mounting for defense. As the pilot had no direct view to the rear the guns were aimed through a periscope mounted on top of the cockpit. The system was generally considered useless and many pilots had the guns removed to save weight. Designed as a bomber the AR-234 was mainly used as a reconnaissance plane as its high speed made it almost impossible to intercept. The 7th prototype made history on August 2, 1944 as the first jet aircraft ever to fly a reconnaissance mission and the AR-234 was also the last Luftwaffe plane to fly a mission over England in April 1945. The AR-234 C was developed from the AR-234 B as a 4 engine bomber to free up the original engines for use in the ME-262. The change improved overall thrust, especially in takeoff and climb-to-altitude performance. An improved cockpit design, using a slightly bulged outline for the upper contour, also used a much-simplified window design for ease of production. Airspeed was found to be about 20% faster than the B model and due to the faster climb to altitude for more efficient flight, range was increased. Production switched over to the C version in February 1945. The AR-234 C Blitz carried one 1,100 lb. bomb under each engine pod and one 2,200 lb. bomb semi recessed in the underside of the fuselage A total of 210 AR-234s of all versions aircraft were built. One survives today in the Smithsonian. This model shows an Arado AR-234 C in typical late WWII camouflage.

Arado AR-234 C Jet Bomber

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Fieseler FI-103 V-1 Flying Bomb

The Fieseler FI-103, better known as the V-1 Buzz Bomb, was a pulse jet powered flying bomb and the direct ancestor of the cruise missile. The first V-1 was launched on June 13, 1944 after a protracted development period beginning in 1942. The V-1 was a remarkably simple design. The fuselage was mainly made of welded sheet steel and the wings were made from plywood. The pulse jet engine had only one moving part, the valves on the front of the engine, which opened and closed about 50 times per second. This gave the V-1 its characteristic buzzing engine noise and gave it the name buzz bomb. The engine was started by a regular automobile spark plug and the V-1 was given a launch assist by a steam powered catapult. After launch the V-1 used a simple autopilot to control its flight and a counter to determine when to cut off the engine. About 30,000 V-1s were made and 10,000 were fired at England. Of that number 2,419 reached London, killing about 6,184 people and injuring 17,981. Only about 25% of the V-1s actually hit their targets. Most of them were lost because of defensive measures, mechanical unreliability, and deception as to the location of the targets or guidance errors. The V-1 carried a 1,870 lb. warhead. This model shows a V-1 in typical camouflage in late 1944. Also see the JB-2 Loon for the USN version of the V-1 and the FI-103 for the piloted version.

 Fieseler FI-103 V-1 Flying Bomb

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Lippisch DM-1 Glider

The Lippisch DM-1 was full scale research glider designed to test the low speed handling and aerodynamics of a pure delta wing aircraft. The DM-1 was a pure delta of 60 degrees swept leading edges with a fin and rudder shape mirroring the wings. The aircraft was intended to be launched from a Siebel SI-204 and glide back to test the low speed characteristics of the delta shape. Scale models of the same shape had already been successfully tested in a wind tunnel to speeds of over Mach 2.6. The single seat DM-1 was built from steel tubing and Bakelite impregnated plywood. The cockpit was in the extreme nose and the junction of the delta wings and fin. After liberation by US Troops in May 1945, work continued on the DM-1 on behalf of the US military government, with General George S. Patton and Charles Lindbergh visiting to see the project. Completed in early November 1945, the DM-1 was shipped to Langley Field in Virginia where the flow behavior of the DM-1 was examined in the NACA wind tunnel. The data from these tests and consultations with Dr. Lippisch helped Convair to design and fly the world's first powered pure delta wing aircraft, the XP-92, in September 1948. The XP-92 lead directly to the XF-92, F-102, F-106 and the B-58.

Dr. Alexander Lippisch was a prolific designer of advanced aircraft including the ME-163 rocked powered point defense fighter. After the war he worked for Convair on supersonic delta wing designs. Later his interest shifted to ground effect craft, VTOL aircraft and aerodynes. Lippisch died in Cedar Rapids early in 1976.

Lippisch DM-1 Glider

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V-2 Ballistic Missile

The V-2 ballistic missile, officially known as the A-4, was the first operational liquid fuel rocket in the world and first man made object to achieve sub-orbital spaceflight. Design started on the predecessors of the V-2 in the early 1930s with Wernher von Braun working with Hermann Oberth on liquid fueled rocket motors. By the end of 1934 they had launched two rockets that reached heights of 2.2 and 3.5 km. By 1939 the basic design had been worked out but Hitler delayed any further work on the V-2 until 1942. Design work continued in 1942 and the first successful V-2 launch was made on October 3, 1943. In spite of Allied bombing attacks and reliability problems production was begun and the first operational launch happened on September 8, 1944 against Paris. Around 3,280 missiles were launched from September 1944 to April 1945 when the launching units were disbanded. Attacks were launched at various targets including 1610 against Antwerp, 1358 against London, 43 against Norwich, 289 against Ipswich, 22 against Paris, 19 against Maastricht and 11 against Remagen. Accuracy of the V-2 was poor especially in the beginning. Accuracy did improve as time went on and this caused the British government to issue false reports as to where the missiles actually landed so the Germans would not be able to aim accurately. About 2,754 civilians were killed in London by V-2 attacks with another 6,523 injured. Even though the V-2 was capable of causing large numbers of casualties (160 killed and 108 injured in attack November 25, 1944 when a V-2 struck a Woolworth's in southeast London and 567 dead and 291 injured in Antwerp when a movie theater was hit), the main effect of the V-2 was psychological. There was no way to stop a V-2 after it was launched and they appeared suddenly in the sky accompanied by a double sonic boom. The last V-2 fired against England was on March 27, 1945. The rocket struck the home of Mrs. Ivy Millichamp in Kynaston Road, Orpington in Kent. She was the only causality. In the end the V-2 was basically a waste of resources for the Nazis. The program cost about $2 billion 1944 dollars with about 6,084 missiles completed. It used up enormous amounts of strategic resources including over one third of the industrial alcohol production of the entire country. While Vengeance Weapon (Vergeltungswaffe) 2 did not alter the course of WWII, the personnel and technology from the V-2 program became the starting point for post war rocketry development in the US, Soviet Union and France and the ancestor of all rockets today. The V-2 had a range of about 200 miles, flew at about Mach 4 and carried a one ton Amatol warhead. This model shows a V-2 in typical late war camouflage launched by the 485th artillery regiment at Hachenburg, Germany in March 1945. Also see the EMW A-4 B and the EMW  A-9.

V-2 Ballistic Missile

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Messerschmitt ME-109 G-6/AS Fighter

The Messerschmitt ME-109 was a German WWII fighter designed by Willy Messerschmitt in the mid 1930s. The ME-109 was originally designed as a short range interceptor and throughout the years was developed into a multipurpose fighter bomber. The first prototype was completed by May 1935. Ironically, the German engine was not yet ready and the RLM traded Roll-Royce a Heinkel HE-70 for four Rolls-Royce Kestrel engines. The ME-109 then won a fly off against entries from Arado, Focke Wulf, and Heinkel in March 1936. In July 1937 the ME-109 B won in several racing prizes and in November 1937 a ME-109 V13 set a new world air speed record for land planes with piston engines of 379.38 mph and in April 1939 set a record of 469.22 mph. The world record for a propeller driven aircraft stood until 1969. The ME-109 became the backbone of the Luftwaffe fighter force, serving on all fronts and in the air forces of its European allies. Even though the FW-190 began to replace the ME-109 in some units as early as the summer of 1941, production of the ME-109 actually rose until the closing months of the war and it remained the most numerous Luftwaffe fighter. By war's end, 30,573 ME-109s had bee built during the war and a total of 33,984 of all versions were made making it the most produced fighter aircraft in history. Production of the ME-109 continued on after the war in Czechoslovakia until 1949 and in Spain until 1958. The ME-109 was flown by the Bulgarian Air Force, Croatian Air Force, Republic of China Air Force, Czechoslovakian Air Force, Finnish Air Force, Royal Hungarian Air Force, Israeli Air Force, Regia Aeronautica, Italian Social Republic, Royal Romanian Air Force, Slovak Republic Air Force, Spanish Air Force, Swiss Air Force and the Royal Yugoslav Air Force. The ME-109 G was a development of the ME-109 F. It featured a new higher power engine, a reinforced wing, bullet proof windscreen and additional fuel tank armor. Externally the first G versions closely resembled the F model and were equipped with the same armament. As the war went on new armament and equipment was added to the basic airframe and the look of the plane began to change. Bulges on the cowling where were added to accommodate 13 mm MG 131 machineguns and added on the wings to make room for larger tires. A new clear view canopy was addend as well as a 30 mm MK 108 cannon, an enlarged supercharger and a larger vertical stabilizer. Standard armament for the G-6 was two cowling mounted 13 mm MG 131 machineguns and one 30 mm MK 108 cannon mounted as a Motorkanone firing through the propeller hub. When used as bomber interceptors the G-6 carried one under fuselage drop tank and two Wfr. Gr. 21 rockets with one launching tube under each wing. About 12,000 ME-109 Gs were made. This model shows a ME-109 G-6/AS Yellow 3 of II/JG.27 flying out of Fels am Wargram, Austria in August 1944. Also see the ME-109 E-4, the Avia S-199 and the ME-109 D-1, the ME-109 F-4 Trop, the ME-109 B and the ME-109 group.

Messerschmitt ME-109 G-6/AS Fighter

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Messerschmitt ME-109 B-1 Fighter

The Messerschmitt ME-109 was a German WWII fighter designed by Willy Messerschmitt in the mid 1930s. The ME-109 was originally designed as a short range interceptor and throughout the years was developed into a multipurpose fighter bomber. The first prototype was completed by May 1935. Ironically, the German engine was not yet ready and the RLM traded Roll-Royce a Heinkel HE-70 for four Rolls-Royce Kestrel engines. The ME-109 then won a fly off against entries from Arado, Focke Wulf, and Heinkel in March 1936. In July 1937 the ME-109 B won in several racing prizes and in November 1937 a ME-109 V13 set a new world air speed record for land planes with piston engines of 379.38 mph and in April 1939 set a record of 469.22 mph. The world record for a propeller driven aircraft stood until 1969. The ME-109 became the backbone of the Luftwaffe fighter force, serving on all fronts and in the air forces of its European allies. Even though the FW-190 began to replace the ME-109 in some units as early as the summer of 1941, production of the ME-109 actually rose until the closing months of the war and it remained the most numerous Luftwaffe fighter. By war's end, 30,573 ME-109s had bee built during the war and a total of 33,984 of all versions were made making it the most produced fighter aircraft in history. Production of the ME-109 continued on after the war in Czechoslovakia until 1949 and in Spain until 1958. The ME-109 was flown by the Bulgarian Air Force, Croatian Air Force, Republic of China Air Force, Czechoslovakian Air Force, Finnish Air Force, Royal Hungarian Air Force, Israeli Air Force, Regia Aeronautica, Italian Social Republic, Royal Romanian Air Force, Slovak Republic Air Force, Spanish Air Force, Swiss Air Force and the Royal Yugoslav Air Force. The ME-109 B was the first serial production version of the ME-109. It was powered by a 661 hp Jumo 210D engine with a two bladed fixed pitch propeller which was later replaced by a variable pitch Hamilton propeller. The new propeller allowed a machinegun to be fitted between the engine blocks. About 55 ME-109 Bs were sent to Spain with the Condor Legion during the Spanish Civil War where they fought against Soviet supplied aircraft. The ME-109 quickly replaced the Heinkel HE-51 as the primary Condor Legion fighter plane. In general the Republican aircraft were no match for the ME-109 and they took heavy losses to it. In combat in Spain it became apparent that the armament of the B version was not heavy enough. While the new propeller allowed a third machinegun to be fitted, it proved to be very unreliable. 341 ME-109 Bs were built by Messerschmitt, Fieseler and Erla. The Messerschmitt ME-109 B was armed with two cowl mounted 7.92 mm MG 17 machine guns. This model shows a ME-109 B-1 from 2/J 88 Legion Condor, in Spain during 1937. Also see the ME-109 E-4, the Avia S-199 and the ME-109 D-1, the ME-109 G-6/AS, the ME-109 F-4 Trop and the ME-109 group.

Messerschmitt ME-109 B-1 Fighter

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