airfix 1/72 A03081A Messerschmitt Bf110E/E-2 TROP

One of the most distinctive aircraft of the Second World War, the Messerschmitt Bf 110 was a twin engined heavy fighter intended to be faster and more heavily armed than any other fighter aircraft in the sky at that time and during the early months of WWII, certainly proved to be devastatingly effective. 

Despite suffering at the hands of the RAF during the Battle of Britain, the Bf 110 would go on to prove its worth as a long range fighter bomber and ground support aircraft over the vast expanses of Russia and into the Mediterranean and North Africa, serving throughout the remainder of the Second World War.

For an aircraft which bears the famous Messerschmitt name, you could be forgiven for thinking that the Bf 110 twin engined heavy fighter might be one of the most famous and instantly recognisable aircraft of the 20th Century, however, for a number of different yet related reasons, this distinctive aircraft has always been viewed as something of a disappointment and has always been in the shadows of its far more famous single engined predecessor. For an aircraft which was heralded as an airborne Destroyer, you might think that the opposite should have been the case.

The Messerschmitt Bf 110 can trace its origins to a time when the aviation world was going through a significant period of transition, with the ultimate biplane fighters in service at that time being forced to give way to a new breed of fast, modern monoplane designs, a conversion which was not without many challenges. At that same time, many air force seniors across the world shared the opinion that a new breed of fast and heavily armed bombers would decide any future conflict, powerful enough to inflict unimaginable destruction on those they attacked, but able to defend themselves against enemy fighter attack. With the single engined fighter seen by many as therefore having a secondary role in the future of major air forces, the concept of a ‘Battle Destroyer’ began to gain some traction in Germany during the early 1930s, an aircraft which was so powerful that it could blast all other aircraft out of the sky and when not sweeping the skies of enemy opposition, could itself turn its hand to dropping a modest bomb load.

To this end, the German Ministry of Aviation issued specifications for such an aircraft and Germany’s major aviation companies all responded, with companies such as Messerschmitt, Focke Wulf, Henschel and Arado all competing for the potential contract. The Messerschmitt design emerged as the clear winner of this competition, however, just as contracts for the production of a series of prototypes were being signed, the RLM (Reichsluftfahrtministerium) decided to change their requirements once again. They had now decided that their modern Luftwaffe should be quipped with different aircraft to fulfil the Battle Destroyer role, a Schnellbomber (fast bomber) and a heavy fighter, or Destroyer. Messerschmitt were easily able to modify their design and as it was the clear front-runner in the original contest, it would go on to become the Luftwaffe’s much vaunted Zerstörer, gaining some rather high profile champions along the way.

Great War fighter ace Ernst Udet was a great proponent of the strategic potential of the heavy fighter concept and would go to great lengths explaining his beliefs to anyone of influence who was willing to listen to him. He also worked tirelessly to convince the RLM that they must establish a Kampfzerstörer force as a matter of some urgency, in order to support the aspirations of the German leaders, which were now all too apparent. His views were shared by the Luftwaffe’s Commander-in-Chief Hermann Goering and between them, they ensured that the new heavy fighter being developed by Bayerische Fligzeugwerke (soon to become Messerschmitt AG) became something of a priority project for the nation.

The reasoning behind their enthusiasm certainly wasn’t without merit, but in the world of aviation, ideas on paper don’t always translate to air combat effectiveness. As the new Destroyer was following in the wake of the new 109 single engined fighter, surely an aircraft possessing greater range, heavier firepower and the ability to defend itself from attacks from the rear would be a much more potent fighting machine, particularly as it also offered much greater future development potential. In addition to this, early trials of the new aircraft actually showed that it was marginally faster than Messerschmitt’s single engined fighter, seemingly underlining the faith Goering and Udet had placed in it.

As a long range heavy fighter, the Messerschmitt Bf 110 was indeed a fearsome prospect and as far as Hermann Goering was concerned, he couldn’t wait to commit his new Zerstörers to combat.

In simple terms, it’s all down to the date of the development of the particular aircraft type in question – the Bayerische Flugzeugwerke (Bavarian Aircraft Works) and Messerschmitt Flugzeugbau were ‘encouraged’ to merge by the Bavarian government in 1927, but continued to be known as Bayerische Flugzeugwerke for some years. On 11th July 1938, influential designer Willy Messerschmitt was named Chairman and Managing Director of the BFW company, renaming it Messerschmitt AG from that point, with that date being important in our quest. Before 11th July 1938, any Messerschmitt design which had already been developed and was in production carried the original Bayerische Flugzeugwerke of Bf nomenclature, whilst those which came later, such as the 410 and 262 were referred to as Me for Messerschmitt. As both the Messerschmitt 109 and 110 were developed prior to 11th July 1938, they are both referred to as Bf’s.

Simple right, well if only that were the case. Although this is the official explanation, there are so many anomalies, even in official German records, that things can get really confusing. Although we in the know will always frown when people describe the Bf 110 as an Me 110, even official RLM documents sometimes describe these earlier Messerschmitt designs using Me and in some cases, use both options within the same document. If the Germans appeared unsure, what hope to we have? As a pretty accurate rule of thumb though, the 11th July 1938 date rule should be used when correctly differentiating between a Bf and an Me when describing your Messerschmitt type.    

As the Messerschmitt Bf 110 moved into its final development and service trials phase, it was beset with a number of problems and delays which caused the Messerschmitt team no end of frustrations. This tumultuous period of aviation advancement went hand in hand with huge strides in aero engine technology, as new engines were developed producing more power than ever before, just the thing a fast new Destroyer aircraft was going to need. Unfortunately, new technologies often bring with them unforeseen delays and whilst the aircraft was ready to begin its test flying program, the problematic Daimler Benz DB 600 powerplants would force an eleventh our engine change. Initially, Messerschmitt were forced to use Junkers Jumo 210B engines, which were not as powerful as the DB600 and hampered the performance of the aircraft.

Other than test and pre-production aircraft, the first major production variant of the Bf 110 to be fitted with the new Daimler Benz powerplants (the DB601) was the ‘C’ series, which entered service in 1939 and as a priority aircraft type, the production of new aircraft proceeded at an impressive rate – by the end of the year, around 500 Bf 110s were in service and Germany was at war.


Scheme Options

Paints required for this scheme

A03081A – Messerschmitt Bf110E TROP 7/Zerstörergeschwader 26, Derna, Libya, 1942. (A)

A03081A – Messerschmitt Bf110E, Aircraft flown by Felix Maria Brandis, 13.(Z) Jagdgeschwader 5, Norway, 1941. (B)

Paints required for this scheme

No 24 Trainer Yellow – Matt

No 33 Black – Matt

No 34 White – Matt

No 53 Gunmetal – Metallic

No 61 Flesh – Matt

No 154 Insignia Yellow – Matt

No 156 Dark Camouflage Grey Satin

No 31 Slate Grey – Matt

No 65 Aircraft Blue – Matt

No 83 Ochre – Matt

No 240 RLM 02 Grau – Matt

No 241 RLM 70 Schwartzgrun – Matt

No 242 RLM 71 Dunkelgrun – Matt

Parts Included

Available To Pre-Order