Sunday, 16 June 2013

Messerschmitt M.35 - German pre-war aerobatic champions

 An interesting photo series depicting a decorated pilot in and around BFW M.35, more usually known as the Messerschmitt M 35, a twin-seat radial-engined sports and touring aircraft of the early 1930s. The M.35 is particularly interesting as the last of a line designed by Willy Messerschmitt. It was an aircraft that led directly to the Bf 108 Taifun.

BFW had declared bankruptcy during June 1931 following a second crash of its M.20 'airliner' in April 1931. The previous October an M.20 had crashed in Dresden on a flight to Vienna with the result that an order of ten of these aircraft from DLH under Erhard Milch was cancelled. Messerschmitt ressurrected his old company Messerschmitt Flugzeugbau GmbH (Ltd) to continue his design work.

Over the period 1927-33 Messerschmitt designed a series of six sports aircraft, the single seat M.17 and M.19, and the two-seat M.23, M.27 M.31 and finally the M.35. With the exception of the M.23, none sold in large numbers. They were all single-engine low-wing cantilever monoplanes with open cockpits and fixed undercarriage. The M.35 kept the extended fuselage of the M.27 and combined it with an undercarriage of single leg, spatted form. 

Two different engines were used. The M35a had a 112 kW (150 hp), seven-cylinder radial Siemens Sh 14a and the M.35b a 100 kW (135 hp) four-cylinder inline inverted air cooled Argus As 8b. The former was the shorter and faster of the two. The aircraft first flew in 1933. The aircraft was first shown to the public and potential buyers at the 1934 Aerosalon in Geneva. In that year, Rudolph Hess won the Zugspitz trophy in an M.35. Assuming that the pilot in the flight suit in these pictures is not Hess, is it perhaps Will Stor who won the German Aerobatic Championship in an M.35 in 1934-35. In 1935 the women's prize was taken by Vera von Bissing in a similar machine.

Despite these successes and strong performances at other venues in the late 1930s, only 15 M.35s were built, 13 registered in Germany, one in Spain and reputedly one in Romania.