Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Bf 109 losses 1944-45 «  we would have preferred the He 112 to the Me 109.. »


In  a thread on entitled " the He 112 wins the fighter contest and becomes the primary day fighter of the Luftwaffe for the period 1936-43 " I pointed out that Wolfgang Falck wrote a piece in the German fighter pilot's association magazine stating that one of the major 'failures' of the Luftwaffe was preferring the Me 109 to the He 112. 

I added, " everyone knows thousands of Bf 109s were lost in accidents.." The OP responded "..thousands, really?. "

I assumed that most enthusiasts are aware of the huge losses of Bf 109s. A discussion on Me 109 losses can be found in Peter Schmoll's " Me 109 Produktion und Einsatz " (MZ Buchverlag, 2017) . There is, for example, on pages 191-193 a full break down of Me 109 losses for 1944 and 1945 headed " Totale Verluste, Durch- Ohne Feindeinwirkung" ( Total losses through- and without enemy intervention). So for the month of December 1944 alone, Me 109 losses 'ohne Feindeinwirkung' (ie 'accidents') total 570. This is more or less the monthly figure for Bf 109 accidents for EVERY SINGLE MONTH through 1944. Although accidents in October and November 1944 were not quite so high - ‘just’ 400 Me 109s lost through accidents in each of these two months. The figures quoted above don't include damaged or combat losses - these were of a similar order of magnitude. So that effectively means around one thousand Me 109s were being written off monthly from January 1944 to April 1945. Production and service deliveries only barely kept up with losses..

So, yes, thousands of Me 109s were lost in accidents, primarily because the aircraft was 'tricky' to take off and land, especially for inexperienced pilots. The Bf 109 was a small, high-powered fighter that was difficult to take off and land because of torque, narrow-track gear, poor visibility, narrow-cramped cockpit, high-wing loading etc etc..My point being many 'thousands' of Bf 109s losses were 'avoidable' as Falck said when arguing that the Jagdwaffe may have been better off putting the He 112 into service rather than the Me 109. Falck’s 8. Staffel of the Jagdgeschwader Richthofen briefly flew the type in 1938..

«  .. the He 112 was an excellent aircraft ..much easier for inexperienced pilots to fly and with its low, wide track undercarriage far less prone to ground-looping....if the decision had been left up to the airmen then undoubtedly they would have preferred the He 112 over the Bf 109...Messerschmitt must have ‘lobbied’ hard or had far better contacts to the ‘upper echelons’.... »

Falck makes the point that the He 112 had far better take-off and landing characteristics. Of course it is probably also the case that the He 112 with DB 605s of 1500+ HP, much increased torque and wing loading (due to heavy powerplant, armament and ammo, fuel and protection) would not have remained as docile as the historical He 112 Bs...