Messerschmitt Bf 109D

The D-1 (codenamed ‘Dora’) was the first major production model of the Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighter.

It was originally intended that that Bf 109D would be powered by the Daimler-Benz DB 600 engine, a newer and more powerful engine than the Junkers Jumo 210 engines used in early models, but the DB 600 was in short supply, and so the older engine continued to be used in the D series. Several prototype models were fitted with the Daimler-Benz engine for propaganda purposes but the entire production run of the 109D used the Jumo 210D, actually a slight step backwards from the 210G used in the 109C. Many early books on the Bf 109 were taken in by the German propaganda – indeed you will sometimes still this error today. The DB 600 engine was used in the twin engined He-111 bomber, 

The D-1 as eventually produced was thus very similar to the earlier C series machines. Minor changes were made to the tail wheel, and the airframe had been slightly strengthened in preparation for the DB 600 engine. The 109D was armed with four MG-17 machine guns, two in the wings and two above the engine cowling.

The Bf 109D-1 had a short service life. It entered production in the spring of 1938. Production was rapid – by August it made up nearly half of the Luftwaffe’s 643 first-line fighters. By the end of October nearly 600 Bf 109D-1s were in active service. However, by that time the first Bf 109Es were coming off the production line. Delays to their DB 601 engine meant that the new model was not available until the spring of 1939. At the outbreak of war in September 1939 only 235 D-1s remained in the first line strength, compared to 850 Bf 109Es.

Combat

The Bf 109D was the most effective model to see significant action during the Spanish Civil War. The earlier models had performed well against the fighters present on their arrival, but the Bf 109B was outclassed by the I-16 Type 10 “Supar Rata”. A small number of 109Cs arrived early in 1938, but it was only when the first of 36 109D-1s arrived in June 1938 that the Legion Condor regained its ascendancy over the Republican air force. By the time the first 109Es arrived at the end of 1938 the air war was virtually over.

Messerschmitt Bf 109: Pt. 1, John R. Beaman, Jr. This work provides a good technical history of the 109, tracing the development of the fighter from the early prototypes up to the 109E, the model used during the Battle of Britain. [see more]
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Bf 109B - Bf 109C - Bf 109D - Bf 109E - Bf 109F - Bf 109G - Bf 109H - Bf 109K
Bf 109B - Bf 109C - Bf 109D - Bf 109E - Bf 109F - Bf 109G - Bf 109H - Bf 109K

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (26 March 2007), Messerschmitt Bf 109D, 27 April 1296, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_bf_109D.html

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