Messerschmitt Bf 110B

Bf 110B | Bf 110C | Bf 110D | Bf 110E | Bf 110F | Bf 110G | Bf 110H

Development

The Bf 110 developed from the “Armed Aircraft III” specification issued by the German Air Ministry in 1934. The specifications called for a twin engined heavy fighter, which would perform a variety of functions, including long range bomber escort and fighter suppression duties. It was not a flawed concept – later in the war the P.51 Mustang performed the same duties over Germany with great success, but the Bf 110 would prove not to be the right aircraft for the job.

The first prototype flew on 12 May 1936, equipped with the Daimler Benz DB 600 engine. It was a fast aircraft, reaching 316 mph, only a little slower than the first Hawker Hurricane, which flew at about the same time, and actually faster than the Bf 109B! However it was not very manoeuvrable. This was the design’s fatal flaw, and would get worse as more and more equipment was added to the aircraft during the war.

Messerschmitt Bf 100 seen from below
Messerschmitt Bf 110 seen from below

The Bf 110 won the approval of Herman Göring. He had ambitious plans for his new heavy fighter, hoping to build a fleet of 3,000 by 1942. However, the DB 600 engine was a failure, and so the Bf 110B had to be built with the inferior Junkers Jumo 210B engine. The result was a slower aircraft, not fit for first line combat duties. The expansion of the Zerstörer force would have to wait for the arrival of the DB 601 engine.

The Bf 110B was phased out once the DB 601 engine was available in sufficient numbers to allow construction of the 110C, D and E. By the outbreak of war in 1939, the Bf 110B had been relegated to training and reserve groups, where it was used to train new pilots.

A-0

The pre-production Bf 110A-0s had to be built around the Jumo 210B engine, as the Daimler Benz engine was not yet ready for mass production. The Jumo engine was significantly less powerful than the DB engine, and reduced the speed of the aircraft to only 267 mph. This version of the Bf 110 was armed with four 7.9 mm MH 17 machine guns in the top of the nose, and one rear-firing 7.9 mm MG 15 in the observer’s cockpit.

B-0

A small number of DB 600A engines were eventually delivered, allowing for the pre-production version of the B series to be built around that engine.

B-1

Despite the appearance of the DB 600 engine in the B-0, the first production version, the B-1, had to be based around the Jumo 210G. This gave it better performance than the A-0, but still not as good as had been planned. The B-1 had its firepower increased by the addition of two 20 mm MG FF cannon in the bottom of the nose. It retained the four MG 17s and rear-firing MG 15 of the A-0. It had been hoped to test out the B series in Spain, but the civil war ended before that could happen.

B-2

A reconnaissance version of the B-1, replacing the nose cannon with a camera.

B-3

The B-3 was a conversion trainer, and thus remained in use longer than any other variant of the B series. It had all the guns removed, but an improved radio system.

Messerschmitt Bf 110 Zerstorer Aces of World War 2 (Osprey Aircraft of the Aces), John Weal. This book concentrates on the career of the Bf 110 as a daylight fighter. At the start of the war the aircraft had an impressive reputation, which survived to the end of the French campaign but faded once the aircraft had to face modern fighters. Weal traces the story of the Bf 110 through to the final disastrous attempts to use it against American heavy bombers.
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Bf 110B | Bf 110C | Bf 110D | Bf 110E | Bf 110F | Bf 110G | Bf 110H

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (14 March 2007), Messerschmitt Bf 110B, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_bf_110B.html

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