SECURING THE SKIES

Messerschmitt 110

Overview

The Me110 Zerstörer ("Destroyer") was the result of a contract placed in late 1934 which called for an aircraft capable of both offensive and defensive roles. As a long-range fighter, it was to cut a path for the bombers through the defending aircraft; as a defensive aircraft it was to deny enemy bombers access to friendly airspace. In its first role it failed miserably, although it was used with greater success as a night fighter later in the war.

Limited numbers of the Me110 were used in the Polish campaign as ground-attack machines, but its real combat baptism against modern fighters came in May 1940 when some 350 aircraft were involved in the invasion of the Low Countries and France. Losses were greater than expected, but large numbers of Me110s were committed to daylight operations over Britain. Eight Gruppen of Me110s were convincingly outfought by the RAF's Hurricanes and Spitfires, and by the end of the year, the German High Command had realised that it was no match for modern fighters. Their speed, manoeuvrability and defensive armament were completely inadequate and their presence in the combat area was a liability for the escorting Me109 fighters.

Recognition

Sleek, thin fuselage with two small fins and long canopy. Tall, stalky main undercarriage housed in engine fairings part-way along mainplane which is set well forward on the fuselage.

Power and specifications
PowerplantTwo 1,150 hp Daimler Benz DB601 twelve-cylinder liquid-cooled engines.
Span53ft 4¾in (16.27m)
Length39ft 8½in (12.11m)
Max Speed349 mph (563km/h) at 22,960 ft (6,998m)
ArmamentFour 7.9mm machine guns and two 20mm cannon in nose, one rear-firing 7.9mm machine gun in cockpit.
AccommodationPilot and gunner.