Guest Grendel


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"This article and its sub sections are put together to dispell some of the persistent myths about the Messerschmitt 109 fighter. As the most ever built fighter which was the mainstay of German Luftwaffe and various other air forces, including Finnish, Spanish, Hungarian, Romanian air forces, the plane is also victim of intentional disinformation, many most persistent urban myths and just ignorance. Not having first hand information or poor understanding of the subject leads easily to absurd claims.


The attempt here is to look at the subject, Messerschmitt 109, through the eyes of the 109 pilots.


This article is primarily a collection of pilot quotes that relate to actual flying of the plane. The quotes are from interviews, articles and books. They are complemented with some additional bits about other topics. It is not a serious study - just bunch of pilot opinions that might be conflicting to each other. Pilot's comments are always "their facts". I do not guarantee 100% that the other materials are always completely correct. Errors may and most likely remain."




General comments on Me 109


Me 109 G:

"It was very advanced and equipped with new, more sophisticated technology. Nicknamed Gustav, the 109G was well armed, but not as light as the early E and F versions. Its more powerful engine meant higher power settings whose initial climb rate sent it soaring to 18700 feet in six minutes, but at low speed the plane was difficult to handle."

- Major Gunther Rall in April 1943. German fighter ace, NATO general, Commander of the German Air Force. 275 victories. Source: Gunther Rall, a memoir.


Me 109 G:

"Comparing the Curtiss and the Messerschmitt (109 G), which one was the more pleasant to fly ?

Well, both were pleasant each in their own way. The Curtiss was as if in your control all the time. More speed would have been necessary. The Messerschmitt had speed, she climbed well and was well-armed. That was it. Both types were good aircraft in their age."

- Kyösti Karhila, Finnish fighter ace. 32 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.


Me 109 G-6:

Me109 had good performance values for its time, the weapons (1 x 20 mm + 2 x 13 mm) were accurate and effective. The option for 3x20mm cannons was well suited against IL-2s. I didn't regard the swerving during take-offs as anything special. In my opinion, the accidents were caused by poor training.

- Martti Uottinen, Finnish war bomber pilot, post war fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.


Landing the 109


Me 109 E-4:

"I established a speed of 200 kmh to enter the downwind leg, 150 at the end of the downwind, a curving final approach aiming to reduce speed to 130 kmh halfway around, 120 kmh with 30 degreed to go to the centreline and a threshold speed of 110 kmh with a dribble of power to stabilise the rate of speed decay.

Compare this with Black 6 (109 G) where I aimed to be at 200 kmh at the end of the downwind leg and not less than 165 kmh at the threshold."

- Charlie Brown, RAF Flying Instructor, test flight of restored Me 109 E-4 WN 3579. Source: Warbirds Journal issue 50.


Me 109 G-6:

Landing was slightly problematic if the approach was straight, with slight overspeed at about 180 km/h. Landing was extremely easy and pleasing when done with shallow descending turn, as then you could see easily the landing point. You had a little throttle, speed 150-160 km/h, 145 km/h at final. You controlled the descent speed with the engine and there was no problems, the feeling was the same as with Stieglitz. If I recall correctly the Me "sits down" at 140-142 km/h.

The takeoff and landing accidents were largely result from lack of experience in training. People didn't know what to do and how to do it. As a result the plane was respected too much, and pilots were too careful. The plane carried the man, and the man didn't control his plane.

- Erkki O. Pakarinen, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.


Me 109 G:

"I didn't notice any special hardships in landings."

-Jorma Karhunen, Finnish fighter ace. 36 1/2 victories, fighter squadron commander. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.


Diving - structural rigidity of 109 in dives


Me 109 G:

"The maximum speed not to be exceeded was 750kmh. Once I was flying above Helsinki as I received a report of Russkies in the South. There was a big Cumulus cloud on my way there but I decided to fly right through. I centered the controls and then something extraordinary happened. I must have involuntarily entered into half-roll and dive. The planes had individual handling characteristics; even though I held the turning indicator in the middle, the plane kept going faster and faster, I pulled the stick, yet the plane went into an ever steeper dive.

In the same time she started rotating, and I came out of the cloud with less than one kilometer of altitude. I started pulling the stick, nothing happened, I checked the speed, it was about 850kmh. I tried to recover the plane but the stick was as if locked and nothing happened. I broke into a sweat of agony: now I am going into the sea and cannot help it. I pulled with both hands, groaning and by and by she started recovering, she recovered more, I pulled and pulled, but the surface of the sea approached, I thought I was going to crash. I kept pulling until I saw that I had survived. The distance between me and the sea may have been five meters. I pulled up and found myself on the coast of Estonia.

If I in that situation had used the vertical trim the wings would have been broken off. A minimal trim movement has a strong effect on wings when the speed limit has been exceded. I had 100kmh overspeed! It was out of all limits.

The Messerschmitt's wings were fastened with two bolts. When I saw the construction I had thought that they are strong enough but in this case I was thinking, when are they going to break

- What about the phenomenon called "buffeting" or vibration, was there any?

No, I did not encounter it even in the 850kmh speed."

- Kyösti Karhila, Finnish fighter ace. 32 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association.


Me 109 G:

"Me 109 had good and accurate weapons, but those were the only good points of it. To me, it's unacceptable that somebody had built a fighter plane that couldn't be dived without limits. Me109 had a dive limit of 880km/h - you weren't to exceed it or the plane would break up. Just this happened to Sgt Mäittälä. I (and Pokela) was forced to exceed this limit twice, I can't describe how it felt just to sit in the cockpit waiting, if the plane would break up. I have never gotten rid of that feeling, of being trapped."

-Heimo Lampi, Finnish fighter ace. 13 1/2 victories. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.


Me 109 G-2/G-6:

"The Russkies never followed to a dive. Their max dive speeds were too low, I suppose. It was the same in the Continuation War, their La-5's and Yak-9's turned quickly back up. "

- How heavy did the Me controls get at different speeds?

"It got heavy, but you could use the flettner. It was nothing special, but a big help.

Once in '43, there was a Boston III above the Gulf of Finland. I went after it, and we went to clouds at 500 meters. Climbing, climbing, climbing and climbing, all the way to seven kilometers, and it was just more and more clouds. It got so dark that I lost sight. I turned back down, and saw the Russkie diving too. Speed climbed to 700 km/h. I wondered how it'd turn out. I pulled with all my strength when emerging from the clouds, then used the flettner. I was 50 meters above sea when I got it to straighten out. I was all sweaty. At that time the Me's were new to us."

- Did the roll capabilites change?

"Not so much. It got stiffer, but you still could bank."

- Were you still in full control at high speeds, like at 600-700 km/h?

"Yes. "

- Mauno Fräntilä, Finnish fighter ace. 5 1/2 victories. Source: Interview by Finnish Virtual Pilots Association: Chief Warrant Officer Mauno Fräntilä.


Full article available at the Finnish Virtual Pilots Association web site:


Other recent English language articles:


Martti Lehtovaara

Martti Lehtovaara was interested on aviation already at a young age. He was trained as pilot in the military pilot course #2. During the Continuation War first at Reserve Squadron 35, then as fighter pilot in Squadrons 32, 24 and 26.

"A couple of Russians spotted him and came after. Bruun called to mechanics in the tent to come and see how Cassu gets shot down. Everyone thought that's what would happen. " the whole story.


Chief Warrant Officer Mauno Fräntilä

Chief Warrant Officer Mauno Fräntilä "began the flight business in 1936". He was one of the few who piloted the Fokker D.XXI fighter in the Winter War sorties. Subsequently Fräntilä served in Squadron 32 and was one of those who were assigned to the new Squadron 34 that was equipped with the new Me-109 fighters. After the war Fräntilä continued as an Air Force pilot, working as a flight teacher.

"Speed was essential and should never be lost in combat. Never become a cross in the sky. The Messerschmitt was exellent. You got always away when you pushed your nose down, and it then rose like an elevator. You soon had upper hand again.


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