|This aircraft was a failure as a heavy fighter, but once its limitations were fully understood, it became an extremely valuable and versatile combat airplane. It was employed successfully as a fighter bomber, a reconnaissance airplane, and as a night fighter. Hermann Goering nicknamed it the 'Destroyer' (Zerstörer), but its inadequacy as a pure fighter became evident during the Battle of Britain, when it came up against the fast and maneuverable Spitfires and Hurricanes, which outmatched it.
The Bf 110 was designed in 1934 in response to specifications provided by the Luftwaffe for a long-range strategic fighter. The airplane was an all-metal twin-engine aircraft, with a three-man crew housed in a long enclosed cockpit. The airplane’s armament was located in the nose, and had a twin rudder system to provide a better field of fire for the rear defensive machine gun. Power was provided by a pair of Daimler Benz engines driving three-blade metal propellers. The first prototype took to the air on May 12, 1936. Although it was fast, it was hard to handle and this difficulty was never totally overcome. Two more prototypes were built as well as a few pre-production aircraft before actual production models were built. Only a few airplanes were built in the initial series. Early in 1939 the first Bf 110Cs began to appear, and these were much better aircraft. The major improvement was the installment of direct-injection Daimler Benz DB 601A-l engines, which generated 1,050 hp instead of the 600 hp of the prototype and earlier models. Production of this aircraft was given top priority, and total of 315 airplanes came off the assembly line before the end of the year. Several models of the C series were produced, before the first D models came out. The D models had greater range, thanks first to a removable fuel tank under the fuselage, and later to two supplementary tanks below the wings.
After the airplane’s failure during the Battle of Britain, the E and F models were produced. In these models the Bf 110 was reassigned to other duties, including ground attack and fighter bomber. A night fighter version, which had first appeared in the D series, was also redeveloped, and the first of these airplanes appeared in 1942 in the Bf 110G-4 model. Power was provided by a much stronger Daimler Benz engine, the DB 605, which generated 1,475 hp. The installation of various types of radar equipment made the Bf 110 one of the best night fighters of the time, even though the complicated antenna system on the nose increased the airplane’s aerodynamic resistance. Messerschmitt Bf 110s were produced until the final months of the war, albeit in smaller numbers because of the lack of strategic materials and the continual Allied bombing of Germany. In the first three months of 1945, only 45 airplanes came off the assembly line. Total production of the many variant models reached around 5,900 aircraft.
I was informed about the use of this aeroplane in the Regia Aeronautica by the booklet #3 of the series Dimensione Cielo – Caccia ed Assalto, in the spring of 1972; in the booklet there was written that the Bf 110 in charge to the Regia Aeronautica were three and belonged to the C series.
In the recent publication “Ali Straniere in Italia – Gli altri Tedeschi” (Bancarella Aeronautica, Torino) these aeroplanes are identified as belonging to the C-3 series and having the werk nummer ( subsequently used as Matricole Militari ) MM 964, 1358 and 1804.
In the book “Messerschmitt Bf. 110 vol. 1” issued by Kagero, on page 31 the werk nummer of the C-1 series are identified; in detail the batches W. Nr 943-986 and 1344-1401 were built in the period January – September 1939 by Messerschmitt A.G. while the batch W.Nr 1793-1822 were built by Gotha from November 1939 to February 1940; so the subjects in charge to the Regia Aeronautica belonged to the C1 series probably updated to the following series; what is certain however, is that these aircraft were not new.
The subject selected for reproducing the model is presented in a color photo, appearing for the first time with complete markings visible in the Italian magazine Storia Militare in the 1990s. The aeroplane is camouflaged with the splinter in RLM 70/71 upper surfaces and RLM black 22 lower surfaces; the area where the Squadriglia markings appear suggest the use of a third colour or even of different colour from 70/71. I believe this an accurate hypothesis which is also mentioned in the “Ali Straniere in Italia” book, where the possible solvents were known to have been used to remove German markings on the fuselage of RA aircraft; also b/w photos of other aeroplanes camouflaged in overall black show the German markings removed with an aspect that suggests solvent use.
Aircraft: Messerschmitt Bf 110C-1 Manufacturer: Messerschmitt A. G.
Engine: 2 Daimler Benz DB 601 A-1. 12-cylinder V. liquid-cooled. 1.050 hp each
Wingspan: 53 ft 4 in (16.25 m)
Length: 39 ft 7 in (12.07 m)
Height: 13 ft 6t in (4.12 m)
Weight: 13.289 Ib (6.028 kg) (Loaded)
Maximum speed: 336 mph (540 km/h) at 19.685 ft (6.000 m)
Ceiling: 32,810 ft (10.000 m) Range: 680 miles (1.094 km)
Armament: 5 machine guns; 2 x 20 mm cannons
|Fujimi 1/48 Messerschmitt Bf.110C
by Ing. Riccardo Trotta
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Stormo © 2009
|So I had to understand what the shape of the gunner seat, when, during a normal situation, was turned with back to the pilot, but had also to turn forward for the above mentioned guns maintenance; I was helped by pic #3, from the volume 114 of the series Wydawnictwo “Militaria”, second volume dedicated to Bf 110, page 21, which shows how the gunner, in the C-1 version, had a seat with the folding back. I reproduced the folding part inclined, with a metallic small cable and cloth coated with thin paper, providing also a cushion for the fixed part of the seat. These details are visible in the pics #4 and #5.|
|For the cockpit detail the Eduard °48058 photo etched kit was used and some additional details, such as spare ammunition drums for the guns positioned in the lower part of the fuselage, were scratch built. The cockpit was painted in Grau 02 (Gunze H 70). For the guns positioned in the nose I used the Paragon Design kit (without assembling the gun barrels) because I wanted to leave the nose open. At the moment, according to the information I have this kit is no longer produced. Subsequently I closed the fuselage reproducing with plasticard the separation surface between the pilot seat and the rear part of the cockpit (pic # 6). Pics #7, #8, #9 show the closed fuselage at this moment of the construction.|
|Now I had to prepare the rear canopy; unfortunately the attempt to separate the rear part of the canopy in order assembly it open met with little success, so I decided to use a vacuform canopy instead Squadron (kit #9545) and with the help of adhesive tape to better define the rear area of interest, I was able to remove this part and separate it also (pic #10 found in the web).|
|So the moment for the wings came: first I reproduced the position of the wingtip lights, subsequently, with some difficulty, I separated the flaps; so I had to work with sand paper on the lower part of the wings and on the rear part of the nacelle present on the flaps, that slides on the corresponding part of the wing in rest position. Then I scribed the ailerons along the separation lines with the wings so that they could be assembled in rest position at the moment of gluing the two wings halves. For the wheels well bays I was helped by some photos from an English museum given to me by my friend Riccardo Vestuto (pics #11 and #12).|
|Performing the necessary measurements, I detailed the wheels well bay inner-ribs, reproducing the lightening holes with a hand drill, point 0.4 mm (#13).|
|From the photos of the real subject it is possible to see that the wheel, when drawn back, entered a dedicated hollow inside the wheel well bay, with the width corresponding to the wheel section; I opened an area corresponding to the wheel width section using a saw and closed it giving the wheel form, using some medicine blisters, plasticard and putty (#14).|
|The wheel well bays were then painted Grau 02. With Evergreen strips I reproduced the actuators of the Handley-Page tabs, using as reference the section issued in the Italian Magazine “Aerei” n°11/1977, detail here reproduced, #15.|
|The Handley-Page interiors were painted Grau 02. The wings were finally assembled and some sand paper and putty were necessary together with re-scribing some of the panel lines. At the same time I detailed the radiators using the photo etched part for the chokes (#16 and #17).|
|Concerning the tail, I scribed the separation lines between the fixed and the movable surfaces to the landed position. For painting I started with the lower surfaces. As already stated, from photos the lower surfaces are black. It is probable that this paint was applied to a day camouflage to adapt it to the night use, as stated by the directive “Genst.6.Abt(IIIB) Nr7797/40” reported in Michael Ullmann’s book “Luftwaffe Colours 1935-1945” page 106; this directive foresaw also that the markings present on the lower surfaces were over painted by the camouflage; for exactness sake the directive foresaw the use of black paint also applied to the sides of the fuselage and tail, but in this case it seems it was not applied in this detail. According to the Brett Green at Hyperscale, in the book “Modelling the Bf 110” Osprey modelling series, I used a mixture 50% Tamiya XF1 Flat Black and 50% Tamiya XF64 Red Brown; the resulting colour appears actually black, but it allows the use of black alone for weathering effects. So after having used the mixed black I gave a finishing touch to the panel perimeters obtaining the final effect visible in the pic #18.|
|For the upper surfaces a splinter camouflage was applied, using the colours RLM 70 (Tamiya XF27) and RLM 71 (Gunze H309 Green FS 34079). In the color photo, the splinter colors distribution is visible only on the left side of the fuselage, so for other surfaces I used a reference for Ullmann’s book which filled in the gaps. Also for the upper surfaces camouflage I softened the green colours with some light grey, so that I could gave a final touch on the panels lines with the unmixed colours to give a more realistic the weathering effect; before painting the camouflage I highlighted the fuselage details with a thin drill point ( pics #19 and #20).|
|The color photo of the actual aeroplane was printed in the past in at least in four publications and in the area of the lateral fuselage in the rear of the cockpit RLM 70 appears faded: much more faded for instance than in the print of the booklet Gli altri Tedeschi”, and less than in the print on page 48 of the magazine “Aerei” n°11 (November) 1977. I thought it may have been a problem of the photo or a problem concerning its reproduction in the printing and not the probable use of a three colour camouflage splinter, as one could think at first sight, also because I did not find any reference to RLM directives that stipulated the use of a three green camouflage scheme for aircraft produced in the years 1939-1940. After having completed the camouflage I considered of the fuselage area where the German markings were probably eliminated using solvents; the tracks that delimit the erasure are rather sharp in the color photo, so I used a brush with some brightened RLM 71, so that the separation zone was evident, subsequently I used the airbrush with the same colour inside the delimitated zone (pic #21).|
|Later I highlighted the panel lines with sepia china ink, while waiting for the ink to dry I removed the excess with a damp cloth, so that to leave a soft shade. After an application of gloss varnish I positioned the decals; the code of the aeroplane in the color photo is 235-5, but Tauromodel, with reference to an old profile, gives the code 235-7; so I had to buy two sheets to compose the correct code. For the tail, all Me.110 photos show the white cross only on the external part of the fin, while on the upper part of the wings show the German crosses: I weathered a little the German markings on the wings with sepia ink. Subsequently all the model has been submitted to opacification. Finally I assembled the canopy masking and painting first with Grau 02, to reproduce the internal side of the frames and subsequently with the green camouflage; the vacuform part, relevant the posterior part, has been detailed with internal adhesive tape strips painted in Grau 02 and assembled open; the rear machine gun comes from the Verlinden kit n°1261 “Luftwaffe Aircraft Guns” The completed model are shown in pics #23 and #24.|
Gruppo Plastimodellismo Fiorentino.
|When I decided to start with this subject in 1/48 scale, only the Fujimi kit was available, really a very old kit, because its first issue is dated 1973, subsequently reissued with details for the D version in 1987. To verify the dimensions I reproduced 1/48 the drawings from 1/72 scale plans, concerning the C version, appeared on the Italian magazine Aerei Modellismo n°10, October 1981 by Gianpiero Piva, which is a well known Italian modeller who, in those time, reproduced Luftwaffe aeroplanes. In the comparison with those drawings , the kit did not show remarkable discrepancies; subsequently I read that the final part of the fuselage and the tail have been pointed out to be in 1/50 scale; I did not point out this detail, as I said before; however the difference of the length of 1 meter reduced in the two scales would be about 8 tenths of a millimetre, in my opinion not relevant, or at least not such, to invalidate the shape of the model in the tail zone. As I wanted to represent the subject with visible movable surfaces, I separated with a thin saw the parts that compose the Handley- Page tabs on the upper and lower kit wings, gluing them subsequently so that to obtain the above mentioned tabs. With reference to the drawings converted in 1/48 scale, I have highlighted the panels, especially in the lower surface of the fuselage and here I have opened the four slits concerning the presence of the guns in the lower part of the fuselage. At this point I tried to understand more about the details of the cockpit and for this I was helped by a friend, another modeller, who was in possession of the True Details PE set for the Bf 110C kit (now this PE set is not easily available). The kit shows that the fuselage floor behind the pilot was practically open so that the gunner-radio operator could have access to the guns positioned in the lower zone of the fuselage and shooting ahead through the slits in the lower part of the nose. So I opened in the cockpit floor provided by the kit a rectangular window in such a way to be able to position subsequently the guns breeches and the spare ammunition drums; these details are shown in the pics #1 and #2 from original documentation.|