Messerschmitt Bf 109 A-D Series

Published on
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
Robert Jackson
Other Publication Information
64 pages, 45 B&W and 2 color photos. 9 color profile, 2 paintings, 1 cutaway foldout and 3 additional color drawings.
Product / Stock #
AVG 18
Company: Osprey Publishing - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Osprey Publishing - Website: Visit Site

Messerschmitt Bf 109 A–D Series is the third book in the Air Vanguard series I have had the pleasure to review. The Messerschmitt Bf-109 is the Luftwaffe’s most storied fighter of WWII, yet much less has been published on the A-D models. This book covers these early models from development through their use in combat.

The book begins with the earlier designs by Messerschmitt that lead up to the 109. One of the most crucial of these was the Bf 108! Many of the issues/flaws that could have plagued the 109 were discovered and worked out on the 108. The aircraft was designated the Bf-109 (designation for Bayerische Flugzeugwork). The official name of the company changed in July 1938 to Messerschmitt AG and all aircraft that were designed after this date were designated Me, with those designed before retaining the Bf designation. The first 109 was powered by a Rolls-Royce Kestral engine as the planned Jumo 210A engine was not yet ready. The 109 had three competitors; the Arado Ar 80, Focke Wulf Fw 159 and Heinkel He 112 all were vying for the same contract. Of these, only the He 112 was real competition. The Arado, while of monoplane design, had a fixed undercarriage and the Focke Wulf was a high wing design with strut bracing. The He 112, while a serious competitor, was not chosen for production for the Luftwaffe but was granted production for export.

Putting the Bf 109 into service is covered as is the training done with the new fighter. The collaboration between Russia and Germany for training is also covered. The movement from the Jumo 210 to the Daimler Benz 601 power plant is an interesting section for those interested in technical specifications.

A little less than half of the book is dedicated to the operational history, beginning with the combat evaluation of the type in the Spanish Civil War. This section includes descriptions of combat and outcomes as well as a list of all Aces of the Condor Legion, giving aircraft type and date shot down. Next is coverage of these early variants use in the Polish Campaign and the Phoney War combat, after which the much more well know E variant took their place. The book concludes with a short discussion of those D models exported to Switzerland, a brief overview of camouflage and markings, and offers suggestions for further reading.

This is a very good book! I really did enjoy reading this volume, and there is quite a lot of information contained in its 64 pages. The book is of value to the aviation historian, WWII historian, and model builder alike. These books are nice for those who want more information than one would find in an In Action-style publication, but it is not the complete, in-depth examination of the type found in much larger volumes. This series is a good compromise between the two.

For the 1/48 scale modeler, there are several early 109 kits available. The majority of these kits being produced by Hobbycraft/Academy. Also, Classic Airframes produced a couple of early 109 kits and these are probably the best ones out there, but they are out of production. For those in 1/48 scale who wish to do the prototype, Replicast did a very nice resin kit of the 109 V1.

For 1/72 builders there are kits from Avis and Sword. For those who build 1/32 scale, I know of conversions by Alley Cat and Cutting Edge, both of which are out of production, but word is that Alley Cat will be re-emerging under new ownership. Werner’s Wings also did conversions in 1/48 and 1/32 for the V 13 and V 14.

Our thanks to Osprey Publishing for the review copy and my thanks to IPMS/USA for the review opportunity!


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