The pressing need to replace the obsolete Bf.110 and the unsuccessful Me.210 in the Luftwaffe's squadrons became reason for Messerschmitt AG to create a new twin-engine heavy fighter. It was decided that this aircraft be based on the Me.210 so that its production could use available manufacturing equipment and components and accessories which were in stock. In addition, this approach made it easier for the flight crews to master the new aircraft. Although it would have been more logical to keep the previous designation and only add a variant letter, the Me.210 had such a bad reputation that it was decided to replace its designation with a new one, "Me.410."
The Me.410V-1 prototype was redesigned from the Me.210A-0. Testing began in the autumn of 1942, and full-scale production of the Me.410A was launched in January 1943.
The length of the Me.410's fuselage was changed, and significant changes were introduced to the wing structure; in particular, the leading-edge sweep was reduced by 5 degrees. Leading edge slats were mounted, the aerodynamics of the radiators were slightly improved, and the shape of the wing flaps was changed. The most unique characteristic of the Me.410 was new high-powered 1,750 hp Daimler-Benz DB 603A twelve-cylinder, liquid-cooled engines with VDM three-bladed, controllable-pitch propellers.
When compared to the Me.210, the Me.410's controllability was much improved, as the aircraft no longer tended to suddenly go into a spin. The flight characteristics were significantly higher than those of the Bf 110.
Two aircraft variants in the series were built simultaneously: a high-speed Me.410A-1 bomber and a Me.410A-2 "destroyer" (Zerstörer). Both variants had the same armament, similar to that of the Me.210A-1.
One 1,000 kg PC 1000, SD 1000, or SC 1000 bomb, two 500 kg bombs, or eight 50 kg bombs could be suspended in the bomb bay. The plane's standard bomb load was determined to be 500 kg. The Me.410A-1 was equipped with a special Stuvi 5B sight for dive bombing and tandem pairs of ETC bomb racks under the wing roots with four 50 kg bombs, two under each panel. Two 250 kg bombs could be suspended under the wings with the help of special Aussen ETC shackles.