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Messerschmitt Bf 110 - Zerstörer
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RANK I: Bf 110 C4

Engine Power: 2100 HP x2 (@3800m)
Top Speed: 538 kph @ 5000m with 100% throttle, closed
radiators & full fuel
Wingspan: 16,3 m
Length: 12,3 m

Armament:

7,92mm MG 17 x4
20mm MG FF/M 2x
7,92mm MG 15 1x

The powerful armament of the Messerschmitt Bf 110 is ideally suited to destroying bombers, as demonstrated in December 1939 over the seas north of Germany. The Messerschmitt Bf 110 C-4 has many strengths. With bomb pylons unlocked it can carry a 500kg bomb load, as much as some dedicated bombers of a similar rank, making it a very useful fighter-bomber. It is one of the fastest aircraft in Rank I, allowing sensible pilots to stay out of trouble - maintain altitude, avoid losing speed in tight turns and you should be able to pick and choose your fights unless up against higher level opposition.

It also has very powerful armament: two 20mm cannon that can be loaded with explosive Minengeschoß shells and four machine guns, all concentrated in the nose. Head-on attacks are always risky but nose-mounted guns give you the best chance of taking out an opponent at long range, open fire from 1.5km (1 mile) and start to evade around 1km (0.6 miles) where many pilots start shooting.

The weakness of the Bf 110 is lack of manoeuvrability. Although slightly better than the Do 17 Z-7 immediately before it in the tree these heavy fighters need a different style of flying to the agile biplanes that new pilots may recently have graduated from. Avoid dogfights, do not try and turn with a lighter fighter. Instead  stay at high altitude, line up an enemy and dive down on them making one pass. If they dodge, or you miss, do not turn tightly; keep flying away at high speed until a safe distance away, regain altitude, and repeat the process. This is the essence of "Boom and Zoom", a key technique for German aircraft through the ranks.

The Bf 110 is ideally equipped to tackle the larger bombers and flying boats of Rank I/II such as the PBY Catalina or Wellington. These can be tough targets for fighters equipped only with machine guns, but the cannon of the Bf 110 allow it to live up to its German designation of ‘Zerstörer’ (Destroyer). Lack of manoeuvrability is not an issue against lumbering bombers, though you do need to be careful of defensive fire from turrets; do not stay completely straight and level behind one, even a single light machine gun can be fatal to your pilot.


In game it is one of the fastest fighters in Era 1 with a speed of 538 km/h. It packs incredible firepower with 4x 7.92mm MG’s and 2x
20mm cannons with a copious 360 rounds all in a centreline mount, a hard hitting package that will reach out and swat aircraft far away.


The prowess of the Bf 110 as a bomber destroyer was demonstrated in a battle of December 1939 that had a profound impact on RAF strategy for the rest of the war. After the German invasion of Poland in September 1939 there followed several months with little fighting, the so-called "Phoney War". The British launched some desultory bombing attacks against the German Navy with little effect. Defending Luftwaffe squadrons, equipped with early-mark Bf 109s at the start of the war, had some success, but the RAF believed that the concentrated defensive fire from a tight formation of bombers was sufficient drive off enemy fighters.


PROS AND CONS OF THE PLANE:

+ PROS:

  • Can turn quite well at high speeds
  • Very maneuverable for a heavy fighter
  • Exceptionally heavy burst mass for its tier (2.80 kg/s) with large amounts of it consisting of minengeschoß
  • Extremely deadly opponent at head-ons, never let this aircraft get a good deflection at you
  • Climbs generally well, though it cannot match single engined fighters of its tier, excluding bi-planes
  • Tail gunner is hard to hit from a level flight of both the enemy aircraft and the defending aircraft
  • Heavy armament consisting of 2 cannons and 4 machine guns
  • Plenty of ammo available for the armament, some RB matches you'll finish with <1000 rounds of MG ammo left
  • Can carry quite a payload, can double as an attacker or intruder
  • Centrally mounted armament allows a denser cone of fire, making it perfect for long range shooting or head-ons

- CONS:

  • Big target
  • Slow acceleration
  • Poor energy retention
  • Loses speed easily in maneuvers
  • Inferior maneuverability than single-engine fighters, especially those at its tier
  • Elevator is prone to damage, may shear off when hit by cannon rounds
  • Only a single 7.92mm machine gun as defensive armament
  • Rear gunner can only do his best to hit targets with his limited cone of fire
  • Turret has a major blind spot during level flight as it is unable to fire at enemy aircraft directly level with your aircraft, since the tail boom is blocking the depression of the rear gun
  • Flight performance on one engine is very poor, only being able to just excede stall speed in level flight

I./ZG 76, a veteran Bf 110 unit from the Polish campaign, relocated to North Germany near the naval base at Wilhelmshaven on December 17th 1939. The following day the RAF despatched 24 Wellington bombers on another mission against the German Navy. Two had to return to base; the remaining 22 were detected by German radar 70 miles out. The Luftwaffe did not respond immediately as an attack in such clear weather seemed unlikely, but after visual confirmation of the radar reports Bf 109s and 110s scrambled to intercept. One flight of Bf 110s had been out on patrol and had just finished refuelling; pilot Helmut Lent, impatient to get into action and add to the one kill he had scored over Poland, started to take off even as an armourer slid down from his wing having just fitted a new ammunition drum.


Visit official War Thunder wiki for more information about this German Attacker.


The Wellingtons reached Wilhelmshaven but were unable to attack their primary targets - they were forbidden from bombing ships moored quayside for fear of civilian casualties. Under heavy anti-aircraft fire, including the batteries of the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, the formation started to break up. As the bombers turned for home and the flak barrage died down the Messerschmitts pounced. For the next half hour over 40 German fighters mounted a prolonged attack on the Wellingtons, the greater endurance of the Bf 110s allowing them to sustain the attack the longest. Twelve Wellingtons were shot down, six more were damaged. They accounted for three Bf 109s in return; no Bf 110s were lost, though several suffered varying degrees of damage - Wolfgang Falck, having claimed two Wellingtons (one later confirmed) made a forced landing with one engine knocked out, prompting him to comment afterwards that it was his first and last time as a glider pilot. Both sides overclaimed heavily, as is inevitable in large, confusing aerial battles where aircraft are engaged by multiple opponents. British gunners claimed 12 fighters shot down and another 12 heavily damaged; German pilots claimed 38 victories, with 27 being confirmed.


DISCOVER THE LIVE SITE - SKINS FOR BF 110

Named the “Zerstörer” (“Destroyer” in English), a very appropriate name for its mission, to destroy anything that is in front of it.


The losses sustained in what became known as The Battle of the Heligoland Bight were a substantial factor in convincing the RAF that defensive firepower alone could not protect bombers; from 1940 until the end of the war the vast majority of Bomber Command operations were conducted at night. The Battle of Britain demonstrated the vulnerability of the Bf 110 to modern single-engine fighters, especially when closely tied to bombers as an escort, but it remained a formidable defensive weapon. The Bf 110 formed the backbone of German night fighter units created as a result of Bomber Command's switch to night operations. The first, NJG 1, was commanded by Wolfgang Falck who became known as the "Father of the Night Fighters". One of his pilots was another veteran of Heligoland, Helmut Lent (three Wellingtons claimed, two confirmed), who went on to become one of the most successful Luftwaffe night fighter pilot with 110 total victories.


Author: John "Zoso" Moore

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