Aircraft Database Interwar Aviation Messerschmitt Bf 109C

Messerschmitt Bf 109C

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Messerschmitt Bf 109C History

During early spring of 1938, the Messerschmitt Bf 109C, which was intended to be the definitive Jumo-powered production aircraft, began replacing the B-series on the production line. Powered by a 700 h.p. fuel injected Jumo 210Ga, the C-1 had a redesigned exhaust system which featured the addition of short pipes which carried the hot gasses away from the cowling. The addition of fuel injection offered the distinct advantage over carburation system by being able to function equally as well inverted or under negative G forces, especially important during a dogfight.

Performance comparison between aeroplanes with carburettors and fuel injection equipment such as were conducted on the Messerschmitt Bf 109 led to Germany adopting fuel injection for all the main, more powerful piston aero engines used during WW2.

The  Messerschmitt Bf 109C-1 had two wing machine guns as standard, plus  the two fuselage MG 17s. The position chosen for each wing gun was in the inner bay with the breech aft of the spar, presumably to accord with the existing CG fore and aft limits and incidentally avoiding a large hole in the spar web for the gun breech.

The machine guns were positioned in the inner bay where the greater chordwise room aft of the spar gave barely adequate space for the breeches and feed arrangements. There was no chance of the much greater length of the 20 mm Oerlikon aircraft cannon being accommodated with its breech aft of the spar; a large hole through the spar web was necessary anyway, and so the outer bay was chosen for the cannon with the 60-round ammunition drum placed inboard in the machine gun compartment where the slightly greater depth meant a minimum bulge was needed in the wing undersuface. The only practical fore-and-aft position was with drum feed in front of the spar, the rear part of the breech block passing through the spar web. Access for changing the ammunition drum on the ground was via the detachable blister fairing under the wing, and cannon removal for servicing was by removing a complete leading edge panel around the protruding barrel and, after disconnecting via another underwing panel, withdrawing the gun forward from the wing. About 50 Messerschmitt Bf 109C-1 s were made by Messerschmitt at Augsburg.

Messerschmitt records indicate that the first Bf 10s armed with the two wing cannon were in fact the original C variants returned to the factory where the wings were converted for cannon, whereupon the designation was altered to C-3. There is no Messerschmitt record of a C-2 version.

As with the previous version, aircraft of the first Messerschmitt Bf 109C-1 batches were sent to J88 in Spain to beef up the Legion Condor and service test the new armament.

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