aircraft database
certified aircraft database

history and gallery
208C Junior
209 Monsun




Bolkow aircraft history, performance and specifications

The Messerschmitt story begins with Professor Willi Messerschmitt joining the Bayerische Flugzeugwerke in 1927 and forming a design team. He promoted a concept he called "light weight construction" in which many typically separate load-bearing parts were merged into a single re-enforced firewall, thereby saving weight and improving performance. The first true test of the concept was in the Bf 108 Taifun sports-plane, which would soon be setting all sorts of records. Based on this performance the company was invited to submit a design for the Luftwaffe's 1935 fighter contest, winning it with the Bf 109 based on the same construction methods.†

From this point on Messerschmitt became a favourite of the Nazi party, as much for his designs as his political abilities and the factory location in southern Germany away from the "clumping" of aviation firms on the northern coast. Messerschmitt AG was incorporated as a separate company on July 11, 1938, with Willy Messerschmitt as chairman and managing director. The renaming of Bayerische Flugzeugwerke to Messerschmitt AG on that date, resulted in all future types being designated Me instead of Bf. Existing types, such as 109 and 110, retained their earlier designation in official documents, although sometimes the newer designations were used as well. In practise, due the RLM naming system, all Messerschmitt aircraft from 108 to 163 are designated with Bf prefix, all afterwards as Me.

Wartime activity
During the war Messerschmitt became a major design supplier, their Bf 109 and Bf 110 forming the vast majority of fighter strength for the first half of the war. Several other designs were also ordered, including the enormous Me 321 Gigant transport glider, and its six-engined follow on, the Me 323. However for the second half of the war, Messerschmitt turned almost entirely to jet-powered designs, producing the first operational jet fighter, the Me 262 Schwalbe. They also produced the DFS-designed Me 163 Komet, the first, and only, rocket-powered design to enter service.

Messerschmitt had its share of poor designs as well; the Me 210, designed as a follow-on to the 110, was a disaster that almost led to the forced dissolution of the company. The design problems were eventually addressed in the Me 410 Hornisse, but only small numbers were built before all attention turned to the 262. Late in the war, Messerschmitt also worked on a heavy "Amerikabomber" design, the Me 264, which flew in prototype form but was too late to see combat.

After WW2 the company was not allowed to produce aircraft. One alternative the company came up with was the three wheeled motorcycle/bubble car or Kabinenroller (cabinscooter) KR175 / KR200. According to an urban legend, it was made with old aeroplane parts. This was not true, but as it was designed by an aircraft engineer, Fritz Fend, it is probably no coincidence it looks somewhat like an aeroplane. A well known appearance of this car is in Terry Gilliam's Brazil, to great effect.

Return to aviation
In 1968 Messerschmitt AG merged with Bölkow, and one year later the aviation department of Blohm + Voss was added. The company then changed their name to Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm. In 1989 it was taken over by Daimler Benz Aerospace AG.