A Messerschmitt Me 410A Hornisse
The original design of
the Me 210 was born in late 1937 to overcome to some shortcomings of
the Bf 110. In autumn 1938 RLM awarded a contract to Arado and
Messerschmitt simultaneously for the development of a Bf 110
replacement. The resulting Messerschmitt design consisted in a mere
improvement of the basic design with more powerful powerplants and
heavier armament. Arado’s answer to the requirements was the Ar 240 but
confidence in the original Bf 110 long-range fighter and
bomber-destroyer concept led at the beginning of 1938 to Messerschmitt
being asked to design an eventual successor. The result was the
Messerschmitt Me 210 which first flew on 5 September 1939, powered by
two 1,050 hp (783 kW) Daimler-Benz DB 601A engines. It proved to be
extremely unsatisfactory, being difficult to handle and suffering from
After the first flight
test of the Me 210 V1 the plane had to be heavily modified for its
flying capabilities were barely poor. It had problems with longitudinal
and lateral stability, and these were not suitable for a firing
platform such as a combat aircraft. The design was improved by deleting
the original twin vertical surfaces, similar to those of Bf 110, and
fitting a large traditional vertical stabilizer and rudder with the
aircraft flying on 23 September. A slight improvement was apparent, but
in spite of a number of modifications carried out on the two prototypes
they continued to display poor handling characteristics, being prone to
stalling and spinning. In view of these problems it is difficult to
understand why production was allowed to begin, but by mid-1940 a first
batch of airframes was in final assembly.
Even while test flying
was still going on, the RLM placed an order of 1000 Me 210As in
mid-1940. The first 15 Me 210s were earmarked as test aircraft and on 5
September 1940 the program suffered the first of a number of crashes
when the second prototype broke up during diving trials, fortunately
the pilot escaped. The first pre-production planes were under trials in
a new established special test unit Erprobungsgruppe 210 at the end of
1940. The ErG 210 was to conduct operational testing of the Me 210 and
develop combat tactics for the fighter-bomber. Its first leader was
Hauptmann Walter Rubensdörffer, killed in action in a Bf 110 over
England before he could ever fly a Me 210. Another important victim was
Oberleutnant Heinz Forgatsch of 3./SKG 210. He died in an accident
while testing a Me 210 at Rechlin. Production began in Spring 1941 in
both the Augsburg and Regensburg factories.
Such were the problems
encountered that eight pre-production Me 210A-O and 13 production Me
210A-l aircraft were added to the test program, but in spite of this
very little improvement was evident, and it was obvious that only major
design changes would have any chance of correcting the faults. At this
stage such a move would have caused an unacceptable delay in the
production program, so deliveries began and 64 were supplied starting
in April 1941 in two variants, the Me 210A-l destroyer-bomber which was
armed with two 20 mm MG 151/20 cannon and two 7.92 mm (0.31 in) MG 17
machine guns, and the Me 210A-2 fighter-bomber which had a maximum
bombload of 4,4091b (2000 kg).
By the end of 1941 the
test program was over and the final evaluation was that it was still an
unsuitable firing platform for its stability problems. Messerschmitt
modified a pre-production plane (Me 210 A-0 NE+BH Werk Nr. 101) with
lengthened rear fuselage (lengthened by 1½ panels) and redesignating it
with the Versuch-number V17 on 14 March 1942. This modification was
very successful in increasing the plane’s handling qualities. Another
important modification was the fitting, in July 1942, of wing leading
edge slots. Soon after flying tests it was ordered to retrofit all Me
210 As with this device.
However, on 14 April
1942, after about 200 Me 210s had been delivered (this number including
two Me 210B-0 pre-production and two Me 210B-l production
reconnaissance aircraft), construction was halted in favour of a
resumption of manufacture of the Bf 110 to give time to try to resolve
some of the Me 210's shortcomings. The stability problem was solved
finally by introducing automatic wing leading-edge slots and redesign
of the rear fuselage, which was lengthened by 3 ft 1 1/2 in (0.95 m)
and made deeper. The improvements were tested and the design was
submitted with the proposal that the 1,750 hp (1305 kW) Daimler-Benz DB
6O3A engine should be used to provide better performance, This appealed
to the RLM, as a solution of this kind would allow a number of
unfinished Me 210 airframes to be used, and Messerschmitt was given the
go-ahead and the designation 410 assigned to the revised design.
Before describing the
Me 410, mention should be made of the Me 210C, a version of the earlier
model which was built in Hungary by the Danube Aircraft Factory.
Messerschmitt had supplied jigs and tools, and a new factory had been
built for production when the German decision to stop its own Me 210
program was made. The Hungarians nevertheless decided to proceed and
one of the pre-production Me 210A-0s had been fitted with 1,475 hp
(1100 kW) DB 605E engines as a prototype for the Me 210C. The engines
were licence-built by Manfred Weiss.
The Me 210C had the
wing slots and new rear fuselage, and production deliveries from the
Hungarian factory started at the beginning of 1943. They were split on
the basis of one-third to the Royal Hungarian air force and two-thirds
to the Luftwaffe. Production was slow to develop, but by early 1944 the
first Hungarian units had been formed. Production ended in Hungary in
March 1944, by which time 267 Me 210Cs had been built in two variants,
the Me 210C-1 reconnaissance/bomber-destroyer aircraft, and the Me
21OCa-1 bomber-destroyer/dive-bomber. In contrast with the Luftwaffe,
Hungarian pilots liked the Me 210 and used it as a close-support
aircraft and dive-bomber.
The Me 410 "Hornisse"
The Me 410 prototype
was a converted Me 210A-0, and several other Me 210As were generally
brought Up to Me 410 standard but with DE 601F engines. Improvements in
handling characteristics made the Me 410 far more acceptable to the
Luftwaffe which received the first five Me 410A-1 light bombers in
1943, this version being armed with two 20 mm MG 151/20 cannon, two
7.92 mm (0.31 in) MG 17 machine guns, and two 13 mm (0.51 in) MG 131
machine guns mounted one each side of the fuselage in an electrically
powered barbette. Maximum internal bombload was 4,409 lbs (2000 kg).
Demand for these more effective aircraft built up rapidly with the
result that Messerschmitt's Augsburg production line was supplemented
by a second line When Dornier entered the program in early 1944. As Me
410A production expanded a number of sub-variants entered service,
including the photo-reconnaissance Me 410A-1/U1, Me 410A-1/U2 heavy
fighter and the Me 410A-1/U4 specialised bomber-destroyer, its armament
including a 50 mm BK 5 gun mounted beneath the fuselage. The Me 410A-1
was followed into service by the Me 410A-2 heavy fighter included two
30 mm MK 108 cannon in its armament, also built in sub-variants,
including the Me 410A-2/U2 which was similar to the Me 410A-1/U1, the
Me A-2/U2 radar carrying night-fighter and an ME 410A-2/U4 bomber
destroyer similar to the Me 410 A-1/U4, and the last of the A series,
the Me 410A-3 reconnaissance aircraft equipped with three cameras.
The rear facing remote-controlled gun barbette on the Messerschmitt Me
A very important
innovation in the Me 210 design was the use of side rear firing 13 mm
(0.51 in) MG 131 turret guns (barbettes) controlled by the rear crew
member by the means of a Revi gun sight and a pistol grip with the
firing trigger. These barbettes were delicate maintenance pieces and
were not easy to handle. A famous victim of these guns was the American
Ace Captain James Morris of the 20th Group. On 7 July 1944, over Halle
and Bernburg, he was shot down and killed in his P-38 Lightning by an
attacked Me 410.
In April 1944 the first
of the improved E-series were delivered, introducing the 1,900 hp (1417
kW) DE 603G engine, and produced in Me 410E-1 and Me 410E-2
sub-variants that were basically similar to those of the A-series. The
Me 410E-3 was a reconnaissance version similar to the Me 410A-3, the Me
410E-5 a torpedo and anti-shipping bomber that was in the test stage
when the war ended, and the Me 410E-6 a specialised anti-shipping
variant, built in small numbers, which was equipped with FuG 200
Hohentwiel search radar, and had armament comprising two 20 mm Mg
151/20 cannon, two 3O mm MK 103 cannon, and two 13 mm (0.51 in) MG 131
machine guns. Other projects failed to materialize.
As the Allies stepped
up the daylight bombing offensive in 1944 the Me 410s were engaged
increasingly in home defence and accounted for a number of heavy
bombers, although they also suffered heavily at the hands of the
escorting fighters. Production was finally phased out in September 1944
after 1,160 Me 410s had been built, and although the type had not
achieved the successes hoped for it had been a vast improvement on the
disastrous Me 210.
Projects wanted the Me
410 night fighter version, designated Me 410-D, to be equipped with
Lichtenstein C-1 or SN-2 air intercept radar system, flame
extinguishers for the exhaust pipes, and armed with four MK 108 30 mm
high-speed cannons and two MG 151/20 mm cannons as bow armament as well
as two MK 108 used as schräge Musik angled cannons. The outer wing
surfaces were to be built in wood to conserve strategic materials.
Unfortunately this configuration never saw service nor either
transformed in factory according to records.
Me 210A/A-1/A-2 - The
Me 210A was the production version built two variants. The Me 210A-1
was the bomber/bomber destroyer variant with the Me 210A-2 being the
dive bomber/bomber destroyer variant.
Me 210C - A version
produced by the Danube Aircraft Factory in Hungary from jigs and
tooling supplied by Messerschmitt. This version incorporated leading
edge slats and the redesigned rear fuselage of the Me 410 and powered
by a version of the Daimler-Benz 1,475 hp (1100 kW) DB 605B engine
built under licence by Manfred Weiss. Production totalled 267 aircraft,
with a third going to the Hungarian air force and the balance to the
Me 310 - A proposed
high altitude fighter of which development was abandoned.
Me 410A/A-1/A-2/A-3 -
Initial production version built in three variants. The Me 410A-1 was a
high speed bomber, the Me 410A-2 destroyer and the Me 410A-3
reconnaissance version plus sub-variants.
Me 410B/B-1/B-2/B-3 -
These were basically similar to the Me 410A/A-1/A-2/A-3 in construction
and roles but all were equipped with the more powerful Daimler-Benz
1,900 hp (1417 kW) DB 605G engine.
Me 410B-5/B-6/B-7/B-8 -
The Me 410/B-5 was an anti-shipping/torpedo variant, the Me 410B-6
anti-shipping variant, Me 410B-7 day reconnaissance variant and the Me
410B-8 night reconnaissance. These four sub-variants were in the test
flight/prototype stage and all were to equipped with the Daimler-Benz
1,900 hp (1417 kW) DB 605G engine
(Messerschmitt Me 410A-1/U2 Hornisse "Hornet")
Type: Two Seat
Messerschmitt Design Team
1,750 hp (1305 kW) Damlier-Benz DB 603A 12-cylinder inverted Vee piston
Maximum speed 388 mph (625 km/h) at 21,980 ft (6700 m); cruising speed
364 mph (585 km/h); service ceiling 32,810 ft (10000 m).
miles (1690 km) with internal fuel.
equipped 16,574 lbs (7518 kg); loaded 21,276 lbs (9650 kg).
53 ft 7 3/4 in (16.35 m); length 40 ft 11 1/2 in (12.48 m); height 14
ft 0 1/2 in (4.28 m); wing area 389.67 sq ft (36.20 sq m).
20 mm MG 151/20 cannon and two 7.92 mm (0.31 in) MG 17 machine guns
firing forward, plus two 13 mm (0.51 in) MG 131 machine guns in
remotely controlled rear firing barbettes. (Supplemental Armament) Two
1,102 lbs (500 kg) bombs and external racks for two 1,102 lbs (500 kg)
bombs plus two Ruestatz external packs housing 20 mm MG 151/20, 30 mm
Mk 108 or Mk 103 cannons were fitted to some variants.
210/V1, Me 210/V3, Me 210/V4-V10, Me 210/V13, Me 210A-0, Me 210A-1, Me
210A1/U1, Me 210A-2, Me 210B, Me 210C-1a, Me 210C-1/C-2, Me 210D-1/D-1a
, Me 210E-1, Me 210F-1, Me 410A-1 (light bomber), Me 410A-1/U1
(photo-reconnaissance), Me 410A-1/U2 (heavy fighter), Me 410A-1/U4
(specialized bomber/destroyer - included a 50 mm BK 5 gun mounted below
the fuselage), Me 410A-2 (heavy fighter), Me 410A-2/U1 (similar to the
Me 410A-1/U1), Me 410A-2/U2 (radar equipped night fighter), Me
410A-2/U4 (bomber/destroyer), Me 410A-3 (reconnaissance aircraft
equipped with three cameras), Me 410B-1/B-2 (improved "A" series), Me
410B-3 (reconnaissance version similar to the Me 410A-3), Me 410B-5
(torpedo and anti-shipping variant that was in the test stage when the
war ended), Me 410B-6 (a specialized anti-shipping variant, built in
small numbers, which was equipped with FuG 200 Hohentwiel search radar,
and had an armament comprising of two 20 mm MG 151/20 cannon, two 30 mm
MK 103 cannon and two 13 mm (0.51 in) MG 151 machine guns. .
Lichtenstein Radar on Me 410A-2/U-2 Night Fighter, FuG 200 Hohentwiel
ASV (air/surface vessel) Radar on Me 410B-6 Anti-Shipping variant.
flight (Me 210V-1) 5 September 1939; (pre-production 210A-0) April
1941; final delivery (Me 210) April 1942; first flight (Me 310) 11
September 1943; (Me 410V-1) around December 1942.
Germany (Luftwaffe), Hungary.