Luftwaffe Page

      Manfred's Fw190

A Brief History of the Luftwaffe
 After the First World War, Germany was forbidden an air force under the terms of the Versailles Treaty. However, by 1921 a loophole in the treaty permitted many independent flying schools equipped with gliders to become established. These eventually combined to become the DVL (Deutscher Luftfahrt Verband) which issued graded licences for glider pilots. Advanced training in powered flight and on multi-engined aircraft was necessarily carried out in secret. A second complex problem was that the German aircraft industry was directed solely towards the development of civil aircraft. It could be argued that these factors combined to produce the most formidable air power of the 1930s in that the extensive experimentation in gliders led designers to develop aerodynamically advanced prototypes together with well trained and experienced crews. A third factor forced upon Germany by circumstance was that it was necessary to develop a tactical, rather than a strategic air force. This last development was a great advantage to Germany in the first two years of the war and in terms of close co-operation between air and ground units the Luftwaffe was years ahead of its time. However, the lack of forethought as to the requirement of a strategic force was to signal the end of the Luftwaffe as an effective weapon, by which time it was too late for the mistake to be rectified.

 The new Luftwaffe came into being in March 1935 under the joint Leadership of Hermann Göring and Erhardt Milch. Göring was the titular head, and a highly decorated WWI fighter pilot, but he had little knowledge or interest in the organisation of the new arm. This was directed by Milch whose comprehensive understanding of the problems involved shaped he Luftwaffe's early successes.

 The capabilities of the new Luftwaffe were tested during the Spanish Civil War, in stark contrast to the inter-war air operations conducted by many of its counterparts in Britain, Japan and Italy, where aircraft were used to quell rebellions and disorganise poorly armed tribesmen who had neither any air defence or a corresponding air arm. The result was to give Germany a distinct advantage in air-ground co-operation and air to air combat which would lead the world for several years.



Messerschmitt Bf 109E-3
II./JG 3 Udet
Caffiers, France July 1940


The Bf109 was the principal fighter in service with the Luftwaffe and was more than an even match for both Spitfires and Hurricanes. The aircraft design was exceptional for it’s day but the tactical requirement for it’s use as a fighter-bomber severely limited performance.
 The fuel injected engine allowed great maneuverability and allowed inverted dives. "D" versions onward showed increased engine performance and armament, some variants included a hub-firing cannon through the propeller boss.
 The Bf109E “Emil” was the mainstay of the Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain.

Wingspan 30ft 6½in
Length 29ft 7in
Laden Weight
Engine 1,475hp Daimler-Benz DB603D 12 cylinder inverted "V" type
Ceiling 38,550ft
Range 450 miles
Max. Speed
387 mph
Armament 2X 7.9mm MG15 1X30mm MG131 20mm cannon
Crew 1

The Sound of a DB605A engine from a Bf109

Messerschmitt Bf 110G
Grove, January 1945


This twin-engined heavy fighter and fighter-bomber first flew in 1936 and was introduced into the Luftwaffe in 1939. With the Ju88 it became the mainstay Luftwaffe fighter-bomber of the war. Day and night-time nuisance raids caused untold damage. Although the original intention that it should be a bomber escort was misplaced.
 By 1941 the Bf110 was unable to compete with modern fighters and was converted to a night-fighter role in the European theatre. This G-4 variant is equipped with FuG 220 Lichtenstein SN-2 search radar.
 Radar equipped Bf110Gs were used as both night-fighters and daylight interceptors. Some were armed with "Schrägemusik, (Jazz), a 13mm MG pointing upwards and forwards from the rear of the cockpit to attack bombers in their blind-spot.

Wingspan 53ft 4¼in
Length 341ft 7¼in
Laden Weight
Engines 2X1,100hpDaimler Benz DB605B-1 12 cylinder inverted"V" type
Ceiling 32,810ft
Range 482 miles
Max. Speed 349mph
Armament 2X 20mm MG 151cannon 4X 7.92mm MG 17 1X 7.92mm MG81Z 1X 37mm cannon
Crew 2


Messerschmitt Me163B-1 “Komet”
13. Stabs/JG 400
Udetfeld, Germany 1944


The prototype of this revolutionary aircraft was first flown as a glider in 1941. Powered flights commenced in the summer of 1941 and a speed of 623.8mph was recorded.
 The production version Me163Bs, using a slightly different fuel mix and armed with 20mm cannon, flew in combat in June 1944 first intercepting B-17s on 16 August. In total there were only nine confirmed victories to Me163s.
 The fuels C-stoff, (a mixture of methanol, hydrazine hydrate and water with tetracyanocuprate as a catalyst) and T-stoff, (consisting of hygrogen peroxide, water, phosphoric acid, sodiun phosphate and sodium stannate, were highly unstable, in addition they tended to dissolve skin. This, together with the lack of landing gear, made flight a highly dangerous procedure. Only the most experienced pilots were selected. Nearly all crashes, no matter how minor, were fatal.

Wingspan 30ft 7¼in
18ft 8in
Laden Weight 9,061 lb
Engine 3,748lb thrust Walter 109-509A-2 rocket motor
Max. Speed 596mph
Armament 2X 30mm MK108 cannon
Crew 1


Messerschmitt Me262A "Schwalbe"
I./KG. 51
Achmer, Germany 1944


This was the first operational jet to be produced. The prototype flew with conventional piston engines in 1942 and the Me262 jet entered service late in 1944.
 Well armed, fast and highly successful Me262s were eventually used with great effect to defend Germany against massed bombing raids. But it was too little and too late. While jet fuel was readily available, the lack of spare parts and pilots kept most of these aircraft on the ground where they were destroyed.
  The delay in their deployment as interceptors was because Hitler personally insisted on their deployment as “Sturmvogel” (Stormy Petrel) bombers, thus at one one stroke saving the lives of thousands of allied airmen and seriously undermining the strategy of a hard-pressed Luftwaffe.

Wingspan 41ft
Length 34ft 9½in
Laden Weight
Engines 2X1,980lb, thrust Junkers Jumo 004B turbojets
Ceiling 36,000ft
525 miles
Max. Speed
Armament 4X 30mm MK108 cannon or 2X4R4M air -to-air rockets.
Bombload 2X 1,000lb in (Me262A-2 version)
Crew 1


Messerschmitt Bf 110C-4
Stabsschawm I./ ZG 1 November 1942


This twin-engined heavy fighter and fighter-bomber first flew in 1936. and was introduced into the Luftwaffe in 1939. As an escort for bombers this aircraft was quickly outmaneuvered thus many Zerstorer geschwader were redeployed in an anti-shipping role. Day and night-time shipping strikes caused enormous damage.
 The Bf110 however, became increasingly susceptible to allied fighters, leading to its withdrawal from the daylight role for conversion to night fighters where, equipped with radar, they were to prove highly effective.

Wingspan 53ft 4¼in
341ft 7¼in
Laden Weight
Engines 2X1,100hp Daimler Benz DB60A-112 cylinder inverted "V" type
Ceiling 32,810ft
482 miles
Max. Speed
Armament 2X 20mm MG151cannon 4X 7.92mm MG17 1X 7.92mm MG81Z
Crew 2


Focke-Wulf Fw190A-8
Stab./JG 4
January 1945


First flown in 1939 this fighter was the most successful Luftwaffe interceptor of the War. Had it been developed exclusively as a fighter, the allies could well have lost air-superiority. However, the Fw190, like the Bf109, was limited by the enforcement of a ground-attack role. The radial engine of the Fw190 proving itself to be being less susceptible to ground fire than that of the Messerschmitt.
 The A-8 variant was introduced in 1943 and was the main defence to mass B-17 and B-24 daylight bombing raids, often in suicidal head-on attacks. Some night-fighter versions used radar and nitrous oxide boosters to attain speeds of up to 472mph

Wingspan 34ft 5 ½in
29ft 1 ½in
Weight 10,802lb
Engine 2,100hp 801D-2 radial piston with water-methanol boosting
Max. Speed 408mph
600 miles
Armament 2X7.92mm 2X 20mm MG131 canon 2X 30mm MG 151
Bombload varied
Crew 1


Messerschmitt Me410A-2/U4 "Hornisse"
Gilze Rijen 1943


The Hornisse, (Hornet) was the result of the failed Me210 which had suffered severe handling difficulties.
 There were a number of variants of this versatile aircraft incorporating different armament configurations. This A-2/U4 was designed as a bomber-destroyer to counter the daylight raids over Occupied Europe and had a 50mm cannon with 21 rounds of ammunition mounted below the fuselage in addition to the barbette mounted 13mm MG131s.
 In the fighter-bomber role Me410s were used against the British Isles in 1944.

Wingspan 53ft 7¼ in
40ft 8½ in
Weight 23,483lb
Engine 2X 1,750hp DB603 Inline pistons
Max. Speed 388mph
Armament 1X50mm cannon 2X 7.92 MG17, 2X13mm MG131
Crew 2


Dornier Do 217E-2
6Stfl KG.40
Bordeux-Merignac 1942


The predecessor to this aircraft, the Do 17, was initially designed as a fast postal delivery aircraft and was first flown in 1938 setting a new speed record.
The Do217 was a faster and lighter development and was first used as a high-speed reconnaissance aircraft over Soviet territory before Operation “Barbarossa”. It was distinguished from earlier models by the dorsal turret. This and later versions were converted to night fighters as their vulnerability to fighter attack in daylight increased.
During the blitz on London, Dorniers became known as "flying pencils", a reference to the profile of the narrow fuselage

Wingspan 62ft 4 in
Length 58ft 4½in
Laden Weight
Engines 2X 1,550 BMW801MA 9 cylinder radials
Ceiling 13,780ft
1,335 miles
Max. Speed 348mph
Armament 2X 13mm M131;1X15mm cannon; 5X 7.92 MG15
Bombload 4,409lb
Crew 4


Heinkel He 111H-3
1./KG54 Delmenhorst
Germany 1941


First flown in 1934 the He 111 was developed from a proposed passenger aircraft required by Lufthansa.
 Converted to military use this twin-engined bomber first saw action with the Condor Legion during the Spanish Civil War. The H-3 variant later formed the backbone of the bombing raids on Britain during the blitz.
 To allow rapid production, and in line with RLM philosophy, very few four-engined bombers were introduced into the Luftwaffe. While numbers of twin-engined aircraft were plentiful . This reduced both range and carrying capacity for a strategic role.

Wingspan 74ft 1¾in
Length 53ft 9¾in
Laden Weight
Engines 2X1350hp JunkersJumo 211F-2 12 cylinder inverted "V"-type
Ceiling 21,980ft
Range 1,212 miles
Max. Speed
Armament 1X20mm MG FF cannon; 1X13mm MG131; 4X7.9mm MG81 1 2X7.9mm MG15
Bombload 4,409lb internal and external
Crew 5


Junker Ju 87B-1
7./StG 77
Crete 1941


First flown in 1935 this dive-bomber was used in the role of airborne artillery and in this role was instrumental to the "Blitzkrieg" strategy of air cover in support of fast-moving armour.
 Given air superiority Stuka's were highly effective but were slow and highly vulnerable to attack by allied fighters to which they were inferior unless escorted.  This weakness was the cause of their withdrawal from the European theatre by 1941 due to heavy losses.
  "Screamers" were sometimes fitted to the fuselage to add an element of terror.

Wingspan 49ft 2½in
37ft 8in
Laden Weight
Engine 900hp Junkers Jumo211-P 12 cylinder inverted "V" type
Ceiling 26,250ft
410 miles
Max. Speed
Armament 2X 20 MG151/20 cannon 2X 7.9mm MG 81
Bombload 2X 1,102lb external plus 1X 3,968lb beneath fuselage
Crew 2


Junkers Ju 88A-4
GrStb II./ZG 1
Romania, March 1944


This medium twin-engined bomber first flew in 1936 and entered service in 1940. Night-fighter and torpedo bomber versions were developed by 1941. All variants were designed for use as dive-bombers, as were all Luftwaffe bombers.
Day and night-time intruder attacks from bases in Occupied Europe caused untold damage and the Ju88 was superbly equipped for this role.
 On the night of 15/16 February 1941 a Ju 88A-5 intruder of III/KG-1 landed in error at Steeple Morden, believing itself to be in France. The undercarriage was damaged on landing and the stranded aircraft and crew were captured.

Wingspan 65ft 7¾in
Length 47ft 2¾in
Laden Weight
Engines 2X 1,340hp Junker Jumo 211J-2 12 cylinder inverted "V" type
Ceiling 26,900ft
1,106 miles
Max. Speed
Armament 4X 7.92mm MG81; 2X 7.62mm MG81
Bombload 6,614lb internal and external
Crew 4


Focke-Wulf Ta 152 H
1./JG 301
Straubing, Germany 1945


The Ta 152 was a development of the better known Fw190D. It was the first true high altitude fighter to enter service with the Luftwaffe in December 1944.
 The long span narrow wing and shark-like profile were typical of this fighter which was the first aircraft to incorporate a pressurised cockpit.
 Only sixty seven of these aircraft were built in time for operational service, but were often misused in the role of close protection for Me262s on take off and landing, rather than be used at altitude where their efficacy could have been better demonstrated.
  The yellow and red stripe at the rear of the fuselage is a Defence of the Reich band. (Reichverteidigungsband).

Wingspan 47ft10½in
Length 35ft 2in
Laden Weight
Engine 1,730hp Jumo 213B/E 12 cylinder inline piston with 2-stage supercharger
Ceiling 41,010ft
497 miles
Max. Speed
Armament 2X 7.92mm MG17; 4X20mm MG151 cannon
Crew 1