Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Notes On Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-0,
Werknummer 14003, V-Tail Trials Aircraft

One of three known photos of Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-0, VJ+WC, Werknummer 14003, as featured as part of report no. 109 08 E 43, issued by Messerschmitt AG's flight test department, dated May 5, 1943.

This early Bf 109 G-0, Werknummer 14003, VJ+WC, was used for Messerschmitt trials of a V-tail empennage on January 21, 25, 26, and 27, 1943. The extensive technical description and flight test reports, issued by Messerschmitt AG in Augsburg and dated from early 1943, survive and have been reproduced in their entirety in Luftfahrt - Band 5 (Germany, 1978, ISBN 3 87547 182 2). Only three pictures of this aircraft are know to exist (all originally included in the aforementioned technical description), but none of them show the entire Bf 109.

There are a number of features which distinguish this Bf 109. Based on its Werkummer, it was part of the first three Bf 109 G-0s produced at Messerschmitt's Regensburg plant in October of 1941. According to the technical description, the aircraft was powered by a Daimler-Benz DB 605 A (Werknummer 76172), driving a VDM airscrew. The aircraft's wings incorporated early (i.e., small) G-type wing bulges, implicating that the corresponding wider wheels had possibly been fitted. One of the photos of this Bf 109 shows that this aircraft had a Bf 109 F-4 type canopy, but it seems to have lacked any head armour. Also visible in the photos is a Bf 109 F type tail wheel. Werknummer 14003 had no antenna mast, but an antenna wire ran from each butterfly fin towards the canopy (the exact location where the wires entered the fuselage cannot be discerned from the existing photos).

An F-style external fuselage strengthening strip ran from the fuselage to the converted tail cone. This strip seems to have been riveted to the fuselage. There was also an apparent actuating rod on the bottom of the new tail fins, near the hinge point. The new fins were faired into the fuselage by means of (aluminium) slip-over gloves. On the outside of the fins, very noticeable external strips apparently signify the mounts of the hinges for the rudders. These strips are not present on the upper side of the fins.

The camouflage of Werknummer 14003 appears to have been standard for the time, i.e., 76/74/75. The converted tail cone had been left natural metal, and the two butterfly fins were painted in a dark color, possibly 66 or 70, or even 22. The aircraft Werknummer was hand-painted in white above the last letter of the call sign on both sides of the fuselage, right before the demarcation line from the camouflaged fuselage to the natural metal tail cone. The small number "8" denoting the fuselage frame was uniquely applied over the bottom part of the call sign letter "C" on the port side, on a small patch of what appears to be 76.

(Amended version of a text I originally posted on the discussion forum of Hyperscale.com on July 22, 2002, and which was subsequently appropriated and used without permission or credit in kit instructions by U.M.I. Resin, USA.)