Brief history of the Messerschmitt Me-109W

Late in 1939 it became clear to the German general staff that the invasion of the Nordic countries would be inevitable in the spring of 1940. Plans were made for the invasion of Denmark and Norway.

The Luftwaffe was worried that the invasion of Norway would involve large numbers of Ju-52 transports which would be vulnerable to British fighters stationed in Norway and off the Norwegian coast on carriers of the Royal Navy. There were fears that in the early stages of the invasions not enough airfields would be available to station fighter aircraft to protect the transports. A problem here was the short range of the Me-109.

It was clear that the first German aircraft carrier would not be ready in time to play a role in this operation so another solution had to be found.

To enable the fighters to operate from Norway, plans were made to develop a floatplane version of the Me-109 fighter. The design work for this was delegated to the Fieseler company and in late 1939 a Me-109 E-1 fighter, serial 3365 was diverted from the production line to Fieseler for conversion. The converted aircraft, now known as Me-109W-0 flew for the first time on 23 December 1939. The results of the tests were not encouraging. Maximum speed was degraded by about 50mph and range was significantly reduced because of the fact that the engine used a lot more power in cruise flight to overcome drag from the floats. Also the manoeuvrability was seriously affected by the extra weight and longetudal stability was insufficient.

Despite the disappointing results from the test flights the decision was made to convert a further 6 aircraft to a slightly modified Me-109W-1 version. This version was derived from the Me-109 E-4 which had just entered production and differed from the W-0 model in a slightly more powerful DB601N engine, increased fuel tankage by using parts of the floats and an extra tail fin to increase stability. The aircraft were finished in the standard RLM 70/71/65 paint scheme and not in the seaplane scheme of RLM 72/73/65.

These 6 aircraft were delivered to the Luftwaffe in June 1940 by which time the need for them had passed. They were tested operationally in Norway however to see whether they could be used in the planned invasion of the British isles. These tests clearly demonstrated however that the type was unsuited in the fighter role. They were no match for any opponents and the pilots hated the lack of manoeuvrability both in the air and while taxiing on the water. Two aircraft were lost as a result of landing accidents during these tests.

After only 4 months the experiment was terminated and the remaining four aircraft were scrapped.

Technical data:

 

Model:

Me-109W-1

Engine:

Daimler Benz DB601N, 1200hp

Span:

32ft 4 in

Length:

28ft 10 in

Height:

13ft 2 in

Range:

367mi

Max Speed:

301mph at 18.000ft

Armament:

2 x MG 17 & 2 x MG FF/M

 

The model

This 1/72 model was produced using an old Matchbox Me-109 E-4. The floats come from a ARII Cessna 172 floatplane kit as does the extra tail fin. The trolley was scratchbuilt.

 

 

Additional information

Only after completing this model and this page I discovered that there had in fact has been a Me-109W project during the early 1940's. Instead of using multiple struts for the floats this projects uses a faired single attachment.

Also this project is based on the Me-109F and not on the E version.

(Source: Sojusznicy Luftwaffe Cz. 5)

Last updated: 14/03/2009