Messerschmitt Bf 109D “Dora” History

The Messerschmitt Bf 109D “Dora” was powered by the 960hp Daimler Benz DB 600 engine, giving a maximum speed of 356mph (574 km/h) at 11,400ft (3,500 m). The D-1 carried an armament of two MG 17 machine guns and one MG FF 20 mm cannon firing through the propeller spinner. When its DB 600 worked properly the D version gave an impressive performance, but the engine suffered from the numerous teething troubles and its reliability was poor.

The Messerschmitt Bf 109D-1 “Dora”, which went into service with the Luftwaffe at roughly the same time s the C, was fitted as standard with the Junkers Jumo 210D carburettor engine and armed with twin fuselage MG 17s and two wing MG 17s as on the C-1. Performance was much the same as the B-1 carburettor-engined variant. Some Ds seemed to have an ejector exhaust system very similar to that of the E, presumably fitted in the field due to lack of Jumo spares, but that certainly did not mean they had Daimler-Benz engines. Together with the B, The Messerschmitt Bf 109D-1 “Dora” was the major service version prior to the introduction of the Bf 109E and was mass-produced by AGO. Arado and Focke-Wulf during 1938-9 while Messerschmitt concentrated on tooling up for production of the Bf 109E.

Despite the urgent need to rearm, Germany felt able to sell numbers of its most modern fighters to foreign (though neutrally disposed) countries. The Swiss Government, seeking a modern replacement for their ancient Dewoitine D.27 high-wing monoplanes, was allowed to purchase the 109s delivered in December 1938 and January 1939. A Swiss authority describes these machines  (J-301 to J-310) as “Me 109Ds with airframes of the D type, including armament of the C type and with Jumo 210 engine of the B type” with four machine guns. Presumably they were almost identical to the Luftwaffe Messerschmitt Bf 109D-1 currently in production. There were used for conversion training prior to delivery of thirty Bf 109Es with 1,100 hp Daimler-Benz DB 601Aa engines which began arriving in April 1939.

A small number of Messerschmitt Bf 109D “Dora” were sent to J88 in Spain and in August 1938 this version went into action. Overall, the number of Bf 109s sent to Spain was never large. Up to the beginning of December 1938 only 55 Bs, Cs and Ds had been delivered to the Condor Legion, of which 37 were then serving with Jagdgruppe 88. Fighters of the Condor Legion had their final encounter with enemy aircraft on 31 January 1939 and the force flew its last operational mission on 27 March 1939, with the remaining enemy forces surrendering on the following day. After the cease-fire the Condor Legion passed al 47 of its Bf 109s to the new Spanish Air Force. Twenty of the fighters were brand new Messerschmitt Bf 109E “Emils that arrived just too late to see combat. The rest were the B, C and D models that had survived combat.


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