Luftwaffe
Photographic Reconnaissance Aircraft
Page 4

  • Home

Messerschmitt 109, 110, 261, 262, 210/410


Bf109F-6

Bf109G-8    (Thanks to Dave Wadman for the image)

Bf109G-4/R3 with long range fuel tanks fitted

The Messerschmitt Bf 109 was the Luftwaffe's main fighter aircraft during World War 2. The first prototype Bf 109V1 flow in September 1935. Unlike most of the totally reconnaissance Spitfires, the Bf 109 did retain some of its weapons in most of the variants.
The first reconnaissance variants of this fighter was the Bf 109E-5 and E-6. The E-5 having its wings machine guns removed and a Rb21/18 camera fitted behind the pilot in the fuselage, this version was produced in small numbers along side the E-4 fighter variant. The E-6 was a makeshift reconnaissance version of the E-3 fighter,  it was complete with its wing guns and the pilot used a handheld camera for taking imagery.
With its increased performance in both speed and altitude, the F-series of the Bf 109 was developed into a reconnaissance variant.  The Bf 109F-5 being like the E-6, no mounted camera position, the pilot again using a handheld camera, this version had machine guns mounted in the nose. The F-6 was the main reconnaissance version. Again fitted with only two machine guns, it could one of three cameras, the Rb20/30, Rb50/30 or the Rb75/30. The one drawback of this variant was its limited range, so for both the F-5 and F-6, 300lt drop tanks could be mounted under the fuselage.
The next series the G "Gustav" had a number of reconnaissance versions, firstly the Bf 109G-2/R2, this retained its weapons and was fitted with a Rb50/30 camera. Next reconnaissance variant produced in large numbers was the Bf 109G-4. The first being the Bf 109G-4/R2 this was fitted with a Rb50/30 camera. The R3 was the same as the R2 but fitted with two 300lt drop tanks. The Bf 109 G-4/U3 was a tactical reconnaissance variant, fitted with twin Rb12.5/7x9 cameras and with its armament removed.
With the Bf 109G-6 there were three reconnaissance variants, the R2, R3 and the U3, both the 'R' versions had fitted a Rb50/03, however, the R2 had its weapons removed. The U3 carried weapons and a twin pair of Rb12.5/7x9 cameras in the rear fuselage.
The last reconnaissance variant was the Bf 109G-8, this aircraft could be fitted with either a Rb12.5/7x5 or a Rb32/7x9 camera and also a Rb50/30. A number of this version were also fitted with a Robot II mini-camera in the port wing.

Top of the Page

The Messerschmitt Bf 110, also known as the Me 110 first flow in 1936. Designed to be a twin engine fighter, the Bf 110A-0 was completed by early 1938, just after this the Bf 110B-0 started in production, armed with two 20mm Oerlikon MG FF cannon and four 7.92mm MG 17 machine-guns. Only forty-five of 'B' series were produced, a number of these were converted to the reconnaissance role, to do this, their MG FF cannons were removed and mounts were added to fit various type of cameras.
Before the end of 1938, the B-series was replaced on the production line by the Bf 110C, then in 1940 the C-5 and C-5/N, the reconnaissance variants, entered service. Again, the MG FF cannons were removed and a Rb50/30 camera installed, the only difference with the N variant was a newer engine, the DB 601N, replacing the DB 601A-1.
The next reconnaissance version was the Bf 110C-5, modified from the C-4 fighter version. This version was equipment with
aircrew armour plating protection for the first time. As a rule, like other reconnaissance versions of this aircraft, the MG FF cannons were removed and a camera installed. It has been documented that 'fake' cannon blast tubes were painted under the nose to give the impression that the aircraft was full armed. A few Bf 110D-3's were converted for reconnaissance duties, this version could carry either twin 66 or 198 gallon drop tanks.
In 1941, even thought the Luftwaffe were looking at replacing the Bf 110, this did not stop another three other
reconnaissance versions of this aircraft seeing service. The Bf 110E-3 was a long-range recce variant that could be fitted with 66 or 198 gallon drop tanks. Shortly after this came the Bf 110F-3 the only real difference between the two was the latter had more powerful engines and 57mm bullet proof glass was added. Lastly the Bf 110G-3 which could have fitted either a Rb50/30 or a Rb70/30 camera. like the others, this version retained its four machine guns in the nose. However, some versions did replace these with two 30mm guns.


Bf 110C-5 under going repairs

Bf 110E-3

Bf 110C-5 which was force down over England in 1940


Designed in 1936, the Me 261 was produced for the sole reason of making recording breaking long distance flights, one of its aims was to carry the Olympic flame non-stop from Berlin to Tokyo.
The Me 216V1 first flow at the end of 1940, followed by the V2 in the Spring of 1941. In early 1943 a third aircraft the V3 was produced. During trails it undertook a 10 hour, 2796 mile flight. The aircraft undertook a number of long range reconnaissance missions, little is known about these sorties.

Top of the Page

The Messerschmitt Me 262 Schwalbe (Swallow) was the world's first operational turbojet aircraft. The design begin in 1939 even before the design its turbojet engines. The first test flights took part in mid 1941 with Me 262V1, this was fitted with a conventional Junkers engine mounted in the nose. For the first flight with its jet engines, the prototype retained the Junkers engine for safety reasons. It was not until 1941 that Me 262V3 flow as a true jet aircraft and this was to be nine months ahead of the RAF's Gloster Meteors first flight. The first three prototypes V1 - V3 were fitted with tail wheel, this changed with prototypes V4 - V7 into the profile we all know now. Armed with four 30mm Mk108 cannons in the nose, the Me 262 posed a threat to all Allied aircraft.
The first reconnaissance version was the Me 262A-1a/U3 having its weapons removed and a pair of Rb50/30 cameras mounted in the nose. However, some aircraft were known to have a single cannon fitted. There were plans to develop the Me 262A-4 as a reconnaissance variant, this was dropped in favour of Me 262A-1a/U3. An armed reconnaissance version was produced, this was the Me 262A-5a, retaining two of its cannons, it had a pair of Rb50/30 cameras fitted in the nose, also could be fitted were two 66gal drop tanks.
There were proposed plans to develop three totally reconnaissance versions, these were to be the Me 262 Aufkl�ner I,
Aufkl�ner Ia, and the Aufkl�ner II. The Aufkl�ner I was designed but never built, again it was to have all its weapons removed and in their place were to be fitted a Rb75/30 and Rb20/30 cameras. It was to carry more fuel, 3,050lts and more powerful engines. With the Ia there was a total redesign of the aircraft, the cockpit was to be moved forward, in front of the wings and it would carry two Rb70/30 cameras in the fuselage, performance would be close to that of the Aufkl�ner I. The Aufkl�ner II was to be the most radical of the three designs, a totally remodelling of the fuselage, jettisonable wheels, carrying the cameras in the nose and a fuel load of 5,450lts. Due to its weight, it would require rocket assisted take-off.


Me 262A-1/U3

Me 262A-1/U3

Proposed Me 262 Aufkl�ner Ia



Me 210 - The first prototype D-AABF

Me 210

Me 410A-3

Me 410A-3 - The camera ports can be seen in the nose of the aircraft

The Me 210 was on the drawing books back in 1937 and being designed as the future replacement for the Bf 110. The first prototype flow in September 1939 and from the start the aircraft displayed poor handling and stability. They tried to improve the design by replacing the twin rudders (similar to the Bf 110) and installing a normal vertical rudder. Even with this, the prototypes still had very poor handling characteristics, it was not unknown for them to be prone to stalling and spinning. The second prototype Me 210V2 was lost in this way. It took 16 prototypes and 94 pre-production variants to resolve most of the problems. Armed with two forward facing 7.9mm machine guns, two 20mm cannons, two 13mm rear facing remote controlled machine guns and 2,204lb bomb load.
The Me 210B (B-0 and B-1) were the reconnaissance versions of this aircraft, two Me 210A-0s were converted to B-0 variant and two B-1 variants were produced. In the reconnaissance version, the two forward firing 7.9mm machine guns were removed from the nose and either a twin pair of Rb75/30s, Rb50/30s or Rb20/30s would have been mounted in the aircrafts bomb-bay. They were also fitted with two 900lt external fuel tanks. A D-1 and Da-1 were planned for the reconnaissance role, however, they were never produced. On a positive note, the Hungarians were totally happy with the aircraft in its current form and purchased a production license for the type. Their variant the Me 210Ca-1 made its first flight in December 1942. A hundred of this version were produced, including two that were converted for long-range reconnaissance.
Basically a modified Me 210A-1, the Me 410 "Hornet" first flow in September 1943, changes undertaken were up-rating the engines, an improved weapons payload, with points under the wings to add extra bombs and the handling of the aircraft was greatly improved. The first reconnaissance version was the Me 410A-1/U-1, like early aircraft its 7.9mm machines guns were removed and could have fitted either a single Rb70/30, Rb50/30 or a Rb20/30 camera. The Me 410A-2/U-1 was the next variant, this was very similar to the A-1.
Because a number of problems were high-lighted with these two versions, a special reconnaissance variant was produced, the Me 410A-3, this variant had a redesigned with a deepen nose section which allowed proper installation of twin reconnaissance cameras. Next was the B Series, the B-3 being the reconnaissance version. Largely the same as the A-3 but with up-rated engines.
Many of the later produced Me 410s were delivered to long-range reconnaissance units and in early February 1945 they were still carrying out reconnaissance sorties.



Previous

Top of the Page
Top