The Messerschmitt Bf 109: Part 1 (Aircraft 44)
By John R. Beaman, Jerry L. Campbell
Publisher: Squadron/Signal Publications 1980 52 Pages
PDF 17 MB
It is ironic to think that the Messerschmitt Bf 109, World War ll's best known and certainly most numerously produced fighter, was almost discarded out of hand. During the late 1920s. Willy Messerschmitt, at the request of Deutsche Lufthansa (DLH), designed a metal, high-wing monoplane airliner capable of carrying ten passengers. Built by Bayerische Flugzeugwerke (BFW). Messerschmitt's production sister company, the M-20 airliner prototype crashed on 26 February 1928, the pilot being killed when he tried to jump from 250 feet. The head of DLH, Erhard Milch, immediately cancelled the order. In August the second prototype was flown and, when the M-20 was pronounced safe, DLH purchased two machines and ordered a further ten. Before deliveries were completed, however, two M-20s crashed in rapid succession, in one of the crashes eight Reichswehr officers died with a great deal of publicity appearing in the newspapers and even discussions on the floor of the Reichstag. Erhard Milch cancelled all contracts, refused to take delivery of further M-20s. demanded the return of DLH's deposits and went so far as to accuse Messerschmitt of "building unsafe aircraft" and being "callous toward the victims of his designs"; both accusations found their way to the newspaper. BFW was thrown into financial ruin and by the end of 1930 registered losses of some 600.000RM. On 1 June 1931 BFW filed bankruptcy proceedings. Messerschmitt Flugzeugbau which had been partially absorbed three years earlier by BFW was able to raise a small amount of additional capital and in cooperation with the BFW receiver managed to force Lufthansa to take delivery of the M-20 transports as well as the M-28 high speed mail plane prototype that had originally been ordered. After getting outside financial backing, BFW was reorganized with Willy Messerschmitt at its head.
By the time the Nazis came to power and began their massive rearmament program BFW had begun to recover under the frugal leadership of Messerschmitt. Junkers, Arado, Heinkel, Focke-Wulf. all had aircraft, aircraft that were to be the building blocks of a resurrected, if as yet clandestine, Luftwaffe. BFW however received only a contract to manufacture 12 Heinkel He 45 biplanes under license. Erhard Milch, now the Reich Commissioner for Aviation, made it abundantly clear that Messerschmitt would not be receiving contracts to design and build aircraft for the Luftwaffe, but would only to build aircraft designed by others under license.