Me 209 a.k.a: Me 109R
Some quick history on the Me209, advertised by Germany as the Me-109R, and used by Messerschmitt as a propaganda tool.
The Me-209 was especially designed to break the world’s absolute air speed record. The RLM had hopes to develop the type into a fighter later and so supported the project. The Me-209 was a completely new design in no way related to the Me-109.
The first prototype flew for the first time on 1 August 1938 and showed very disappointing flight characteristics. No fewer than 17 serious shortcomings were noted by test pilot Fritz Wendel.
The V-2 was lost during a landing accident in April 1939 as the engine suddenly froze during flight.
At the end of May, Messerschmitt was unpleasantly surprised by the speed record set by the Heinkel He-100 V-8. This caused the plans to be revised and instead of trying for the record with the V-3, the V-1 was hurriedly equipped with the DB 601ARJ engine which gave a maximum output of 1550hp.
On 26 April 1939 Fritz Wendel reached a speed of 755km/h with the V-1, a record that stood for more than 30 years. The Germans advertised the aircraft as the Me-109R in an effort to make it look like a standard service machine.
The V-3 was used in various test programs and the V-4 was intended as prototype for the fighter variant. It was armed with 2 MG 17 and a MG FF/M and flew for the first time in May 1939. The wing span was increased in an effort to improve its flight characteristics but it remained unsuited as a fighter.
Messerschmitt wanted to produce a new design to compete with the Ta-152 fighter. This was known as the Me-209-II. It bore no relation whatsoever with the 4 racing prototypes designated Me-209 from 1939.
The new prototype, the Me-209 V-5 flew for the first time on 3 November 1943. It was fitted with a DB 603A engine and utilized about 65% parts of the Me-109G-5. The engine was later replaced by the more powerful DB 603G.
Since the number of DB 603G engines was limited, the RLM requested Messerschmitt to fit his aircraft with the Jumo 213. During 1943 a Me-109 F-1 was tested with a Jumo 213 engine with an annular radiator similar to the FW-190D series.
Construction of the Me-209 V-6 began in December 1943 and it flew for the first time in April 1944. It was slower however than the FW-190D-9 fitted with the same engine and the order came to terminate the program. In order to keep his aircraft alive, Messerschmitt renamed it Me-109L. No additional aircraft were produced however.
Me-209 A-1 (project)
Fighter fitted with the DB 603G, like the V-5.
Me-209 A-2 (project)
Fighter fitted with the Jumo 213E, like the V-6.
After the cancellation of the P-1091 program, Messerschmitt continued the development of this design into the P-1091B. This lead to the development of the Me-209 H V-1 fighter. It was planned to fit this aircraft with the DB 627 but as this was discontinued the DB 603 was chosen instead. It is unclear if the prototype was completed and flown.
The 588th, Night Witches of Russia; Female Combat Aviators
On July 8th of this year, 91 year old Nadezhda Popova passed away somewhere in whatwas formerly the Soviet Union. Although most of us have never heard of her, the President
of the Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych issued a statement calling her life “an example of selfless service to Motherland.” and said her “feats in the course of the Great Patriotic War will never be forgotten.”
“Ms. Popova was among the first female pilots to volunteer for service in the Soviet military during World War II and became a squadron commander in her swashbuckling all-female regiment. She flew 852 combat missions — including 18 during one night — and was honored as a Hero of the Soviet Union, one of the nation’s highest decorations.” writes Emily Langer for the Washington Post.
In 1941, when the United States was experimenting with it’s first African American combat
Marina Raskova, was already a veteran pilot, holder of multiple records for distance flying, and one of the first three women ever to be decorated with the Hero of the Soviet Union award. Marina’s efforts convinced Stalin to form three flying regiments of female pilots. Marina Raskova was also the first person ever to be given a State funeral during WWII and her ashes lie buried in the Kremlin wall.
The first of these to see combat was the 586th Fighter Aviation Regiment (586 IAP/PVO), it first entered battle on April 16, 1942. It’s record was impressive with 38 kills during 125 battles. It’s Commanders were Tamara Kazarinova and Aleksandr Gridnev and the 586th was equipped with Yakovlev Yak-1, Yak-7B and Yak-9,
Marinas Regiment began its service as the 587th Bomber Aviation Regiment (587 BAP)
but was later re-designated the 125th Guards Bomber Aviation Regiment. Marina commanded this regiment until she lost her life in a flying accident near Stalingrad. This Regiment was the only one of the three which were equipped with up to date aircraft which were the Petlyakov Pe-2.
A United States Liberty ship, SS Marina Raskova was named in honor of her in 1943.
The 588th Night Bomber Regiment (588 NBAP) was the most famous of the three female flown regiments, and the damage they inflicted earned them a nickname from their victims who spoke of them as the “Night Witches” (die Nachthexen). This regiment was led by Major Yevdokia Bershanskaya and was later renamed to The 46th Taman Guards Night Bomber Aviation Regiment. Flying over 23,000 sorties and said to have dropped 3,000 tons of bombs.
Their accomplishments are even more impressive as the Night Witches Regiment flew
inwood and canvas Polikarpov Po-2 biplanes, a design dating from 1928 and usually reserved for training purposes. Although these planes were slow and outdated they had high maneuverability and the advantage of having a maximum speed that was lower than the stall speed of both the Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the Focke-Wulf Fw 190. A as a result, the German pilots found them very difficult to shoot down.
The Night Witches also had a unique tactic which they used greatly to their advantage. By shutting down their engines in the last.
Soon though, the Germans developed a strategy of bringing out anti-aircraft guns andsearchlights each evening which had remained hidden during the day. They would ring likely targets with these AA guns and searchlights and wait for the night witches to arrive. This was effective at first but soon the pilots of the 588th devised a new tactic. Flying in groups of three, two planes would fly ahead of the group and gain the attention of the guns and lights. Once they had achieved this the pair would split and fly in separate directions, and the lights and AA guns would do the same to follow them. The third member of the group, trailing behind, would make use of the dark path and sneak in silently and deliver their payload.
Considering all this, it is little wonder the name Night Witches took hold so well. In an interview with Albert Axell for his book “Greatest Russian War Stories, 1941-1945.” Nadezhda Popova said; “The Germans spread stories that we were given special injections and pills which gave us a feline’s perfect vision at night,” She went on to explain “This was nonsense, of course,” she continued. “What we did have were clever, educated, very talented girls.”
A quote from one German officer is rather interesting;
“We simply couldn’t grasp that the Soviet airmen that caused us the greatest trouble were in fact women. These women feared nothing. They came night after night in their very slow biplanes, and for some periods they wouldn’t give us any sleep at all.“
– Hauptmann Johannes Steinhoff, Commander of II./JG 52, Oak Leaves to the Knight’s Cross, September 1942.
Emily Langer goes on to tell us;
“Minerva, an academic publication on women and the military, cited Soviet records indicating that the women’s regiments flew more than 30,000 combat sorties. Their ranks produced at least 30 Heroes of the Soviet Union — about a third of all women so honored — and at least three fighter aces.”
Decades after the war, Ms. Popova, who often was called Nadya, reflected on the perils she had endured. “At night sometimes, I look up into the dark sky, close my eyes and picture myself as a girl at the controls of my bomber,” she said, “and I think, ‘Nadya, how on earth did you do it?’ ”