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Messerschmitt Bf110 G4 Night Fighter P1. P2.

The Messerschmitt Me110 was originally designed as a heavy fighter and bomber escort, which could also perform support attacks for army units.

Whilst multi engined aircraft such as this can carry heavy weapons and large fuel tanks, the lack of manoeuvrability is a major handicap when they are confronted by lighter, single engined fighters.

The Me110 (Bf110?) was no match for the Spitfires and Hurricanes against which it was pitted during the Battle of Britain. Consequently it suffered very heavy losses. However, the aircraft was subject to extensive modification and remained in production for most of the war.

One particularly successful development was the night fighter version shown here, the Messerschmitt Me 110 - G4 with the massive radar aerial array required of the FuG radar system.

As if the aeroplane was not already limited by its inertia, the installation of this aerial array necessitated modification to the flying controls and a large rudder had to be fitted.

Night fighters such as the Me110 could be fitted with upward firing canon and the preferred method of attack would be from astern and below the target aircraft.

Once the enemy was clearly identified, the night fighter would gently climb up into position just underneath the enemy aircraft. From there the night fighter could not be seen; a hail of cannon shells smashing into the fuel tanks would be the first the bomber would know of the fighters presence.

A bomber carrying a 4,000lb "cookie," on being raked by heavy, close range cannon fire, was inclined to blow up with massive force.

It was not uncommon for the fighter to suffer serious, possibly even fatal damage as a result of the explosion!

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All images Copyright Avery Little