The Messerschmitt Bf 109C, designated Clara, was a single-seat fighter aircraft used by the Germany and the German Condor Legion during the Spanish Civil War.


The Bf 109C variant was the last production model of the 109 fighter series designed to use a Jumo engine. The engine it mounted, the 700 horsepower Jumo 210Ga, was fuel-injected, providing it with greater high-altitude speed and maneuverability.[1]

This new fuel-injection system also greatly decreased the chances of stalls during dives. Unlike traditional carburetor engines, the Jumo 210Ga would not lose power under negative g-force.[1]

The new engine changed the overall shape of the aircraft. The under-nose air intake was now much larger than older Messerschmitt fighters.[3]

The Clara's armament was upgraded from the two MG 17 machine guns of the previous model, to four. Like the Bertha, the Clara featured two machine guns in the nose, but the Clara also featured one more gun in each wing. This addition solved the biggest flaw with the previous designs; the underwhelming armament.[1][3][2]


Clara being reloaded

The Messerschmitt Bf 109C (named "Luchs") of German ace Werner Mölders being re-armed in Spain, 1938. Note the hatch opened above the new wing-mounted machine guns.

After their completion in early 1938, the Bf 109Cs were rushed to Spain to relieve and reinforce the Condor Legion.[3]

Only four[4] or five Clara fighters were ever received by the Condor Legion, not nearly the number needed to repopulate the Nationalist forces.[1]

Luckily, the "Dora" model was completed in June of 1938, finally relieving the empty German squadrons in Spain.[5]

In total, only 58 Messerschmitt Claras were built. [4]


Bf 109C-0: Pre-production model, identical to the C-1.

Bf 109C-1: The standard model with four machine guns; two in the nose and two in the wings.

Bf 109C-2: A variant with an extra MG 17 in the nose, creating a total of five machine guns. Very small numbers were produced.

Bf 109C-3: Experimental version with two MG FF 20mm cannons in the wings, instead of MG 17s. Never entered production.

Bf 109C-4: A variant with one MG FF motorkanone and two MG 17s in the nose cowlings. Similar to the E-2, Friedrich and other later models. Never entered production.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2
  4. 4.0 4.1 Ritger, Lynn. Meserschmitt Bf 109 Prototype to 'E' Variants. Bedford, UK: SAM Publications, 2006

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