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The Messerschmitt Bf 109T[N 1] was a development of the Messerschmitt Bf 109E intended to meet a requirement for a fighter capable of operating from Germany's proposed Graf Zeppelin class aircraft carriers.

History

Development

Due to their experience with short take off and landing aircraft, the Fieseler Werke were given responsibility of developing a carrier-borne fighter for the Kriegsmarine.[1] A number of converted Bf 109E-1s were used to test potential carrier equipment. These fighters were given arrestor hooks and catapult spools to make them compatible with aircraft carries. Their wingspans were also lengthened by about 2 meters.[2] The tests proved successful, especially the catapult tests, and the project went into production.[3]

Fieseler produced 7 production examples during 1940. Designated Bf 109T-1, these had the original DB601A engine supplanted by the DB 601N, which further improved their short takeoff ability.[4] Many of the production models were converted from the cannon-armed E-3s.[2] After the first 7 were completed, however, the aircraft carrier was cancelled. These aircraft, and the 63 produced following the first batch, were subsequently re designated Bf 109T-2s following the removal of all carrier associated equipment.[1][3]

Operational Service

When the Graf Zeppelin project was cancelled, the Bf 109Ts were used instead as reserve ground-based fighters. In early 1941, fifty T-1s were delivered toI./JG 77 at Drontheim in Norway, where their ability to takeoff on short runways would prove useful.[2] Shortly afterward, the unit was redignated IV./JG 51, with the aircraft transferred to Einsatz-Staffel Drontheim, and presumably de-navalised, becoming T-2s.[4]

Variants

  • Bf 109T-1: The original variant, a navalized Bf 109E with assorted carrier equipment. 7 produced.
  • Bf 109T-2: A variant with the carrier equipment removed, used in Norway as a second-line fighter. 63 produced.

Notes

  1. The T suffix indicated "Träger", the German word for Carrier[1]

Sources

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Green, William and Gordon Swanborough. Complete Book of Fighters. Salamander Books. 2001. ISBN 1-84065-269-1 Page 376
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_bf_109E.html#variants
  3. 3.0 3.1 Green, William. Messerschmitt Bf 109: The Augsburg Eagle; A Documentary History. London: Macdonald and Jane's Publishing Group Ltd., 1980.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Kay, Antony L and J R Smith. German Aircraft of the Second World War. Putnam Aeronautical Books. 2002. ISBN 0 85177 920 4 Page 233
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