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Messerschmitt Me 410 Hornisse

The Messerschmitt Me 410 Hornisse is a German heavy fighter and Schnellbomber used by the Luftwaffe during World War II.

Development of the Me 210 had been underway since 1939 but the aircraft proved unstable and was never considered for full-scale production.

Modifications to the layout produced the Me 210C and 210D, which proved somewhat superior.

As studies progressed on the Me 210D, and with a separate parallel attempt to improve upon the 210 with the Messerschmitt Me 310 in the second half of 1943 which provided almost no aerodynamic improvement over the 210’s risky handling qualities it was instead decided to introduce a new model, the Me 410.

The major change between the Me 210 and 410 was the introduction of the larger (at 44.5 litres, 2,720 cu in displacement) and more powerful Daimler-Benz DB 603A engines.

They each provided 1,750 metric horsepower (1,730 hp; 1,290 kW) compared to the 1,475 metric horsepower (1,455 hp; 1,085 kW) of the DB 605s used on the Me 210C.

The extra power increased the Me 410’s maximum speed to 625 kilometres per hour (388 mph), greatly improved rate of climb, service ceiling, and most notably the cruising speed which jumped to 579 km/h (360 mph).

The more powerful engines also improved payload capability to the point where the aircraft could lift a war-load greater than could fit into the bomb bay under the nose.

To address this, shackles were added under the wings for four 50-kilogram (110 lb) bombs.

The changes added an extra 680 kg (1,500 lb) to the Me 210 design, but the extra engine power more than made up for the difference.

As with the Me 210, the 410’s rear gunner used the same pair of Ferngerichtete Drehringseitenlafette FDSL 131/1B turrets mounted on each side of the aircraft, each still armed with a 13 mm (.51 in) MG 131 machine gun, retaining the same pivoting handgun-style grip, trigger and gunsight to aim and fire the ordnance as the 210 did.

The new version included a lengthened fuselage and new, automatic leading-edge slats.

Both features had been tested on Me 210s and were found to dramatically improve handling.

The slats had originally been featured on the earliest Me 210 models but had been removed on production models due to poor handling.

When entering a steep turn, the slats had a tendency to open due to the high angle of attack, analogous to the opening of the slats during the landing approach, which added to the problems keeping the aircraft flying smoothly.

However, when the problems with the general lateral instability were addressed, this was no longer a real problem.

The wing panels of the earlier Me 210 had been designed with a planform geometry that placed the aerodynamic centre in a rearward’s direction in comparison to the earlier Bf 110, giving the outer sections of the wing planform beyond each engine nacelle a slightly greater, 12.6° leading edge sweepback angle than the inner panels’ 6.0° leading edge sweep angle.

This resulted in unsuitable handling characteristics in flight for the original Me 210 designs.

The new Me 410 outer wing panels had their planform geometry revised to bring the aerodynamic centre further forwards in comparison to the Me 210, thus making the leading-edge sweepback of the outer panels identical to the inner wing panels with both having identical 5.5° sweepback angles, which improved handling.

Deliveries began in January 1943, two years late and continued until September 1944, by which point a total of 1,160 of all versions had been produced by Messerschmitt Augsburg and Dornier München.

When it arrived, it was liked by its crews, even though its improved performance was not enough to protect it from the swarms of high-performance Allied fighters they faced at this stage of the war.


A-series aircraft were armed with two 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 17 machine guns and two 20 mm MG 151/20 cannons in the nose and delivered as the Me 410 A-1 light bomber.

The Me 410 A-2 heavy fighter was cancelled because the dual 30 mm (1.18 in) MK 103 cannon mount, also available for the later Me 410B-2 subtype as the Umrüst-Bausatz /U1 factory kit available by 1944, was not ready in time.

The Me 410A featured a bomb bay for carrying bombs, though with conversion kits this could be used to equip other equipment.

Initially, three Umrüst-Bausätze (factory conversion kits) were available:


Which contained cameras for photoreconnaissance,


With two 20 mm MG 151/20 cannon with 250 rpg for the heavy fighter



With the 50 mm (2 in) Bordkanone series weapon,

The BK-5 cannon with 22 rounds (21 rounds to load and 1 extra round in the breech), to turn either an Me 410A or B-series aircraft into a bomber destroyer.

The BK 5 cannon

Derived from the 50 mm (2 in) KwK 39 L/60 of the Panzer III allowed the Me 410s to shoot at their targets from over 914 m (1,000 yd), a distance at which the bombers’ defensive armament, usually “light-barrel”, .50 calibre AN/M2 aviation version of the M2 Browning machine guns, was useless.

Frequent problems with jamming and limited ammunition supply, together with the extra 540 kg (1,200 lb) weight of the large-calibre gun under the nose, made the other anti-bomber versions of Me 410, especially those with extra 20 mm MG 151/20s, much more useful.

The reconnaissance version Me 410 A-3 received a deeper fuselage for additional cameras and fuel.

The Me 410 A-3 entered service in small numbers in early 1944 and equipped three long-range reconnaissance Aufklärungsstaffel squadrons, usually grouped larger, three or four-squadron Fernaufklärungsgruppen (one Gruppe on the Western Front and the other two on the Eastern Front).

The Me 410B-series was similar to the A-series but replaced the pair of 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 17s with 13 mm (.51 in) MG 131 machine guns.

The originally planned 1,900 hp (1,400 kW) DB 603G engine had been cancelled in early 1944, so all Me 410Bs used DB 603A or DB 603AA engines.

The DB 603G would have increased the maximum speed to 630 km/h (392 mph) and cruising speed to 595 km/h (370 mph), although the weight increased once again.

The versions were the same as with the A-series, the Me 410 B-1 and Me 410 B-3 filling the same roles as the earlier A-1 and A-3 versions, also with the option of using the same Umrüst-Bausätze factory conversion kits as the A-series.

Several experimental models were also developed.

The Me 410 B-5 added shackles under the fuselage to carry a torpedo and removed the MG 131s in the nose to make room for the FuG 200 Hohentwiel 550 MHz UHF-band maritime patrol radar.

The bomb bay was not used in this version in order to make room for a 650 L (170 US gal) fuel tank, and the rearward-firing remote turrets were replaced by another 700 L (180 US gal) fuel tank for long-range missions.

The Me 410 B-6 was a similar anti-shipping conversion but intended for the short-range coastal defence role only.

For this mission, it did not use a torpedo, and was instead a simple modification of the B-1 with the FuG 200 radar.

The Me 410 B-7/B-8 were updated B-3 reconnaissance models that were only built as prototypes.

The Me 410C was a high-altitude version drawn up in early 1944, with two new wing designs that increased span to 18.25 m (60 ft) or 20.45 m (67 ft).

The larger wings allowed the gear to retract directly to the rear.

A new universal engine mount would allow for the use of any of the DB 603JZ or BMW 801J turbocharged engines or the Jumo 213E two-stage mechanically supercharged engines, driving a new four-blade propeller with very wide blades.

The BMW 801 radials were air-cooled and the DB 603 and Jumo 213 used an annular radiator, all Kraftei (power-egg) engine “modules” onto an airframe for ease of installation and field maintenance, so the normal under-wing radiators were removed.

None were ever built, as Me 410 production was cancelled before the engines matured.

The Me 410D was a simpler upgrade to the B-series to improve altitude performance than the C-series.

It would be powered by the DB 603JZ engines and had a revised forward fuselage to increase the field of view of the pilot and reduce drag.

It also replaced portions of the outer wing panels with ones made of wood to conserve strategic materials.

Several were built, but like many other attempts at wood construction by the German aviation industry late in World War II, the loss of the Goldschmitt Tego film factory in Wuppertal, in a Royal Air Force night bombing raid, meant the acidic replacement adhesives available were too corrosive to the materials being bonded, and the wooden portions tended to fail.

Production was eventually cancelled to concentrate on Bf 109Gs in August 1944, after 1,160 Me 410s had been built, the month after the Jägernotprogramm had gone into effect.





12.484 m (40 ft 11.5 in)


16.3513 m (53 ft 7.75 in)


4.280 m (14 ft 0.5 in)

Wing area

36.2031 m2 (389.687 sq ft)



NACA 23018-636.5


NACA 23010-636.5

Empty weight

7,518 kg (16,574 lb)

Gross weight

9,651 kg (21,276 lb)

Fuel capacity

550 imp gals (660 US gal; 2,500 l) in four wing tanks


2 × Daimler-Benz DB 603A,

V-12 inverted liquid-cooled piston engines,

1,290 kW (1,750 hp) each for take-off

1,360 kW (1,850 PS) at 2,100 m (6,890 ft)

1,195 kW (1,625 PS) at 5,700 m (18,700 ft)


3-bladed VDM constant-speed propeller


Maximum speed

507 km/h (315 mph, 274 kn) at sea level,

624 km/h (388 mph; 337 kn) at 6,700 m (21,980 ft)

Cruise speed

587 km/h (365 mph, 317 kn)


1,200 km (750 mi, 650 nmi) at maximum continuous cruise speed,

1,690 km (1,050 mi) at economical cruise speed

Ferry range

2,300 km (1,400 mi, 1,200 nmi)

Service ceiling

10,000 m (33,000 ft)

Time to altitude

6,000 m (20,000 ft) in 10 minutes 42 seconds



2 × 7.92 mm (0.31 in) MG 17 machine guns with 1,000 rpg, firing forward

2 × 20 mm (0.79 in) MG 151/20 cannon with 350 rpg, firing forward

2 × 20 mm (0.79 in) MG 151/20 cannon with 250 rpg in the bomb bay, firing forward

2 × 13 mm (0.51 in) MG 131 machine guns with 500 rpg, each firing rearward from FDSL 131/1B remote-operated turret, one per side


4 x 21 cm (8.3 in) Werfer-Granate 21 rockets


Up to 1,000 kg (2,200 lb) of disposable stores.



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