Messerschmitt Bf 109G “Gustav” History

The Messerschmitt Bf 109G “Gustav” was designed around the new Daimler Benz 605 engine. Based on the DB 601, the DB 605 had a redesigned cylinder block which increased its capacity from 7.46 Imp gal (33.9 litres) to 7.85 Imp gal (35.7 litres) for no significant increase in the engine’s external dimensions and provided an additional 175 hp.

The initial production sub-type of the “Gustav”, the G-1, was built in small numbers. It featured the GM-1 power-boosting as well as a rudimentary pressurized cabin for the pilot. Initially, this version retained the one 20mm cannon and two 7.9mm machine gun armament of the F-4 sub-type. The G-2, the first sub-type of the Messerschmitt Bf 109G “Gustav” to go into service, went into production at about the same time as the G-1 and was essentially similar, but lacked cabin pressurization. The G-3 and G-4 were developments of the G-1 and G-2 respectively, but they carried the FuG 17 VHF radio in place of the FuG 7 HF radio. The G-5 was fitted with two MG 131 13 mm machine guns on top of the engine in place of the MG 17s. From the G-5 onward, all subsequent fighter versions of the Bf 109G “Gustav” would carry MG 131s in the fuselage installation, giving rise to a pair of bulges in front of the cockpit which covered the breech mechanism.

A short time after service introduction of the Messerschmitt Bf 109G “Gustav” series, operational units began reporting mysterious fires shortly after take off, sometimes causing the loss of both aircraft and pilot. Testing eventually showed that during overheating the horseshoe shaped nose mounted oil tank seeped oil onto the hot engine, causing a flash fire. After ascertaining the problem, two small cooling scoops were introduced on each side of the nose, cooling the oil tank.

One particularly weak feature of the Bf 109, compared with other fighters of the late war period, was the heavily framed canopy with steel armour protecting the pilot’s head, which restricted his view to the sides and the rear. Since the ability to see the enemy first decided many an air combats, this represented a major deficiency. To overcome the problem, a redesigned canopy appeared in 1944 which had less framing than the earlier type and a slab of laminated glass behind the pilot’s head instead of the vision-restricting steel plate. Nicknamed the “Galland Hood”, the new canopy was fitted to many late-model Bf 109Gs, notably the G-12.

The Messerschmitt Bf 109G “Gustav” series was the true workhorse of the Luftwaffe’s Day Fighter Units, with over 10,000 being produced in the basic variants. Every day fighter unit and eight foreign countries used the 109G through the end of the war.

Messerschmitt Bf 109G “Gustav” Specifications
Aircraft Type:
wingspan: 32 ft, 6 in
length: 29 ft, 7 in
height: 8 ft, 2 in
empty: 5,893 lb
gross: 6,940 lb
Power plant:
1 × 1,455 hp Daimler-Benz DB 605A-1 liquid-cooled inverted V12, 1,475 PS engine
maximum speed: 398 mph
ceiling: 39,370 ft
maximum range: 528 mi
2 × 13 mm calibre machine guns
1 × 20 mm calibre cannon
1 × 30 mm calibre cannon
2 × 20 mm calibre underwing cannon pods
551 lb of bombs
2 × 21 cm rockets
Service dates:



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