Kagero's Messerschmitt Bf-109T


Marek J. Murawski




$16.95 from www.casematepublishing.com


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 80 pages, softbound, 8x11 inches
ISBN: 978-83-60445-83-9

Germany was one of the only major powers in WWII that did not have an aircraft carrier in their fleet. In fact, to my knowledge, Germany has never had carrier borne aviation. Sure, they have had naval aircraft, but those have been maritime patrol, air/sea rescue, and maritime strike in various forms. All of them based on solid ground.

Prior to WWII, it was decided that would change and the Graf Zepplin, Germany's first aircraft carrier was laid down and construction got underway. In order to have a carrier, you have to have planes so two aircraft were modified for carrier duty, the Ju-87C and the Bf-109T. Specially built for the job was the amazing Fi-167 which had such a slow landing speed that it could literally hover in a 30 knot wind. A dozen Fi-167s were built along with a few Ju-87Cs and about 60 Bf-109Ts, the latter based on the Bf-109E-3.

The 109Ts were all built and originally outfitted with naval equipment, including an arresting gear as well as fittings for catapult launching. Despite having longer wings than the standard 109, it was planned on most launches using the catapult. Well, with the war going well in the early years, the building of the Graf Zepplin was put on hold with the ship about 85-90% completed. This meant that there were aircraft sitting around not being used so they were portioned out, after removing the naval equipment, mostly to JG 77, based in Norway. It was there that the aircraft first saw combat. While not fast enough to catch some planes, it was able to catch others.

It was then decided to start work on the carrier again so the surviving planes were refitted with their carrier gear. But wait. Minds were changed again so the planes were put into storage. About this time, USAAF raids were getting more numerous. No sense in having fighters sitting around so they were pulled out of storage, most of the naval gear removed and they were issued to JG 11 in Norway, NJG 101 and eventually assigned to the island of Helgoland, which was in the path of bombers headed for the upper Ruhr. While the 109T had some success against the bombers, the truth was that 1940 armament just wasn't all that great at bringing down a B-17 or B-24. Still, they soldiered on until replaced in mid-1944.

In this book on this most interesting aircraft, the author goes through the entire process of choosing the aircraft and the various prototypes that were developed to test carrier capabilities. Then it goes into the production of the 109T and its wide and varied history with the Luftwaffe. Pretty much every sortie that resulted in either victory or loss is covered in this book. Nicely illustrated with period photos, there are also large color views of some of the planes and a number of pages of excellent plans of both prototype and production aircraft. In short, everything one would want to know about the naval 109.

August 2013

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