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The Messerschmitt 110 was designed as a long range and hard hitting escort fighter to be termed a Zerstorer (Destroyer). Unlike its stable mate the BF109, the 110 entered service too late to be tested during the Spanish Civil War and so its combat qualities remained unknown until the outbreak of World War II. During the Blitzkriegs over Poland and France the Bf 110 performed admirably in its intended role as a ground support, escort and reconnaissance aircraft having significant success against Polish and French fighters as well as inflicting heavy losses on allied bombers.

However, during the air battles over Dunkirk and during the Battle of Britain the limitations of the Bf 110 were clearly demonstrated against the Spitfires and even Hurricanes of Fighter Command. It was soon apparent that although the Bf 110 packed a significant punch and was relatively fast it was just too sluggish in manoeuvre to offer a credible threat to the more nimble British fighters and losses amongst its crews soon escalated.

Outclassed as a day fighter it was soon withdrawn from this role on the Western Front. Instead the Bf 110 found a role for itself as a very dangerous night fighter and between 1943 and 1945, radar equipped Bf 110's reaped a very heavy toll amongst the bomber crews of RAF Bomber command. Other variants were used to good effect as ground attack aircraft or as daylight bomber interceptors.

The details below are for the Bf 110C variant which found itself outmatched over Dunkirk and during the Battle of Britain.

Only three original Messerschmitt Bf 110's survive. One of these, a night fighter G-4 version can be seen at the RAF museum, Hendon.

Type: Twin engined escort fighter
Crew: 2 (pilot and radio operator/gunner)
Powerplant: 2 x 1,200 hp Daimler Benz 601N inverted V12
Maximum Speed: 349 mph
Service Ceiling: 32,800 feet
Range: c 528 miles
Armament: 2 x 20mm MG FF cannon and 4 x 7.92mm MG17 machine guns in nose
1 x 7.92mm MG17 machine gun in rear cockpit.

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