Messerschmitt Bf 109...
...The Design and Operational History, new from Fonthill Media
Title: Messerschmitt Bf 109
Author: Jan Forsgren
Publisher: Fonthill Media
Another fine book from author Jan Forsgren and publisher Fonthill Media. It follows his earlier book on the Ju 52 which I have reviewed on this site not long ago. This time he has tackled the second most produced warplane of all time, with over 33,000 of them being built on its' marks, and he has done it very well. With such a famous aircraft for the subject, taking on the 109 is quite a challenge and in my view he has done it really well. There is lots of detail covering the 'life' of the Bf 109 but remaining an interesting read without getting bogged down in what could be considered too much.
The book opens with the background to Willi Messerschmitt and his design, built by Bayerische Flugzeugwerke and hence the appropriate designation as the Bf 109. It details the 14 prototypes, and still one of those little oddities in history that the first one was powered by a Rolls Royce Kestrel engine before being replaced with German built engines while the Kestrel was of course later developed into the Merlin, which powered it's most famous adversary, the Spitfire. The first three prototypes were sent to Spain for trials during the Civil War, followed up later with early production versions as well. When it was first made there were other designs in competition for orders by the Luftwaffe and these are included as well. It then goes on to consider all the main variants, A, B, C, D, E, F, G, K and T plus various further Projects and Prototypes, an element I found particularly interesting.
Next it moves on to a major element of the book as chapter 3 tackles 'Into Service'. This broken down into a whole series of subsections, 28 of them in fact. Essentially in a chronological order these cover such topics as the Spanish Civil War, Polish Campaign, Blitzkrieg, Battle of Britain, North Africa, Ground Attack, Intercepting Allied Bombers and Mistel Operations just to pick out a few. Then another interesting chapter as 4 looks at 'Beyond Germany', and the use of the Bf 109 by foreign air forces and this also includes the post war developments of the aircraft in both Czechoslovakia (some of which ended up used in Israel) and Spain before rounding things off by considering surviving examples.
To finish off there are three useful appendices, 1 listing Pre-War Bf 109 Fighter units, 2 details the various manufacturers in Germany involved with Bf 109 production over the years, and finally 3, dealing with Allied Evaluation of the Bf 109 by 7 different nations. Throughout the book you will find various data tables and plenty of archive photos which add to the detail in the text. Overall an excellent and very readable reference on the famous Bf 109.