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View Full Version : A neat read on the Bf-109



XyZspineZyX
08-27-2003, 04:50 PM
Mark Hanna of the Old Flying Machine Company relates his experiences flying the OFMC Messerschmitt Bf 109J (export version to Spain).
To my eye, the aircraft looks dangerous, both to the enemy and to its own pilots. The aircrafts difficult reputation is well known and right from the outset you are aware that it is an aeroplane that needs to be treated with a great deal of respect. Talk to people about the '109 and all you hear about is how you are going to wrap it up on take-off or landing ! As you walk up to the '109 one is at first struck by the small size of the aricraft, particularly if parked next to a comtemporary American fighter. Closer examination reveals a crazy looking knocked-knee undercarriage, a very heavily framed sideways opening canopy with almost no forward view in the three point attitude, a long rear fuselage and tiny tail surfaces. A walk-round reveals ingenious split radiator flaps which double as an extension to the landing flaps, ailerons with a lot of movement and rather odd looking external mass balances. Also independently operating leading edge slats. These devices should glide open and shut on the ground with the pressure of a single finger. Other unusual features include the horizontal stabilizer doubling as the elevator trimmer and the complete absence of a rudder trim system. Overall the finish is a strange mix of innovative and archaic.

Climbing on board you have to be careful not to stand on the radiator flap, then lower yourself gently downwards and forwards, taking your wight by holding onto the windscreen. Once in you are aware that you are almost lying down in the aeroplane, the position reminicent of a racing car. The cockpit is very narrow and if you have broad shoulders (don't all fighter pilots ?), it is a tight squeeze. Once streapped in, itself a knuckle wrapping affair, you can take stock. First impressions are of simplicity and straight forwardness.

From left to right, the co-located elevator trim and flap trim wheels fall easily to hand. You need several turns to get the flaps fully down to 40º and the idea is that you can crank both together. In practice this is a little difficult and I tend to operate the services separately. Coming forward we see the tailwheel locking lever. This either allows the tailwheel to castor or locks it dead ahead. Next is the throttle quadrant, consisting of the propeller lever, and a huge throttle handle. Forward and down, on the floor is an enormous and very effective ki-gass primer and a T shaped handle. DIrectly above this and in line with the canopy seal is the yellow and black hood jettison lever. Pulling this releases two very strong springs in the rear part of the canopy, causing the rear section to come loose and therefore the whole main part of the hood becomes unhinged and can be pushed clear away into the aiflow. Looking directly forwards we have clustered together the standard instument panel with vertical select magnetos on the left, starter and booster coil slightly right of center and engine instruments all grouped together on the right hand side. Our aeroplane has a mixture of British, Spanish and German instruments in this area.

The center console under the main instrument panel consists of a 720 channel radio. E2B compass and a large placard courtesy of the Civil Aviation Authority warning of the dire consequences if you land in a crosswind equal to or greater than 10 knots, or trim the aircraft at speeds in excess of 250 knots. Just to the left of the center console, close to your left knee is the undercarriage up/down selector and the mechanical and electrical undercarriage position indicator. On G-BOML this is a rotary selector with a neutral position. Select the undercarriage up or down then activate a hydraulic button on the front of the control column. This gives 750 psi to the system instantly. Immediately beneath the undercarriage selector is the control for the Radiator flaps. These are also hydraulically controlled with an open/close and neutral position, and activated by the trigger on the stick at 375 psi. If you leave the radiator flap control in anything other than neutral and then try to activate the undercarriage you will not have enough pressure to enable the gear to travel.

Right hand side of the cockpit sees the electrical switches, battery master boost, pumps, pitot heat and a self contained pre-oil system and that's it ! There is no rudder trim, or rudder pedal adjust; also the seat can only be adjusted pre-flight and has the choice of only three settings. If you are any bigger than 6 feet tall, it's all starting to get a bit confined. Once you are strapped in and comfortable close the canopy to check the seating position. Normally, if you haven't flown the 109 before you get a clout on the head as you swing the heavy lid over and down. Nobody sits that low in a fighter ! The OFMC aeroplane has the original flat top ot it - however the Charles Church aircraft has a slight bulge to the top of the canopy - about an inch or so. This is practically indescernable externally, but gives a very helpful lift to the eyeline over the nose.

It's getting dangersously close to going flying now ! OK, open the hood again (in case we catch fire and have to get out in a hurry!). To start, power ON, bost pumps ON. Three good shots on the very stiff primer. Set the throttle about 1/2 inch open. "CLEAR PROP". Push the start button, a few blades and boost coil and mags together. It's a good starter and with a brief snort of flame the '109 fires up immediately. Checking oil pressure is rising right away... Idle initially at 700 RPM, then gently up to 1000 to warm up. Less than 1000 RPM and the whole aeroplane starts to rock from side to side on the gear with some sort of harmonic. This is a most unusual sensation and is quite good fun ! One is immediately aware after start that the aeroplane is "Rattley"; engine, canopy, reduction gear all provide little vibrations and shakes transmitted directly to the pilot.

Close the rad flaps with the selector, and activate the hydraulic trigger. Check the 375 psi and that they close together. Reopen them now to delay the coolant temperature rise. The '109 needs a lot of power to get moving so you need to allow the engine to warm a little before you pile the power onto it. Power up to 1800 RPM and suddenly we're rolling... power back... to turn, stick forward against the instrument panel to lighten the tail. A blast of throttle and a jab of brakes. Do this in a Spitfire and you are on your nose ! The '109 however is very tail heavy and is reluctant to turn - you can very easily lock up a wheel. If you do not use the above technique you will charge off across the airfield in a straight line ! Forward view can only be described as apalling, and due to the tail/brake arrangement this makes weaving more difficult than on other similar types. I prefer to taxy with the hood open to help this a little. By the time we are at the end of the strip the aircraft is already starting to get hot. So quickly on with the run-up. Hood closed again with a satisfying thud. I'm sitting as high as I can and my head is touching the canopy. I am not wearing goggles as they scratch and catch the hood if they are up on your head. A large bonedome is out of the question and in my opinion is a flight safety hazard in this aircraft. Hood positively locked... and push up on to it to check, Oil temperature is 30º, coolant temperature is greater than or at 60º. Brakes hard on (there is no parking brake), stick back and power gently up to 0 boost (30") and 2300 RPM. Exercise the prop at least twice, RPM falling back to 1800 each time, keep an eye on the oil pressure. The noise and vibration levels have now increased dramatically. Power back down to 1800 RPM and check the mags. Insignificant drop on each side. We must hurry as the coolant temperature is at 98ºC and going UP - we have to get rolling to get some cooling air through the radiators. Pretake off checks... Elevator trim set to +1º, no rudder trim, throttle friction light. This is vital as I'm going to need to use my left hand for various services immediately after take-off. Mixture is automatic, pitch fully fine... fuel - I know we're full (85 gallons); the gauge is unserviceable again, so I'm limited to a maximum of 1 hour 15 minutes cruise or 1 hour if any high power work is involved. Fuel/Oil **** is ON, both boost pumps are ON, pressure is good, primer is done up. Flaps - crank down to 20º for take off. Rad flaps checked at full open; if we take off with them closed we will certainly boil the engine and guaranteeed to crack the head. Gyro's set to Duxford's runway. Instruments; temps and pressures all in the green for take off. Radiator is now 102º. Oxygen we don't have, hood rechecked down and locked, harness tight and secure, hydraulics select down in the gear and pressurise the system check 750 psi. Controls full and free, tail wheel locked. Got to go - 105º. There's no time to hang around and worry about the take off. Here we go... Power gently up and keep it coming smoothly up to +8 (46")... it's VERY noisy ! Keep the tail down initially, keep it straight by feel rather than any positive technique... tail coming up now... once the rudders effective. Unconcious corrections to the rudder are happening all the time. It's incredcibly entertaining to watch the '109 take off or land. The rudder literally flashes around ! The alternative technique (rather tongue in cheek) is Walter Eichorn's, of using full right rudder throughout the take-off roll and varying the swing with the throttle !

The little fighter is now bucketing along, accelerating rapidly. As the tail lifts there is a positive tendancy to swing left - this can be checked easily however, although if you are really agressive lifting the tail it is difficult to stop and happens very quickly. Now the tail's up and you can see vagualy where you are going. It's a rough, wild, buckety ride on grass and with noise, smoke from the stakcs and the aeroplane bouncing around it's exciting !

Quick glance at the ASI - 100 mph, slight check back on the stick and we're flying. Hand off the throttle, rotate the gear selector and activate the hydraulic button. The mechanical indicators motor up very quickly and you feel a clonk, clonk as the gear comes home. Relect Neutral on the undercarriage selector. Quick look out at the wings and you see the slats fully out, starting to creep in as the airspeed increases and the angle of attack reduces. 130 mph and an immediate climbing turn up and right onto the downwind leg just in case I need to put the aeroplane down in a hurry. Our company S.O.P. is to always fly an overhead orbit of the field to allow everything to stabilize before setting off - this has saved at least one of our aeroplanes.

Start to frantically crank the flap up - now up the speeds, increasing through 150, power back to +6 (42") and 2650 for the climb. Plenty of airflow through the narrow radiators now, so close them and remember to keep a careful eye on the coolant gauge for the next few minutes until the temperature has settled down. With the rad flaps closed the aircraft accelerates postively. I'm aware as we climb that I'm holding in a little right rudder to keep the tail in the middle, but the foot loads are light, and it's no problems. Level off and power back to +4(38") and 2000 RPM. The speed's picked up to the '109 cruise of about 235-240 mph and now the tail is right in the middle and no rudder input is necessary.

Once settled down with adrenalin level back down to just high, we can take stock of our situation. The initial reaction is of delight to be flying a classic aeroplane, and next the realization that this is a real fighter ! You feel agressive flying it. The urge is to go looking for something to bounce and shoot down !

The roll rate is very good and very positive below about 250 mph. This is particularly true of the Charles Church's Collection clipped wing aircraft. Our round tipped aeroplane is slightly less nice to feel. With the speed further back the roll rate remains good, particularly with a bit of help from the rudder. Above 250 mph however the roll starts to heavy up and up to 300 or so is very similar to a P-51. After that it's all getting pretty solid and you need two hands on the stick for any meaningfull roll rates. Another peculiarity is that when you have been in a hard turn with the slats deployed, and then you roll rapidly one way and stop, there is a strange sensation for a second of so of a kind of dead area over the ailerons - almost as if they are not connected ! Just when you are starting to get worried they work again !

Pitch is also delighful at 250 mph and below. It feels very positve and the amount of effort on the control column needed to produce the relevant nose movement seems exactly right to me. As CL max is reached the leading edge slats deploy - together if the ball is in the middle, slightly asymmetrically if you have any slip on. The aircraft delights in being pulled into hard manuevering turns at these slower speeds. As the slats pop out you feel a slight "notching" on the stick and you can pull more until the whole airframe is buffeting quite hard. A little more and you will drop a wing, but you have to be crass to do it unintentionally. Pitch tends to heavy up above 250 mph but it is still easily manageable up to 300 mph and the aircraft is perfectly happy carrying out low-level looping maneuvers from 300 mph and below. Above 300 mph one peculiarity is a slight nose down trim change as you accelerate. This means that running in for an airshow above 300 mph the aeroplane has a slight tucking in sensation - a sort of desire to get down to ground level ! This is easily held on the stick or can be trimmed out but is slightly surprising initially. Maneuvering above 300, two hands can be required for more aggressive performance. EIther that or get on the trimmer to help you. Despite this heavying up it is still quite easy to get at 5G's at these speeds.

The rudder is effective and if medium feel up to 300. It becomes heavier above this speed but regardless the lack of rudder trim is not a problem for the type of operations we carry out with the aeroplane. Initial acceleration is rapid, particularly with nose down, up to about 320 mph. After that the '109 starts to become a little reluctant and you have to be fairly determined to get over 350-360 mph.

So how does the aeroplane compare with other contemporary fighters ? First, let me say that all my comments are based on operation below 10,000 feet and at power settings not exceeding +12 (54") and 2700 rpm. I like it as an aeroplane, and with familiarity I think it will give most of the allied fighters I have flown a hard time, particularly in a close, hard turning, slow speed dog-fight. It will definitely out-maneuver a P-51 in this type of flight, the roll rate and slow speed characteristics being much better. The Spitfire on the other hand is more of a problem for the '109 and I feel it is a superior close in fighter. Having said that the aircraft are sufficiently closely matched that pilot abilty would probably be the deciding factor. At higher speeds the P-51 is definitely superior, and provided the Mustang kept his energy up and refused to dogfight he would be relatively safe against the '109. Other factors affecting the '109 as a combat plane include the small cramped cockpit. This is quite a tiring working environment, although the view out (in flight) is better than you might expect; the profuseion of canopy struts is not particularly a problem.

In addition to the above the small cockpit makes you feel more a part of the aeroplane and the overall smaller dimensions make you more difficult to spot. There's no doubt that when you are flying the '109 and you look out and see the crosses on the wings you feel aggressive; if you are in an allied fighter it is very intimidating to see this dangerous little aeroplane turning in on you !

Returning to the circuit it is almost essential to join for a run and break. Over the field break from 50 feet, up and over 4G's onto the downwind leg. Speed at 150 knots or less, gear select to DOWN and activate the button and feel the gear come down asymmetrically. Check the mechanical indicators (ignore the electric position indicators), pitch fully fine... fuel - both boost pumps ON. If you have less than 1/4 fuel and the rear pump is not on the engine may stop in the three-point attitude. Rad flaps to full open and wings flaps to 10º to 15º. As the wing passes the threshold downwind - take all the power off and roll into the finals turn, cranking the flap like mad as you go. The important things is to set up a highish rate of descent, curved approach. The aircraft is reluctant to lose speed around finals so ideally you should initiate the turn quite slow at about 100-105. Slats normally deploy half way round finals but you the pilot are not aware they have come out. The ideal is to keep turning with the speed slowly bleeding, and roll out at about 10 feet at the right speed and just starting to transition to the three point attitude, the last speed I usually see is just about 90; I'm normally too busy to look after that !

The '109 is one of the most controllable aircraft that I have flown at slow speed around finals, and provided you don't get too slow is one of the easiest to three point. It just feels right ! THe only problem is getting it too slow. If this happens you end up with a very high sink rate, very quickly and absolutely no ability to check or flare to round out. It literally falls out of your hands !

Once down on three points the aircraft tends to stay down - but this is when you have to be careful. The forward view has gone to hell and you cannot afford to let any sort of swing develop. The problem is that the initial detection is more difficult. The aeroplane is completely unpredictable and can diverge in either direction. There never seems to be any pattern to this. Sometimes the most immaculate three pointer will turn into a potential disaster half way through the landing roll. Other times a ropey landing will roll thraight as an arrow !

When we first started flying the '109 both my father and I did a lot of practice circuits on the grass before trying a paved strip. Operating off grass is preferred. Although it is a much smoother ride on the hard, directionally the aircraft is definitely more sensative. WIthout doubt you cannot afford to relax until you are positively stationary. I would never make a rolling exit from a runway in the '109. It is just as likely to wrap itself up at 25 as it is at 80 mph. Another promlem is that you have to go easy on the brakes. Hammer them too early in the landing roll and they will have faded to nothing just when you need them ! The final word of advice is always three point the aircraft and if the wind is such that it makes a three pointer inadvisable it's simple: the aeroplane stays in the hanger !

Having said all this, I like the aeroplane very much, and I think I can understand why many of the Luftwaffe aces had such a high regard and preference for it. Our intention is to eventually re-engine our aeroplane with a Daimler-Benz 605 and convert it to a late '109G or perhaps even a 'K'.



Regards,

SkyChimp

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XyZspineZyX
08-27-2003, 04:50 PM
Mark Hanna of the Old Flying Machine Company relates his experiences flying the OFMC Messerschmitt Bf 109J (export version to Spain).
To my eye, the aircraft looks dangerous, both to the enemy and to its own pilots. The aircrafts difficult reputation is well known and right from the outset you are aware that it is an aeroplane that needs to be treated with a great deal of respect. Talk to people about the '109 and all you hear about is how you are going to wrap it up on take-off or landing ! As you walk up to the '109 one is at first struck by the small size of the aricraft, particularly if parked next to a comtemporary American fighter. Closer examination reveals a crazy looking knocked-knee undercarriage, a very heavily framed sideways opening canopy with almost no forward view in the three point attitude, a long rear fuselage and tiny tail surfaces. A walk-round reveals ingenious split radiator flaps which double as an extension to the landing flaps, ailerons with a lot of movement and rather odd looking external mass balances. Also independently operating leading edge slats. These devices should glide open and shut on the ground with the pressure of a single finger. Other unusual features include the horizontal stabilizer doubling as the elevator trimmer and the complete absence of a rudder trim system. Overall the finish is a strange mix of innovative and archaic.

Climbing on board you have to be careful not to stand on the radiator flap, then lower yourself gently downwards and forwards, taking your wight by holding onto the windscreen. Once in you are aware that you are almost lying down in the aeroplane, the position reminicent of a racing car. The cockpit is very narrow and if you have broad shoulders (don't all fighter pilots ?), it is a tight squeeze. Once streapped in, itself a knuckle wrapping affair, you can take stock. First impressions are of simplicity and straight forwardness.

From left to right, the co-located elevator trim and flap trim wheels fall easily to hand. You need several turns to get the flaps fully down to 40º and the idea is that you can crank both together. In practice this is a little difficult and I tend to operate the services separately. Coming forward we see the tailwheel locking lever. This either allows the tailwheel to castor or locks it dead ahead. Next is the throttle quadrant, consisting of the propeller lever, and a huge throttle handle. Forward and down, on the floor is an enormous and very effective ki-gass primer and a T shaped handle. DIrectly above this and in line with the canopy seal is the yellow and black hood jettison lever. Pulling this releases two very strong springs in the rear part of the canopy, causing the rear section to come loose and therefore the whole main part of the hood becomes unhinged and can be pushed clear away into the aiflow. Looking directly forwards we have clustered together the standard instument panel with vertical select magnetos on the left, starter and booster coil slightly right of center and engine instruments all grouped together on the right hand side. Our aeroplane has a mixture of British, Spanish and German instruments in this area.

The center console under the main instrument panel consists of a 720 channel radio. E2B compass and a large placard courtesy of the Civil Aviation Authority warning of the dire consequences if you land in a crosswind equal to or greater than 10 knots, or trim the aircraft at speeds in excess of 250 knots. Just to the left of the center console, close to your left knee is the undercarriage up/down selector and the mechanical and electrical undercarriage position indicator. On G-BOML this is a rotary selector with a neutral position. Select the undercarriage up or down then activate a hydraulic button on the front of the control column. This gives 750 psi to the system instantly. Immediately beneath the undercarriage selector is the control for the Radiator flaps. These are also hydraulically controlled with an open/close and neutral position, and activated by the trigger on the stick at 375 psi. If you leave the radiator flap control in anything other than neutral and then try to activate the undercarriage you will not have enough pressure to enable the gear to travel.

Right hand side of the cockpit sees the electrical switches, battery master boost, pumps, pitot heat and a self contained pre-oil system and that's it ! There is no rudder trim, or rudder pedal adjust; also the seat can only be adjusted pre-flight and has the choice of only three settings. If you are any bigger than 6 feet tall, it's all starting to get a bit confined. Once you are strapped in and comfortable close the canopy to check the seating position. Normally, if you haven't flown the 109 before you get a clout on the head as you swing the heavy lid over and down. Nobody sits that low in a fighter ! The OFMC aeroplane has the original flat top ot it - however the Charles Church aircraft has a slight bulge to the top of the canopy - about an inch or so. This is practically indescernable externally, but gives a very helpful lift to the eyeline over the nose.

It's getting dangersously close to going flying now ! OK, open the hood again (in case we catch fire and have to get out in a hurry!). To start, power ON, bost pumps ON. Three good shots on the very stiff primer. Set the throttle about 1/2 inch open. "CLEAR PROP". Push the start button, a few blades and boost coil and mags together. It's a good starter and with a brief snort of flame the '109 fires up immediately. Checking oil pressure is rising right away... Idle initially at 700 RPM, then gently up to 1000 to warm up. Less than 1000 RPM and the whole aeroplane starts to rock from side to side on the gear with some sort of harmonic. This is a most unusual sensation and is quite good fun ! One is immediately aware after start that the aeroplane is "Rattley"; engine, canopy, reduction gear all provide little vibrations and shakes transmitted directly to the pilot.

Close the rad flaps with the selector, and activate the hydraulic trigger. Check the 375 psi and that they close together. Reopen them now to delay the coolant temperature rise. The '109 needs a lot of power to get moving so you need to allow the engine to warm a little before you pile the power onto it. Power up to 1800 RPM and suddenly we're rolling... power back... to turn, stick forward against the instrument panel to lighten the tail. A blast of throttle and a jab of brakes. Do this in a Spitfire and you are on your nose ! The '109 however is very tail heavy and is reluctant to turn - you can very easily lock up a wheel. If you do not use the above technique you will charge off across the airfield in a straight line ! Forward view can only be described as apalling, and due to the tail/brake arrangement this makes weaving more difficult than on other similar types. I prefer to taxy with the hood open to help this a little. By the time we are at the end of the strip the aircraft is already starting to get hot. So quickly on with the run-up. Hood closed again with a satisfying thud. I'm sitting as high as I can and my head is touching the canopy. I am not wearing goggles as they scratch and catch the hood if they are up on your head. A large bonedome is out of the question and in my opinion is a flight safety hazard in this aircraft. Hood positively locked... and push up on to it to check, Oil temperature is 30º, coolant temperature is greater than or at 60º. Brakes hard on (there is no parking brake), stick back and power gently up to 0 boost (30") and 2300 RPM. Exercise the prop at least twice, RPM falling back to 1800 each time, keep an eye on the oil pressure. The noise and vibration levels have now increased dramatically. Power back down to 1800 RPM and check the mags. Insignificant drop on each side. We must hurry as the coolant temperature is at 98ºC and going UP - we have to get rolling to get some cooling air through the radiators. Pretake off checks... Elevator trim set to +1º, no rudder trim, throttle friction light. This is vital as I'm going to need to use my left hand for various services immediately after take-off. Mixture is automatic, pitch fully fine... fuel - I know we're full (85 gallons); the gauge is unserviceable again, so I'm limited to a maximum of 1 hour 15 minutes cruise or 1 hour if any high power work is involved. Fuel/Oil **** is ON, both boost pumps are ON, pressure is good, primer is done up. Flaps - crank down to 20º for take off. Rad flaps checked at full open; if we take off with them closed we will certainly boil the engine and guaranteeed to crack the head. Gyro's set to Duxford's runway. Instruments; temps and pressures all in the green for take off. Radiator is now 102º. Oxygen we don't have, hood rechecked down and locked, harness tight and secure, hydraulics select down in the gear and pressurise the system check 750 psi. Controls full and free, tail wheel locked. Got to go - 105º. There's no time to hang around and worry about the take off. Here we go... Power gently up and keep it coming smoothly up to +8 (46")... it's VERY noisy ! Keep the tail down initially, keep it straight by feel rather than any positive technique... tail coming up now... once the rudders effective. Unconcious corrections to the rudder are happening all the time. It's incredcibly entertaining to watch the '109 take off or land. The rudder literally flashes around ! The alternative technique (rather tongue in cheek) is Walter Eichorn's, of using full right rudder throughout the take-off roll and varying the swing with the throttle !

The little fighter is now bucketing along, accelerating rapidly. As the tail lifts there is a positive tendancy to swing left - this can be checked easily however, although if you are really agressive lifting the tail it is difficult to stop and happens very quickly. Now the tail's up and you can see vagualy where you are going. It's a rough, wild, buckety ride on grass and with noise, smoke from the stakcs and the aeroplane bouncing around it's exciting !

Quick glance at the ASI - 100 mph, slight check back on the stick and we're flying. Hand off the throttle, rotate the gear selector and activate the hydraulic button. The mechanical indicators motor up very quickly and you feel a clonk, clonk as the gear comes home. Relect Neutral on the undercarriage selector. Quick look out at the wings and you see the slats fully out, starting to creep in as the airspeed increases and the angle of attack reduces. 130 mph and an immediate climbing turn up and right onto the downwind leg just in case I need to put the aeroplane down in a hurry. Our company S.O.P. is to always fly an overhead orbit of the field to allow everything to stabilize before setting off - this has saved at least one of our aeroplanes.

Start to frantically crank the flap up - now up the speeds, increasing through 150, power back to +6 (42") and 2650 for the climb. Plenty of airflow through the narrow radiators now, so close them and remember to keep a careful eye on the coolant gauge for the next few minutes until the temperature has settled down. With the rad flaps closed the aircraft accelerates postively. I'm aware as we climb that I'm holding in a little right rudder to keep the tail in the middle, but the foot loads are light, and it's no problems. Level off and power back to +4(38") and 2000 RPM. The speed's picked up to the '109 cruise of about 235-240 mph and now the tail is right in the middle and no rudder input is necessary.

Once settled down with adrenalin level back down to just high, we can take stock of our situation. The initial reaction is of delight to be flying a classic aeroplane, and next the realization that this is a real fighter ! You feel agressive flying it. The urge is to go looking for something to bounce and shoot down !

The roll rate is very good and very positive below about 250 mph. This is particularly true of the Charles Church's Collection clipped wing aircraft. Our round tipped aeroplane is slightly less nice to feel. With the speed further back the roll rate remains good, particularly with a bit of help from the rudder. Above 250 mph however the roll starts to heavy up and up to 300 or so is very similar to a P-51. After that it's all getting pretty solid and you need two hands on the stick for any meaningfull roll rates. Another peculiarity is that when you have been in a hard turn with the slats deployed, and then you roll rapidly one way and stop, there is a strange sensation for a second of so of a kind of dead area over the ailerons - almost as if they are not connected ! Just when you are starting to get worried they work again !

Pitch is also delighful at 250 mph and below. It feels very positve and the amount of effort on the control column needed to produce the relevant nose movement seems exactly right to me. As CL max is reached the leading edge slats deploy - together if the ball is in the middle, slightly asymmetrically if you have any slip on. The aircraft delights in being pulled into hard manuevering turns at these slower speeds. As the slats pop out you feel a slight "notching" on the stick and you can pull more until the whole airframe is buffeting quite hard. A little more and you will drop a wing, but you have to be crass to do it unintentionally. Pitch tends to heavy up above 250 mph but it is still easily manageable up to 300 mph and the aircraft is perfectly happy carrying out low-level looping maneuvers from 300 mph and below. Above 300 mph one peculiarity is a slight nose down trim change as you accelerate. This means that running in for an airshow above 300 mph the aeroplane has a slight tucking in sensation - a sort of desire to get down to ground level ! This is easily held on the stick or can be trimmed out but is slightly surprising initially. Maneuvering above 300, two hands can be required for more aggressive performance. EIther that or get on the trimmer to help you. Despite this heavying up it is still quite easy to get at 5G's at these speeds.

The rudder is effective and if medium feel up to 300. It becomes heavier above this speed but regardless the lack of rudder trim is not a problem for the type of operations we carry out with the aeroplane. Initial acceleration is rapid, particularly with nose down, up to about 320 mph. After that the '109 starts to become a little reluctant and you have to be fairly determined to get over 350-360 mph.

So how does the aeroplane compare with other contemporary fighters ? First, let me say that all my comments are based on operation below 10,000 feet and at power settings not exceeding +12 (54") and 2700 rpm. I like it as an aeroplane, and with familiarity I think it will give most of the allied fighters I have flown a hard time, particularly in a close, hard turning, slow speed dog-fight. It will definitely out-maneuver a P-51 in this type of flight, the roll rate and slow speed characteristics being much better. The Spitfire on the other hand is more of a problem for the '109 and I feel it is a superior close in fighter. Having said that the aircraft are sufficiently closely matched that pilot abilty would probably be the deciding factor. At higher speeds the P-51 is definitely superior, and provided the Mustang kept his energy up and refused to dogfight he would be relatively safe against the '109. Other factors affecting the '109 as a combat plane include the small cramped cockpit. This is quite a tiring working environment, although the view out (in flight) is better than you might expect; the profuseion of canopy struts is not particularly a problem.

In addition to the above the small cockpit makes you feel more a part of the aeroplane and the overall smaller dimensions make you more difficult to spot. There's no doubt that when you are flying the '109 and you look out and see the crosses on the wings you feel aggressive; if you are in an allied fighter it is very intimidating to see this dangerous little aeroplane turning in on you !

Returning to the circuit it is almost essential to join for a run and break. Over the field break from 50 feet, up and over 4G's onto the downwind leg. Speed at 150 knots or less, gear select to DOWN and activate the button and feel the gear come down asymmetrically. Check the mechanical indicators (ignore the electric position indicators), pitch fully fine... fuel - both boost pumps ON. If you have less than 1/4 fuel and the rear pump is not on the engine may stop in the three-point attitude. Rad flaps to full open and wings flaps to 10º to 15º. As the wing passes the threshold downwind - take all the power off and roll into the finals turn, cranking the flap like mad as you go. The important things is to set up a highish rate of descent, curved approach. The aircraft is reluctant to lose speed around finals so ideally you should initiate the turn quite slow at about 100-105. Slats normally deploy half way round finals but you the pilot are not aware they have come out. The ideal is to keep turning with the speed slowly bleeding, and roll out at about 10 feet at the right speed and just starting to transition to the three point attitude, the last speed I usually see is just about 90; I'm normally too busy to look after that !

The '109 is one of the most controllable aircraft that I have flown at slow speed around finals, and provided you don't get too slow is one of the easiest to three point. It just feels right ! THe only problem is getting it too slow. If this happens you end up with a very high sink rate, very quickly and absolutely no ability to check or flare to round out. It literally falls out of your hands !

Once down on three points the aircraft tends to stay down - but this is when you have to be careful. The forward view has gone to hell and you cannot afford to let any sort of swing develop. The problem is that the initial detection is more difficult. The aeroplane is completely unpredictable and can diverge in either direction. There never seems to be any pattern to this. Sometimes the most immaculate three pointer will turn into a potential disaster half way through the landing roll. Other times a ropey landing will roll thraight as an arrow !

When we first started flying the '109 both my father and I did a lot of practice circuits on the grass before trying a paved strip. Operating off grass is preferred. Although it is a much smoother ride on the hard, directionally the aircraft is definitely more sensative. WIthout doubt you cannot afford to relax until you are positively stationary. I would never make a rolling exit from a runway in the '109. It is just as likely to wrap itself up at 25 as it is at 80 mph. Another promlem is that you have to go easy on the brakes. Hammer them too early in the landing roll and they will have faded to nothing just when you need them ! The final word of advice is always three point the aircraft and if the wind is such that it makes a three pointer inadvisable it's simple: the aeroplane stays in the hanger !

Having said all this, I like the aeroplane very much, and I think I can understand why many of the Luftwaffe aces had such a high regard and preference for it. Our intention is to eventually re-engine our aeroplane with a Daimler-Benz 605 and convert it to a late '109G or perhaps even a 'K'.



Regards,

SkyChimp

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XyZspineZyX
08-27-2003, 04:58 PM
Hi SC!

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XyZspineZyX
08-27-2003, 05:00 PM
Isnt Mark Hanna with the 51st squad?

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XyZspineZyX
08-27-2003, 05:13 PM
Mark Hanna

6 August 1959 - 26 September 1999

One of Britain's most experienced display pilots of historic military aircraft, Mark Hanna, was seriously injured in an aircraft crash in Spain on Saturday 25 September. Mark passed away at 8.30 pm, Sunday 26 September.

The accident took place at Sabadell near Barcelona where the aircraft was due to participate in a large flying display. It occurred on approach to landing and there was a major fire.

Mark was flying an Hispano Buchon, a Spanish-built version of the Second World War German Messerschmitt Bf109 fighter. The aircraft had appeared at air shows throughout the UK and Europe.

Mark was Managing Director and co-founder of the Old Flying Machine Company which preserves and maintains rare vintage aircraft in airworthy condition. An ex-RAF fast jet pilot, Mark had flown over 4000 flying hours of which 2300 were on historic aircraft.

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