First founded in 1926
as the Bayerische Flugzeugwerke (Bavarian Aircraft Works) at Augsburg
with Willy Messerschmitt as its Technical Director. It was the
successor to the Udet Flugzeugbau GmbH of Munchen and the former
Bayerische Rumpler Werke at Haunstetten, south of Augsburg. The
company's financial difficulties began with a contract with Deutsche
Lufthansa over the purchase of 10 civil M.20 transports. The Director
of Deutsche Lufthansa, Erhard Milch (who disliked Willy Messerschmitt
and his company) cancelled the order after the crash of the prototype
on 26 February 1928, and forced Bayerische Flugzeugwerke to pay back
the deposit Lufthansa had given them. Infuriated by the cancellation
and now on the verge of bankruptcy, Messerschmitt went ahead with the
building of the second prototype, flying it successfully on 3 August
1928. With help from the State Air Ministry, Willy Messerschmitt
"convinced" Lufthansa in April 1933 to accept delivery of the second
prototype and eventually 14 more aircraft. This decision put Erhard
Milch (by this time the Deputy Minister for Aviation) and Willy
Messerschmitt on a collision course. Milch at this time, told
Messerschmitt that he would never get any government contracts for his
own aircraft, but only orders to build under licence, aircraft designed
by other companies.
The Messerschmitt Bf 108 Taifun "Typhoon" which is owned and flown by
On 1 May 1933 the
company was once again reformed under the name Messerschmitt
Flugzeugbau GmbH of Bamberg, with Willy Messerschmitt as its Lead
Technical Director and Chief Executive Officer. The firm later reverted
to its former title (Bayerische Flugzeugwerke) and style of operating
(but in 11 July 1938 it was reconstituted as Messerschmitt AG). The
company now devoid of domestic orders (thanks to Milch) turned to
foreign markets and the export business. A Romanian order for the
design of the M.36 transport, as well as a future licence to build them
as the IAR 36 and further interest to develop and later build a
two-seat trainer for the Romanian Air Force brought Erhard Milch to
openly criticize Messerschmitt for favouring foreign orders over German
ones. This was the moment Willy Messerschmitt had been waiting for. He
started to state publicly that the only reason he seeked foreign orders
was because no domestic orders were forthcoming. As a result Bayerische
Flugzeugwerke and Willy Messerschmitt received an contract to build six
aircraft to compete in the 4th Challenge de Tourisme International in
The Messerschmitt M.37
was developed from his previous design of the M.35 two-seat aerobatic
aircraft. The M.37 (later given the RLM designation Bf 108) was a
cantilever low-wing monoplane of basically all-metal construction with
an enclosed two-seat cabin, tailskid landing gear with retractable main
unit. First flown in prototype form in June 1934, it was a considerable
advance on contemporary touring aircraft. Six aircraft were built with
225 hp (168 kW) Hirth HM8U engines driving a three-bladed propeller. A
seventh Bf 108A, as the first series was designated, had a 220 hp (l64
kW) Argus As 17B engine.
While training for the
contest one of the Bf 108As crashed, and pressure by the German team
manager almost caused the type's withdrawal. However, four did go on to
compete, but unsuccessfully, since the handicapping favored lighter
aircraft. Their all-metal construction made them considerably heavier
than their wood and fabric competitors. However in spite this, its good
handling and high performance did not go unnoticed.
The high performance of
the Bf 108 led to a number of record flights and some contest success.
A German woman pilot, Elly Beinhorn, made a return flight from Berlin
to Constantinople in one day during 1935 using a Bf 108A named Taifun
(typhoon), a name which was adopted subsequently for the type.
In 1935 the Bf 108B
appeared with a 240 hp (179 kW) Argus As 10C engine, with modifications
to the fin and rudder, removal of upper external tailplane bracing and
the substitution of a tail wheel for the skid. A 160 hp (119 kW)
Siemens Sh 14A radial engine was tried on one aircraft (D-IELE)
experimentally but this proved unsuitable.
Bf 108s competed in
aviation rallies held during the 1936 Olympic Games, and in the
following year Elly Beinhorn was in the news again when she flew from
Berlin to Capetown and back. The Bf 108 was entered in many air races
during the late 1930s winning several including the International Air
Meets at Hoggar in January 1938, the Konigin-Astrid-Rennen, Belgium in
July 1938 and Dinard in August 1938.
The obvious sterling
qualities of the Bf 108 were not overlooked by the Luftwaffe, and the
type was adopted and evolved into a four-seat communications and
liasion aircraft. Others were exported to various countries and two
former German embassy aircraft were impressed into RAF service during
the war, while a few others served with the RAF for a short time after
the end of the war.
aircraft had been built at Augsburg in the BFW factory (hence the Bf of
the designation) but this became Messerschmitt AG in July 1938. By that
time, production had been moved to a new factory at Regensburg, and
more than 500 had been built by 1942 when another move was made, this
time to the SNCAN factory at Les Mureaux, near Paris.
further variants of the design were proposed, only one was built before
the end of the war. This was the Me 208, which had retractable tricycle
landing gear but was otherwise very similar in appearance to its
predecessor. Of the two prototypes built one was destroyed in an air
raid, but the design lived on after the war, developed as the Nord 1101
Noralpha. The Bf 108 also received a new lease of life, entering
production at Les Mureaux after the war as the Nord 1000 Pingouin
(penguin) series. The Nord 1001 had a 233 hp (174 kW) Renault 6Q-11
engine, while the Nord 1002 had a similar powered Renault 6Q-10. Other
projected developments were not built.
In the spring of 1939
funds were allotted to the US Military Attaché for Air in Berlin,
Germany for the local purchase of an airplane for liaison and staff
flying. The aircraft purchased was a Messerschmitt Bf 108B Taifun
(contract W-535-AC). The plane was a standard production version
costing 14,378 dollars. Once delivered, the plane was designated XC-44
and assigned the serial number 39-718. The aircraft was delivered in
March 1939 and accumulated 76 flying hours during the next six months.
On 15 November 1940 the German government took control of the aircraft
after the US Military Attaché left Germany.
By the end of the war,
Bf 108 production in Germany and France totalled 885, and some 285 were
built post-war in France. A few original Bf 108s and some Nord-built
examples are still flying today.
(later Bf 108 Taifun) - Until the outbreak of World War II, Willy
Messerschmitt's M.35 proved to be one the worlds most outstanding
aerobatic aircraft. From that design he developed the M.37 for
competition in the 4th Challenge de Tourisme Internationale of 1934.
Six aircraft were built, with the first prototype being flown in June
1934. Setting many records, most notably was an aircraft with the name
"Taifun" flown by female pilot Elly Beinhorn on her record breaking
flight from Berlin to Constantinople in 1935. The name stuck, and the
type was later redesignated the Bf 108 Taifun or "Typhoon".
Messerschmitt Bf 108A -
The production Bf 108A proved unsuccessful in the Challenge de Tourisme
Internationale, with the handicapping system favouring lighter and less
advanced designs. It nonetheless continued to set records and gain
attention. The Luftwaffe adopted the aircraft for communication, supply
and target towing. It was also exported in some numbers to Bulgaria,
Hungary, Japan, Romania, Soviet Union, Switzerland and Yugoslavia. Two
aircraft used by the German Embassy in Britian were taken over by the
Royal Air Force when war broke out and impressed into service under the
designation Messerschmitt Aldon. Several Bf 108s continued to fly with
the RAF after the war as well.
Messerschmitt Bf 108B -
This was a major production version with a number of improvements,
including a tailwheel replacing the tailskid and powered by the 240 hp
(179 kW) Argus As 10C engine.
Messerschmitt Bf 108C -
This was a proposed high speed version with a 400 hp (298 kW) Hirth HM
512 engine. It was never built.
Messerschmitt Bf 208 -
This was an improved version with retractable tricycle landing gear.
Two prototypes were built by SNCAN near Paris during the war, one of
which was destroyed in an air raid.
SNCAN (Nord) 1001
Pingouin I (Penguin) - The was the first in the Nord 1000 Series which
started production in 1945. It was a three-seat version of the Bf 108
built by SNCAN (Nord) in Les Mureaux near Paris replacing the standard
Argus engine with the 233 hp (174 kW) Renault 6Q-11 engine.
SNCAN (Nord) 1002
Pingouin II (Penguin) - Similiar to the SNCAN (Nord) 1001 Pingouin but
using a Renault 6Q-10 engine of similiar power but providing four-seat
accomodation. About 250 Pingouin Is and IIs were built, most of them
ending up with the French Armed Services who used them in communication
and liaison roles.
SNCAN (Nord) 1100
Noralpha - During 1943-44 Nord built two prototypes of the
Messerschmitt Me 208 for the Germans, which differed from the Bf 108 by
introducing retractable tricycle landing. Only one servived the war,
and it was liberated by the French who redesignated it the sole Nord
SNCAN (Nord) 1101
Ramier I (Woodpidgeon) - Based on the single captured Me 208 (Nord 1100
Noralpha), the Societé Nationale de Constructions Aeronautiques du Nord
(SNCAN) produced post-war the Nord 1101 Ramier I with a Renault 6Q-10
SNCAN (Nord) 1102
Ramier II (Woodpidgeon) - Similar to the above with with a Renault
6Q-11 engine. Of the Nord 1100 Series about 200 aircraft were produced
for the French Armed Services.
SNCAN (Nord) N1104
Noralpha - A single aircraft used to flight test a 240 hp (179 kW)
Potez 6Dba engine.
SNCAN (Nord) N1110
Nord-Astazou - Two Nord 1101 Ramier Is were converted for flight
testing with the Turboméca Astazou turboshaft engine.
(Messerschmitt Bf 108B Taifun "Typhoon")
Type: Four Seat
Communications & Liaison
Pilot and up to three passengers with a baggage compartment behind the
Messerschmitt of Bayerische Flugzeugwerke A.G.
Bayerische Flugzeugwerke A.G. (in 1938 it was renamed to Messerschmitt
A.G.) in Augsburg then production was moved to a new plant in
Regensburg. Also built by Societé Nationale de Constructions
Aeronautiques du Nord (SNCAN) in Les Mureaux near Paris which continued
to build the type after the war
240 hp (179 kW) Argus As 10C 8-cylinder inverted-Vee piston engine
driving a three-bladed propeller. Oil tank capacity 3.4 Imperial
gallons (15.5 litres).
Maximum speed 186 mph (300 km/h) at 5,005 ft (1525m); cruising speed
161 mph (260 km/h) at 8,005 ft (2440 m); service ceiling 19,685 ft
48.4 Imperial Gallons (58.1 US Gallons or 220 liters).
Range: 621 miles
(1000 km) with internal fuel.
1,941 lbs (880 kg) with a maximum take-off weight of 2,987 lbs (1355
34 ft 10 in (10.62 m); length 27 ft 2 1/2 in (8.29 m); height 7 ft 6
1/2 in (2.30 m); wing area 176.53 sq ft (16.40 sq m).
Messerschmitt M.37, Bf 108 Taifun, Bf 108A, Bf 108B, Bf 108C, Bf 208,
Nord 1000 Series, Nord 1100 Noralpha, Nord 1100 Series, N1104 Noralpha,
Standard communications equipment only.
flight (Bf 108 prototype) June 1934; first flight (N1101 Nord-Astazou
F-WJDQ) 15 October 1959.
Germany (Luftwaffe), Bulgaria (6), Hungary (6), Romania (6), Britian
(2), Yugoslavia (12), Chile (1), Japan (1), Spain (1), Austria (4),
Soviet Union (2), Australia (1), Switzerland (12), United States (1).
France (285 built by Nord post-war).