Messerschmitt Me 210A-1
Deliveries to frontline units started in April 1942, and the plane proved to be even less popular with pilots. Production was stopped at the end of the month, by which time only 90 had been delivered. Another 320 partially completed models were placed in storage. In its place, the Bf 110 was put back into production. Although the Bf 110 was now equipped with the newer DB 605B engines and greater firepower, it was still an outdated design.
The Me 210 never quite acquitted itself as a sound fighting platform and total production yielded only 258 flyable aircraft. Thought was already being given to an altogether different version, the Me 310, but only one prototype of this design was completed with a first flight had on September 11th, 1943. Armament was to remain the same as in the Me 210 but engines were switched to the DB 603A series inline. However, the aircraft showed little improvement over the Me 210 which led to yet another follow-up design in the “Me 410” (detailed elsewhere on this site). The Me 410 was adopted by the Luftwaffe and saw serial production figures reach 1,189 units before the end – the problems encountered in the Me 210 nearly all solved in the newer offering.
For its time in the war, the Me 210 had a disastrous run as a frontline fighter. Deliveries began in April of 1942 but practical use showcased the design’s many inherent flaws to the point that manufacture of the product was halted before May – forcing the now-outclassed Bf 110 to keep its place in the Axis inventory for a time longer. The Me 210C saved the line some with its new engine fit and airframe modifications but this stock only numbered a few hundred in Luftwaffe service – as many as 108 being received.
The Luftwaffe started receiving their Hungarian-built planes in April 1943, and the Hungarians in 1944; when they entered service they were more than satisfied with them. Production ended in March 1944, when the factory switched over to produce the Bf 109G. By that time, a total of 267 Me 210C had been built, 108 of which had been given to the Luftwaffe. They operated mostly in Tunisia and Sardinia, and were quickly replaced by the Me 410.
While this work went ahead, many modifications were made to the dozens of Me 210s that were available. Existing A-1 and A-2 aircraft were fitted with the new rear fuselage and slats and issued to 16./KG 6 and later to III/ZG 1, the latter unit also receiving many A-1s and A-2s which Messerschmitt received permission to complete in late 1942. These saw action in Sicily, Tunisia and Sardinia. Following tests with an A-0 fitted. with DB 605B engines, the Me 210C was put into production at Duna (Danube) aircraft works for both the Luftwaffe and Hungarian air force, using DB 605B engines made by Manfred Weiss. Meanwhile there were schemes to replace the MG 131 barbettes, which were troublesome, one featuring twin 20-mm MG 151 cannon fixed to Messerschmitt Me210/Me410 Museum fire to the rear and aimed by the pilot via a tall aft-facing periscopic sight. A few Me 210B reconnaissance aircraft were built, and Blohm und Voss fitted seven A-1s as tandem dual trainers (the back-seater, of course, facing forward).
Luftwaffe operated 90 German-built Me 210A and 108 Hungarian-built Me 210 Ca-1.
Eprobungsgruppe(A) 210 (first testing unit)
1.,2.(F)/Aufkl.Gr.122 (Me/DAF 210C-1 user)
II.,III.,7.,8.,9./ZG 1 ‘Wespe’ (Me/DAF 210C-2 [Ca-1] user)
10./ZG 26 (Me/DAF 210C-2 [Ca-1] user)
As is customary in the Luftwaffe to test a new type of fighter plane, a Erprobungsstaffel 210 is set up in Lechfeld in May 1942. It is renamed 16./KG 6 and moved to Soesterberg (Netherlands) on 31 August, still under orders of the Oberleutnant Walter Maurer, this time to evaluate the new machine under operational conditions. Her initial staffing is 9 devices. His beginnings are not placed under the best auspices because this Staffel loses two planes, descended by Typhoon above Yorkshire on 6 September, including that of her Kapitän, taken prisoner this one is replaced by the Oberleutnant Walter Lardy. Two other aircraft are lost (of which one to the enemy) in the course of the following week!
With only 5 machines left, the Staffel is grounded until 20 September, when it is transferred to Beauvais-Tillé under the name of 11./ZG 1. Its existence is ephemeral, since, after a crossing to Chinisia (Sicily) to be engaged beyond Tunisia, it was dissolved at the end of November 1942 to form Erprobungsstaffel 410; in the meantime, she lost her Staka, Oberleutnant Friedrich Plank, who was reported missing south of Tunis on 29 November. On October 2, 1941, the 3./SKG 10 left the Eastern Front for Landsberg am Lech (Bavaria) to be processed on Me 210 A-0. At the end of the month, she went back to Tchaikovka in order to participate in the operation “Taifun aimed at the capture of Moscow. It is the only squadron of I./SKG 10 to have received Me 210; gathered in Lechfeld (Bavaria) on January 4, 1942, this Gruppe is fully refitted in Bf 110 under the new name of I./ZG 1 Hauptmann’s IlI./ZG 1 Wilhelm Hobein hits his first 17 Me 210 in October 1942 in Trapani (Sicily); two months later, this Gruppe is fully equipped with this new device. In June 1943, he began to collect Me 410. The loss of 7 machines to the enemy since Castel Veltrano sounds the death knell of Me 210 in this unit; it disappears from its inventory at the end of July 1943. 10./ZG 26 (Oberleutnant Peter Habicht) settled in Foggia (Sicily) with an allocation of Me 210 on 29 October 1942; in February 1943, it is folded on Lechfeld to be transformed on Me 410. The 2. (F) / 122, unit of recognition placed under the orders of Oberleutnant Dirk Lütjens, receives 4 Me 210 A-1 in December 1942, to which will be added another 10 before this type is removed from circulation in June 1943 in favor of Me 410. Used over Tunisia since Trapani, they will lose four of their aircraft in combat and five in of various accidents. On the other hand, contrary to what is generally accepted, we found no trace of Me 210 at StablAufklärungsgruppe 122.
Other Me 210 A-1s will be assigned to front-line units, including those planned to be converted to Me 410, but none will participate in war missions.
Royal Hungarian Air Force operated 179 Hungarian-built Me 210 Ca-1. The type was relatively successful against Russian planes and last Me 210s were destroyed by their crew at Parndorf (Hungarian: Pándorfalu) after the fall of Hungary March 1945 due to the lack of fuel and spare parts.
1° and 2° RKI Század “Villám” (Evaluation wing), RKI (Hungarian Aviation Institute)
5/1.Légi Század “Bagoly” (NF Sqn)
102.Gyorsbombázó, 102/1.Század “Tigris”
102.Gyorsbombázó, 102/2.Század “Sas”
102.Gyorsbombázó, 102/3.Század “Villám”
The production and development of the Me 210 multirole aircraft in Hungary
During the development of the reconnaissance variant, the original long-range-reconnaissance factory designs were changed, and on many parts of the plane they made simplifications. With changing the plane’s design, there were an opportunity to place more cameras on the plane. Under the plane’s nose they built an observation tub and the bomb chamber was removed. This tub contained 5 high performance observation cameras and the observation officer. At the long-range-reconnaissance variants – to increase the plane’s range – a spare fuel tank got place. The short-range reconnaissance variants had only two copies, the first one’s flight was in 1943. October 1st, the second one was ready by December. The long range-reconnaissance variants had three copies. Further development was cancelled due to the factory relocation. (After all, in 1944.May 30th, by the decision of the Hungarian-German production workgroup, the complete Me 210 production was considered as finished. In the future, the factories only polished and finished existing main parts, and they built planes only from existing parts until November. However, this had an influence of further developments.)
A night-fighter variant was also built. The 16 night-fighter variants didn’t have radar, but they had the German BAKE blindlanding equipment and the 5/1 Night-fighter wing had these planes. In night-fighter role it was a great advantage, that the Me 210 had an excellent cockpit view in every direction. However, the planes correct flying and the big surface loading wasn’t an easy task at night or in bad weather. There was an attempt to build a Hungarian made radar – on the model of the FUG. X radar – called Turul, however, we know very little about it. (Turul is the name of the Hungarian’s Holy Bird.)
The General Staff insisted on the Turul radar system which was capable of fulfilling night-fighter role tasks. The Philips firm was entrusted to produce the EC-103 tube equipped radar. The only one copy – prototype – that could be built into the plane – Me 210 night-fighter – the RKI (Planes’ Testing Institute) built in and flew a test flight with it in Várpalota. In The Me 210 related radar technics development the decreased radio electronic detection to the enemy was reassuring. By experimental purposes they made an equipment with an oscillator that can be tuned, which equipment’s wavelength was variable, making harder to detect to the enemy.
It’s worth to say some words about the Hungarian Me 210 unique signs. Due to economic reasons the country – Hungary – couldn’t afford to produce different engines than in the plane producing specifications. Fortunately, the Me 210 Ca-1’s and the Bf 109 G’s engine is the same DB 605 engine. The Hungarian made Me 210 Ca-1’s engine’s build design was the same as the German one, which didn’t had a career due to the Me 410. So, the main difference int he German and Hungarian variants was the differing engine’s built-in methods.
The DB 605 engines produced 1075 HP at 2300 RPM, and produced 1475 HP at 2800 RPM. This performance could be higher with MW-50 injection reaching 1650 HP for two minutes. The engines mortice stroke was 154×160 mm, and the mortice capacity was 35,7 litres, geometric compression rate was 7,5:1, weight was 725 kilograms. Both cylinder heads had a camshaft, with two intake and two exhaust on each cylinders. The valves were controlled by swipes. The valve shafts were filled with natrium to be more heatproof against high exhaust gas temperature. The cylinders were equipped with shaded spark plugs. The injection system was the Bosch system, with 270 kg/cm2 injection pressure. This engine with automatic pressure-management and centrifugal high-altitude compressor could operate up to 5700 metres without performance drop. The compressor’s one stage centrifugal system RPM change was done by an automatic, barometric, dual hydraulic switch, that modifies the transmission between 7,5 and 10,2 according to engine loading, RPM, oil temperature and current flying altitude. The charger pressure was 1,42 atmosphere at landing and for cruising speed. The crankcase was cast from a single unit, its material was aluminum. The pistons materials were forged light metal. However, the WM (Weiss Manfréd) DB 605 engines had the same problems as the gliders. They always had difficulties and slippage during the productions. According to the international agreement, the first engines must have been ready until 1942 August, however, the engines were ready only in October. The Hungarian engineers suggested six implementations during the production of the engine, which all six implementations were accepted by Germany.
Together with the production difficulties, due to the engine’s novelty there were also aerodynamic issues. The plane had serious problems with length stability problems and to solve this according to German designs the Hungarian variants fuselage was lengthened. This change was beneficial during at take offs as well. The Me 109, especially it’s G and K variant commonly known tended to brake out during somebody opened out the throttle. Due to the common engine and airscrew this problem appeared at the first German „short fuselage” Me 210, which was a problem thanks to the relatively high weighed airscrew, furthermore the airscrews’ unfavourable placement according to the airscrews’ rotating flat’s hub. By lengthening the fuselage, the vertical stabilizer was placed further than the airscrews’ rotating flat’s line, which was beneficial not only in aerodynamics, but in using the rudder to prevent the brake out. However, lengthening the fuselage caused hub issues, to solve this engineers used slightly swept wings (four degrees back ). Despite the developments, the Me 210 still remained a plane that needed big patience. The trouble-free adaptation and accident free training needed different standards. Only those people could be trained to Me 210s who had Ju-87 grade card, had twin engine aircraft grade card, furthermore, had dive bomber and blind flying grade cards. The cautiousness of the institutes’ pilots was understandable, because the Me 210’s landing and takeoff attributes were unknown in the Hungarian Royal Airforce. They had to learn how to use the flaps, a sudden application of flaps could cause an immediate stall and spin, so after the plane took off the minimum height where they were allowed to raise the flaps was 150 metres.
The variant had a complex armor protection, which contained altogether 27 smaller-bigger 5 mm armor plates in majority. The engine hood’s pectoral had armor, the oil tank’s forward looking part had armor, the oil cooler upper and lower parts and the tubes to the oil cooler had armor, the cockpit’s nose part had armor, the pilot seat furthermore the places behind the pilot and the observation officer, and some other important instruments also had armor. There was an armored windscreen in front of the pilot. The fuel tanks were self-sealing. Thanks to the two engines and the extensive armor, the plane had the sufficient survivability for military tasks. On the Hungarian variants together with lengthening the fuselage, the lack of bottom armor improved the flying characteristics, with less weight.
Evaluating the Hungarian Me 210 development program
The Hungarian Royal Airforce fought until the end of World War II with the Me 210. With different tasks and missions, the air force achieved 13 aerial victories. They flew their last sortie in 1945. May 20th. The remaining planes were burnt up in the Austria (Oesterreich) Pandorf. With the burnt-up planes not only a historical era, but an industrial era was ended as well. At the same time, the results that was achieved during the production of the Me 210 are still significant. Altogether 1 copy in 1942, 57 copy in 1943, 214 copy in 1944, until 1944. November 15, 272 copies were built – 110 for Germany and 160 for Hungary. The Hungarian variants had numbers from Z.001 to Z 160. In 1944 November-December Hungary gave 19 Me 210 Ca-1 fast bombes to Luftflotte 4. Altogether, 174 Me 210s were in Hungarian service. The number of DB 605 engines were produced in 1942 were 10, in 1943 about 550, until the end of 1944 November 650, altogether nearly 1200 DB 605 engines were built. The German Me 210 had 385 copies, meanwhile the Me 410 had 1030 copies.
“The type’s original quick bomber variant had a total of 1000kg bombload.
In theory, it could carry the German produced HE (SC 1000), HE-frag (PC 1000) or multiple-charge (SB 1000) bomb variants. These 1t bombs were available on the Royal Hungarian Army’s depots. The most commonly used bomb was however the 250 kg HE-frag bomb, but sometimes they used 500kg cluster bombs too.
The actual development started in 3 ways: in short term, they wanted to develop a heavy fighter, a photo-reconnaissance and a night fighter variant. The most advance of these was reached with the heavy fighter variant. In this case, the pressure on the developers was high, because the allied air superiority started to be threatening, and there was a burning need for a fighter that can deal with bombers. The original theory was that the fighter needs to be able to engage the bombers outside of their gunners’ effective range. To achieve that, the advanced Hungarian variant of the Me-210 was armed with unguided rockets. These blocks were modified from the 15cm Nebelwerfer 6-rocket blocks (used by the Royal Hungarian Army as well), to have 3 rockets per block, one block per wing. However, these rocket blocks caused high drag, so in this case, they needed to be jettisonable in case of an aerial fight. This modification was finished in March 1944. To further increase the firepower, with the help of the engineers of the Military Technology Institute, a 40mm autocannon was built in to the bomb chamber. The weapon was attached to the attachment points in the bomb chamber, the loading was the duty of the radio operator (gunner). To lead off the recoil, the cannon’s second attachment point was on the main frame beam. According to calculations, the cannon was able to open fire at 1000-1200m range., and a few direct hits should destroy a 4-engine bomber. The 40mm variant of the plane was ready in 1944 June, shooting range tests were done by August. However, because the factory moved out from the country, mass production was never started. The 40mm cannon armed Me-210 was handed over to the RHAF (Royal Hungarian Air Force) in 1944. October 5th.
The reconnaissance variant was developed from the original German long range recon variant, where the engineers simplified a lot of things. With the modification of the blueprints, they were able to equip more cameras. An observation chamber was made in the nose of the plane, and the bomb chamber was removed. The observation chamber gave place to 5 high performance cameras and the observing officer. In the long range recon variant, an extra fuel tank was built into the back part of the bomb chamber.
A night fighter variant was built as well. The 16 Me-210s were built without a radar, but they had the German BAKE blind landing equipment.
There was a proposal to equip the type with the Hungarian produced “Turul” radar (based on the German FUG X radar). 1 prototype of the Me-210 Ca-1s was equipped with the radar, and a test flight was done with it by the Flight Test Institute at Várpalota. From the radio technology addicted to the Me-210, the most advanced one was a plane equipped with a variable frequency oscillator to possibly jam the enemy radars used for spotting.
The Hungarian produced Me-210 variants were powered by the stronger DB605B engines instead of the original DB601F engines, which gave 80 more HP per engine, and the Hungarian Me-210s got the 3 feather VDM propeller unit of the Bf-109 Gs, which were also produced in Hungary. The WM DB605 engine at 2300 RPM provided 1075 HP, at 2800 RPM provided 1475 HP, with MW50 methanol-water injection, it could provide 1650 HP for a short amount of time. ATA was 1,42 atmosphere at take off and emergency power.
The original Me-210 blueprints were altered to solve the tail resonance problem, a longer tail section was equipped, and to match the change of the centre of mass, the wings were swept back by 4°.
The type had a complex armor layout with 27 separate armor plates, most of them 5mm thick.”
Me 210 Ca-1 specification:
Maximum speed on height: 560 km/h on 5000 metres
Rate of climb: 20 minutes to 6500 metres
Twin DB 605 engines
Take off speed: 270 km/h
wingspan: 16,4 metres
height: 3,4 metres
length 12,96 metres
structural weight: 5400-6400 kgs
maximum take-off weight 8200-9400 kgs
maximum useful load ability 1600 kgs
maximum bombload 1000 kgs ( with maximum fuel load )
wing area 36,2 m2
sevice ceiling 10500 m
range 1600-2000 m
2x 20mm MG 151 cannons
2x 7,92mm MG 17
6 unguided rockets under wings – 3-3 under each wing
40mmL/60 Bofors anti-air cannon – on some late variants
2x 13,2mm backward firing MG131 cannons controlled by a gunner via remote control