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Messerschmitt Bf 109

Background, Bf 109T

Prior to the war the German Navy had become fascinated with the idea of the aircraft carrier. Borrowing ideas from the British and Japanese (mainly the Akagi), they started the construction of the Graf Zeppelin[?] in 1936. The armament for the carrier was settled on Messerschmitt Bf 109T fighters and Junkers Ju 87C dive bombers.

The 109T had the basic carrier equipment, as well as longer folding wings that were to make takeoff and landings easier. The very concept of landing a 109 on a carrier is somewhat laughable considering that the plane was difficult enough to land on solid ground. Work on the carrier stopped in 1939 when the war started, and the planes had their naval equipment removed and were used in land-based units. But interest in the ship grew when the value of the carrier became obvious, and in 1942 the ship was back in the yards for completion. By this time the 109T was hopelessly outdated and a new fighter would be needed.

The result was the Me 155. Like the earlier 109T, the plane was basically a 109 with lengthened wings and various naval equipment installed. Design work was complete by September of 1942 but the delays in the Graf Zeppelin seemed to indicate that it was at least two years away from launching, so Messerschmitt was told to shelve the project for the indefinite future. Eventually work on the Graf Zeppelin was abandoned in favor of more submarines.

In order that the work on the Me 155 project would not go entirely to waste, Messerschmitt adapted its design in November to fulfill a Luftwaffe requirement for a fast single seat bomber carrying a single 1000kg bomb. Additional fuel cells were provided and an elongated, non-retractable tailwheel was added to provide ground clearance for the large bomb. This design became the Me 155A.

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