Messerschmitt Bf 109 Recognition Manual

A guide to Variants, Weapons and Equipment
By Marco Fernández-Sommerau
Classic Publications, ©2004
ISBN 1-903223-27-X
Hardbound, 224 Pages
Available from Specialty Press for $59.95

Reviewed By Chris Banyai-Riepl

The Messerschmitt Bf 109 is one of the most recognizable aircraft of the Second World War, even to those who are not all that interested in aviation. While the basic shape is immediately recognizable, the myriad of different types spanning over a decade of time can make individual identification challenging. That is where this book comes in. A brief overview of the aircraft is followed by a detailed breakdown of all the sub-types of the Bf 109, ranging from the Bf 109A and going through to the Merlin-engined Spanish examples, which flew on for many years after the end of the Second World War. Following this detailed breakdown is some personal recollections about flying the Bf 109, along with a nice photo gallery.

Each recognition section follows a similar format, with a brief summary of the changes from the prior variant. This is followed by a breakdown of the sub-types, with a small paragraph or two outlining the specifics for these sub-types. Also in this area are Werknummern, very useful for figuring out which type a particular number is, or vice versa. Along with the text are several photos of each basic type showing the basic differences and similarities.

Once past this excellent overview comes a section that is entitled "Anatomy of a Fighter – a Technical Overview," and that is exactly what it is. Using drawings from original documents, the author shows the basic internal construction of the Bf 109. This includes airframe details, powerplant photos and drawings, and armaments. This will be an invaluable resource for those wanting to superdetail their Bf 109 model.

Although some might be turned off by the high price of this book, it is worth the price, especially if your library on the Bf 109 is weak. In this one book is everything you could possibly want to know about the Bf 109 types, including a comprehensive Werknummer list. If you get a chance to pick one of these up, don't pass it by.

My thanks to Specialty Press for the review sample. Check out their website for this and other titles on WW2 Luftwaffe.

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