IAR-80 fighter
IAR-81 fighter-bomber
PZL P-11f fighter
PZL P-24E fighter
Hawker Hurricane I fighter
Messerschmitt Bf-109E
Messerschmitt Bf-109G
Heinkel He 112B fighter

The Messerschmitt Bf-109G fighter

 

By late 1942, the ARR realized it needed major reorganization, as well as new planes to match the growing strength of the VVS. Indeed, the most modern fighter in its arsenal was the Messerschmitt Bf-109E, who was by now outclassed by the new generation of Soviet fighters, such as Lavocikin La-5 or Yakovlev Yak-9. There were some good news coming from Germany, though. German fighter production still exceeded Luftwaffe needs ( at least when it came to the 109's ), so the Germans could supply the ARR with a new version of this fighter : the Messerschmitt Bf-109G.
The 'G' ( or Gustav ) series was a development from the 'F' series, which was the most maneuverable and streamlined version of the Bf-109 of its entire history. Once the new Daimler Benz DB605 engine was ready, German engineers installed it on a Bf-109F fuselage, creating the most mass-produced BF-109 version. The prototype flew in August 1941, and by early 1942 the first ten Bf-109G0's had already been manufactured. Main changes consisted in strengthening the airframe, fitting a new pressurized cockpit and enlarging the vertical stabilizer. From the G6 version, the plane was fitted with the new "ERLA" canopy, which improved visibility. The DB 605 engine was further improved by the addition of an enlarged supercharger ( designated as the GM-1 injection device ), who used a mixture of water and methanol to boost power with up to 40% for a short period of time.
The ARR received its first 'Gustavs' in March 1943, when the 7th Fighter Group exchanged its Bf-109E's for new Bf-109G's on Tiraspol airfield, in eastern Bassarabia. The group entered combat immediately as part of JG 3 "Udet", and remained on the front until October.

 

A Romanian Bf-109G2 in southern Ukraine. Summer 1943

Another unit who received Bf-109G's was the 52nd Fighter Squadron, who was stationed inside Romania on Mizil airfield, close to the oilfields of Ploiesti. After training on He-112 and Bf-109E's they switched to 'Gustavs' in early March 1943 and formed a fighter group together with three German squadrons. During operation "Tidal Wave", the squadron shot down two confirmed B-24's ( one was downed by adjutant Mitrica Encioiu and one by second lieutenant Ion Maga ).
By the summer of 1944, two fighter groups ( the 7th and the 9th ) had been equipped with Bf-109G's. After serving with distinction on the east front, the groups were recalled home to fight against the bombing raids of the 15th USAF. Throughout the summer of 1944, the Romanian 'Gustavs' clashed with the B-24's, B-17's, P-38 Lightnings and P-51 Mustangs of the 15th USAF. Although they fought heroically and scored a lot of kills, the sheer weight of numbers was too much, and by late August both groups had been decimated and exhausted.
After the 23rd of August 1944, the remaining Bf-109G's were used to create a mixed unit ( initially referred to as the 7/9th Fighter Group, but was named the 9th Fighter Group in the end ) who fought until the end of the war. They clashed with German and Hungarian Bf-109G's and K's a few times, and adjutant Traian Darjan and adjutant Constatin Nicoara managed to shoot down a Bf-109K each on the 25th of February 1945. It seems that those were the last victories achieved by ARR's fighters in World War Two. Another fighter group, the 1st, arrived on the front in February 1945, after it had been re-equipped with Bf-109G6's. The 6th Fighter Group also received 'Gustavs' instead of its IAR-80's, but it remained home. The Bf-109G's remained in frontline service right until the last day of the war, by which time they had established themselves as the finest fighter in ARR service. Most of the Romanian aces flew the 'Gustav' and got most of their kills whilst flying it, including the top three aces : captain Constantin Cantacuzino ( 56 kills ), captain Alexandru Serbanescu ( 45 kills ) and adjutant Ion Milu ( 45 kills ).
 
The Bf-109G was also built under license at IAR works, but it's very difficult to say just how many planes were produced. In late 1943, after it had become very clear that there was no chance of improving the IAR-80 ( because the Germans refused to supply the IAR factory with the BMW 801 engines or to sell the license ), the ARR was looking for a modern fighter which could be produced in Romania. Since the 'Gustavs' had already entered service and were highly praised by the pilots, talks of building Bf-109G's in Romania for the ARR began in late 1943.The ARR wanted to equip every fighter group with Bf-109G's manufactured in Romania by the end of 1944.
 
Romanian Bf-109G's on the west front. Click for the full-size version
 
The Germans agreed, but production could start only in mid 1944, when Romania was being attacked by the bombers of the 15th USAF. One raid hit the IAR factory, causing heavy damages, so it seems that only a handful of Bf-109G6's ( some sources claim that only six while others say 20 ) were produced and handed over to the fighter squadrons. After Romania left the Axis, production wasn't disrupted by bombing raids any more, but it faced other problems, as some of the components previously shipped from Germany ( armament in particular ) weren't coming any more, so the engineers had to make do with what they had. Nevertheless, production continued for a while after the war, by which time it seems that as many as 75 'Gustavs' were manufactured.
  Click for a ful-size version  
All Romanian pilots who flew the Bf-109G were delighted of the aircraft. One of Romania's aces, major Ion Dobran, said that "... If you ask me about the comparison between Messerschmitt-109 G6 and the Mustang you might not find out the truth. I might be subjective...I for one do not compare just the usual parameters : top speed in horizontal flight, service ceiling, maneuverability, range, weight, stall speed, armament, visibility.
 
At every one of these one can give pluses and minuses to any type, and the immediate way of giving a verdict would be a simple addition. But none of these characteristics is essential. Other elements appear : when I entered the G's cockpit it was like putting on a glove. Everything fits. Everything was right in place. Everything was well thought of and placed handy... It wasn't the Lightning or the Mustang as type that beat us ; they could never have done it ! The Mustang and the Lightning beat us in numbers and maybe in tactics. "

 

Technical data of the Messerschmitt Bf-109G2

Wingspan
9.82 meters
Length
8.85 meters
Height
2.5 meters
Weight (empty)
2673 kg
Weight (loaded)
3148 kg
Maximum speed at 7000 meters
620 km/h
Climbs to 6000 meters
6 minutes
Service ceiling
11500 meters
Range
563 km / 1000 km ( with drop tank )
Engine
Daimler Benz dB 605AM rated at 1475HP
Armament
Two 7.92 mm MG17 machine guns plus 3 MG/FF 20 mm cannons
Payload
One SC 250 or 500 kg bomb
Crew
1

Technical data of the Messerschmitt Bf-109G4

Wingspan
9.82 meters
Length
8.85 meters
Height
2.5 meters
Weight (empty)
2673 kg
Weight (loaded)
3148 kg
Maximum speed at 7000 meters
620 km/h
Climbs to 6000 meters
6 minutes
Service ceiling
11500 meters
Range
563 km / 1000 km ( with drop tank )
Engine
Daimler Benz dB 605AM rated at 1475HP
Armament
Two 13 mm MG17 machine guns plus one MG/FF 20 mm cannon
Payload
One SC 250 kg bomb
Crew
1

Technical data of the Messerschmitt Me-109G6

Wingspan
9.82 meters
Length
8.85 meters
Height
2.5 meters
Weight (empty)
2673 kg
Weight (loaded)
3148 kg
Maximum speed at 7000 meters
620 km/h
Climbs to 6000 meters
6 minutes
Service ceiling
11500 meters
Range
563 km / 1000 km ( with drop tank )
Engine
Daimler Benz DB 605AM rated at 1475HP
Armament
Two 13 mm MG17 machine guns plus 1 MG/FF 20 mm cannon
Payload
One SC 250 kg bomb
Crew
1
Numbers produced & received
about 120

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