Bf 109K-4

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Overview

The Bf 109K-4 "Kurfurst" (the German phonetic code for K), known popularly as the Me 109 (designer Willy Messerschmidt had yet to acquire control of the Bayerische Flugzeugwerke at the time, hence the proper "Bf" designator), is the German interceptor.

History

When it first flew in 1934, the Bf 109 was arguably the most advanced fighter in the world; many nations were still flying fabric-covered biplane fighters. Initially intended as a short-range bomber interceptor, the Bf 109 was the workhorse fighter of the Luftwaffe for the first two years of the war, eventually sharing the load with the later Focke-Wulf Fw 190. It remained in production until the end of the war, with 33,984 units produced, totaling 57% of German fighter production. Until the British Royal Air Force brought the Supermarine Spitfire to bear against the Bf 109 over France and Britain in the summer of 1940 it was effectively unrivaled in the skies, and the Bf 109G and K models would remain competitive in performance with even the latest Allied fighters. The Bf 109 amassed the most number of kills (over 15,000) of any aircraft in history; it is estimated that 2,500 German pilots earned "ace" status (five or more kills) in the Bf 109, with over 100 of those aces scoring 100 or more kills. Erich Hartmann, believed to be the highest-scoring fighter pilot of all time (352 confirmed kills), achieved all his victories in the Bf 109. Finnish pilots flying the Bf 109G against the Soviets claimed an kill:loss ratio of 25:1 in their favor.

The Bf 109K-4 "Kurfurst" was the final version of the Bf-109, comprising about a quarter of the available Bf 109 force at war's end. The K-4 was a final "standardized" version to simplify production and spare parts stores after the numerous G or "Gustav"-series variants. It was the fastest Bf 109 production model, capable of matching most Allied fighters in performance despite the decade-old basic design.

Combat Performance

The Bf 109 is fast, agile, and dangerous in a fight; however its initial heritage as a short-range interceptor shows through limited endurance and firepower. Its two 13mm MGs compare poorly with the multiple wing-mounted 50-caliber machine guns and 20mm cannons of American and British fighters, and the 30mm cannon mounted in the center of the propeller is unlikely to hit a maneuvering enemy fighter with its slow rate of fire. Overall the Bf 109 is best when intercepting enemy attack aircraft, but its faster response time than the Fw 190 in-game makes it a suitable air superiority or strafing aircraft in a pinch. In the latter role, the 30mm cannon will do notable damage to enemy light armor and defensive emplacements, provided it hits.

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