Messerschmitt Me 410A-1-U2
War in the Air
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The last in a series of twin engined 'destroyers' manufactured by Messerschmitt, the Me410 was used by the Luftwaffe in a variety of roles.
The origins of the Me410 Hornisse (Hornet) can be traced to the catastrophic failure of an earlier design the Me210. A marked improvement on its predecessor, the Me410 entered front line service in March 1943 and 1100 were built before production ceased in September 1944.
Used as fighters, light bombers, photographic reconnaissance and anti-shipping aircraft, Me410s were deployed in Western Europe, Scandinavia, Russia and Italy. Me410 squadrons played an important role in the 'Baby Blitz' the series of raids mounted by the Luftwaffe against the UK in 1943 and 1944.
Heavily armed Me410s were used against daylight air raids by the Flying Fortresses and Liberators of the US Eighth Air Force, achieving some notable successes. However, with the introduction of American escort fighters in ever increasing numbers, the losses suffered by Hornisse equipped fighter units mounted alarmingly and in the autumn of 1944 they were re-equipped with single engine fighters.
Novel features of the Me410 included electrically powered, remotely controlled defensive gun turrets on each side of the fuselage. These 'barbettes' were aimed by the gunner with the use of a reflector sight.