View Full Version : Bf-109s: how common are restorable examples?

29th Jan 2010, 16:40
I'm doing a short magazine article on the German company Leichtbau. which makes parts and subassemblies for Messerschmitt Bf-109 restorers--everything from bellcranks to entire fuselages, wings, empennages, etc. Judging by the photos they've sent me, their products are of extremely high quality (though very expensive, I hear).

Question: Is it fair to assume that there are still enough recoverable Bf-109s, particularly in Russia, that this is a viable trade--i.e. that there is an active core of -109 restorers and that we're not talking about something like finding a restorable Hawker Hind or Boeing Peashooter? After all, they did make something like 30,000 of them...

29th Jan 2010, 16:58
I believe that the bigger issue is finding a restoreable DB601. Chickens' teeth, they are.

29th Jan 2010, 17:23
True, but other V12s will fit. Or does that sort of substitution make it pointless to bother restoring a -109?

james solomon
29th Jan 2010, 17:30
there would be some for restoration but people want to be able to see the plates to get records ect on who flew the ac and what airforce it operated for and markings.

29th Jan 2010, 20:27
I suppose that depends on just how much of a purist the restorer is, Stepwilk. Some consider the 'Buchon' to be the real thing, many don't. (Imagine the glorious D.H.Mosquito re-engined with post-war radials, just as an example. The thought makes me shudder!) Flugwerk stuck an Allison into a Dora because it was the only way to get that paticularly rare bird airworthy, but at least it didn't mar the original lines.

29th Jan 2010, 20:48
Interesting...so they run the Big Alice inverted, I assume?

29th Jan 2010, 21:35
Nope, not inverted. Doesn't need to be, seeing as it's relatively small. Also so much lighter than the original powerplant that they had to use oversized engine-mounts so's to get the weight-and-balance issues sorted.

Photos: Flugwerk Fw 190D-9/N Aircraft Pictures | Airliners.net (http://www.airliners.net/photo/Flugwerk-Fw-190D-9-N/1193560/L/)

29th Jan 2010, 22:05
Oh, I get it. I didn't get the "Dora" reference and thought you meant a -109D.

29th Jan 2010, 22:24
Yup, the Fw.
Getting back to your original query: perhaps Leichtbau is betting on a steady stream of orders from the operators of the flying examples, seeing as the thing is notoriously easy to prang? And then there are the museums and collectors who need bits and pieces for their static machines, as well as the new flying replicas, which will invariably be needing spares at some point.

29th Jan 2010, 22:47
Thank you, 'bug, I'm gonna use your perceptive surmise in what I write. Good thinking.

30th Jan 2010, 03:02
I doubt you could really do a restoration economically. A friend of mine recovered one of the few Emils to be captured intact (it landed in south Wales - wrong Channel) from the end of its War Bonds tour in a Calgary scrapyard and it was frightening the amount of machined detail parts needed especially the little ones like panel clips.

30th Jan 2010, 08:00
Is it possible that with a re-manufactured DB601 available, the interest in restoring 109 types would increase?

I know the tooling costs could/would be horrendous and much more than stamped parts and sheet metalwork. On the upside, all design/development work has been done and there are enough examples available for inspection (remember the Top Gear chap in Germany with garages full of salvaged engines?).

Would be interesting to know how the economics stack up. I suppose a run of 50 or so units might be a ballpark figure, and the tooling would still be available afterwards! Anyone own a foundry?

30th Jan 2010, 10:24
Vitesse, funny, I was chewing this over with a friend just the other day. His tertiary education makes me listen closely to all things technical he spouts. If I understood him correctly, the problem would be to get the thing certified under todays' regulations, seeing as it would not be an original because the materials used would be different from those used in the 30's - 40's.
I'm sure Lindberg will be along to confirm whether I understood him correctly.

30th Jan 2010, 10:59

So it would be paperwork rather than metalwork, then.

I would hope that modern materials would be better than wartime stuff, but I take your point. Does the design still belong to anyone? Would they dare to charge for a production license given that development was originally driven by the Nazis?

Any idea how much a refurbished Merlin costs?

30th Jan 2010, 12:17
Hubert Hartmair of Leichtbau, the company that is making entire brand-new major -109 subassemblies such as wings and fuselages, told me that it is working on developing a new engine. His words: "We use original engines for our own [2] projects, and we help customers find engines for their projects. For the future, we work on a substitute solution. We [will] develop an uncomplicated and long-lived engine of the dimensions and horsepower of the DB 601."

30th Jan 2010, 12:19
"I doubt you could really do a restoration economically."

Nobody ever does. Case in point, my book "The Gold-Plated Porsche: How I Spent a Small Fortune on a Used Car." Take a look for it at amazon.com if you're amused.

30th Jan 2010, 15:31
A bit long ago now,but I visited the Finnish Air Force Museums in the late 70s,to try to get the Blackburn Rippon swopped for some thing else for the FAA Museum.The then Boss was a Major Jurrekella,but his successor Capt Rasanen,at Kauhavva,was sending missions out to the Tundra to explore the possibility of bringing in All the Aircraft that surrendering Lufhtwaffe Pilots were flying away from Russian hands.They had at least 6 BF109Gs plus various Focke Wulfs,that had flown until ran out of fuel,or deliberately landed in the snow.From memory,looking at the photos I was amazed at the Condition of most of them-Apparently some still had compressions and very little corrosion,as a result of the temperature.I think some Americans may have been out there as a FW190D was rumoured to have been exported to the US.Several BF109Gs had ended up on their nose,but apart from prop damage,looked remarkably good.The Finns were getting an appraisal by Valmet to check them over for possible restoration,in the 80s,but I have not heard about them ever since.There is also an Airfield on a Peninsular that was manned by the Finns with their own BF109s,but became part of the USSR after hostilities ended,and rumour had it that the whole airfield was left as it was complete,but was inaccessible to the Russians,as they had to get to it over water that now would have meant transiting through Finnish Waters.It was said as a bit of a joke,that you could still see Aircraft parked up through binnoculars,from the Finnish side,but no one could legally get to them.I never proved this one way or the other,but it was a good talking point,and subsequently talked at length to Tony Bianchi about possibilities out there.I dont think anything came of it,but interesting none the less.Whether Valmet,who are the Finnish National Aircraft Company,proceded to bring these Tundra stuck BF109s in for restoration,I never found out,but I remember their base at Utti was being mentioned for some!!Perhaps now is the time to check it out??Saab Flygmotor produced Daimler Benz engines under licence after the War,so they may have bits and pieces,and drawings,jigs etc.They will now need the money as their Auto Company is bust,or are they Chinese now??

30th Jan 2010, 15:42
Saab--the auto company, not the aviation firm--is in the process of being bought by the Dutch company Spyker, which had made an earlier offer to GM that was turned down.

Must be sad for my old friend Erik On-the-Roof Carlsson--who, incidentally, is a pilot and used to own, perhaps still does, a Saab Safir.

Agaricus bisporus
30th Jan 2010, 16:58
Part of the problem is that the Benz 601 was a pretty poor engine with many inherent design problems. Why spend squillions restoring the airframe and then spoiling it's usability by putting a difficult and unreliable engine into it? OK, the cowling lines are right, but...There was a good thread on the shortcomings of the Benz not long ago, different compression ratios on each cylinder bank - for heaven's sake!!! Sounded like a real lash-up - perhaps someone can dig it up. I think the general message was inverted high-performance engines are Trouble.

The answer might be to get someone to either redesign it, reverse engineer it and build new or make a new engine from scratch - look at what Peter Jackson's outfit are doing engine-wise in NZ. (RAF 1A and Oberursel engne projects)

The Vintage Aviator | Constructors Of Military Aircraft (http://thevintageaviator.co.nz)

OK, we're not talking big V12s here, but that rotary is fearsomely complex. We now have huge advantages of laser scanning and CNC machining which cuts out so much of the tedious drafting, model-making and preparation work so where there's a will there's a way.

let's hope so.

31st Jan 2010, 10:12
FAStoat, with due respect, most of your post is utter crap. All the remains of Luftwaffe and Soviet aircraft in Finnish Lapland are very well documented, and some useful pieces of them have been brought to Finnish AF museum, including parts of Bf109s, but nothing big enough for a complete restoration. Never heard of any aircraft having been flown out of Russian hads, running out of fuel or intentionally landed in the snow. Certainly nothing has been exported to the US.
Regarding the story about the Finnish airfield left to Russians with 109s on it, well, see my 1st sentence. Again, history of each and every aircraft ever served in the Finnish AF is well documented and published in for example the excellent series of books called "History of Finnish Air Force". Apart from several aircraft gone missing on operational sorties, all are accounted for.
One Bf109 (a post-war casualty) was fished from the bottom of Gulf of Bothnia and brought to the Finnish Aviation Museum at Helsinki-Vantaa airport, I do not know what the plans are for that one, but with the amount of corrosion it could perhaps be a static restoration, or left to be shown in "as is" condition.

Glad Major Juurikkala did not trade the Ripon, btw...:)

31st Jan 2010, 11:58
From what I have read by the people who flew behind DB 601-605's, German or Finnish, there was never any suggestion that they considered them unreliable in service. Interestingly I have seen a comment about the Spitfire which was re engineered with a DB 605A that the view over the front was much better and although there were differences in performance, they were down to the lower wing loading of the Spitfire.
I think that the difference in current operating problems compared to the Merlin is that the Merlin has had a continuous experience of operating and maintenance since WW2 which the DB has not, apart from the Saab J 21. I agree that inverted engines always seem to generate some operating problems with oiling but if you got a better sightline for deflection shooting, this was an operational advantage. Unfortunately, the 109 seemed to throw away this advantage by it's extremely restrictive cockpit.

31st Jan 2010, 18:13
Mr FAStoat, I do understand English, which btw is written with a capital E, and did read your post with a lot of thought. There were no German Bf109s or other Luftwaffe aircraft fleeing from Russia and flown to Finland and deliberately or otherwise landed in Finnish soil. Several crashed in Lapland for various reasons, shot down or otherwise. Actually, in the autumn of 1944 Finland was obliged to declare war to Germany, and throw all German troops out of northern Finland. This period is known here as the "Lapland War".
MT-507 was restored in Rissala, and probably was potentially a flyer. The engine was run publicly during an airshow there in the early seventies. I was there, can never forget the sound. But this was not an "escaped" Luftwaffe airplane, but an example of Finnish AF Bf109s, delivered during 1943 - 44. It is still extant in the Finnish AF museum at Luonetjärvi AFB, in pristine condition, as is MT-452, preserved at Utti AFB. The story about Germans fleeing as far as they could from Russia and landing in Finland is total BS. There is a book published in Finland, which details every single airplane wreck in Lapland, and I can tell you that there is absolutely nothing worth salvaging there anymore. Everything worth anything has been taken to the appropriate museums, except for things "stolen" by souvenir hunters years ago.

Regarding the Ripon, the Finnish AF operated a total of 26 of them, one bought from Blackburn with hard cash, the rest having been built by the State Aircraft Factory (Valtion Lentokonetehdas) on licence bought from Blackburns, RI-140 being one of the latter. This example was delivered to the AF on 12.11.1931 and was struck off cahrge on 20.9.1943 with a total of 1261 hours 30 min flown.
The last flight by a Ripon in Finland was, amazingly, on 16.2.1945!

You did not strike a nerve, I just want to have the facts correct, OK? (I do understand that your visit here was a few decades ago, and memory does play tricks...)