Eisenseiten: The Messerschmitt Bf-110

This evening we managed a couple of WWII Wings of War encounters set during 1940 during our regular mid-week gaming slot. My opponent was particularly keen to try some alternate aircraft and as a result the Messerschmitt Me-109s were replaced by Me-110s.

I’ve used the Me-110s previously as escorts for Heinkel bombers with poor results, but this was the first time I’ve seen them in action against Spitfires in scenario released from bomber escort duty. Both scenarios started in a situation which could have easily resulted in a head to head pass, something I wished to avoid given I was controlling the Spitfires and was apprehensive of the frontal armament of the Me-110. I of course wanted to break around the Me-110s and ideally attack from the side, or at least the rear. Achieving however would be harder than I expected. To frustrate my plans further in both encounters the Luftwaffe pilots were focusing on ensuring the Messerschmitts were kept together, thus providing mutual support.

The first encounter found both Spitfires breaking right with the intention of approaching the Messerschmitts from their left. Unfortunately the German machines turned more quickly than I expected. Pushing their machines forward at full throttle the Me-110s caught the Spitfires in their frontal arc. 

Above, the Spitfires caught in front of one of the Messerschmitts. In the next turn one Spitfire will be in the front arc of the second Messerschmitt.

In the ensuing engagement, which was notable for its briefness, one Spitfire was trailing smoke and was riddled with shell holes, while the second Spitfire’s engine was spluttering along having taken a 20mm cannon round into the engine. In contrast the Me-110s had suffered minor damage. Clearly the Spitfires needed to avoid the front arc of the Me-110s at all cost! Back to the tactical drawing board…

The next encounter was more interesting and was one of manoeuvre. The Spitfires separated with one breaking left the other right. The Me-110s, maintaining formation, focussed on one Spitfire. In theory this let the second Spitfire to manoeuvre against the rear of the Messerschmitts. Alas, too much time was lost breaking right swinging meaning the Spitfire Mk1 was out of range. Meanwhile the Messerschmitts chased the other Spitfire. Here the manoeuvrability of the Spitfire started to show. Playing with the Me-110s it moved right before dropping altitude and breaking left allowing it to turn behind the Me-110s. 

Below, a Spitfire starts to break left and is now at a lower altitude.

In an attempt to catch the Spitfire one Messerschmitt now dropped altitude, but it couldn’t turn quickly enough and over shot. The combination of turns and altitude changes had broken the strong supporting German formation. Yet in all the manoeuvring no shots had been fired. 

At this point the positions seemed to favour the Spitfires. One was about to move to level four, and had closed the range, while the other was one on level two. With the ability of the Spitfire to climb more quickly and turn more tightly there looked to be opportunities to concentrate fire in upcoming turns on one of the Messerschmitts. Unfortunately however, that was where we had to leave the encounter, so the outcome was still unknown. Perhaps next time…

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