Messerschmitt Me 410A-1/U2 (420430)  [@ RAF Cosford]

The last in a series of twin engined 'destroyers' manufactured by Messerschmitt, the Me 410 was used by the Luftwaffe in a variety of roles. The origins of the Me 410 Hornisse (Hornet) can be traced to the catastrophic failure of an earlier design the Me 210. A marked improvement on its predecessor, the Me 410 entered front line service in March 1943 and 1100 were built before production ceased in September 1944. It was flown in prototype form in the autumn of 1942 and production ran to 1913 aircraft. The principal sub-types were the A-1 fighter-bomber, the A-1/U2 and A-2 heavy fighter and the reconnaissance A-3. Me 410 squadrons played an important role in the 'Baby Blitz' the series of raids mounted by the Luftwaffe against the UK in 1943 and 1944.

Messerschmitt Me 410A-1/U2 (420430)  [@ RAF Cosford]

Heavily armed Me 410s 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  P-47 Thunderbolt and P-51 Mustang 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 Me 410 included electrically powered, remotely controlled defensive gun turrets on each side of the fuselage. The gunner using of a reflector sight aimed these ‘barbettes’.