The Messerschmitt 109 Turbo-Lader Strahltriebwerk (
turbocharger jet engine) was proposed on January 22, 1943 at an RLM conference
as a back-up for the Me 262, of which only three prototypes had been completed
at the time. In order to cut down on design and production time, various
components from existing aircraft was to be used. The fuselage from the
Me 155B high-altitude fighter was to be used (with a new nose and tail
section), the wing was from the Me 409 project and the undercarriage came
from the Me 309. The armament was to be two MG 151/20 20mm cannon (120
rounds each) and two MK 103 30mm cannon, all in the nose. A later proposal
included two MK 108 30mm cannon could be installed in the wing roots. The
performance was estimated to be better than the Me 262 due to the Me 109
TL's narrower fuselage. Following intensive study, by March 1943 it was
decided that so many modifications to the various components would be needed
that no time would be gained over the Me 262 development, thus the project
was abandoned. Please see below for Evan Mayerle's fictional technical
history of the Me 109 TL...
Span: 12.55 m (41' 2") Length: 9.5 m (31' 2") Max. Speed: 980 km/h (609 mph)
Development and Operational Aircraft
Originally conceived of as an alternate jet fighter approach to the all-new Me-262, the Me-109TL was kept in development by the RLM to provide a back-up if the Me-262 ran into problems. Flying shortly after its sibling in March of 1943, the Me-109TL equally impressed Gen. Galland during the demonstrations in May 1943. Gen. Galland proceeded to push his case for rapid jet fighter development through the system, culminating in a demonstration for Hitler in September of 1943.
Developments with the engines themselves helped prepare the way for these radical new fighters. While aircraft development continued at Messerschmitt and elsewhere, Junkers engineers built two demonstrator engines to show what could be done if the proper materials were available. Thus prepared, Albert Speer was ready to state his needs if Hitler approved rapid development.
When Galland finally obtained his demonstration for Hitler, in September of 1943, the Chancellor was impressed by both aircraft and inquired whether either could carry bombs. Willy Messerschmitt informed him that both could be adapted to do so, but that the 'TL, by virtue of its commonality with existing designs, would be easier to adapt. Accordingly, rapid development of both designs was authorized with the 'TL as a "Jabo" and the Me-262 as a covering fighter and an interceptor and to help provide resources for these efforts, production of other fighters by Messerschmitt was to be wound down and terminated. At this point, Speer reminded Hitler that these aircraft would be useless without adequate engines and was given all necessary authority to acquire the Finnish nickel and Turkish chromium ores necessary for this purpose.
To expedite development of an operational aircraft, a small batch of 'TL-0 aircraft were produced, using the best configuration information then available, for development testing and evaluation. Two of these aircraft were produced with the originally proposed U1 installation of one Mk 108 in each wingroot, but operations and maintenance experience encouraged a change to Mk 103 cannons in subsequent aircraft to simplify logistics (parts, training, manuals, etc.) requirements of the new aircraft.
Refinements from these efforts and the establishment of the definitive production-standard Jumo 004B led to the production of 20 aircraft for initial operational testing and development of tactics by an eprobungskommando. One of the first complaints of the pilots was the inadequate stores capability; you could carry one bomb or one drop tank, but that was all. Field modifications by the maintenance engineering staff adapted the piston-powered '109's R4 installation of underwing 300 litre drop tanks, outboard of the engines, to extend range and similar efforts wer made with the wing bomb rack installation from the Fw-190. These efforts lead to a related complaint from the maintenance engineering troops with regard to the effort to change out equipment from one installation to another. After evaluation of these concerns by Messerschmitt engineers, it was determined that production aircraft would have three hardpoints, one on centerline and one outboard of each engine, and that they would share a common pylon that could handle bombs, drop tanks, and other stores possibilities.
With these changes incorporated, the Me-109TL-2 went into series production. This was followed closely by the 'TL-3, a two-seat conversion trainer using a canopy similar to that of the Me-109G-12. Operating in a fighter-bomber role, these aircraft proved especially valuable to the Luftwaffe & Wermacht in severely containing the D-Day invasion and greatly slowing the Allied advance from the beachhead.
The Allied bombing offensive was severely disrupted by the combined efforts of the Me-109TL and Me-262. However, continued bombardment did start to create a shortage of strategic metals. At the same time, the operational units were screaming for more capability. The immediate answer to these new requirements was the 'TL-4 using wooden outboard wings (with some limited stores capacity, R4M's or air-to-air missiles) and tail surfaces while the center wing was strengthened for a wider variety of stores and carry methods. During this period of time, the initial development and operational test series aircraft, followed by some of the first operational aircraft, were brought up to 'TL-4 standards. Following trials with a modified Versuchs aircraft, the 'TL-4 was superseded by the 'TL-5 series using a V-tail that took less time to build than a normal one. Those aircraft of the initial operational series that weren't brought up to 'TL-4 standard were brought up to the 'TL-5 standard. In several cases, the reworked aircraft were offered to Germany's European allies. The final production version, the 'TL-6 added a sliding canopy that offered better visibility and was easier to open. Throughout this time, efforts were made to increase firepower, leading to the U-5 & U-5a installations of the BK-5/Mk 114 cannon.
Two Seat Variants As mentioned above, the 'TL-3 was originally conceived as a two-seat operational conversion trainer with the same armament and stores options as the single-seat aircraft, although there were few built with the U1 option. With the increasing severity of night bombing raids, a high performance nightfighter was called for and the 'TL-3/U-2 was produced by the simple expedient of adding radar to the basic trainer and providing a bit of drag reduction by fairing the drop tank installations on all three locations. While this effort produced its successes, it was less than fully accepted. As a result, a redesigned aircraft, with all training elements removed, the rear seat moved forward (allowing an additional fuselage tank), a streamlined canopy, the wings of the 'TL-4, and reduced drag drop tanks, was put into production as the 'TL-3/U-3. Development of a radar unit that could be faired into the nose, albeit replacing the two nose-mounted Mk 103 cannon, produced the 'TL-3/U-4 with the U-1's wingroot cannon as standard.
Post-War Usage Since much of the production made use of the Czech industry's capabilities, it is hardly surprising that versions of both the single-seat and two-seat aircraft were built and used in Czechoslovakia and neighboring countries in the years after the war. While there was not the variety of versions, there was a profusion of more colorful markings. Some of the Czech aircraft were exported to the newly formed state of Israel and, delivered in total secrecy, gave the Arab air forces a strong shock. Overtaken by developments in technology, this was the last known combat usage of this family. There are rumors, however, that some two-seat aircraft were adapted as the first ELINT & EW aircraft of the Israeli Air Force.
Table I. PRODUCTION VERSIONS
|TL/V||Original Prototypes, various engines & equipment fits||None|
|TL-0||Initial Series for DT & E; Only one hardpoint, on centerline,
Jumo 004A engines
|R1, R2, U1|
|TL-1||First Production Series for OT&E; Only one hardpoint, on centerline,
Jumo 004 B engines
|R1, R2, U1|
|TL-2||Second Production Series, initial large-scale production;
centerline hardpoint and hardpoints outboard of engines using
common bomb/fuel pylons
|TL-3||Two-seat version; initially as trainer, then nightfighter||U1 (installed in nightfighters only)
U1, U2, U3, U4
|TL-4||TL-2 with upgraded center-section allowing wider variety of stores carriage, "non-strategic" material (i.e. wood) outboard wings and tail surfaces, & increased height vertical tail; "Galland" hood fitted to some aircraft; -0's, -1's, & some –2's rebuilt to –4 configuration with original height vertical tail||R3, R4, R5, R6, R7,
R8, U1,U5, U5a
|TL-5||As –4 except uses "non-strategic material V-tail and "Galland"
fitted as standard; -2's not rebuilt to –4 configuration were rebuilt to –5 configuration
|R3, R4, R5, R6, R7,
R8, U1,U5, U5a
|TL-6||As –5 except using a sliding "bubble" canopy||R3, R4, R5, R6, R7,
R8, U1,U5, U5a
|C-299||Post-war Czech-built version of –4; some with –6 canopy||None|
|CS-299||Post-war Czech-built version of –3 with –4 wing: early aircraft had canopy similar to –3, later aircraft had canopy like that of CS-199||None|
Table II. UMRUST – BAUSTZE / FACTORY MODIFICATIONS
|U1||One Mk 103 30mm. Cannon in each wingroot (Originally one Mk 108)|
|U2||Nightfighter conversion of TL-3 two-seat version, faired drop tanks|
|U3||New-build nightfighter improved from U2 design, wing center-section
shared with TL-4 including fitting of R7 & R8 tanks for reduced drag
|U4||As U3 except streamlined "Berlin / Bremen" radar installation
Mk 103 cannons in nose; U1 installation incorporated as standard
|U5||Installation of BK-5/Mk 114 cannon in nose|
|U5a||U5 installation with one Mk 103 cannon in each
wingroot. (i.e. U1 combined with U4)
Table III. RUSTSATZE / FIELD MODIFICATIONS
|R1||As for piston-powered '109, ETC 500 with 250 kg. Bomb capacity|
|R2||As R3 for piston-powered '109, 300 Litre centerline droptank|
|R3||As R1 for Fw-190; two MG151/20 under each wing|
|R4||As R3 for Fw-190; one Mk 103 under each wing|
|R5||Installation of one reconnaissance camera in rear fuselage|
|R6||Installation of twelve R4M rockets under each outer wing|
|R7||Installation of Wurzelsepp, overwing 300 litre drop tanks|
|R8||Installation of Irmer-Behalter; 300 litre centerline slipper tank|
Many thanks to Evan Mayerle for the use of the above Me 109 TL technical history!