The Story of the Messer-Spit – The WWII Frankenfighter

The Story of the Messer-Spit – The WWII Frankenfighter | Frontline Videos

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Back in WWII, a British Spitfire was suddenly seized by German forces after it landed in a turnip field in 1942. Most people would think to destroy it – or study its inner workings. However, the Germans had another idea. What if they combine the famous Spitfire with their own successful Messerschmidt Bf 109G fighter?

The Sortie

Bernard Scheidhauer of the RAF No 101 Squadron was piloting a Spitfire Mark V-B on November 18, 1942. That day, the Frenchman took off from RAF Westhampnett as part of a sortie but was hit by anti-aircraft fire as a result.

Lt. Scheidhauer landed on Jersey, thinking he had reached the Isle of Wight. He was captured and taken as a POW in Silesia, Germany, while his Spitfire was taken to Rechlin and was given the code “CJ-ZY” and painted yellow and green.

The Messer-Spit

In order to make the designs compatible, Germany welded their fighter’s head to the front of the Spitfire and replaced the latter’s engines with their own Daimler-Benz DB605 engine. Moreover, its 12-volt electrical system was replaced by a 24-volt one, while its original Spitfire Mark Vb guns were removed. 

After the work was done, the Messer-Spit was finally up for a test run.

Testing The New Design

German Test Pilot Ellenreider became the first person to flight test the Messer-Spit. According to records, the new design offered much better visibility and handling on the ground compared to the Bf.109. 

The aircraft was also much better in the air as it had a faster climb rate (around 70 ft per second!) and better handling as well due to the Spitfire’s lower wing loading. Its new engine also gave a better performance as a result, giving the Messer-Spit a ceiling of 41,666 ft.

It Wasn’t Worth It?

Fortunately, the Messer-Spit was never replicated again during the war. Even though Germany was able to make the Frankenfighter work, they were still clueless as to how the Spitfire was made.

Still, Germany wasn’t dying to make the Messer-Spit a thing; they thought their BF.109Gs were more than capable of handling itself against the Spitfires readily available to the British. Not to mention, the Focke-Wulf 190s they had which they also valued higher than the Spitfire.

Messer-Spit’s Fate

The only Frankenfighter was eventually destroyed by an Allied bombing raid on the Daimler-Benz factory in 1944.

Regardless, Aviation historians still held a favorable view of the Messer-Spit:

“Funnily enough it worked great, better than either of the original aircraft. They never pursued the project, but used the information to improve their future fighters.”


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