32 years after the Wright brothers made their historic first flight, another era of aviation would be ushered in with the first test flight of the Messerschmitt Bf 109.  Designed by Willy Messerschmitt, Robert Lusser and Walter Rethel, the Me 109 was officially launched in 1936 as Germany's answer to the British Spitfire.

The all-metal aircraft was 28ft 4in long (8.65m) with a wingspan of 32ft 4in (9.87m) and had a retractable undercarriage as well as a closed cockpit.  Ironically, it was originally fitted with a very British Rolls-Royce Kestrel VI engine, giving it a range of 410 miles (660km) and a max speed of 342mph (550km).  Later fitted with two machine-guns and two 20mm cannons, the Me 109 would become the backbone of the Luftwaffe, starting service with the Spanish Civil War and maintaining relevance as jet fighters began to expedite the end of World War II.  With a run of nearly 34,000 units, it remains one of the most produced combat aircraft in history.

Fun Fact:  From what I'm able to ascertain, the translation of the text on the wall reads:

The German people will
by means of conquering the air
enforce their due and rightful place
in the world.

Photo dated 1940.

Via: dlr.de

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