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The Messerschmitt Bf 109 was the first truly modern fighter. With its all-metal stressed-skin construction, mono-wing design, enclosed cockpit, and retractable landing gear, the Bf 109 had no equal. It was the fastest military plane in the sky for six years—until another German plane, the Focke-Wulf Fw 190, supplanted it.
Pilots sometimes complained about the Bf 109’s difficult handling, lack of rear view, and limited range, but the plane proved a potent adversary throughout the war. The addition of thick armor plating, bullet-resistant glass, and more formidable weaponry helped the plane maintain its edge. Though Allied fighters eventually surpassed it in speed, maneuverability, and firepower, the Bf 109 remained in service until Germany’s surrender.
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