The top-scoring night fighter pilot
of WWII was Major Heinz-Wolfgang Schnaufer (Geschwaderkommodore of
Major Schnaufer was credited with 121 heavy bomber night aerial victories,
claimed in just 164 combat missions.
He flew a Messeschmitt Bf 110 G-4
His victories include 114 RAF four-engine bombers; which accounted for more
RAF casualties than any other Luftwaffe fighter pilot and becoming the third
highest Luftwaffe claimant against the Western Allied Air Forces.
He died in 1950 in a car accident.
And then some pictures where the Night Fighters are placed on a background
This is part #1 of my project “Deadly nocturnal encounter over Germany”
I planned to make this project in one posting, but I discovered that the theme was so large it was more suitable to split it in three parts:
# 1 The Bf 110 Night Fighter
# 2 The Avro Lancaster heavy bomber (page 50)
# 3 The deadly encounter over Germany (page 51)
Messerschmitt Bf 110 G-4 Night Fighter
The Messerschmitt Bf 110 went through not only
technical changes throughout its career, but also
through development of its operational use.
It entered the war as a heavy escort and attack
fighter (Zerstörer) but by the time of Battle of
Britain, summer / autumn 1940 it become apparent
that the Bf 110 was not well suited as a fighter
against the agile and manoeuvrable Spitfire and
However, as a defensive weapon against British
bombers, the Bf 110 did an extremely good job,
and remained a deadly foe through the end of the
The Bf 110 and the other German fighters, was
so successful against the British bombers that
rom 1941, the British stopped daylight missions
and only went on night time missions against
Hidden in the dark, they eventually started the
bombing of German cities.
The Germans quickly adapted.
The night-fighter version of Bf 110 was the G-
version with heavy forward and upward firing
armament: 2 x 7,9mm and 2 x 20mm in nose,
2 x 7.9mm machineguns in flexible mounting in
the aft cockpit and 2 x 20mm (or 30mm) canons
firing upwards (so called “Schräge Musik”) -
and most important a very good radar.
From 1943, the British put the very good night
fighting Mosquitos in the air, trying to dispatch the German
efender before they could they could intercept the big bombers.
The Luftwaffe countered with a sophisticated system of radars
and central facilities connected to the night fighter bases in a
ground control intercept network.
Night air combat was very different from the daylight dogfights,
not only due to the physical conditions, but also through
development of specialized tactics.
Instead of acrobatic manoeuvring, the night fighter slowly moved
in for the kill. Positioning itself unnoticed behind the target, get in
very close (often underneath the bomber when using "Schräge
Musik" – and hit hard.
Many times, the bomber do not even saw the night fighter, they
thought they was hit by Flak.
The tactic of the night fighters was to – guided by the radar -sneak up behind the bombers.
If they were equipped with “Schräge Musik”, they would attack from underneath – in the bombers blind spot.
The bombers had two ways to lose the night fighters, one was to release a cloud of small, thin pieces of aluminium that would confuse the night fighter’s radar, and the other was to start a violent corkscrew manoeuvre to get away from the radar signals in the dark.
This was indeed a deadly cat and mouse game in the dark sky over Germany
From 1943, the Bomber Command equipped their best fighter-bomber, the Mosquito, with radar and let them followed the bomber stream to encounter the German night fighters.
The Mosquito was a formidable aircraft, and only the new German night fighter (such as Hs 129) could fight the Mosquito on equal terms.
The Bf 110 was badly outclassed by the Mosquito and the best way to avoid the Mosquitos, was not to be discovered.
Besides the Bf 110, Luftwaffe had many very potent night fighters, all equipped with very efficient radar systems and heavy armament which could easily bring down the heavy bombers
You can read more about German night fighters at page 04 where I built the night fighters belonging to Nachtjägerstaffel Norwegen.
A total of 6.050 Messeschmitt Bf 110 was built, of which about 2.300 was Night Fighters.
The German night fighters hunted mainly the British heavy bombers which indiscriminately bombed the German citied by night.
Of the 7.953 Bomber Command aircraft lost in night operations, an estimated 5.833 fell victim to the Luftwaffe night fighters.
In addition, the German night fighters destroyed 200 American bombers during daylight operations.
Messerschmitt Bf 110 G-4 Night Fighter
I used the kit from Eduard which is, as far as I know, one of the best Bf 110 – kit available.
Everything is top quality in this kit, very detailed, easy to put together and beautifully rendered.
It is four different G-4 planes to choose from.
I have earlier made the B4+KA which was part of the Nachtjägerstaffel Norwegen (see page 04 in this website). In addition to the one I am building for this project, I am also going to use the B4+KA
For the new night fighter, I decided to make the 9W+BO, mainly because it had an extraordinarily beautiful camouflage: Painted RLM 76 (white/blue) on lower surface and fuselage sides with upper surfaces in RLM 75 (grey). The upper and lower surfaces were complimented with irregular snake patterns of RLM 83 (dark green).
The aircraft had also a yellow fuselage stripe and yellow markings at the lower wing tips.
I painted the ordinary camouflage (RLM75 and 76) by help of airbrush.
The dark green pattern was added later by the ground crew, who just used a spay pistol and their fantasy to create the intricate doodling.
I did the same, by hand with a brush.
If you are going to do a pattern like this, use thinned paint and a fine brush. It is also good to use several slightly different shades of the colour to make it look more natural.
The port fin carried ten victory marks, nine British bombers and one Russian. This point to the plane also had served at the eastern front.
The aircraft was equipped with the greatly improved FuG 220 Lichtenstein SN-2c radar system with eight vertical dipoles.
This radar operated on a frequency which was far less affected by electronic jamming.
The plane had an awful amount of armament, very well suited for knocking the big, heavy bombers out of the sky: 2 x MK108 (30mm) canons, 2 x MG 151 (20mm) cannons, 2 x 7.9mm machineguns in flexible mounting.
The plane belonged to 6./NJG101 and was found abounded at Fritzlar airfield in 1945.
And some pictures of the Bf110 G-4 (B4+KA) from Nachtjägerstaffel Norwegen
I hope you enjoyed this website!
Thank you for visiting!
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have questions or comments
As told at the beginning of this post,
the Bf 110 Night Fighter is part #1 of my project
“Deadly nocturnal encounter over Germany”
The two other parts are:
#2 The Avro Lancaster heavy bomber (see page 47)
#3 The deadly encounter over Germany (see page 48)