Famous Messerschmitt Me109 plane on way to East Yorkshire
IT WAS the nemesis of the famous RAF Spitfire during the Battle of Britain.
A Messerschmitt Me109 was today making its way to East Yorkshire on the back of a lorry from the south coast.
The German fighter, the type responsible for downing many RAF bombers during raids over occupied Europe, was expected to arrive at the Yorkshire Air Museum in Elvington, near Pocklington, today.
In 2010, the aircraft was taken to Cornwall, where specialists have taken a mould so replicas can made for private sales.
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Ian Reed, director of the museum, which was last year named Top Specialist Attraction in the UK by Going Places, said: "We are delighted to be getting this aircraft back.
"It forms a major part of our collection."
The aircraft is itself a replica of the Messerschmitt Me109 flown by German pilot Hermann Graf.
Graf, who died in 1988 aged 76, shot down 212 aircraft during the war – including 62 in 30 days – with the aircraft's 20mm cannons.
The Luftwaffe pilot had the tip of his aircraft painted red, a status symbol also thought to have been a tribute to First World War ace Manfred von Richthofen, dubbed 'The Red Baron'.
Mr Reed said: "It served almost as a challenge to the RAF pilots. It was as though Graf was saying, 'Here I am. Come and take me on if you dare.'"
The replica, painted in Russian Front colours, was made at the museum in 1994 and has been exhibited around the country, including at the Royal International Air Tattoo in 2010.
Mr Reed said: "Over the years we have had a lot of former German pilots come to see the aircraft.
"In Germany, the Swastika is banned, so if they want to see an exact replica of the aircraft they flew in the war they need to travel.
"Many of them said they could not tell it was a replica. The attention to detail is extraordinary."
Mr Reed said the Messerschmitt Me109 was the aircraft most feared by RAF pilots.
He said: "Its 20mm cannon fired through the propeller, giving a very accurate, heavy rate of fire.
"It could also fly higher than the Spitfire and Hurricane, which gave it a distinct advantage during the Battle of Britain."
The Messerschmitt Me109 was first developed in 1934 and was used extensively in the Spanish civil war from 1936, then on through the invasion of Poland, Netherlands, Belgium, France and the Soviet Union.
It took part in many dogfights, as aerial battles became known, over southern England during the Battle of Britain of summer 1940.
The Yorkshire Air Museum in Elvington, near York, is open seven days a week, from 10am to 5pm.
Admission costs £7, with £6 concessions and family tickets are available.
Visit www.yorkshireairmu seum.co.uk for further information or call 01904 608595.