This documentary covers the remarkable, decades long restoration of what would become the only flying Messerschmitt Bf109 in the world.

In the years since the film was made there have been more examples of the Messerschmitt Bf109 returned to airworthy status, so this aircraft is no longer the only flying example – but it’s important to note that the film’s title was entirely accurate when it was first released.

The Messerschmitt Bf109 was the most successful fighter of WWII, largely due to the war on the Eastern Front when the Bf109 was battling vastly inferior Soviet aircraft. That said, the Bf109 did give the Spitfire a run for its money, the two fighters closely matched in both outright speed and maneuverability with the Spitfire having the edge – however the Bf109 had better armaments than early versions of the Spitfire.

Messerschmitt Bf 109 Cutaway

As an aircraft the Messerschmitt Bf109 is a masterpiece of engineering, however its history is significantly darkened by the fact it was the most prolific and memorable fighter aircraft of the Luftwaffe during the Third Reich.

33,984 examples of the Bf109 were built through the 1930s and into the 1940s, they remained in active service well into the 1960s and then largely fell by the wayside.

The project to restore this Messerschmitt starts back in the 1970s and wasn’t completed until the 1990s. It’s a remarkable story of persistence in the face of constant adversity, just how the team led by Russ Snadden managed to get all the parts required and dedicate the thousands of hours of voluntary labour to the project is astonishing.

The aircraft was completed and began flight testing in the 1990s, it’s now a permanent part of the Imperial War Museum Duxford where it can be seen on display to this day.

Click here if you’d like to read more about the Messerschmitt Bf109.

Messerschmitt Bf 109

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Ben Branch has had his work featured on CNN, Popular Mechanics, the official Smithsonian Magazine, Road & Track Magazine, the official Pinterest blog, the official eBay Motors blog, BuzzFeed, and many more.

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