On 12 May 1936, Rudolf Opitz flew the first Bf 110 out of Augsburg. But, as many pre-war designs found, the engine technologies promised were not up to acceptable reliability standards. 

Hermann Göring was a proponent of the Bf 110. It was armed with two MG FF 20 mm cannons, four 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 17 machine guns, and one 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 15 machine gun or twin-barrel MG 81Z for defence. The Bf 110's main strength was its ability to accept unusually powerful air-to-air weaponry. The fighter-bomber versions could carry up to 2,000 kg (4,410 lb) of bombs, depending on the type.

The BF110s were the most used German heavy warplanes during World War II. Development of the Me 210, which was suppose to replace the BF 110 began before the war, but with severe issues in development the BF 110 remained Germany's primary heavy fighter throughout the war.

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A crewmember of a German Bf110 sits by his plane.  [Via]

Messerschmitt bf 110 D-3 [Via

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The Bf 110 served with considerable initial success in the early campaigns, the Polish, Norwegian and Battle of France. The primary weakness of the Bf 110 was its lack of agility in the air, although this could be mitigated with the correct tactics. This flaw was however exposed and mercilessly exploited when flying as close escort to German bombers during the Battle of Britain. When British bombers began targeting German territory with nightly raids, some Bf 110-equipped units were withdrawn and redeployed as night fighters, a role to which the aircraft was well suited. After the Battle of Britain the Bf 110 enjoyed a successful period as an air superiority fighter and strike aircraft in other theatres.

During the Balkans Campaign, North African Campaign and on the Eastern Front, it rendered valuable ground support to the German Army as a potent fighter-bomber. Later in the war, it was developed into a formidable radar-equipped night fighter, becoming the major night-fighting aircraft of the Luftwaffe.

The sad remains of a Messerschmitt Bf 110 G-4, aircraft code 3C+DR (all in black), of 7.Staffel / III.Gruppe / Nachtjagdgeschwader 4 (NJG 4) [Via]

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A squadron of Messerschmitt Bf 110C that flies on the sea [Via]

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