Championed by Hermann Goering, the Messerschmitt Bf 110 Destroyer, (or Heavy Fighter) concept was certainly sound in theory, giving these slightly larger aircraft much greater range and devastating firepower. Unfortunately, the increase in size and weight left the Destroyers vulnerable to the more manoeuvrable single engined fighters of the RAF.
During the late 1930s, it would be difficult to argue against the idea of basically putting two Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighters together to produce one heavy fighter, or ‘Destroyer’. With greater range and much increased firepower, these fearsome aircraft would surely blast any opponents from the sky and quickly allow German ground forces to conquer even greater amounts of territory. This was the perfectly rational thinking behind the Destroyer concept and one which Luftwaffe Commander-in-Chief Hermann Goering was passionately in favour of.
As the Luftwaffe swept through Europe and into France and the Low Countries, the Bf 110 Destroyers proved to be incredibly successful, with their additional firepower proving to be devastatingly effective in the air and during strafing attacks. As the conflict moved on to the massed air attacks against Britain, the confident Destroyer crews were in for a rude awakening. When pitted against the fast, agile fighters of the RAF, the Bf 110 was quickly found to be inferior and began to suffer significant losses over England. Indeed, the performance of the aircraft in combat became so worrying that the Destroyers could not operate effectively without the security of their own fighter cover. Despite this, the Messerschmitt Bf 110 found many roles to which its attributes were more suited and the type saw service throughout the Second World War. For many enthusiasts, they are also considered some of the most appealing aircraft to see Luftwaffe service during WWII.