HA8712 BF 109E-3 "Werner Molders" Gruppenkommandeur of III./JG 53, May 1940
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The first German mass produced 109 fighter was the Bf-109E that has been mistakenly referred to as the Me-109. The Bf is the designator for the Bayerische Flugzeugwerke (BFW) (Bavarian Aircraft Works) that produced the original aircraft. In 1938 Messerschmitt took over BFW but throughout WWII German handbooks and documents referred to the aircraft as the Bf-109. By the end of 1939 the Bf-109E (Emil) had replaced all other 109 variants and equipped 13 Gruppens with 40 aircraft each. The Bf-109 was the main single-engine aircraft until the Fw-190 came along.
Werner Molders scored his first victory on September 21, 1939 as Staffelkapitan of 1./JG 53 “Pik As” and became known as “Vati” (Daddy) Molders. In October 1939 he became Gruppenkommandeur of III./JG 53. On May 27, 1940 Molders scored his 20th victory, was promoted to Hauptmann. On June 5, 1940 Molders was shot down and taken prisoner but was released two weeks later when France after France surrendered. While returning to Germany for a funeral the He-111 he was in crashed killing him and the pilot. Molders’ final tally was 101 aircraft.