Following a two year absence, the Yorkshire Air Museum’s Messerschmitt Bf109G was returned to the Museum on Friday 5th October. The aircraft had been on loan to Gate Guards Ltd. based in Newquay, Cornwall, a company that specialises in replicating and restoring aircraft for Museums, collectors and films all over the world. Gate Guards have created a mould of the replica Messerschmitt for future sales. They recently appeared in Top Gear’s James May’s programme James May’s Toy Stories, where he created a life sized ‘Airfix’ Spitfire. This is the only example of this legendary German fighter within the independent Museum’s sector in Britain, although there is an within the Imperial War Museum’s collection, making this a rather rare exhibit.
The Messerschmitt was painstakingly built by Yorkshire Air Museum and prior to the loan to gate Guards, the aircraft was repainted in the striking, aggressive “come and get me” colours of German WWII German air ace, Herman Graf. His tally of 212 air-to-air victories was indeed formidable, mostly achieved on the Russian front. His main decorations were the Knights Cross of the Iron Cross, followed by the Swords, Oak Leaves and Diamond embellishments. After a forced landing near Berlin in 1945, he was captured by the Americans and handed to the Russians, who accepted him for his engineering skills. He was eventually repatriated to Germany in November 1949 and eventually died in November 1988 from Parkinson’s Disease.
Ian Reed, Museum Director, commented: “This is a very interesting aircraft exhibit within our collection and it has been missed during its time on loan to Gate Guards. It is an outstanding recreation of the Luftwaffe’s most famous fighter, and has fooled even former German pilots who have visited the Museum into believing it was the real thing. We are very pleased to have it back for our visitors to appreciate once more.”