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Aces of Aviation

Messerschmitt Bf 110 G-4B/R3 of Martin Becker

Messerschmitt Bf 110 G-4B/R3 of Martin Becker

Messerschmitt Bf 110 G-4B/R3 from the IV Gruppe of the Nachtjagdgeschwader 6, piloted by Captain Martin Becker in the night from the 14th to the 15th March 1945.

Wingspan: 16.25 meters.

Length (with radar antenna): 13.05 meters.

Height: 4.18 meters.

Engine[s]: Two Daimler-Benz DB 605 B of 1475 horsepower.

Maximum speed: 550 kilometers/hour.

Service ceiling: 11000 meters.

Range (with external fuel tanks): 1300 kilometers.

Armament: Four MK 108 30-millimeter cannons (two in "Schräge Musik" mounting); four MG 151 20-millimeter cannons; two MG 81Z 7.92-millimeter machine guns.

Martin Becker was one of the most prominent German night fighter pilots in the last months of the Second World War, earning considerable fame due to his extraordinary series of multiple victories achieved during single nocturnal sorties, at the controls of his Messerschmitt Bf 110 G. Born in Wiesbaden the 12th April 1916, "Tino" Becker enlisted in the Luftwaffe immediately before the beginning of the war, training as a reconnaissance pilot. In 1940 he was assigned a position in an aufrarungsgruppe equipped with the Bf 110 C, remaining in this unit until the early 1943, when he was transferred to fly the Bf 110 night fighters.

Becker achieved his first victory during the first hours of the 23rd September 1943, when he destroyed an Avro Lancaster heavy bomber which was taking part in the bombing of Hannover. Soon he earned a reputation as excellent pilot in any meteorological condition, often taking off on missions against the Royal Air Force when the bad visibility forced the largest part of the German night fight force to remain grounded. In that time he had the rank of Oberleutnant in the I Gruppe of the Nachtjagdgeschwader 4.

Becker destroyed not less than six British bombers during the Battle of the Ruhr, and achieved another sound success during the offensive against Berlin. Since the RAF Bomber Command had to disperse its efforts in attacks against targets other than the German capital, the night from the 22nd to the 23rd March 1944 a large amount of Avro Lancaster and Handley Page Halifax overflew the strongly defended city of Frankfurt-am-Main. Taking off from Finthen, an airbase near Mainz, Becker reached the bomber formation and downed six of the thirty-three heavy bombers that the RAF lost that night.

In the first hours of the 31st March, flying again a Bf 110G-4, Becker carried out two missions against the RAF bombers which tried to attack Nuremberg, during that famous operation which however was a failure. In the short time elapsed between 00:20 and 00:50 o'clock, he destroyed three Halifax and three Lancaster. After this, Becker landed to refuel and rearm his aircraft. After taking off again, he attacked a Halifax from the Canadian force, 429th "Brison" Squadron, which was on its return trip, downing it 48 kilometers north of Metz.

In September 1944 Becker was promoted to the rank of Captain and awarded the command of the IV Gruppe of the Nachtjagdgeschwader 6, piloting then the heavily armed Bf 110 G-4B/R3 depicted in the illustration. With this aircraft he achieved his soundest success in a single sortie, the night from the 14th to the 15th March 1945, when he destroyed not less than nine Lancaster during a bombing over Zweibrücken.

Until then, Becker had been flying onboard aircraft equipped with cannons of oblique trajectory, using the method called "von unter hinden", in which the attacking aircraft reduces its speed to attack the bombers from beneath. He soon became fond of the deadly "Schräge Musik", which allowed him to target the vulnerable fuel tanks and bomb bays of the unaware bombers. Becker survived the war with a record of 58 nocturnal victories achieved in about 80 combat actions.