British warbird pilot Charlie Brown undertakes testing of ‘Red 12’ at Bonn-Hangelar
On 19 June at Bonn-Hangelar in North Rhine-Westphalia, Messerschmitt Bf 109 E-4 Werknummer 1983 made its first post-restoration flight, with one of Britain’s top warbird pilots, Charlie Brown, at the controls.
Registered D-FEML and owned by historic car collector Eberhard Thiesen, the former 5./JG 5 Bf 109 was recovered in 1993 from Titovka near Murmansk, where it had crash-landed on 24 January 1942 after combat with Soviet Hawker Hurricanes. After completing five test flights, Brown professed himself delighted with the aircraft’s performance.
Following recovery the 109 was transported to the UK, where the fuselage, tail section, cowlings and cockpit area were rebuilt by Craig Charleston in Essex, with the wings being restored by Hartmair Leichtbau in Freising, Bavaria. The fighter was registered G-EMIL in December 2003 to Glenn Lacey/RLM Aviation at Fairoaks, but this was cancelled in January 2007 and the airframe moved to Manching for work to continue. Recent years have seen the aircraft completed by Dirk Bende and his MotoBende team at Hangelar. Taxiing trials during 2017 showed up problems with the Daimler-Benz DB601 engine, which have been rectified by MotoBende, further tests being undertaken by experienced Bf 109 pilot Klaus Plasa during 2022.
Originally built as a Bf 109 E-4, the fighter was subsequently converted to E-7 standard with provision to carry a 300-litre centreline drop tank, or a bomb for use as a ‘Jabo’ fighter-bomber. The restoration has seen it taken back to E-4 configuration.
For an extended report, including comments from Charlie Brown, see the August issue of Aeroplane.