New theory on the “mystery” Bf 109 of Crete: Could it be Bf 109 F-4, WerkNummer 7185 from 5./JG 53 NW+KI

By Pierre Kosmidis

Photos and research by Lars Zimmermann

Not far from the northern coast of Crete, close to Anissaras, at approximately 800 metres from the beach, in a sandy seafloor, 27 metres under the surface, a German Messerschmitt Bf109 fighter aircraft is lying upside down, frozen in time.

Photo Credit: Lars Zimmermann
Photo Credit: Lars Zimmermann

A popular scuba diving spot, this Bf 109 has remained a mystery for decades, as no positive identification has been made, up to now.

What we know for sure though is that this aircraft did not participate in the Battle of Crete in 1941, as experts who have examined the wreckage, claim that this aircraft wreck is a Bf109 G-6, a model variant that entered production in the late Autumn of 1942.

Photo Credit: Lars Zimmermann
Photo Credit: Lars Zimmermann

Mr. Lars Zimmermann, scuba diver and researcher, has come up with an interesting theory, that could help solve this mystery, though it remains to be irrefutably proved as accurate:

Photo Credit: Lars Zimmermann
Photo Credit: Lars Zimmermann

“I compared the version parameter of the wreck with the Luftwaffe losses. It seems to be a F-Version because the wreck has already the “new” wing tip rounding, the new elevator section without struts like the E-Version and the seat armour plate of a F- or G-Version lays a bit away from the main wreck.

But the tail wheel was retractable, so it has to be a F-Version because the G-Version had a fixed tail wheel.

Photo Credit: Lars Zimmermann
Photo Credit: Lars Zimmermann

The whole wreck with the retracted landing gear is typical for a belly landing on the water.

Photo Credit: Lars Zimmermann
Photo Credit: Lars Zimmermann

There is only one loss which matches with the aircraft in the area of Crete.

It is a Bf 109 F-4 from 5./JG 53 with WN 7185 and the “Stammkennzeichen” NW+KI which made a water landing “north of Crete” on July 23rd, 1942.

There are no other F-Version losses mentioned.

This special aircraft is very interesting because it is the former aircraft of the famous pilot Hans “Assi” Hahn.

Hans "Assi" Hahn, with his NW+KI Bf109, Werknummer 7 185 Copyright: Collection Alfred Monzat
Hans “Assi” Hahn, with his NW+KI Bf109, Werknummer 7185¬†Copyright: Collection Alfred Monzat

Hahn flew the WN 7185 at Stab of III./Jagdgeschwader 2 but the Gruppe was already in May 1942 equipped with the new Fw 190.

So they transferred the old replaced Bf 109 F-4 to JG 53 and they used it further on.

So that’s also the reason why the aircraft is still listed with the “Stammkennzeichen” markings because it was “new” in 5./JG 53 and didn’t receive a Staffel number marking.”

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Photo Credit: Lars Zimmermann