Mehr/Erla Aircraft Designations

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Erla Maschinenwerk is now best-known for wartime licensed production of Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighters and infamous for its use of slave labour taken from Buchenwald concentration camp. But the company began as a 1933 joint venture between DKW's Jørgen Skafte Rasmussen and Franz Xaver Mehr, a designer focused on light aircraft. As Eisen- und Flugzeugwerk Erla GmbH, the firm was part of DKW Zschopau. In July 1934, the company was renamed Erla Maschinenwerk.

In 1926, Ing. Mehr was a founding member of the Segelflugvereins Wangen im Allgäu for which he designed two undesignated gliders - the Allgäuer Grasmück monoplane and the Manzell biplane. His first designated aircraft was the Me 1 'Maschinchen' in 1930. For the next three years, 'Me' designs were produced under the name 'Mehr Flugzeugbau Meckenbeuren'. Mehr's light plane production and development continued under the Erla brand until the RLM ordered a new focus on licensed military production.

Mehr/Erla Aircraft Designations

The Erla designation style was originally a simple 'Me' (for Mehr) followed by a type number and, where needed, a sub-type letter. Erla rendered such designations without hyphens using arabic numerals - eg: Me 4a. However, the contemporary aviation press would use variations like Me.IV or Me-IV-A.

Around 1934, the sub-type display changed to captial letters - eg: Me 5D (compared to the earlier model Me 5a). However, by this time, 'Me' had begun to be abandoned in favour of plain 'Erla + type number'. 'Me' was, in any case, not an official RLM prefix designation (AFAIK, Erla never was assigned an RLM prefix.)

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Undesignated Franz Xaver Mehr Aircraft Designs

Allgäuer Grasmück* - 1926 basic training glider, span 10.6 m
- Allgäuer Grasmück: Single-seat shoulder-wing monoplane, x 1
-- Builders: Mehr and Segelflugvereins Wangen im Allgäu**
-- * Allgäuer Grasmück = a warbler from the Allgäu Alps
-- ** Gliding Association of Wangen im Allgäu (Baden-Württemberg)
-- http://www.j2mcl-planeurs.net/dbj2mcl/planeurs-machines/planeur-fiche_0int.php?code=3968

Mehr Manzell* - 1926 biplane light training glider, span ?? m
-- Builders: Mehr and Segelflugvereins Wangen im Allgäu**
-- * After Friedrichshafen-Manzell in Baden-Württemberg
-- ** Gliding Association of Wangen im Allgäu (Baden-Württemberg)
-- http://www.j2mcl-planeurs.net/dbj2mcl/planeurs-machines/planeur-fiche_0int.php?code=3967

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Designated Franz Xaver Mehr Aircraft Designs


Me 1 - 1930 single-seat low-wing sport monoplane,* span 10 m
-- * Wing panels were easily removable for street towing
- Me 1 : 1 x 12 hp DKW TL 500 air-cooled 2-cylinder 2-stroke
-- Me 1 dubbed 'Maschinchen' ('Little Machine'), x 1
- Me 1 : Re-engined, 1 x 15/20 hp Ursinus U2 (from Me 2)
-- 2v: http://www.dkw-autounion.de/DKW_Flugzeug/DKW_Erla_1.jpg

Me 2 - [Project] 1930 Me 1 lightplane deriv., span 11.5 m*
- Me 2 : 1 x Ursinus U2 HO-2, not built due to lack of funds
-- * Also longer fuselage, continuous axle u/c, longer fuselage

Me 3 - 1931 refined Me 1/Me 2 lightplane,* span ?? m
- Me 3: 1 x DKW air-cooled inline 2-cylinder
-- * By comparison with Me 1, cockpit moved further aft

Me 4 - 1932 training/performance sailplane, span 14.75 m
- Me 4 : High-winged sailplane, aka Friedrichshafen Me 4
- Me 4a: Motor glider, 1 x nose-mounted 14 hp tractor engine
-- Me 4a misidentified in the aviation press as the 'Me 5'
-- http://www.j2mcl-planeurs.net/dbj2mcl/planeurs-machines/planeur-fiche_0int.php?code=3969
-- [??]: D-Nirona, improved Friedrichshafen Me 4 (new desig.?)

Me 5 - 1933 single-seat low-wing monoplane Volksflugzeug, span 10 m
- Me 5 : Devel. to meet NSFK requirement, aka Me V or Erla 5
- Me 5 : 1933, 1 x 20 hp DKW 0.6L water-cooled 2-cyl inline
-- 3v: http://richard.ferriere.free.fr/3vues/erla5_3v.jpg
- Me 5a: Aerobatic Me 5 devel., 20 hp DKW FL 600, aka Erla 5
-- http://1000aircraftphotos.com/Contributions/McBrideBill/12461.htm
-- http://www.flugzeugkunst.eu/a_me5a.jpg
-- 3v: http://www.luftarchiv.de/flugzeuge/sonstige/erlaa_drei.gif
- Me 5b: [?Project?] Faster/quicker climbing Me 5a deriv.*
-- * DKW und die Erla-Me-Flugzeuge 1926 bis 1945, pp 61-62
- Me 5c: [Project] 40 hp DKW (prospect of up to 55 hp engine)
- Me 5D: 1935, 1 x 50 hp Zündapp Z9-092 inverted 4-cyl, span 11 m
-- Me 5D flown with an without a sliding perspex canopy
-- Me 5D: 2-litre class distance record, Aug 1939, Heinz Gabler
-- http://www.luftarchiv.de/flugzeuge/sonstige/erla5d_5.jpg
- Me 5E: [??] Poss. 2-seater, 1 x 44 hp/55 hp/80 hp engine
- Me 5F: [??] 1939 (??) twin-pontoon floatplane version

Erla ?? - [Project] 1933 single-seater, 1 x 150 hp engine

Erla 6 - 'Rebell' 1934 2-seat sports a/c, span ?? m
- Erla 6: Werk nummer 15
-- Erla 6 wings finished 1934 (was this airframe completed?)

Erla 6A - 1937 single-seat high-wing motor glider, span 12.30 m
- Me 6A: Pedestal parasol monoplane, 1 x 20 hp Schliha HO-2*
-- Prototype D-YDEM, wk nr ??, aka Erla Me 6A
-- * Berlin-based Schliha GmbH were motorcycle makers
-- http://www.histaviation.com/Erla_6A.html
-- http://img.wp.scn.ru/camms/ar/1445/pics/2_1.jpg

Erla 7 - [Project] 'Diplomat' 4-6 seat trimotor, 80 hp DKW*
-- * DKW Zschopau radials, alt. engines are Hirth H6R**
-- ** Second alt. engines by Auto Union AG (type unknown)

Erla 55 - [Project] low-wing light trainer, 2 x 80 hp engines*
- Erla 55: Übungsflugzeug, side-by-side 2-seater, twin-tails
-- * Presumably, intended engines were Hirth-Motor HM 60 Rs
-- http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,12456.msg275892.html#msg275892

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Erla License-Built Aircraft

- Arado Ar 65G fighters x 24 (1935)
- Arado Ar 68E fighters x 76 (1937)
- Gotha Go 145 trainers x 106 (1937)
- Heinkel He 51B-1 fighters x 80 (1936)
- Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighters x 11,051 (1936-45)

AFAIK, no Erla designations were ever applied to licensed aircraft.

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