Messerschmitt M37 / Bf 108 Taifun
In 1934 Messerschmitt designed the M37, later to become the Bf 108 Taifun, for the German team taking part in the 1934 Challenge de Tourisme International. The original design was for a light tourist two-seater, and even though the Challenge was not a great success for the Bf 108, as the best German pilot Theo Osterkamp only came in fifth, the RLM still ordered thirty-two Bf 108s.
The M 37 prototype flew first in spring 1934 powered by a 250 PS (247 hp, 184 kW) Hirth HM 8U inverted-V engine, which drove a three-blade propeller. It could cruise at 145 knots and was originally equipped with full‑span flaps and spoilers for lateral control. It featured automatic Handley Page leading edge slats, a retractable undercarriage, fully stressed skin fuselage construction and flush rivets.
Although it was outperformed by several other aircraft in the competition, the M 37's overall performance marked it as a popular choice for record flights. Particular among these traits was its extremely low fuel consumption rate, good handling, and superb takeoff and landing characteristics. One of the first major changes made to the production variants was to adapt the fuselage for a four-seat configuration.
Production as the Bf 108 Taifun began in 1934 and the first foreign pilot who tested the Bf 108 was Charles Lindbergh.
The Bf 108A first flew in 1934, followed by the Bf 108B in 1935. The production of the improved version, the Bf 108B, was set-up in November 1935. The B version was redesigned to be a four-seater with a new 179kW Argus As 10C engine. The Bf 108B was a very modern light aircraft with an all-metal airframe, retractable undercarriage, adjustable propeller, and with excellent flight characteristics.
The military version of the Taifun was the Bf 108B-2 and was acquired by the Luftwaffe in 1939. It was widely employed during the war years by all operational Luftwaffe units as a light liaison aircraft. The nickname Taifun (German for "typhoon") was given to her own aircraft by Elly Beinhorn, a well known German pilot, and was generally adopted.
In 1941 the Bf 108D replaced the B on the production line. An Argus As 10R engine powered the D version and included the new Argus automatically adjustable propeller and improved fuel assembly.
Production was transferred to the S.N.C.A. du Nord factory at Les Mureaux in France in 1942, where 170 Bf 108D were completed before the liberation of France in 1944. In total 626 military Taifuns, versions B-2 and D-1, were produced. At least 180 civilian or export versions, Bf 108B-0 and B- 1, were produced.
French production continued after the war where another 115 aircraft as the Nord 1000 and Nord 1002 Pengouin were manufactured. 285 were built post-war.
The Ilmavoimat / Maavoimat evaluated both the Bf108 but considered the design unsuitable for their overall requirement, correctly assessing the aircraft as a light passenger aircraft unsuitable for combat reconnaisance and without any real STOL capability.