Aircraft Type Photo
BELOW: Flugzeuge Messerschmitt Me 110
Photo: W. Wanderer
BELOW: Me 110 showing under-wing drop tanks
Photo: Andrea Nicola, Regia Aeronautica Sgt.
Aircraft Type and Background
Luftwaffe Messerschmitt Bf 110E-1/N / coded VJ+OQ
Nickname: Eisenseiten ("Ironsides")
The Messerschmitt Bf 110 was a twin-engine heavy fighter-bomber. However, they lacked fighter manoeuvrability. Ultimately, and after heavy losses, they were withdrawn from this role to be used as night fighters, to which they were much better suited.
Because of initial technical difficulties with the Daimler-Benz engines, early versions of the Bf 110 were equipped with Junkers Jumo 210 engines. However, after the initial problems had been overcome, later variants were equipped with the preferred and more powerful Daimler-Benz DB601 engines produced by Bayerische Flugzeugwerke.
The D-series of Bf 110 was capable of carrying drop tanks which greatly increased its operational range. The E-series incorporated further improvements. Among these was the ability to carry a greater bomb load.
BELOW: Bf 110 E-1, Zerstörer-Ergänzungsgruppe, Deblin-Irena (Poland 1942).
This variant was very similar to that believed to have been flown by Rudolf Hess.
Photo: Björn Huber
Aircraft Incident Details
The Flight of Rudolf Hess
Having donned a standard regulation Luftwaffe pilot's uniform, Deputy Reichsführer Rudolf Hess took off from Augsburg in Bavaria for his 900 mile flight to Scotland. His aircraft—believed to have been a Messerschmitt Bf110E-1 variant—would have been equipped with fuel drop tanks, thereby extending the normal flying range.
Hess carried with him a detailed flight plan, with his route clearly marked and his destination circled in blue on his maps. His intended destination was the private airstrip at Dungavel House near Strathaven, which formed part of the Duke of Hamilton's Estate. Allegedly, Hess wanted to initiate a peace deal between Britain and Germany. To this end, he hoped that the Duke of Hamilton would act as an intermediary. The men were known to each other through their common sporting interests before the outbreak of war.
As he approached Scotland, Hess' Messerschmitt was spotted by the Royal Observer Corps (ROC). It was also being tracked by the Royal Corps of Signals (Royal Signals). Fighter planes were scrambled immediately from RAF Heathfield (Ayr) to intercept the Messerschmitt . However, after failing to make contact, they were recalled to base.
While over Scotland, radar contact with Hess' plane was lost. He had succeeded in evading the radar scanners by flying very low across the country. However, a Royal Corps of Signals unit had managed to keep track of the Messerschmitt's movements.
As Hess continued his low-level flight over Scotland, he misjudged his intended location. Possibly mistaking the imposing Eaglesham House for Dungavel House, and believing he was now over his destination, the Deputy Reichsführer parachuted from his aircraft allowing the Messerschmitt to crash nearby. On landing, Hess sustained injuries to his back and ankle.
Hess had landed at Floors Farm near Eaglesham while his aircraft had landed a short distance away at Bonnyton Farm.1 However, he had come down approximately 12 miles away from Dungavel House, where he had hoped to meet the Duke of Hamilton.
On landing at Floors Farm, Hess was met by a local ploughman brandishing a pitchfork, David McLean. Once he realised that his captive posed no obvious threat, the ploughman took Hess into his home. Basil Baird, the proprietor of Floors Farm, then telephoned the authorities. The Home Guard and police left Eaglesham to proceed to Floors Farm. However, it would take them about 10 minutes to cover the distance between Eaglesham village and the farm.
Meanwhile, the Royal Corps of Signals unit based at Eaglesham House2 a few miles north of Eaglesham village had been tracking the aircraft's progress. The Signals unit was aware that the aircraft had crashed in the vicinity of Bonnyton Farm / Floors Farm. From Eaglesham House, they may also have had visual contact with the now burning aircraft a short distance away.
Jack McKenzie, Corporal of the Guard of the local Signals unit (TA), took his men and proceeded to the crash scene. As their HQ was situated very close to Floors Farm, they arrived at the scene within minutes, and ahead of the Home Guard and police who were still travelling from Eaglesham.
Corporal McKenzie and his Guard arrested Hess and took him into their custody, at which point Hess surrendered to them his Luger service pistol. When the Home Guard and police arrived from Eaglesham a short time later, Cpl. McKenzie transferred his prisoner to their custody.
When his captors were attempting to establish his identity (being unaware initially that he was Rudolf Hess), their prisoner gave his name as 'Hauptmann [i.e., Captain] Albert Horn'. He told them that he had an important message for the Duke of Hamilton.
Hess was then transferred to the Home Guard HQ in Busby, and later to Battalion HQ at Giffnock in Glasgow. After further questioning, Hess was transferred to Maryhill Barracks in Glasgow. Here, again, Hess requested to speak to the Duke of Hamilton.
While in hospital under armed guard from Maryhill Barracks, the Duke visited him. When he saw him, the Duke would have recognised him as Rudolf Hess. Realising that the prisoner was the Deputy Reichsführer, the Duke of Hamilton ensured that this information was conveyed to Winston Churchill.
Hess was then removed to Mytchett Place Detention Unit, Aldershot, where he attempted suicide. Finally, he was transferred to Maindiff Court Hospital, Abergavenny, in South Wales. While here, Hess again attempted suicide.
Hess remained at Maindiff Court Hospital until summoned to appear before the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg on October 10, 1945.
BELOW: Rudolf Hess at Nuremberg—front row, alongside Hermann Goering (Goering being the defendant nearest to the camera).
Photo: Source unknown
The Military Tribunal found Hess guilty on two counts of 'concerted plan or conspiracy' and 'crimes against peace'. He was sentenced to life imprisonment, and was committed to Spandau Prison.
Just over 40 years later—on or just after Monday, August 17, 1987—it was reported that Rudolf Hess had hanged himself in prison. He was 93 years old.
In the 1970's, the US, British and French governments had attempted to secure Hess' release from prison on humanitarian grounds. However, one of the four powers responsible for Hess' confinement—Soviet Russia—would not consent to this.
Under the Official Secrets Act, certain documents that Hess brought with him to Britain are to remain sealed until 2017. Related British documents are to remain sealed until 2041 (100 year rule).
For a more detailed account of this event, see under Rudolf Hess Links above right.
1 The Bonnyton Farm crash site now lies under the embanked flyover or overpass carrying the A726 road. This road was constructed after the crash occurred.
2 Eaglesham House / Eaglesham Castle was destroyed by fire in 1954.
Crash Site Photos
BELOW: The remains of Rudolf Hess' Messerschmitt Bf 110 after it crashed at Bonnyton Farm, Eaglesham. Hess himself had parachuted into Floors Farm (fields) nearby.
Photo: 1941 Ian Dunster
Crown Copyright (expired)
BELOW: Another view of the Messerschmitt wreckage at Bonnyton Farm.
Photo: Crown Copyright (expired)
BELOW: Police and military personnel guarding the wreckage.
Crown Copyright (expired)
BELOW: The recovery team collecting the wreckage for removal to the Army Maintenance Unit at Carluke. (See also YouTube video.)
Photo 1941, source unknown
BELOW: Fuselage section from Hess' Bf110.
This section of wreckage is on display at the Imperial War Museum (IWM), London.
Photo: 2008 DanielHP, Buenos Aires
BELOW: One of the Daimler-Benz 601A engines from Hess' Messerschmitt. It is on display at the Museum of Flight, East Fortune, East Lothian, Scotland.
BELOW: The stone commemorating Hess' landing.
This stone has since been removed from the site.
Photo: Source unknown
Crash Date / Site
Incident Date: 10 May 1941
Floors Farm / Bonnyton Farm
(Humbie Road / Floors Road between Eaglesham and Waterfoot. The crash site is now located under the embanked flyover carrying the A726 road.)
Region: East Renfrewshire.
Nearest town or village:
Nearest large towns or cities:
OS Grid Ref. N/A
GPS Ref: N/A
Present Condition: Crash site is now under the A726 road (embanked flyover).
The wreckage of the Messerschmitt Bf110 was cleared from the site and removed to the Army Maintenance Unit at Carluke.
One DB601A engine from the aircraft, however, was given later to the Museum of Flight at East Fortune. (See photo below.)
Also, a section of fuselage was given later to the Imperial War Museum (IWM) in London. (See photo below.)
A memorial to the landing was later placed in the vicinity of the crash site. However, this has since been removed. (See photo below.)
Registration or Serial: coded VJ+OQ
Operating Station: Augsburg.
(Possibly, Messerschmitt AG military aircraft firm's runways. This company was headquartered in Augsburg).
Station Location: Augsburg, Bavaria
British Military Service Units Links
The Royal Corps of Signals (R. Signals)
Luftwaffe and Related Links
World War II
Messerschmitt Bf110 (Me110)
Rudolf Hess Links
Rudolf Hess Flight at Secret Scotland (Includes photos of memorial and various detention locations)
Rudolf Hess: The Enduring Riddle of Hitler's Deputy's Flight to Scotland at The Daily Record.
a) Hess while still in Germany (no sound);
b) The recovery of the wreckage (no sound);
c) The ploughman explaining what happened (with sound).
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Floors Farm, Eaglesham (Rudolf Hess)