Development of the new Bf 109 F airframe had begun in 1939. After February 1940 an improved engine, the Daimler-Benz DB 601E, was developed for use with the Bf 109. The engineers at the Messerschmitt facilities took two Bf 109 E-1 airframes and installed this new powerplant. The first two prototypes, V21 (Werknummer (Works number) or W.Nr 5602) and V22 (W.Nr 1800) kept the trapeziform wing shape from the E-1, but the span was reduced by 61 cm (2 ft) by "clipping" the tips. Otherwise the wings incorporated the cooling system modifications described below. V22 also became the testbed for the pre-production DB 601E. The smaller wings had a detrimental effect on the handling so V23, Stammkennzeichen (factory Code)[Notes 1] CE+BP, W.Nr 5603, was fitted with new, semi-elliptical wingtips, becoming the standard wing planform for all future Bf 109 combat versions. The fourth prototype, V24 VK+AB, W.Nr 5604, flew with the clipped wings but featured a modified, "elbow"-shaped supercharger air-intake which was eventually adopted for production, and a deeper oil cooler bath beneath the cowling. On all of these prototypes the fuselage was cleaned up and the engine cowling modified to improve aerodynamics.
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