Zvezda 1/48 Bf-109F-2
KIT #: 4802
PRICE: 2240 yen at Hobby Link Japan
DECALS: Five options
REVIEWER: Tom Cleaver


          The Bf‑109F, or Friedrich, is commonly considered the high point of development of the airframe technically, in terms of mating power to airframe for maximum performance.  The Bf-109f is certainly the best‑looking Bf‑109 overall. The aircraft was a major redesign of the Bf-109 to take maximum advantage of the DB-601, with shorter-span, wider-chord ailerons to improve maneuverability, and a fully cantilever horizontal stabilizer.

           Pilots considered it the best handling of all the 109s, and felt that the later Gustav and Kurfurst series did not increase performance for the extra weight of armament and different engines.  It did however stir controversy by the reduction in armament compared to the Bf-109E, with only a single 15 or 20mm cannon mounted on the centerline, and two 7.62mm machine guns.  While Werner Moelders believed this was a good armament fit, Adolf Galland believed it was a retrograde step, that the average Luftwaffe pilot was not such a superb marksman as was Moelders, and thus needed the extra weight of fire from two cannons.

            First appearing in limited numbers on the Channel Front in November 1940, the Friedrich canceled the performance edge of the new Spitfire V over the Bf‑109E, allowing the Luftwaffe to maintain air superiority against the RAF over the Channel and Northern France during the “Non‑Stop Offensive” of 1941.  The Bf‑109F was clearly the best fighter operational over the Eastern Front after the opening of Operation Barbarossa in June 1941.

 Hans Phillipp:

           Born in 1917, Hans Phillip joined the Luftwaffe in 1936. On completion of training as a fighter pilot, he was assigned to I./JG 76.  Flying with the unit during the Polish campaign, Phillips scored his first victory in the first week of the war.  During the reorganization of the Jagdwaffe before the campaign in the West, I/JG 76 became II/JG 54.  Flying in the Battle of France and the Battle of Britain, Philipp was promoted Staffelkapitän of 4./JG 54 following the award of the

Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes) for 20 victories on November 4, 1940.

           On the opening day of the Balkans campaign in April 1941, JG 54 engaged the Bf 109E's of the Jugoslovensko Kraljevsko Ratno Vazduhoplovstvo (JKRV—Yugoslav Royal Air Force). Hans Philipp claimed two of the JKRV Messerschmitts during the massive air battle.

           JG 54 was assigned to the Northern Front in Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union that began on June 22, 1941.  By August 24, 1941, Hans Philipp became the thirty-third recipient of the Oak Leaves to the Knight's Cross, and was appointed Kommandeur I./JG 54.

           Phillipp’s success in air combat continued and in March 1942, he was the first pilot in JG 54 to be awarded the Swords to the Knight's Cross.  On March 31, 1942, Philipp became the fourth Luftwaffe fighter pilot to achieve 100 victories.

          Transferred to the Western Front in the spring of 1943 after scoring 178 victories on the Eastern Front, Phillipp became Geschwader Kommodore of JG 1, based in Holland and Northwestern Germany, where he faced the growing strength of the Eighth Air Force. 

           On October 8, 1943, the Eighth Air Force sent 156 bombers to targets in Bremen and Vegesack, escorted by over 250 P-47 Thunderbolts from six fighter groups. Phillipp's Stab Flight was intercepted by P‑47's of the 56th Fighter Group.  Philipp was heard to announce a victory over a Thunderbolt. His last transmission was, "Reinhardt, attack!" Feldwebel Reinhardt, Philipp's wingman, last saw the Kommodore's aircraft disappear in a cloud.  Wounded after colliding with an enemy aircraft, Reinhardt made a successful forced landing.  That evening, the Geschwader learned Phillipp had been shot down and killed.[2]

           In 500 missions between September 1, 1939 and October 8, 1943, Hans Philipp claimed a total 206 enemy aircraft shot down, 178 on the Eastern front, 29 against the Western Allies.


         When Zvezda’s 1/48 Bf-109F-2 was released in 2010, Those Who Fret About These Things proclaimed it the first really accurate kit of the Bf-109F-2 ever released.  The kit provides parts to do both the early and late production Bf-109F-2, with separate wingtips with the early and late production navigation lights, and different lower fuselage center sections, as well as different windscreens including a separate armored glass for the pre-production version.  The upper wing surface is in one piece without panel lines, the first time this has been accurately portrayed in a kit of the early Friedrich.  The propeller is also the correct narrow chord and shape, and the spinner is also accurate.

           The kit comes with a full engine and armament interior for the nose, and the cowling parts can be posed open.  Separate parts without internal detail are provided for assembly in the closed position.  A modeler doing the closed-up version should use some thin Evergreen sheet to reinforce the butt-joint assembly of this area.

           Decals are provided for five different Bf-109Fs.  There is also a veritable plethora of aftermarket decals for the Bf-109F-2 that most modelers will likely already have in their collections. 


          Due to the number of parts, the kit is very fiddly.  This is exacerbated by the fact there is no identification letter on any of the three sprues, while the instructions indicate one should be dealing with “Sprue A” and “Sprue B.”  Fortunately, the guesswork does not include the individual parts, which are correctly numbered.  Once one can identify which sprue is which, the process becomes easier.  It is also important to determine if you are doing “Version 1", which is an early-production Bf-109F-2, or “Version 2" which is the later-production version, since this determines which of all the alternative parts you will be using throughout the construction.

           Parts fit is very good.  Test fit carefully and you will not need to use putty or filler.  I should point out that the landing gear is designed so that it cannot be placed incorrectly, which can be problematic with other Bf-109 kits, to get the angle of forward rake and spread right; this is a very nice touch.

          My initial plan was to build the model with the engine compartment open.  In 1/48 scale, this is pretty easily done since it is not big enough to require lots of small additional detail, as is the case with a 1/32 kit.  I assembled all the interior, and then managed to drop and step on the left engine mount.  At that point I had to disassemble a lot of the interior to allow proper fit of the cowling closed up, which did make a whole lot of mess.  To top it off, once I had the model finally assembled this way, I made the discovery that there are two alternative left engine mounts, and that the one I had stepped on was the wrong one for the version I was doing, and that the correct part was still on the sprue!  ARRGGHHHHH!!!!

           I can however tell you that all the parts fit very nicely for whichever way you wish to go, and that the parts provided in the kit for the engine and other interior parts are far superior to the resin parts that have been the only other way to do a Bf-109 “opened up.”  I may just get another one of these to finally do that right.

           The cockpit provides the best detail of any 1/48 Bf-109 kit; of course it’s all very small and as such it is Optivisor Time when it comes to assembly.  I only used Eduard photoetch seat belts to put that final bit to the cockpit.

           So, take your time, identify the sprues, identify the parts correctly, identify the particular sub-type of Bf-109F-2 you intend to build, and you will have a very nice model when it comes time for paint and decals.   

          At the point of discovering that I had completely screwed up the open-cowling option I had planned on, the model went back in its box and sat on the shelf of doom for about 29 months, until last month when I was clearing things away and took another look, deciding that it could still be turned into a nice model, just not the model intended.  So I attached the closed cowling pieces which fit just fine, and completed it as a buttoned-up model.


          I’ve always been attracted to the airplanes of JG 54 on the Eastern Front.  The unit was in the positions it would maintain for the next two and a half years by the fall of 1941, and took the time to repaint the aircraft to give the best camouflage for combat over the great dark northern forests of the Leningrad region.  Of particular note has always been the “lizard scheme” applied to Bf-109s of II Gruppe.  Thus, I had no problem choosing to do Hans Phillipp’s airplane from October 1941, when he had 46 victories.  After pre-shading the model and then applying the yellow tactical markings that I masked off, I freehanded the 74/75/76 scheme with the “lizard skin” done with RLM74 and RLM02, using mixed paints created from Tamiya acrylics.  Lifelike Decals provides comprehensive color painting guides with the decals.  When all that was done, I gave the model a coat of Future and it was time for the decals.

          As Lifelike points out in their instructions, there has been controversy over whether or not Phillipp’s airplane would have been “White-9" or “Yellow-9"; Lifelike comes down on the side of white on the point that this is the proper color for the 4th Staffel in Luftwaffe color coding instructions.

           The decals are very thin and go down under a coat of Micro-Sol without difficulty.

          I gave the model a coat of Xtracrylix Clear Flat varnish, then applied exhaust stains with Tamiya “Smoke.”  I attached the prop and landing gear, and unmasked the canopy, which was posed in the open position.


         The experts are right, this is the best Bf-109F-2 kit available in 1/48 scale, given the accuracy of the small detail.  Assembly is fiddly but not all that difficult, and a modeler with average hand-eye coordination and the ability to follow instructions should have no problems.  The result is an excellent model, and - as noted above - with the large number of aftermarket sheets for the Friedrich that are out there, one can make any of a number of nice looking models with this kit.  Highly recommended.  (BTW - the model is now US$5.00 cheaper than it was when first released, due to changes in the exchange rate)

 Tom Cleaver

July 2013

Review kit courtesy of HobbyLink Japan - order yours here. This is the link for Lifelike decals.

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and fairly quickly, please contact the editor or see other details in the Note to Contributors.

Back to the Main Page

Back to the Review Index Page