Eduard 1/32 Bf-109B (conversion)
Alley Cat Bf-109B
conversion: 32009C, MSRP: 22.50 Pounds, Decals for Three
Messerschmitt began work in 1933 on a four‑passenger light “sporting
aircraft” of cantilever low‑wing monoplane
design, with retractable landing
gear. The BFW M.37 was completed in
the spring of 1934. Later
redesignated Bf‑108 Taifun ("Typhoon"), it was entered in the fourth
Challenge de Tourisme Internationale. While it did not win any of the
events, its performance impressed the Reichluftfartministerium
sufficiently to earned the Bf-108 a production contract.
Before the Bf‑108 had made its first flight, Messerschmitt learned the
RLM was about to issue a new specification for a modern fighter, to be powered
by the Junkers Jumo 210 and to be capable of at least 280 mph. Officially, most
German aircraft manufacturers were invited to submit designs; unofficially, only
Arado, Heinkel, Fieseler or Focke Wulf could expect serious consideration.
Erhard Milch, who hated Willi Messerschmitt and had done everything he
could to destroy Messerschmitt's business, did not even inform the company of
the competition. However, unknown
to Milch, Hermann Göring, had sent a confidential
message to Messerschmitt, ordering him to develop "a lighting‑fast courier plane
which needs only to be a single‑seater." It was obvious to Messerschmitt that
Göring wanted to see him produce a fighter.
The design team at BFW's Augsburg factory - Robert Lusser, Richard Bauer
and Hubert Bauer ‑ commenced the design of a single-seater that would
incorporate the Bf‑108's features: a monoplane with retractable landing gear,
enclosed cockpit, leading‑edge slots and trailing‑edge flaps.
The Bf‑109V1 was rolled out on
August 5, 1935,
powered by a 675‑hp Rolls‑Royce Kestrel engine in place of the unavailable Jumo.
Evaluation flights began at Rechlin and revealed the Bf-109 to be in
advance of anything else flying. The Bf‑109V2, which appeared in October,
introduced the 610‑hp Jumo 210A as well as a strengthened undercarriage, while
the Bf‑109V‑3, delivered in June 1936, was the first to be armed with an
engine‑mounted 7.92mm MG 17 machine gun.
Luftwaffe pilots were at first afraid of the airplane, and the
thoroughly-pedestrian Heinkel He-112, with a low landing speed and an open
cockpit, appeared to be the winner until Ernst Udet flew the Bf-109V2 and
declared it superior to all others in the competition. Ten pre-production
Bf‑109B‑0s were ordered in the summer of 1936, followed shortly by two events
that would affect the Bf‑109's fate.
In June 1936, the same month that the Bf-109 entered pre-production, the
Royal Air Force announced production contracts for 600 Hawker Hurricane fighters
and 310 Supermarine Spitfires. The threat posed by those new British fighters
added urgency to
fighter development efforts.
The other major event was the revolt of conservative elements under
General Francisco Franco y Bahamonde against the Republican government of
in July, 1936, followed by the dispatch of German aircraft to Franco's aid.
That November, Luftwaffe volunteers were assigned to the Condor Legion to
fight for Franco's Nationalists. At
about the same time, the Soviet Union sent aircraft and pilots to aid the
Spanish Republic, including the Polikarpov I‑15 biplane and the I‑16, the
world's first low‑wing monoplane fighter with retractable landing gear and an
enclosed canopy. Both Soviet
fighters completely outclassed the Condor Legion's Heinkel He‑51 biplanes.
As a result, the Luftwaffe rushed the Bf‑109V‑4 to
in December, 1936, followed in January by the V3 and V6 prototypes, and 15
Bf-109A fighters, the first of which left the production line in February 1937.
In May, the first of 55 Bf-109B fighters arrived.
The Condor Legion's first operational unit to fly the Bf-109, 2.
Staffel of Jagdgruppe 88 (2.J/88) commanded by
Oberleutnant Günther Lützow, began receiving the new Bf-109s in
March, 1937. The unit was
initially plagued by accidents, but the pilots soon met the challenge of taking
off and landing on a narrow‑track undercarriage in an airplane that tended to
drop its left wing, applying plenty of compensation with the rudder. 2.J/88
commenced operations over the Brunete salient on July 10, 1937.
The Bf‑109B and its principal rival, the I‑16, were closely matched. The
Bf‑109B was faster in level flight and in a dive, while the I‑16 had a superior
climb rate and maneuverability. Republican ace Andres Garcia Lacalle stated in
his memoirs that the I‑16 was superior up to 3,000 meters (9,840 feet), but from
that altitude upward, the Bf‑109B's performance was superior to that of the
The Bf-109B drew first blood on
July 8, 1937,
when Leutnant Rolf Pingel and Unteroffizier Guido Höness claimed
two SB‑2 bombers, though the Republicans gave only one of those two losses to a
Bf‑109, the other falling victim to a C.R.32. A series of air battles fought on
July 12 resulted in the downing of two Aero A‑101s by Höness, an SB‑2 by Pingel
and three I‑16s by Pingel, Feldwebel Peter Boddem and Feldwebel
Adolf Buhl. At the same time, Höness became the fist Bf-109 casualty.
The victor was when he was
shot down and killed while attacking another SB‑2 by an I-16 flown by Frank
Tinker, an American flying for the Republic.
Perhaps the outstanding Luftwaffe pilot to fly in the Spanish Civil War
was Oberleutnant Werner Mölders, who arrived in
in early 1938 to take command of 3.J/88. During the second
campaign, between July and October 1938, Mölders developed the most significant
fighter tactic, he called the Vierfingerschwarm ("four‑finger
formation"). This combined two
Rotte, the basic two‑man element within a Staffel, into a loose but
mutually supportive team, creating an infinitely flexible offensive and
defensive unit, which has been used by every air force ever since.
When Mölders left
at the end of 1938, he was the leading ace of the Condor Legion, with 14
Guided by lessons learned in
Messerschmitt produced a rapid succession of improved Bf-109s. 19 Bf‑109C's,
with a fuel‑injected Jumo 210Ga engine and four machine guns, arrived in Spain
in the spring of 1938, followed by 9 Bf‑109D's in August, which combined the
Bf‑109C's four‑gun armament with the Bf‑109B's carburetor‑ equipped Jumo 210Da
engine. In early 1939, just before
the end of the Civil War, 44 Bf109Es, powered by the new Daimler-Benz DB 601,
arrived. Following the end of the
war, those Bf-109s which had survived were given to the Spanish Air Force, where
many served into the 1950s.
Eduard's Bf-109E-1 “Weekend Kit” is the earlier Bf-109E-1 first released
in 2008, minus the photo-etch, and with only one decal option.
The kit retails for approximately half the price of the “Profipack”
(Here is a
preview of this
Alley Cat has released three different conversion sets, to allow a
modeler to create the Bf-109 prototypes or Bf-109a, the Bf-109B, and the Bf-109C
and D. The masters, research, and
artwork for the sets have been done by Phil Edwards. The first two sets include
the longer-span leading edge slats of the early Bf-109s, with a resin part to
fill in the area of the leading edge of the kit wing where the wing armament
would be, and includes both the wooden prop and the later Hamilton Standard
constant-speed prop. These are designed to be used with either the Bf-109E-1 or
Bf-109E-3 kits, though the E-1 makes for an easier conversion since the modeler
does not have to get rid of the underwing cannon bulge.
Each of these kits provide decals for three different aircraft, printed
by Fantasy Print Shop.
The conversion is designed to replace the cowling, prop, wing slats,
flaps, and underwing radiators of the Eduard kit.
I began by cutting the various resin parts off their molding blocks and
sanding them smooth.
I then started the conversion by cutting the wings as instructed and
assembling them. I puttied in the
area of the wing leading edge under the slats, since I planned to correct the
wing without the usual “edge” on the wing, as I did with the Eduard Bf-109E-4.
I then cut the cowling off the fuselage and assembled the fuselage
halves. I attached the cowling to
the fuselage. Be very careful to
insure you have aligned the nose so it is straight. I found that marking the
centerline with a pencil was a real help in doing this, something I discovered
the hard way when I found later I had the nose “off” by about 2 degrees.
While I attached the radiator cowling to the wing, I would suggest as the
result of experience that you attach this to the resin cowling, and mount the
entire assembly to the fuselage.
This insures everything fits. Be
very certain to cut off the residue little “plug” in the section that will glue
into the wing, because if you don't you will find the wing will not fit to the
fuselage (ask me how I know).
I assembled the cockpit
and added a set of photo-etch seatbelts.
Since the kit does not have the photoetch instrument panel, I did mine
with an instrument panel decal from the decal dungeon.
Fitting the wing to the fuselage requires a lot of test-fitting to get
things right. Because of having
made the mistake of not fully assembling the nose, I ended up using more putty
in the assembly than I might have otherwise.
While not as easy as a “crop fit conversion,” this conversion does not
present any difficulties to a modeler who has built at least a couple
limited-run Eastern European kits.
Once the model was assembled, it was time to head for the paint shop.
Alley Cat's instructions call for the Spanish Civil War airplane to be
painted RLM65 Hellblau on the lower surfaces, with a disruptive scheme of
RLM 63 Hellgrau and RLM62 Lichtgrun.
wrong. The first Bf-109Bs - of
which 6-o-39 is one, were supplied by the Luftwaffe in the standard
70/71/65 factory scheme. This paint
faded badly during the operations over Brunete in the summer of 1937, to the
point that by that fall they could have been mistaken for airplanes painted in
62/63/65. That winter, they were in
fact repainted in overall RLM 63, which was more appropriate to the Spanish
environment. I am indebted to “Mr. Bf-109,” Lynn Ritger, for providing me a
photo of 6-o-39, which clearly identifies it as being in the darker scheme of
70/71/65. I decided to do a very
faded scheme, using Tamiya “Dark Green,” “Black Green” and “Light Blue”, and
doing the “hard-edge” scheme by masking with drafting tape.
After applying the white rudder and wing tips, I masked those off, then
pre-shaded them model with flat black over the panel lines.
I then applied the RLM 65 “Light Blue” and then “post-shaded” that with
Light Gull Grey added to the original color.
This was masked off and I applied the RLM 71 “Dark Green.”
I then went over that with Tamiya “Khaki Drab” to start the fading
process, adding in a drop of Tamiya “Desert Yellow,” then Tamiya “buff” and
finally some “Sky Grey” as I went over the paint and “faded” it.
I ended by thinning the paint 70% with thinner, adding in a brushful of
white, and going over these
painted areas so that the end result was not so “Extreme Spanish School” in its
look. I then masked these areas in
the standard pre-war camouflage pattern, and applied the RLM 70 “Black Green,”
which was then faded using Tamiya “Deep Green” with progressive applications of
light grey, followed by thinning it as I had the other color, and adding in a
brushful of white, to tone down those areas.
The spinner was painted with Black-Green and left unfaded, since this
airplane would have been originally equipped with a wooden prop, with the
controllable prop upgraded toward the end of the summer of 1937.
Everything was unmasked, and the model was given several coats of
Xtracrylix Gloss Varnish.
I used the markings provided by Alley Cat, and the kit decals for the
stencils and walkways. Everything
went down without problem.
I first applied exhaust stains and gunshire stains with Tamiya “Smoke,”
then “dinged” the kit at various places to show wear.
I shortened the oleos of the landing gear 1/16 inch, since the Eduard kit
comes with the gear legs at maximum extension.
I then attached the landing gear and prop, and aileron mass balances, and
set the canopy in the open position.
I now have all the major versions of the Bf-109 - from the Bf-109B to the
S.199, in 1/32 scale. Hopefully,
this collection will end up in a glass case out at Planes of Fame next to their
1:1 Bf-109E. In the meantime, the
collection looks pretty good on the shelf.
For those who want an accurate early Bf-109, this kit by Alley Cat is
well worth the price and the effort, with the result looking like it was an
injection-molded kit from the beginning.
Review Kit courtesy of my
wallet. Bf-109B conversion courtesy
of Alley Cat Productions. Get yours
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