Eduard 1/32 Bf-109E-4
KIT #: 3003
PRICE: $74.95 SRP
DECALS: Five options
REVIEWER: Tom Cleaver
NOTES: Squadron/Falcon vacuform canopy, Quickboost exhausts & resin main wheels used.

HISTORY

             Virtually indistinguishable from the Bf-109E-3 (aside from the more robust canopy that was often retro-fitted to earlier aircraft. Ed), the Bf-109E-4 was equipped with the MG FF(M) cannon, which could fire explosive rounds (“Minengeschloss”) that were far more lethal to an enemy aircraft, since one hit was enough to break off a wing or shatter a fuselage.  The Bf-109E-4 began to appear in the Jagdwaffe in late July, 1940, and fought alongside the Bf-109E-1/3 throughout the campaign.

 Adolf Galland:

             Adolf Galland was born in Westerholt, Westphalia, on March 19, 1912 the second of four sons, two of which also became fighter pilots and aces before being killed in combat: Paul Galland was killed on October 31, 1942 when he was shot down by a Spitfire after scoring 17 victories, while Wilhelm-Ferdinand Galland was shot down and killed on August 17, 1943 after scoring 54 victories.  Adolf was interested as a child by the airplanes he saw during the First World War; during the 1920s, he flew gliders as part of the national sport aviation movement.  After graduating from the Hindenburg Gymnasium in 1932, he was among 20 applicants accepted to the Lufthansa flying school.

             Galland joined the technically illegal Luftwaffe in 1933. Following a training crash in which he suffered a damaged eye, fractured skull and broken nose, he was in a coma for three days.  A second crash a year later aggravated his injured eye and he was only allowed to continue training after passing an eye test, which he memorized.  Following completion of training in Italy in 1935, he was posted to JG 132 “Richthofen,” based at Döberitz near Berlin.

             Galland was among the first Luftwaffe pilots sent to Spain in 1937, where he was appointed Staffelkapitän of 3.J/88.  Following the discovery that the He-51 was unable to fight against the I-15 or I-16, Galland flew 300 ground attack missions, and he became known as a ground attack specialist for his development of tactics and weapons such as gasoline and oil bombs that were the precursors of napalm.  It was in Spain that Galland first displayed his dashing style, flying in swimming trunks with a cigar between his teeth, in an aircraft decorated with a Mickey Mouse figure which later became the symbol of the Schlachtflieger.

             Promoted to Hauptmann just prior to the outbreak of World War II, Galland became Staffelkapitän of 4.(S)/Lehrgeschwader 2, equipped with the Henschel Hs-123, He flew an average of four sorties a day during the Polish campaign and was awarded the Iron Cross Second Class.  Prevented from joining the Jagdwaffe on the grounds he was too experienced in ground attack, Galland falsely claimed he had rheumatism and was removed from his post on medical grounds. 

             In February 1940 he was posted to Jagdgeschwader 27 as adjutant and restricted from flying, forcing him to sneak away to fly combat missions. Galland scored his first victories over Liege on May 12, 1940, shooting down three RAF Hurricanes. By the end of the French campaign, Galland had scored 14 victories and became the third fighter pilot to receive the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on August 1, 1940.

             Just before the end of the French campaign, Galland joined the unit with whom he would become synonymous, when he was assigned as Gruppenkommandeur of III./Jagdgeschwader 26 “Schlageter.” That July, he was promoted t o Major at the outbreak of the Battle of Britain.  By mid-August, Luftwaffe commander Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring's dissatisfaction with the Jagdwaffe’s performance led him to replace his pre-war Jagdgeschwader Kommodores with younger high-achievers. Galland replaced Major Gotthard Handrick as Geschwader Kommodore of JG 26 on August 22.  After scoring 40 kills by September 25, Galland was awarded the Eichenlaub to the Ritterkreuz.

             Mythology has it that during the Battle of Britain, in a briefing on Luftwaffe tactics, Göring asked what was needed to win. Werner Mölders replied that the Bf-109 should be fitted with more powerful engines. Galland is said to have replied: "I should like an outfit of Spitfires for my squadron," which left Göring speechless with rage.  The truth is that Galland never said this, though he did tell Göring that the Spitfire was better in its role as a defensive interceptor than the Bf-109 was in the role it was forced to fly in as a defensive escort rather than as a free-ranging hunter.

             There was much controversy during the Battle of Britain over killing parachuting enemy pilots, since they could then live to fight another day.  In another confrontation with Göring, Galland recalled: “Göring wanted to know if we had ever thought about this. ‘Jawohl, Herr Reichsmarschall!’ He looked me straight in the eyes and said, ‘What would you think of an order to shoot down pilots who were bailing out?’ ‘I should regard it as murder, Herr Reichsmarschall, and I should do everything in my power to disobey such an order.’ The Reichsmarschall replied ‘That is just the reply I had expected from you, Galland.’"

             By December 1940, Galland had 58 victories and was promoted to Oberstleutnant. By April 1941, most of the Jagdwaffe had been withdrawn from the Channel Front, leaving JG 26 and JG 2 as the only single-engine fighter Geschwader in France.

             At this time, JG 26 began to re-equip with the new Bf-109F, which was equipped with a single 20 mm cannon firing through the propeller hub and two cowl-mounted 7.9 mm MG 17. While Mölders approved of this, Galland felt it was a retrograde development because the average fighter pilot needed the additional weight of fire in combat.  Galland continued to fly his Bf-109E-4 until he received two special Bf-109Fs - one with a unique armament of an MG 151/20 cannon and two cowl-mounted 13 mm MG 131s, with the other equipped with integral wing-mounted 20 mm MG-FF cannons and cowl-mounted MG 17s.  (In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the scale model experten believed Galland had one airplane, equipped with the engine mounted cannon, 13mm machine guns, and wing-mounted cannon.  Thomas Hitchcock disproved this by publishing photos of both airplanes in his “109 Gallery”.)

             As the RAF began what was called the “Non-Stop Offensive” over northwestern France, Galland's careful leadership and astute tactical awareness kept JG 26's losses to a minimum while inflicting maximum damage on the RAF throughout 1941. This superiority became even greater as I/JG 26 began to convert to the Focke-Wulf Fw 190A beginning that September, an aircraft which completely outclassed the Spitfire Mark Vb.

             On April 15, 1941 Galland set off to a birthday party for General Theo Osterkamp at La Touquet that soon became his most memorable mission. He detoured towards England to see if there was any action and discovered a group of Spitfires commanded by RAF ace Brendan “Paddy” Finucane over the Cliffs of Dover. Galland dove to the attack and quickly shot down three Spitfires.  Finucane got behind him and riddled the new Bf 109F. Galland’s attempt to bail out as he crossed into France was nearly fatal when his parachute caught on the radio mast behind the cockpit.  When he managed to pull himself loose, he was so low he only swung twice before hitting the ground. 

             On the morning of June 21, 1941, Galland was shot up by a Spitfire from the Polish 303 Squadron and crash landed. That  afternoon, he was shot down by a Spitfire from 145 Squadron,  suffering slight injuries when he bailed out. Arriving back at the base that evening, he found he had become the first member of the Wehrmacht to be awarded the Schwerter to the Ritterkreuz for his 70th victory.

             Galland had always flown without the extensive head armor found on the Bf-109, which he believed was not worth the increased protection due to the fact it restricted rear vision so badly.  On July 2, 1941, with his own fighter being repaired, he led JG 26 into combat against a formation of Blenheims in another aircraft. A Spitfire from 308 Squadron hit Galland's plane with a 20 mm shell in the rear of the canopy, and his life was saved by the armor plate.  After that, he finally equipped his own airplane with the head armor.

             Shortly after scoring his 94th victory, Galland was appointed General der Jagdflieger by Hermann Göring, to succeed Werner Mölders, who had just died in an air crash while en route to the funeral of Ernst Udet. Galland was not enthusiastic about this, since he saw himself as a combat leader and did not want to be tied to a desk job. One of his first assignments was to organize the successful air protection for “The Channel Dash” - the breakout of the battle cruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau and the cruiser Prinz Eugen from Brest to Kiel in February 1942. In November 1942, his promotion to Generalmajor made Galland the youngest officer to attain General rank in Germany and he was put in charge of organizing the day fighter defense of Germany against the Eighth Air Force. In order to experience the operational conditions under which his pilots flew, Galland flew a dozen  combat missions between 1942–44 and probably gained two more victories over B-17 Flying Fortresses in early 1944, On one occasion, flying with Hannes Trautloft, he narrowly avoided being shot down by the American escort.

             Galland’s 104 victories included seven scored with the Me 262. His claims for aircraft destroyed include 55 Spitfires, 30 Hurricanes, and 5 French Armee de l'Air aircraft. All seven of his Me 262 kills were against American aircraft, two of them heavy bombers.

             In the late 1970s, a San Jose State University graduate student read Galland's memoir, The First and the Last, while researching United States Army Air Force records and matching them to German claims. He found that James Finnegan, a P-47 Thunderbolt pilot of the 50th Fighter Group, Ninth US Army Air Force, made a "probable" claim for an Me-262 on April 26, 1945, the day of Galland’s last mission. The details were matched, and the two met for the first time at an Air Force Association meeting in San Francisco in 1979.

             Galland was captured by the United States Army on May 14, 1945 and was a POW until 1947.  After his release, he lectured on tactics for the Royal Air Force. He moved to Argentine in  1948, remaining until the fall of Juan Peron in 1955, during which time he and other ex-Luftwaffe experts worked as consultants to the Argentine Air Force and the nascent Argentine aircraft industry.  Returning to Germany, Galland had a successful career as an aviation consultant. During this time he built lasting friendships with many of his former adversaries, particularly Robert Stanford Tuck, Johnnie Johnson, and Douglas Bader.  In 1966-67, he served as a historical and technical consultant in the making of the film “The Battle of Britain.”  In 1973, he was a significant on-screen contributor to the British television documentary series “The World at War.”  Adolf Galland died on February 9, 1996.

            In May 1984, I had the rare privilege of meeting General Galland at that year’s convention of the American Fighter Aces Association in Phoenix.  With Chuck Yeager and Robert L. Scott, Jr. proclaiming my bonafides as an aviation writer, I was able to talk with the General for a few hours that weekend.  Even at age 72, he was still the charismatic leader who commanded the respect of everyone.

THE KIT

            Eduard’s long-awaited Bf-109E-4 is the second in a line of completely-new kits of the Bf-109E - best-known sub-type of Germany’s most famous fighter of the Second World War.  The kit provides 169 parts in olive colored plastic, with five clear parts, two photo-etched frets including one in color, canopy masks, and markings for five aircraft plus full stencil data.

             The parts are crisply molded with fine recessed panel line detail and rivets in various places where it is correct to see them.

             Following the release of this kit, modelers noted that the canopy was incorrect in cross section, being too narrow at the top.  The created something of a brew-ha-ha at The Other Place for a week or so.  The screaming and yelling ceased after Eduard announced that they had indeed made a mistake with the canopy, and would be issuing a corrected canopy in their coming release of the Bf-109E-7 this fall.  In the meantime, modelers have found that the Squadron/Falcon vacuform canopy - originally made to correct the earlier Hasegawa Bf-109E kit - fits the Eduard kit and provides an accurate canopy.

CONSTRUCTION

             Having used one of my two Cutting Edge resin cockpits on the previously-released Bf-109E-1, I decided to use the last one on this model.  While this cockpit can be used and does fit easily, it is not really as accurate as it appears, since it was made for the old Hasegawa kit and its many inaccuracies; this is primarily seen with the rear cockpit bulkhead, which slopes at a much steeper angle than is right.  However, once installed this is not at all obvious, and the final result is a busier cockpit than what comes with the kit;  the seat - especially if you have the seat with the molded-in back pad and seat belts - makes up into a much nicer-looking seat than what you can do with the kit.  Thus, a modeler who bought that set from Cutting Edge can finally put it to use in this kit. This is not to slam the kit cockpit, which can be turned into something really nice with only a modicum of effort using the photoetch detail.

            Assembly started with the cockpit, as they say.  I painted the Cutting Edge parts with Xtracrylix RLM02, and detailed them.  For the seat, I used Xtracrylix RLM81 Braunviolett for the leather pad, and Xtracrylix Gulf Armour Tan for the seatbelts, enhancing everything with a wash of Tamiya “smoke” to pop out detail and then giving the parts a coat of Xtracrylix Flat Varnish.  I used as much of the Eduard photoetch as possible to enhance the nice detail in the Cutting Edge cockpit, with the photoetch instrument panel and all the various wires for the trim wheels and such. I only had to cut off the locating pins on the fuselage halves for everything to fit perfectly.

             I decided I didn’t want to do the engine, so I closed up the engine cowling after inserting the Quickboost resin exhausts.  These are easier to use than the separate exhaust stubs provided by the kit, and look better with their “hollow” exhausts.

             During the discussion about the incorrect canopy of this kit, another modeler had questioned whether the wing leading edge slats were too wide in chord, since they were about 1/16 inch wider than those on the 1/32 Hasegawa Bf-109G kits, which have been considered highly accurate.  Another modeler pointed out that the real Bf-109 wing does not have the “step” for the slats to fit in when closed, that the area is a smooth curve underneath, as with all wings using Handley-Page slats.  Since correcting this seemed simple, I decided to do so.  I cut off the rear edge of each slat by 1/16 inch, then glued that into the wing.  I then filled the area with Bondo spot putty, and sanded it into an airfoil shape.  I then rescribed and re-riveted the surface detail and finished off by thinning the trailing edge of the slats to a “knife edge.”

             I then proceeded to assemble the rest of the model per instructions.  The instructions would have the wheel wells aluminum, but they should be RLM02 with the walls of the wheel wells in leather brown, for which I used RLM81 “Braunviolett”.  I used Xtracrylix for these colors, popping out detail with Tamiya “Smoke.”  After attaching the slats, I left off the aileron mass balances for later assembly, and attached the flaps in down position.  The horizontal stabilizers were assembled with the elevators drooped.

            There had also been some note made of the fact that the landing gear legs were at maximum extension, so I cut off the oleo legs and shortened them 1/16 inch to more accurately portray an airplane sitting loaded with fuel and weapons.

COLORS & MARKINGS

Painting:

             When Galland received this Bf-109E-4, the aircraft were coming out of the factory in a camouflage scheme of RLM65 Hellblau lower surfaces, with an upper “splinter” scheme of RLM02 Grau and RLM71 Dunkelgrun.  As Eduard’s instructions note, the airplane was repainted at various periods in its career.  What they show is the airplane as it would have appeared at the end of 1940, with the 68 victories on the rudder.  I had photos in the JG-26 “Top Guns of the Luftwaffe” photo book that showed the airplane as it looked in late September at the time Galland scored his 40th victory and was awarded the Eichenlaub to the Ritterkreuz.  I decided I would paint that scheme.

             I first pre-shaded the model over the panel lines with flat black.  Then I painted the rudder and the engine cowling with RLM04 Gelb. I masked off the yellow area of the rudder and the engine cowling, and then pained the RLM 65 Hellblau.  I freehanded the upper camouflage, using a cardboard straightedge to get a “harder” demarcation line. 

The prop and the back plate were painted RLM70 Schwartzgrun.  I then gave the model a coat of Future.

             One nice thing was that the Eduard canopy masks fit the Squadron/Falcon canopy with only some minor modifications.

 Decals:

             The kit decals went on without a problem.  The decals provide two of the “Mickey Mouse” marking.  However, the accuracy of this was one of the questions I had asked General Galland back in 1984, and he had told me it was only on the left side, so I only applied it there.

FINAL CONSTRUCTION

             I washed the model and then gave it a coat of Xtracrylix Flat Varnish, which dries to a semi-matt finish that is accurate for well-maintained German aircraft in the first half of the war, according to photos.  I applied exhaust and gunfire stains with Tamiya “Smoke.”  The landing gear was attached, with the resin main wheels taken from a Promodeler Bf-109G-2/4 kit.  As the photos of the airplane at this time show it without head armor, I assembled the canopy in the open position without head armor.  I finished off by attaching the aileron mass balances and the pitot tube.

CONCLUSIONS

            The Eduard kit, whether you use the various extras I did or not, is head and shoulders above the competition in this scale.  Comparing this model to the Bf-109E-1 that was done out of the box other than for the cockpit, the “sit” of the two is only slightly different and only apparent when they are nose to nose.  Side by side, the difference of the slats is not that apparent just by eyeballing things.  A true “109 nut” will want to do all this - none of which is difficult - while those not so inclined can still have a good-looking model without the extra effort.  I do highly recommend the vacuform canopy, because the dimensional mistake of the kit-supplied canopy really is obvious and does change the “look” of the finished model.

 Thanks to Eduard for the review kit.  Thanks to Quickboost for the review items.

Tom Cleaver

July 2009

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