Tamiya 1/48 Bf-109v14

KIT #: 61050
PRICE: $29.00 MSRP
DECALS: Three options
REVIEWER: Tom Cleaver
NOTES: Werner Wings Bf-109v14 conversion set used

HISTORY

            The Bf-109 V13 and V14 prototypes were the first Bf-109 airframes to utilize Daimler-Benz DB 600-series engines, which finally gave the airframe the power it had needed since it first flew.  The DB 600 was effectively the prototype for the mass-production DB 601. 

             These DB-powered prototypes made their first public appearance at the Zürich‑Dübendorf aviation meet of 1937.  The Luftwaffe, eager to impress the aeronautical world, sent the Bf 109 V‑13 D‑IPKY and the Bf 109 V‑14 D‑ISLU to participate in the competitions.  Both of these used high-powered DB 600 engines that actually provided more horsepower than the production engines, at 1,560 h.p.     

             The Bf-109 V14 attracted public notice because it was flown by famed World War I ace Ernst Udet, who was at the time chief of the Technischen Amt of the Reichluftfartministerium.  The V14 was painted in a “wine red” color that Udet had popularized with all the aircraft he flew from his well known Siemens-Shuckert D.III and Fokker D.VII during the war through his famous “Flamingo” in the 1920s.

             During the competitions leading up to the main races, the German team easily defeated the competition.  The big race, the Alpenrunflug Kategorie A: Einsitzer was held July 27, 1937.  The V14 experienced a cracked oil line, and Udet experienced a catastrophic crash, in which the fuselage broke in half just behind the cockpit.  The fact that he suffered only minor‑injuries was a major plus to the reputation of the Bf 109.  The Swiss Air Force, which had seen the competition as an unofficial way to check out the potential fighters for their re-equipment, were impressed that Udet escaped with no injuries and concluded it was due to the solid design of the airframe.  The result was that the Swiss ordered 80 Bf-109E-3 aircraft the following year.

THE KIT

            The Tamiya Bf-109E kit has appeared as the D-3, E-4 and E-7 variant in the 15 years since it was released, and is considered the easiest Bf-109 kit to assemble of all the possibilities.  The original release had an incorrectly-shaped nose, which Tamiya corrected in later releases.

             The Werner Wings Bf-109 V13/V14 conversion set provides a new nose cowling with the different intake and exhausts associated with these prototypes, and a spinner to do either the V13 as it appeared at the Zurich event or as it appeared at the Zurich event or when it was used for the first record-breaking flight. The set includes a vacuformed Falcon canopy with the different windscreen for the record-breaking V13.  Decals are included for both versions of the V13 and for the V14.  It is of particular importance that the white decals for the V14 have been done with sufficient opacity to go over the red surface without problem.  The set also includes the different gear doors associated with these prototypes.

             The Werner Wings set was originally produced as a 250-set limited-production run that was first released at the 2009 IPMS-USA National Convention.  As of this review, Werner Wings has fewer than 30 of these sets left.

CONSTRUCTION

            The main construction change associated with this kit is to cut off the kit nose, for replacement with the resin part.  The good news here is, this is a good way to use an older kit with the incorrect nose, since that will be discarded.  The replacement part is designed for “drop fit” and you cut the nose off on panel lines.

            One thing I noted with my conversion set was a bit of “shrinkage” of the part, so there was a bit of a “dish in” of the cowling part.  This was easily solved with some Mr. Surfacer and a sanding stick, with a little rescribing of panel lines necessary.  Past that, the only thing one needs to do is cut off the radio masts.  If you use the kit canopy, you must fill the hole in the canopy where the mast is supposed to go.  Alternatively, the Squadron/Falcon Bf-109E-3 vacuformed canopy can be used without difficulty.

            Other than this easy bit of conversion work, the kit assembles as a standard Tamiya Bf-109.  I also used Eduard photoetch seat belts to improve the look of the cockpit.

COLORS & MARKINGS

Painting:

            The best color to use for the Bf-109 V14 is Gunze-Sangyo “Wine Red,” which I happened to have.  This is a gloss color, so I did not need to apply a gloss varnish before proceeding to apply decals.  I painted the prop with Auto-air “Aluminum.”

Decals:

            The one thing to watch out for is that these decals are a bit thick, which provides the opacity necessary to go over the red color.  I found after I applied the decals and they set up that I had to go back over them with an Xacto to slice the decal along panel lines and then re-apply decal solvent.  This was not a problem, and it was an easy price to pay for decals that looked right when the model was finished.

FINAL CONSTRUCTION

            I attached the canopy in the open position, attached the landing gear and prop. I did not weather the model, since this was a spotless airplane.

CONCLUSIONS

            If you are a “109 nut,” this is a conversion you will want in your collection of Bf-109s.  I would even recommend you do two: the V13 record-breaker and the V14.  This bright red airplane looks very good among the camouflaged 109s.  If there is enough demand for this set, Floyd Werner may decide to make a second run, but you should order now if you want to insure you get one of these very nice conversions.

Kit courtesy of my wallet. Conversion set courtesy of Werner Wings.  Get yours at www.wernerswings.com   

 Tom Cleaver

March 2010

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