Amodel 1/72 Bf-109X

KIT #: 72191
PRICE: $
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Brian Baker
NOTES: Short run kit

HISTORY

The Messerschmitt Bf-109 series was produced in greater numbers than any other fighter, and it is not surprising that some pretty bizarre efforts were made to improve it during the course of its career.  Aside from the jet-powered Bf-109TL prototype, where a primitive ME-262 conversion was attempted, just about all Bf-109’s were powered by liquid cooled Daimler Benz or Junkers engines.  One odd project was to test the feasibility of installing the excellent BMW 801 radial, as used in the Focke Wulf FW-190A. For a long time, historians doubted that this airplane actually existed,  and Thomas Hitchcock, in his “0-Nine Gallery”, presents what appears to be an accurate three view drawing of the type, which was obviously used in the production of this kit, but his description states that this is what it might have looked like. However,  there is a photo  that has been published in various places, showing a rear ¾ view of the airplane, which illustrates the basic configuration.   Internet articles give a German civil registration, D-ITXP, but the photo does not show this. 

According to Scott Van Aken’s “in-the-box” review published some time back on this site,  flight tests  revealed some problems with the engine’s oil-circulation system, leading to the abandoning of the project.  It would seem that an engine change could have solved this, leading me to believe some other accounts that state that the plane handled poorly.  Certainly, the widening of the land gear track would have helped, and the clear vision “bubble” canopy would have improved visibility immensely, but the basic design would have made armament installation difficult, and the plane certainly would have been a step backwards, especially since the FW-190A was about to go into production at the time. However, in 1940, when this airplane was first flown,  the FW-190A was by no means a proven design, so Messerschmitt was probably correct in testing this concept. Anyway, it makes for an interesting model, and I had to have one for my collection. 

THE KIT

The kit consists of 30 plastic parts molded in soft light grey styrene, and one clear canopy. A very complete cockpit interior is provided in box form, with sidewall details, seat, stick, instrument panel, and rudder pedals.  This all compacts into a small box which fits inside of the fuselage.  The wings are in three pieces, a center section and two upper wing panels.  This assures the correct dihedral angle. A separate rudder is included, along with one-piece elevators.  The landing gear struts are nicely done, and these fit securely into the wheel wells giving a solid attachment. The landing gear covers are well detailed.  The tailwheel is designed to be installed before the fuselage halves go together, but I trimmed the knobs and fitted it afterwards.  The engine cowling simulates the cooling fans similar to those of the old Revell FW-190 kit, and therefore no engine is provided.  A masochist modeler would cut out the cowling face and include a fan and engine.  The canopy is well detailed, but fairly thick. Strangely, there is no indication of where the exhausts would have been, although from the photo, which doesn’t show them, one could assume that they were located at the rear bottom section of the cowling.

The instructions are printed on one 8 ½ x 11 sheet of paper, folded into 4 pages.  The cover page shows a picture of the airplane, and includes a short statement  in English and Russian that the plane was cancelled due to poor performance. Page 2 gives a color chart and a sprue diagram. Pages 3 and 4 give three exploded assembly drawings, conveniently listing the parts that are to be used in each step. The last drawing  on page 4 is a painting diagram, showing the airplane with the markings applied.

CONSTRUCTION

Assembly was as expected from a “short run” kit from A-Model.   Some flash elimination was required, but nothing excessive.   The detailed interior didn’t fit together well,  and considerable trimming was needed to get it to fit inside the fuselage after the halves were joined.  The interior fits onto a small raised panel on the top of the wing center section, and getting everything aligned properly too some ingenuity, especially the instrument panel, which has to be mounted to the fuselage in exactly the right place.  There is a small unidentified block that is supposed to fit behind the pilot’s seat, but it was too large, and I don’t know what it was supposed to be anyway.  I trimmed it and fit it behind the seat.  The detail molding, however, is good, and some intricate painting is required, although this will not be too visible through the thick canopy. The canopy could be cut and installed in the open position, but it fits fairly well as is.  Here is where a vacuform canopy would have been a good idea. The fuselage needs some filer once joined, and after the wings are installed, the dihedral angle needs to be set, and the lines filled in.  The elevators need some trimming on the attachment ends before they will fit onto the fuselage, as does the rudder.  Just ahead of the rudder is a small antenna attachment post.  I trimmed this off and made one from scrap. The prop is molded in one piece, and fits inside the spinner after the holes are enlarged somewhat.  An FW-190 prop from another kit might look better, but this one was satisfactory and I used it.

COLORS & MARKINGS

The airplane in the photo appears to be overall aluminum, with darker colors for the control surfaces. The instructions say to paint the interior RML 02 grey.  I used this for the wheel wells and insides of the gear struts, but used RML 66 dark grey for the cockpit interior, although I think that getting the interior colors of this kit correct is sort of like getting the correct interior colors on a model of a Roswell UFO (Slime Green. Ed). I used RML 02 for the control surfaces (excluding the flaps) and the forward section of the cowling.

 I decided not to use the kit decals for two reasons.  One, the only photo I had showed the airplane unmarked.  And second, the decal sheet itself apparently grew a set of legs and left my workbench for parts unknown, never to be seen again.  A-Model decals are usually very good quality, and I supposed that I could copy the decal diagram from the plans and enlarge them on the computer and make decals, but I am satisfied with my model as it shows the lack of markings of the only photograph.

CONCLUSIONS

 This was a fun model.  It certainly isn’t for beginners, but it was relatively simple, and the filling and sanding is not particularly difficult.  It fills a gap in my BF-109 collection, and I am pleased with it. Highly recommended for experienced modelers. Get one while they are available.

 Brian Baker

September 2010

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