Hasegawa 1/48 Bf-109G-10

KIT #

 JT 64

PRICE:

$23.98

DECALS:

See Review

REVIEW :

Tom Cleaver

NOTES:

 

HISTORY

The Messerschmitt Bf-109, with some 33,000 examples produced between 1936-45, may be the most-produced fighter in history. Under the Jagerprogramm created by Reich Minister of Production Albert Speer, production topped out when 3,300 new and remanufactured Bf-109s were delivered in September 1944. By that time it really didn't matter, inasmuch as there were not enough qualified pilots to fly the airplanes against the overwhelming Allied air superiority, or enough fuel to put them in the air in any numbers with any regularity.

Sub-types of 109s proliferated, and not all were as interchangeable as mass-production techniques are supposed to insure. The most-produced series, the Gustav, saw attempts to stabilize production and bring everything to one standard with the Bf-109G-6 of 1943-44, and the Bf-109G-14 of late 1944. The Bf-109G-10 was a sub-type that attempted to increase high-altitude performance, and was in fact the fastest of the entire 109 series, with a top speed of 437 m.p.h. at rated altitude of 28,000 feet. The G-10 was created by remanufacturing older airframes, mostly from the G-6 sub-series, as well as the G-14. Interestingly enough, it became operational in December 1944, after the debut of the Bf-109K-4, the last new-production series.

THE KIT

Hasegawa has basically owned the franchise on the Bf-109 series since their first kit, the Bf-109E-3, appeared way back in 1987. At the time, it was the first new-production World War II airplane to be created by a mainstream manufacturer since the late 1970s, Hasegawa and others having been deeply involved in bringing out the Phantom and other jet types of the '60s, '70s and '80s. It would be four more years before Hasegawa would graduate from the "E" to the "F", followed the following year by the early "G" series, and only concluding this year with the release of the G-6, G-10 and K-4. The company's commitment to doing the Bf-109 right, however, is shown by their re-release of the Emil series in 1995-96 with the fuselage contours refined and corrected from the earlier kits.

Just a day after I purchased one of the Bf-109G-10 kits, a review sample of the same model turned up from Marco Polo Imports. I decided to do one as a Luftwaffe machine, and one as an ANR fighter, since I had the necessary Italian decals in my decal dungeon, and to concentrate on doing variations on the late war camouflages the airplane carried.

CONSTRUCTION

Since I doubt there is a modeler who builds 1/48 World War II aircraft who hasn't done at least one each of the Hasegawa 109s, I will merely state here that construction of the kit is - as always - straightforward and easy if one follows the instructions. The basic 109F/G/K wing has holes to be drilled out for the upper wing wheel bulges and the FuG16zy Morane antenna. The cockpit is, as always, sparse in its detail though acceptable, and the model will benefit from an aftermarket resin cockpit. I went with the kit cockpit in both cases here. I for one like the fact that the fuselage has been changed so that the large cowling panels are not separate moldings as they were on the 109F and early G kits; the new design allows for much easier assembly.

I have done enough of these models that both were assembled in an afternoon and allowed to set up overnight for further painting.

PAINT & DECALS

 It seems that new interpretations of Luftwaffe camouflage are constantly turning up. When it gets to the late war variants, this is mostly done from trying to interpret black-and-white photos of crashed Bf-109s being checked out by American GIs. Recently some color photos taken by GIs have turned up in the hands of Bf-109 historians, which has been helpful in figuring out some of the newer colors.

Most importantly - at least to me - is the analysis of the last Bf-109G in original Luftwaffe paint, which was done this past year by Brett Green. The airplane, a Bf-109G-6 which was once owned by the late Sid Marshall, is now in pieces in the Australian war museum, where Brett was able to examine it closely. I strongly urge anyone interested in this subject to cruise on over to HyperScale and look up the article, since its information is invaluable.

Armed with this information, I decided I would do one of the airplanes with the fuselage "sky" color Brett Green described. Since the wings were built and painted separately, they would appear in the standard RLM76 blue-grey underside color, and the RLM75/RLM83 upper camouflage so often described now. I also decided to point up the "remanufactured" look of the G-10 by making the cowl panels obvious transplants from a different machine, as well as the lower cowling, which would be RLM76 also.

The other G-10 would appear in the late-war standard of RLM75/RLM83 upper camouflage with overall RLM76 lower camouflage, much like "Black 7", the restored Bf-109G-10 which is currently to be seen on the European warbirds circuit. I decided to do "Gelbe Vier," an otherwise-anonymous G-10 of III/JG26 - one of the few photos of aircraft from this unit to survive the war - that is in Donald Caldwell's "JG26: Pictorial History of the Luftwaffe's Top Guns."

As an aside, there is - to me, at least - one drawback to doing Luftwaffe aircraft from the last year of the war, and that is their general anonymity: unit markings were a thing of the past other then Reichverteitigung bands, and aces no longer put their scores on their rudders. Fortunately, this was not such a problem with the Italian ANR airplane I decided to do from the older Aeromaster sheet I have.

Many of you know I have argued long and loud against such things as "black washes" on models to bring out the panel lines, as - to me - this makes the result look more like a plastic model than an attempt to recreate the real thing. There is one painting technique that I do agree with, and that is the "pre-shading" idea. This involves painting all the panel lines of the model with flat black paint prior to applying the camouflage colors. (Editor's note:  Make sure you are not using a gloss paint such as Xtracolor for the top coats. For gloss paints, use a gloss black) The result is a "shadowing" along the panel lines which does look realistic if it is done lightly and not with the heavily-stylized attempt to give a multi-hued faded look to individual panels, which again screams "plastic model" to me in the end result even if it is now the officially-approved finishing method of IPMS - at least in its U.S. incarnation. The system I am referring to favorably here is what you see on many of the models in the French magazines "Replic" and "Wings," which display some of the best models I have ever seen.

As an aside here, both of these models were finished after I replaced the No. 3 tip of my Paasche that I had used for the past five years with a new one, and with a new air hose to replace the one used for the past eight years. With the air quality in our cities being what it is (whether you admit it or not) the inside of an air hose over time is bound to look pretty strange with the residue of the atmosphere that has been compressed and shot through it. The result was 15 p.s.i air pressure through the regulator, going out over a new tip, and creating paint designs so good I could have free-handed a hard-edged RAF-style camouflage.

Once the camouflage was painted, the entire model was shot with Future, then decaled using the kit decals for all the detail markings. The German G-10 was marked with standard decals out of the spares box, while the Italian airplane was done as the Bf-109G-10 of 3rd Squadriglia, 1st Gruppo "Asso di Bastoni" as seen at Malpensa, Italy, in February 1945. For this airplane, I applied upperwing German crosses first, lightly oversprayed them with RLM75, then applied the ANR Fasces insignia.

Once the decals had set up, I Futured each model a second time, then used thinned Tamiya "Smoke" for the exhaust and gun stains. Since both of these airplanes were likely newly-delivered, I did not "ding" them too much, other than in the obvious places like the left wing where the pilot would board.

CONCLUSIONS

These two airplanes demonstrate the enduring hold Luftwaffe models will have on modelers, with the wealth of camouflage differences and different markings possibilities one can create.

Thanks to Marco Polo Imports for providing the review copy.

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