Fujimi 1/48 Bf-110C/D
KIT #: 31002
PRICE: 15 € for the kit (second hand market) + 21 € for the Eduard detailing set + 12 € for the decal sheet = 48 €  (70 USD)
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Patrick Grué
NOTES:  ILIAD DESIGN decal sheet # 48016. Eduard photo-etched set 48-253

HISTORY

Obviously the Bf-110 was one of these aircraft which had a controversial operational life. Often been criticized for its failure during the Battle of Britain, its operational life could have stopped in 1941 if it was not given a new task as a night fighter – role in which it was not originally supposed to play – but carried out this task with success until the end of the war.

Its original development started in 1934 from a RLM (*) requirement for a new concept of combat aircraft called "zerstörer” (destroyer). This concept, firmly pleaded by Air Marshall Göring, consisted in a multi-purpose heavy fighter with specifications such as ground attacks deep into enemy territory, long-range escort/ defense of friend bombers, interception/ destruction of foe bombers.

Such specifications called for a twin-engine, three-seat design aircraft with a heavy armament. Three manufacturers went in for competition: Henschel, Focke-Wulf and Messerschmitt (BFW at this time *). BFW focused mainly on performances (speed, range) and fire power by omitting the bomb bay required by the RLM for ground attack purpose. Finally BFW won the contract with the help of former WWI Ace General Ernst Udet who did not feign his favor for the Willy Messerschmitt design, and therefore put pressure on RLM to accept the Bf-110 concept.

Production began with Bf-110B series in March 1938 fitted with 700-hp Jumo 210 engines. When the 1050-hp DB601 engines were certified in late 1938, then production of the C-series started in January 1939. This important series gave many sub-versions (C-0 to C-7) used as destroyer, reconnaissance or fighter-bomber. The aerodynamic refinements gave the C version the top speed of 541 km/h at 20,000 feet. In fact 110 km/h more than the B version and a bit lower than the best single-engine fighters at this time! The standard armament was made of two 20 mm cannons, four 7.92 mm machine guns and one 7.92 mm machine gun for the rear gunner. A promising aircraft in a way...

When WWII broke out in September 1939 with invasion of Poland, Denmark and Norway, the Bf-110 gained the favor of its pilots since they encountered outclassed enemy fighters. The shipping escort experience during the Norway invasion had revealed the need for increasing the range of the Bf-110: then came the D version. The D-0 and D-1 versions were fitted at the beginning with a huge 1200 liter belly tank which did not give satisfaction. D-2 version was fitted with two 300 liter drop tanks and a fuselage rack for two 500 kg bombs (my model kit). D-3 version could carry either two 300 liter drop tanks or two 900 liter drop tanks, and featured a dinghy in the fuselage tail which was lengthened for this purpose.

Offensive against France in May 1940 showed the first serious shake when the Bf-110 faced the French Morane 406 and British Hurricane. In August 1940, the Battle of Britain sounded the death kneel for the use of such an aircraft as a long-range escort fighter for bombers. The main flaws of the Bf-110 were its sluggish control in roll and the low acceleration rate as regard of those of its main opponents: the Hurricane and especially the Spitfire. However its ability in the vertical plane was good and its speed was an advantage at higher altitude to flee its opponents. Unfortunately the Bf-110s were mainly assigned to long-range escorts of the German bombers at medium speed and medium altitude up to their target. Such operations were a gift for the RAF fighters! Since the single-engine Bf-109E escort fighters were “short fuel” and should break up with their bomber formations, the Bf-110s were therefore unable to protect bombers as well as themselves against the British fighters. Then the Bf-110s became a real burden for the Luftwaffe.

BoB proved in fact that a twin-engine aircraft could not face a modern single-engine fighter in close combat. However some sporadic strikes against targets in South England were carried out with success by an experimental unit – E.Gr. 210, later renamed SKG 210 * (my model kit) – which was equipped with Bf-110 and Bf-109 fighter-bombers. The heavy Bf-110 losses during the two months of BoB put a heavy blow to Göring's pride for his favorite plane (a plane for elite pilots as he said). A few months later, the Bf-110s started their withdrawal from the Channel coast to be re-affected to Balkans and Mediterranean theater for maritime patrol, shipping escort and ground attack purposes.

The Bf-110 crews were more confident during the invasion of USSR in June 1941 since they encountered outclassed enemy fighters and carried out close support operations for the Wermacht. The E and F versions arrived on the Eastern front and Mediterranean theater, followed later by the G version. These versions featured more powerful engines, some aerodynamic refinements and new armaments such as bombs or rockets under wing.

Meanwhile, the night bombing raids carried out by the RAF over Germany was considered as a serious threat and called for the creation of a night fighter task force. The first group was equipped with standard Bf-110Cs, painted all black, and guided by radar ground stations until visual contact with enemy. Later with its airborne radar, the Bf-110G-4 became the symbol of this task force until the end of the war. But that is another story and of course another model kit... J

From 1936 to 1945, more than 6000 Bf-110 all versions were built. Only 3 intact aircraft survived the war and are now displayed in museums.

Key word:

(*) RLM: Reichsluftfahrtministerium (Aviation Ministry of the Reich)

    BFW: Bayerische Flugzeugwerke (the Bayern Aircraft Factory)

   E.Gr: Erprobungsgruppe (Experimental Group)

   SKG: Schnellkampfgeschwader (Fast Bombing Wing)

THE KIT

In spite of its 30 years old this kit features finely recessed panel lines and thin trailing edges. There are 120 parts in grey plastic including 7 transparent parts for the canopy (open or closed position for the pilot only). There are two decal sheets which are completely outclassed by recent releases. It is necessary to have a new one if you want to have a nice model. There are many drawbacks, as regard of actual standards, which must be corrected: the cockpit and wheel well details are poor, the rear fuselage section and drop tanks are undersized, the tail wheel is inaccurate and the ETC rack is simplified. The Fujimi kit offers options to make C-3/ -4 versions, or D-1/ -2/ -3 versions. Fortunately the main dimensions are accurate despite its many drawbacks!

When I decided to start the construction, proud to have the gorgeous Eduard photo-etched set and the new decal sheet, Eduard factory announced the release of its very expected Bf-110E kit at the same scale. Hmm well... should I start building my old Fujimi kit or should I resign and wait a couple of weeks to buy the Eduard one?

Answer: the money invested in my project shortened any frenzy to acquire the new Eduard kit!

And so I engaged into a three-month modeling work, not really aware of the expected load…

CONSTRUCTION

Cockpit:

The huge modifications suggested by the Eduard PE set affects 90% of the cockpit layout. I will not detail all the modifications to avoid boring you with, but in addition of these, I removed the very simplified wing main spar which crosses the cockpit by a new one in scratch build. I modified also the pilot and radio consoles, and I reshaped the aft bulkhead because of the fuselage enlargement.

Fuselage:

This is the personal modification of that kit. The fuselage section at the stabilizer root is too thin. So to make it as accurate as possible, I used the 3-view drawing to measure the fuselage cross-sections. Then I cut out two long “triangular” fillers in sheet styrene and glued them onto the joint lines of one fuselage half.

The two original parts used to end the fuselage tail were also reworked due to this enlargement.

Horizontal stabilizer:

Because of the fuselage enlargement, I removed some plastic with a drill from the lower contact surface of the H stabilizer to able the stabilizer fit onto the fuselage. Then, to be more realistic, I chose to cut out the elevators to show them in down position.

Wings:

The wing profile is good and fit well to the fuselage. The only flaw is located on the intrados: the recessed line which represents the flap hinge must be seriously deepened from the wing root to the aileron.

Glycol radiator:

I reworked some internal details such as the air ducts in addition of the PE parts. The radiator flaps are shown open.

Wheel well:

This original part is very poorly detailed and needs also a lot of rework. In addition of the PE parts, I used half a tire of a bomb trailer taken from my spare parts to make it.

Landing Gear:

Some missing parts (not provided by Eduard set) are added such as the closing device (rods) of the doors and the brake wire. I replaced the inaccurate tail wheel (too thin) by a larger one taken in my German spare parts.”

Engines:

The original shape of the exhaust pipes is good but must be drilled to be more realistic.

Canopy:

The original parts do not allow showing the rear gunner canopy in open position. So to give this model something more, I cut out the canopy rear part with a small circular saw. A very risky operation since it should not forgive any mistake: only one canopy is given in the Fujimi kit!

On the other hand, adjustment of this tilting canopy is difficult as a part of it goes inside the main canopy. It needs a reshape.

Armament and drop tanks:

All the machine guns are replaced by more realistic ones taken from spare parts. The very simplified ETC 500 rack must be reworked to show all the bomb locking devices.

The 300 liter drop tanks are taken from spare parts (Bf-109/ Fw-190 kits) since the original ones are very undersized. I added the two gasoline supply hoses in-between a wing and its tank, a detail which is often neglected by kit manufacturers at this scale.

COLORS & MARKINGS

Cockpit interior is in RLM 66 cockpit grey with a final dry-brush of silver powder to give a metallic aspect. All belts are beige.

The wheel wells and gear legs are in RLM 02 grey-beige.

The 500 kg bombs, propeller blades and spinner are in RLM 70 black green.

Among the four marking options suggested by the decal sheet, I chose the one flown by flight lieutenant Wolfgang Schenk who led the first group of SKG 210. This unit stayed on Abbeville airfield near the Channel coast in early 1941, before being re-affected to the Eastern front.

The camouflage scheme is typical of this series of Bf-110 at this time of the war, i.e. RLM 02 grey-beige/ RLM 71dark green over RLM 65 light blue.

I started to airbrush the lower surfaces in RLM 65 using Gunze acrylic paints. Then all the upper surfaces were airbrushed in RLM 02, and the splinter patterns on the wings and stabilizer in RLM 71 using masks. The fuselage and rudders were airbrushed free hand with some mottling in RLM 02/70/71. 

CONCLUSIONS

Well, if I had known before… I would have bought the Eduard kit!

REFERENCES

Messerschmitt Bf-110 “Zerstörer” in action, Squadron Signal publications #30 (1977)
Encyclopédie de l’Aviation volume 8, Ed. Atlas/ Aerospace publishing Ltd (1984)
Eduard 1/48 scale Messerschmitt Bf-110E by Brett Green (2007)
Fujimi 1/48 scale Messerschmitt Bf-110C-1 by Charles Whall (2007)
Koku Fan #38 (1973) for the 1/60 scale 3-view drawing

Patrick Grué

December 2009

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