Academy 1/72 Bf-109G-14
KIT #: 1653
PRICE: $10.00 MSRP
DECALS: Two options
REVIEWER: Jon Hudak
NOTES:  

HISTORY
 
In life there are many things that are similar yet different whether its animals or people or inanimate objects like cars or airplanes. The case in point being the Mitsubishi A6M3 Type 32 Zero and the Messerschmitt Bf 109 G14. Now I know what you're thinking and in all the confusion did I fire six shots or did I fire five? Whoops, wrong story! But what you were probably thinking was what could two different airplanes from two different nations so far apart in relation to each other and so diverse in culture and tradition possibly have in common?

To make a long story short the A6M3 Type 32 Zero actually preceded the Type 22 model. You would think otherwise by the numbers alone but thatís how it went, kind of like how the Messerschmitt Bf 109 G14 variant preceded the G10 variant. Therein lies the only similarity that I can think of. Everyone knows that by 1944 the war situation for Germany was not going good for them. The continuous bombing raids by the Allied "heavies" on industry were taking their toll along with the high losses of skilled Luftwaffe pilots who were being replaced by far less experienced greenhorns who had slim chances of surviving in clashes against some of their more experienced combat hardened Allied foes. Shortages of fuel would also hurt the once mighty Luftwaffe let alone all of the snags and bottlenecks that were hampering fighter plane production no doubt in part to poor planning and the many numerous small sub-contractors involved. It was for these latter problems that the Jager Stab(fighter staff) was designed and their purpose was to streamline fighter production and get the ball rolling so to speak for the much needed fighter aircraft in these times of turmoil.

 

Following along on the heels of the popular G6 variant, such models as the G7, G9 and G11 which were intended to receive pressurized cockpits never materialized and problems with the DB 605D engine which was designed to increase the performance and bring up the speed in the now overweight G6 model kept it from reaching production in time for the forthcoming G10 model. This boys and girls explains the skip in numbers from G6 to G14. The G14 model would be the Jager Stab's first attempt at improving and smoothing out production and it soon would see such standard features as the taller wooden tail, the Erla canopy for all around better vision, wider wheels to help in taxiing on the ground as well as to handle the weight of the airplane and larger wheel wells to accommodate them as well as the DB 605A engine among others. Although overshadowed in terms of performance by its later successors like the G10 and K versions at least some progress was made in production attempts and it was produced in significant numbers some sources quoting over 5, 000 units but this seems woefully optimistic. Some units to have flown the G14 consisted of JG 1, 3, 7, 11, 27, 53 and 300. Nevertheless though maybe not a huge success the G14 at least provided a stepping stone for its aforementioned successors and in the hands of a skilled pilot was still a force to be reckoned with.
 
THE KIT

Academy's kit features four main sprue trees, three of them molded in their familiar light gray plastic as well as a smaller one for the clear parts. Hate to sound redundant but there it is. What you do get is a high quality kit for good value which seems to be a trademark of Academy's. All the parts were almost totally flash free and any that was encountered was minimally minimal. Quality was pretty much top notch with the usual engraved panel lines and the moldings looked fresh, clear and clean. Markings are provided for two aircraft one flown by none other than famous ace Erich Hartmann from 1/JG 53 during February 1945 over Hungary in a winterized finish while the other represents an aircraft from 3./JG 11 Spring 1945 over Germany. With a good looking kit in hand and a fervor to do something late war Luftwaffe I was set to go!
CONSTRUCTION
 

Risking a possible arrest by the M.A.P. (Model Aircraft Police) and a night in the hoosegow I decided to defy them and make my own exit off the modeling highway of thou shall and thou shall nots by not starting with the cockpit for once and instead started with the three piece wing assembly and the separate tail unit. The latter is no doubt a wise engineering move on Academy's part to get more versions out of the same basic mold without having to change much else. Henceforth their G6 kit. With these couple of subassemblies out of the way I glued in the seat and control stick to the cockpit floor. Also supplied is a two piece trim wheel ( a nice touch) for the port fuselage half and once these items were set and dry I painted them and all the related interior bits with Model Master RLM 66. Details were picked out later like some khaki for the "shifter boot" as well as a rubbing with a silver pencil over the instrument panel gauges which I'd previously painted black along with the control column grip. A few final splotches of color were added for some of the switches on the instrument panel and some seat belts made from painted masking tape before gluing it and the completed cockpit tub between the fuselage halves.

Things went pretty rapidly from here on and the wing section came next followed by the tail unit and rear stabilizers. Next came the cowl insert piece and machine gun "blisters" followed by the exhausts and "shield" plates. Lastly the supercharger intake scoop was glued on and now it was finally starting to look like a 109. Fit overall was pretty good and no major problems were encountered. I'd have to say the worst fitting parts were the cowling insert, blister covers and
the supercharger intake, but it was nothing a little filling and sanding couldnít take care of. The
canopy was masked off next using cut strips of Tamiya tape and Humbrol Maskol. At least the Erla canopies are easier to mask! With things going at a pretty good pace and the seams taken care of, now came the fun part......painting!
COLORS & MARKINGS
Originally I'd planned on doing a neat looking machine from JG 53 (Blue 2) with RLM 81 and RLM 82/83 uppers over RLM 76 lowers. This colorful camouflage scheme coupled with a black tail band and barber pole spinner looked pretty cool and was my first choice. This being my first attempt at Luftwaffe mottling let alone in 1:72 scale I was feeling like I was about to enter a lions den armed with only a toothpick. Almost all the exterior colors were painted with Model Master enamels except where noted. I started first with their RLM 76 for the bottoms and lower sides of the fuselage plus the tail and landing gear doors, so far so good. RLM 81 came next and I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed as it reminded me of Olive Drab and looked a little bland. I basically sprayed the wings and the upper parts of the fuselage first then tried to basically "feather and spot" the sides. My first attempt at doing this was only so-so and my touch ups only made things worse. It was here that I decided to go with a different scheme, this time "white 9" from JG/11 in the popular RLM 74, 75 over 76 scheme.

 

I started by repainting the sides and fin with some more RLM 76 then I painted the spinner and areas to be yellow which consisted of the stripe directly behind the spinner, rear fuselage band and rudder with Humbrol 34 Flat White. This was allowed to dry and followed up by a blast of MM RLM 04 Yellow. When dry these areas were masked off with Tamiya tape as were the surrounding sections of the fuselage just above the wing fillets. I did it this way so that I could paint the wings without getting overspray onto the sides of the fuselage when doing the RLM 75.
Again I only sprayed the uppermost areas of the fuselage with the 75 and when this was dry I masked off the splinter pattern on the wings and sprayed this and tops of the fuselage with RLM 74 saving the sides of the fuselage and tail for the mottling for last with both colors. The mottling was another story in itself from which I will spare the fortunate readers! I still hadn't achieved the effect I was after and at this point I decided "it was time to move on" and be done with it. You have to start somewhere right? In the end I think I got a little carried away resulting in a somewhat "busy" pattern but its nothing I'll lose sleep over and sometimes you just have to let it go and be a man and chalk it up as experience.
With all of the tricky painting out of the way and masking tape removed the model received a coat of clear gloss in preparation for the decals. The decals themselves were a hodgepodge affair using some from here and some from there kind of like your Grandma's soup. The national insignia came from an Aeromaster sheet and were excellent, the "9"s came from a Luftwaffe numbers Techmod sheet and weren't bad while the minuscule data and stencils etc came from the kit decals which were so-so. Next time I'll use some good quality aftermarket ones for the small stuff as past experiences with Academy decals haven't been exactly what you'd call stellar.
After all the decals were done and dry I wiped the model down with a damp cloth to remove any excess setting solutions and decal adhesive remnants. A liberal coat of gloss was sprayed over the decals and I sprayed the propeller with some RLM 70. And another thing, I refuse to use the words "decaled", "decaling" or "decalling" the latter of which sounds like some kind of phone company service. We modelers have to band together and rid our modeling lingo of these two Neanderthal nasties! While words like "sprue" "drybrush" and "subassemblies" are socially acceptable those other two
just have to go! You don't hear people saying " I Fantasticked off my counter" or "Windexed the windows" do you!? But alas, you often do hear modelers say "after I Futured the canopy" to which is sometimes followed with " I decided to get my pipe and slippers and have a Martini" so I guess I cannot win. But I don't have to use them and will fight the bloody fight of modeling vocabulary innuendoes and faux-pas. Here ye!
FINAL CONSTRUCTION
 

Rather than try and use a decal for the spinner which I've heard can cause nausea and sleeping disorders, I decided to try a new product from Eduard and that is their pre-cut(uh-oh is that a true word?) Luftwaffe spinner masks. This is a great idea and simple to use, just paint the spinner with the first color, usually black or white depending on the color of the band/spinner and when dry apply the spinner mask and paint your secondary color. Allow to dry, carefully remove and Voila! you're all done, no endless hours of applying decal solvents and offering sacrifices to the model gods that the decal will turn out alright.

In between things I'd also assembled the tail wheel and landing gear units, the struts and insides of the gear doors being painted RLM 02 and the wheels in black and the tires with Pollyscale Nato Black I believe. The spinner and prop assembly were then glued together and put off to the side and allowed to dry. A coat of Pollyscale clear flat was then sprayed onto the entire airframe and when dry the canopy masking was removed. I then highlighted the panel lines and control surfaces using raw umber oil paint and turpentine as well as a black/dark gray acrylic sludge wash.
Now in the home stretch and with the model almost completed I attached the tail wheel unit and landing gear and while that was drying the mass balances and FuG antenna mast which were previously painted RLM 76 were removed from the sprue and touched up. I should mention there was no mounting hole on the underside port wing for the FuG mast so I drilled one out using a pin vise about where it should be. The former pieces were glued in place and the exhausts painted with Floquil's Roof Brown and the wingtip and navigation lights were painted. Lastly the spinner and prop assembly was pushed into place for that final touch and some light weathering
was done with some pastels and I then proceeded to drybrush the exhausts with a bit of aluminum.
CONCLUSIONS
 

I now had a late war 109 sitting before me decked out in its mottle camouflage scheme and the ever present mesmerizing spinner. What I like about it are the combination of the fuselage mottling with the splinter pattern on the wings and the yellow defense bands and rudder add a splash of color. Lastly there's that cool barber pole spinner which I like so much and the underwing FuG antenna mast that let you know this aint no G6 baby! Also it makes a perfect stablemate to my E4 and reminds me I still have a bunch more 109s to build. I had a fun time building this kit and didn't run into any snags the whole time. It's high quality, ease of build and attractive pricing definitely make it a winner and I recommend it. Unfortunately during the construction phase I'd forgotten to drill out the locating points for the drop tank mount, only realizing it after I was well into the painting stage. Not wanting to mar the finish I decided to leave it off. Sigh.....shades of Shiden-Kai! Also somewhere along the way I'd lost the loop antenna that should be atop the fuselage behind the canopy so double d'ohs on that! At least the knowledge that some late war 109s didn't have them and that one day I might be able to cobble something up is helping me come to grips. Either that or I could work out a trade with the carpet gnomes for some Poppies or applebush root or something and they might consider a trade!

Previously the Emil was always my favorite 109 but during the researching and reading I've taken an interest and new liking to the F, G & K versions as well. It's also fascinating that compared to some of it's rivals like the P47 and P51 the 109 was always there from beginning til the end ever evolving and adapting to suit its changing environment.
REFERENCES
 
Messerschmitt Bf 109 In Action Part 2             Squadron Signal Publications
 
The Messerschmitt Me 109, 1942-1945 -volume 2    Histoire & Collections

January 2006

Jon Hudak

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