|NOTES:||Two full kits, a ¼ scale instrument panel, resin parts, an aluminum cup and plenty of PE|
The Bf 109 is one of the most modeled subjects in the history of scale modeling. From 1/144th to 1/24th scale the E variant (known as ‘Emil’) is perhaps the best-known and most replicated variant of this remarkable aircraft. I won’t go into details as most of us know all about Professor Messerschmitt’s terrific design. Suffice to say few aircraft are more fervently researched, highly regarded and revered than the ‘109.
The middle and last part of 2011 saw Eduard release a family of 1/48 Bf 109Es based off of their 1/32 tooling. The culmination of this is the Royal Class release of the Bf 109E. Comprised of two complete kits, five PE frets, a ¼ scale instrument panel, Brassin resin parts, twelve decal options and an aluminum laser-etched cup makes for an impressive package.
Starting with the two kits you are presented with the parts to build two complete ‘Emils’ from an E-1 thru an E-7 trop. Eduard adds an extra sprue with the correct wings for an E-1 variant. Based on Eduard’s good but not great 1/32 Bf 109E molds Eduard listened to complaints about fit and detail issues and made some notable changes. Mainly this is centered on the engine details and assembly along with the main wheels, revised leading-edge slats and the shape of the spine of the fuselage (once assembled). What you have here is arguably the best and certainly the most detailed Bf 109E on the market today. Cockpit instrument panels are supplied for each variant in both PE and plastic with decal instruments. Flaps and slats are separate however the horizontal stabs are molded in place. The engine must be built (but not in its’ entirety) to close the cowling and has separate hollow exhaust stubs. The detail in both plastic and PE for the engine is very impressive and far better than the 1/32 tooling it was based off of. Clear sprues are provided for all variants including Adolf Galland’s own E-4 with the ZFR-4 telescope installed in the front windscreen. Bomb options include a rack for carrying four 50kg bombs, a single rack for a 250kg bomb and a drop tank rack and tank. PE abounds with many details for the engine, wings, radiators, cockpit, canopy and bombs.
Eduard’s own resin line, called Brassin, has added a pair of resin main wheels and tail wheels with the strut molded to the tail wheel. The detail is impressive especially the tire details. However the kit-supplied parts are nearly as nice and this leaves you wanting a bit more value with regards to the resin content.
The ¼ scale instrument panel is something that Eduard started with the release of their Royal Class boxing of the Bf 110. This panel however adds the Revi gunsight that was absent from the Bf 110 release. Details here are impressive with decals and colored PE being used for the instruments and placards. A clear sprue is supplied for instrument lenses and PE is abundant for levers and such.
The decals are printed by Eduard and appear opaque and on register. You are given twelve options and four complete sets of stencils. Swastikas are also included and consist of two-piece and one-piece designs. Most of these options have been released over the years by other manufacturers but it’s nice to have them all in one place and the inclusion of notable aircraft (Priller, Galland, Molders and von Werra, for instance) make perfect sense as these are some of the most well-known ‘Emils’ ever known. Including a Romanian E-3 is a nice touch as is Erich Mix’s uniquely camouflaged E-3. All total you have one E-1, four E-3s, two E-4s, one E-4/B, two E-4/7s and two E-4/7 Trops to choose from. Surprisingly though (to this reviewer) there is no option for any of Marseille’s aircraft.
The aluminum cup is laser-etched with a Bf 109E at a three-quarter view in flight on one side and a replica of a werk data plate on the opposite side with the scale, type, Royal Class edition number and the actual boxing number engraved on the plate (mine happens to be #1087). This is a 300mL cup so it’s not too big but perfect for having a spot of tea on your workbench while building your newly-acquired kits. The detail is marvelous and it makes for a nifty conversation piece.
With a suggested retail price of $150 this Royal Class boxing is slightly less than previous releases. And honestly it shows in the content. Prior Royal Class boxings offered more resin, unique options, replica medals and even a piece of an actual wrecked aircraft. Not so here, folks. And that for me makes this feel a bit less of a “royal” boxing and a bit closer to a glorified Dual Combo release. A better choice for resin parts and more resin details (perhaps a figure or two) would have been very welcome here. The ¼ instrument panel, while quite nice, is really a bit of a niche product and, to be honest, subtracting this and simply adding a third kit (as the I-16 Royal Class boxing had) would have been more welcome especially with the smart decal choices given. The cup is a very nice addition and being laser-etched and aluminum one can use it freely without worry of damage. Of note here is that Eduard did auction off five specially-numbered boxings of this kit each with a piece of authentic Luftwaffe silk parachute material. Last I know these had all fetched more than $200 for each box.
I picked this up knowing full well that it would sell out rather quick what with a zillion Bf 109 aficionados eagerly awaiting its release. I have to say that although I am pleased with the quality of everything in the box I am left a bit nonplussed by its’ overall value and scope. If you can find one for around $100 or so I would say it’s a very good value…at $150 not so much. I paid $127 on pre-order thru Great Models and sold my instrument panel to help offset the cost.
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