|KIT:||UMI Resins 1/32 Avia S.199 Conversion|
|NOTES:||Resin Conversion set|
By the end of the Second World War, the Bf-109 series seemed to have arrived at the end of development and production. The aircraft had been produced at many factories within the German empire, including the Avia factory in Prague, Czechoslovakia, where the Bf-109G-14 had entered production in late 1944. The Avia plant was still intact, which allowed continued production, and two Bf-109G-12s and 20 Bf-109G-14s still on the production line were completed and issued to the National Air Guard that summer, with the single-seater designated the S-99 and the two seater the CS-99. It was planned that more Bf-109s would be produced, but this program received a major setback in September 1945 when a sugar refinery at Krasno Bresno where the entire stock of DB605AM engines for the Bf-109s was stored was set afire, destroying all the engines.
The only other 12-cylinder inverted-vee engine available in the country in substantial numbers was the 1,350 h.p. Junkers Jumo 211F which was intended for the He-111H. The engine was really in no way suitable as a powerplant for a fighter, but it was what was available. The Czechs set out to make do. The G-14 airframe was modified to take the Jumo and was designated S-199.
The conversion was entirely retrograde as regards performance. The Bf-109 was legendarily difficult to take off or land, and the torque from the new prop only made things worse since it caused the airplane to swerve as soon as the tailwheel lifted off, requiring the constant application of rudder during takeoff and climbout. Acceleration was sluggish, the controls were over-sensitive in flight, and landing was even more difficult than taking off. Top speed was reduced from the 435 m.p.h. of the Bf-109G-14 to a claimed 367 m.p.h., though production models barely made 340 m.p.h. Production commenced in 1947. The performance of the airplane was so dangerous that pilots named it the Mezec, Czech for “mule.”
Amazingly, this airplane is well-remembered in history, due to its use by the Israeli Air Force during the War of Independence in 1948-49. Had the S-199 only ever flown its first combat mission, it would have ensured its place in history.
On the morning of May 29, 1948, the Givati Brigade blew the bridge at Ashdod south of Tel Aviv, in the face of and advance by the main Egyptian armored advance, and appealed for air support. The first flights of the S-199s in Israel would be the real thing. At 1700, the four S-199s that were ready flew into history. Their attack stopped the Egyptians in their tracks, allowing the Israeli forces to hold until the first cease-fire was signed in mid-July. Without that attack, it is entirely likely that the Egyptians would have taken Tel Aviv within days.
The S-199 is one of those airplanes many people think is well-known. However, when one examines the various kits and conversions that have been produced over the past ten years, and compares them with photos of the real thing, it soon becomes obvious that things are not as accurate as they might seem.
Umi Resins has managed to do the necessary research - with help from two Israeli researchers - to discover the facts about the S-199 and turn that information into the first really accurate kit of this airplane to be released.
As it turns out, the big bulbous spinner and huge paddle prop everyone “knows” the S-199 used throughout its career, was actually only fitted to a few late production airplanes that were used by the Czech Air Force. The early production airplanes used by the Israeli Air Force had a different, more pointed, smaller spinner and a prop with blades that were not so big as those used later. Some of these early S-199s even used the Bf-109G oil cooler beneath the nose. Additionally, there were detail differences in the engine covers used on the early and late production aircraft.
This new conversion kit from Umi Resins - designed to be used with any Hasegawa Bf-109G kit - provides both types of spinner and prop, both types of engine covers, and both the original Erla canopy and the later blown hood.
Other conversions like that from ARBA and Ciro have only provided a solid resin nose that replaces what is cut off of the original Hasegawa kit. With both of these conversions, a modeler must obtain the Bf-109G-14 kit, which is not always available. These conversions have also only provided the bulbous spinner, and both provide incorrect prop blades, due to the designers having not done their research completely.
This drop-fit conversion dispenses entirely with the Hasegawa kit fuselage, other than the cockpit. The conversion provides the forward fuselage and the tall vertical fin and rudder, as well as the large wheel fairings associated with the final versions of the Bf-109.
The resin castings are sharp, with a minimum of flash. Cast in grey resin, they look like original Hasegawa injection plastic. Assembly of the fuselage is a bit fiddly, due to the fact the engine covers are provided separately. However, fit is excellent once the parts are cleaned up, and once the fuselage parts are glued together the structure is as solid as the Hasegawa original. The rudder is separate, which insures proper shaping. For a modeler who is going to build an Israeli airplane with the red and white rudder stripes, having the separate rudder will make painting that easy.
Particular attention needs to be noted that this is the only S-199 kit or conversion that provides the correct Junkers exhausts. All other kits have used the incorrect Daimler-Benz exhausts that come with the original kit.
Once the fuselage is assembled and the cockpit is installed, fitting this to the Hasegawa wing sub-assembly is as easy as the original kit.
The one problem with the kit is that it provides no decals. A modeler with access to an ALPS printer could scale up the decals in the Hobbycraft kits, which are very accurate for both the Israeli and Czech versions, if they have these out of production kits in their stash. For an Israeli airplane, SuperScale released a 1/48 sheet of Israeli markings for Spitfires that include upper wing roundels that are the right size for this kit in 1/32. Unfortunately this sheet is long out of production, and a modeler would require three of them to get sufficient insignias. There is also the alternative with both the Israeli and Czech versions of painting the national insignias, since they are simple designs that are easily airbrushed and masked.
The Hasegawa 1/32 Bf-109 series has been rightly lauded as the best overall kits of the 109 ever released. This excellent conversion from Umi Resins allows a modeler to add this famous sub-type to their collection with the most accurate model ever created of this famous sub-type, one that will look like it was produced by Hasegawa. There is additional good news: if sales of this S-199 kit bear out that modelers want the last 109s in their collections, Umi Resins is already working on a drop-fit conversion for the Spanish “Buchon.”
Review kit courtesy of UMIRESIN@aol.com
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