Hobbycraft 1/48 Bf-109E-1
Kit Number: HC 1564
Media: Injected Plastic
Decals : Two versions, both early WWII
Comments: Yes, yet another 109 review. As some people are hooked on Spitfires, Mustangs, and Polish observation aircraft, I am hooked on 1/48 109s. This was actually the second 1/48 109E that I had built, the other being the choice Monogram effort from about 1963, with retractable landing gear. Since then I have graduated to the Tamiya and Hasegawa kits, but still build a Hobbycraft from time to time.
I was looking for an early 109 with the70/71/65 splinter scheme, and hoping for a pre-WWII decal sheet. While I had no luck with the sheet, (Note: since this review was written, Aeromaster has done several prewar sheets with 109Es on it) I did purchase one of Third Group's first efforts on the 109E. More on that later.
As for the Hobbycraft kit, it is about four years old so one of the earlier tries. This means that the instruction sheet is devoid of proper (any) color annotation for interior colors, and generic colors for the rest of the bits and pieces. It also means that the interior itself is less than overcrowded with goodies but does have some sidewall detailing including a trim wheel, and a decent representation of a seat and gun sight. Having said all that, the kit itself is a pretty good build. There are no big fit problems, although I did find the stabilizer struts to be too long so had to trim them back. I was also disappointed in that the windscreen/canopy is in one piece and the windscreen just doesn't look exactly right for an E-1. It looks more like an unarmored E-3 windscreen. There are no nose or wing radiator grills although there is a blanking plate in the nose to prevent the see-through effect. I also had some small problems getting the engine cowling to fit and was unhappy to find that there were no cowl machine guns in the kit.
Now that the whining is over, I'll mention that the surface detail is finely engraved and matches from side to side. It has great wheels (no True Details here) and a good representation of the correct gear doors. The kit also included aileron external balances (one of which I promptly lost), but no under wing pitot tube. The wing/fuselage fit is superb as I needed no putty at all for that fit. The engine exhausts are molded with the fuselage. Probably the kit's best feature is the droppable long-span flaps. I like this feature very much as it adds character to the kit. I have not built any of Hobbycraft's earlier 109s (yet), but I do hope this feature is part of those kits (Editor's Note 2000; It is).
The real reason I built the kit was to use the Third Group (TG) decal sheet on the 109. I chose number 48-002, with all 109s from JG 77. I especially liked the large witch riding a broom decal that came with red 2, and since that is a very early war aircraft, I could paint the 70/71/65 scheme. The Hobbycraft decals were tossed as they are too flat and too brittle. The TG decals worked perfectly and were in perfect register. They appear to be made by Superscale and I wonder why Superscale's own product is often not as good. It could be quality control or it might just be the superb instruction sheet provided by TG. Anyway, I now have a great replica of an early war 109.
While the Hobbycraft version is not up to the standards of Hasegawa's 109E-3, it is also much less expensive, and an easy build, to boot. In addition, at this writing, it is the only E-1 kit on the market! Highly recommended, especially to newer modelers who will not be overwhelmed by a myriad of parts.
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