Tamiya 1/48 Bf-109E-3






See review


Scott Van Aken






When one thinks about famous fighters of World War 2, one of the first ones that pops into mind is the Messerschmitt Bf-109. First flown in the mid 1930s and thoroughly tested in Spain during 1937/38, it was the most successful German fighter of the war. In addition, it was in action from the first to the last day of the war.

Where the 109 became truly well known was during the Battle of Britain, where it was pitted against the Hurricanes and Spitfires of the RAF. Here the short range of the 109 was to prove a deficit to those 109 pilots whose job it was to protect German bombers. It was also here that the 109E version was truly blooded, having missed out in most of the action during the Spanish Civil War.


Tamiya's kit of the Bf-109E was heralded by many to be the best 'Emil' on the market. The early production kits (of which this is one) have a flaw in the nose section. The angle of the nose from the upper intakes forward is too shallow. With the kit standing by itself, this is not at all noticed, but when compared to the other current crop of E's from Hasegawa and Hobbycraft, it is noticeable. It is to Tamiya's credit that they redid the nose section at a higher angle. It should also be pointed out that this modification and the one they did on the Meteor were done by removing material from the mold. Would the correction have needed the addition of material to the mold, I seriously doubt if it would have been done.

Anyway, the kit is just what one would expect from Tamiya in that the detailing is superb and the engineering top-notch. Detailing seems a bit heavy compared to the Hasegawa and Hobbycraft kits, but I don't think it detracts at all. I can't show you the sprues as this kit was purchased at a swap meet and most of the parts are off the trees. The parts are all flash free and devoid of any ejector pin marks where they will show. On the down side, there are a number of sink marks, most notably on the trailing edge of the upper wing and on the fuselage side opposite the cockpit detail.

You get positionable flaps, slats, and rudder, as well as the ability to display the canopy open. The canopy is only for the E-3 and earlier versions, so one cannot do an E-4/7 with this kit. There are also three spinners, one open and two bullet-shaped ones, one with a greater point than the other. Also included is a drop tank and mount, which is not appropriate for the E-3. Another nice touch is that the outer wheel centers are separate from the wheels, making it that much easier to paint. It is interesting to compare the Tamiya and Hasegawa kits. Both produce fine kits and each has a slightly different way of engineering its kits to achieve this result.

The decal sheet includes markings for three aircraft, all from 1940:

Adolf Galland's aircraft from III./JG 26 in France as shown on the box top, White 3 from II./JG 77 in Norway, and finally, one from II./JG 54 in France. All of them are in RLM 71/02 upper with RLM 65 lower and the JG 54 aircraft has the fuselage side mottled in RLM71. The sheet offers swastikas and even includes them separated for the rudder should one wish. Probably the only glitch that I noticed on the sheet is that the red is a bit too pinkish for my tastes. The sheet is produced by Scalemaster and unlike those in the ProModeler kits, this one appears to be in register!

Instruction sheet is typical of Tamiya in that it is very complete and offers all paint references in Tamiya paint colors. There is also an additional sheet that just includes the basic paint scheme, a feature that is much appreciated.

Review copy courtesy of me and my wallet! 

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