MPM 1/72 Bf-109v1

KIT #

72029

PRICE:

$12.98

DECALS:

One aircraft

REVIEW:

Scott Van Aken

NOTES:

Short run kit

BACKGROUND

For a peek in the box at the naked kit and bit of historical background, visit the preview.

CONSTRUCTION

If you don't think that MPM has come a long way, then compare this, one of their earlier (though not REAL early) kits with what is now being produced. It is a real difference. MPM is on the verge of being one of the best, a plateau that has been reached by Eduard over the last year or so.

This kit has rough edges, flash, soft molding, a brass fret, vac canopy and vague parts attachment points. However, nearly all short run model companies go through this sort of thing, producing mediocre kits at the beginning. It is too bad that some of the more interesting subjects are usually done right off the bat. That is the case with this Bf-109V1. It is unlikely that MPM will retool it so one does the best with what is offered.

First thing is to clean up the parts that are to be glued together. This is a chore but one that must be done. Fortunately, MPM used a relatively hard plastic during this time so overdoing the cleanup isn't a problem as it is with more current and softer plastic. Though the kit seems relatively simple, I've learned that simple is not always easy! The first thing I did was to glue as many of the cockpit parts together. This included the etched rudder pedals and trim wheels as well as the etched circuit breaker panel on the inside of the fuselage. All of this was then painted RLM 02 grey as it seemed like a logical color for the time.

Then the fuselage halves were glued together and the seams filled and sanded smooth. I also glued together the upper and lower wing halves and sanded down the join lines. Test fitting the wing and fuselage showed that things were not going to be easy. I also glued the etched radiator and the radiator housing in place. This was a mini-disaster as the etched radiator was smushed during installation. To keep the situation from being really obvious, I glued the plastic radiator into the back of the opening so that things would stay nice and dark in there! And then the kit sat for nearly two years as I'd lost interest in it.

Deciding that I needed to decrease the pile by one, I got back into working on this kit. Blowing the dust out of things, I started by gluing the instrument panel into the fuselage. Then I added the seat belts to the interior, painted them tan (which is a tad too dark), bent them in place and then forced the interior into place. Liberally applying Pro-Weld to it, it managed to slither into place where it was clamped until dry. I then cut the rudder off the sprue, cleaned it up and glued it in place. Though this is an MPM kit, it is something from the dark ages of short run and not at all like what they do today. All the parts have lots of flash, very large sprue attachment points and detailing is soft.

After much fiddling, I got the wing somewhat in place. The wing is too thin to have the upper wing match with the wing roots so I had to slather filler on this and all the other wing joins. I'm sure it will require multiple applications to get a decent fit.  Once that was accomplished, the tail planes were glued in place. These seem a bit too wide as they'd block the movement of the rudder. I left the bracing off until a bit later as I was unsure of just what the paint scheme was to be, there being some difference of opinion in the various literature as to whether it was an overall light grey or if it had a light blue underside.

While that was drying, I cleaned up the tail wheel assembly. It was glued in place and it does seem overly large. The main gear legs were cleaned up and holes drilled in the wheel wells to accept them. I should mention at this time that there was quite a bit of flash around and in the wheel wells that needs to be cleaned up.

I then cut the canopy from its backing and after a bit of trimming to get a good fit, It was glued in place using non-fogging superglue. It was then masked off in preparation for painting. I decided on the overall light grey scheme so installed the tail plane braces and headed for the paint shop.

PAINT & DECALS

According to one of the more recent books on German camouflage, a color one could refer to as 'Lufthansa Grey' was frequently used on prototypes during the time that the Bf-109, He-112 and others were developed. Not having this, but having a color chip in the book, I mixed up something that came pretty close using Xtracolor paints. I then sprayed the entire airframe with this hybrid light grey scheme. The prop and hub were painted polished aluminum using Alclad II paints. I also painted the wheel hubs and the back of the prop blades black at this time. Then the small strip under the nose and the equally small bit on the right wing were painted steel as the instructions called for a dark metallic color. I chose not to model the option with the blue lower surface. It is also quite possible that my grey is too light, but it is done and it looks nice to me. I also painted the prop with polished aluminum on one side and flat black on the other. The spinner was done in a nice blue I happened to have already mixed and it looked close enough. The spinner seems a bit on the bulbous side to me as well, though I couldn't really tell for sure from the few images of the plane that are around.

Returning to the workbench to add on some more bits and pieces, I first brush painted the wheel wells with RLM 02 from Testors ModelMaster line of enamels. I also painted the tail wheel strut, main gear struts and inner gear doors this color. The wheels were black with weathered black tires. The gear legs had Bare Metal Chrome foil wrapped around the oleos. The main gear have these large circular bits at the end of them. They look like some sort of huge drum brake, but I doubt if the prototype had these at all. There are indentations in the wheels to accept a pin from the end of the struts, but those little nubbins got eradicated when I cleaned up the strut. The small oleo scissors were glued in place and the wheels glued to the end of the strut.

Once dry, the main gear was inserted into the holes in the wheel well and the gear doors glued in place. Those who are really into the 109 and want everything perfect will be wanting to replace the gear with parts from a Hasegawa 109 kit and make new gear doors. The ones with the kit are not like those on the prototype, whose doors were more semi-circular with no notches on the ends. Next the little etched aileron mass balances were glued in place after drilling small depressions in the aileron for them to fit. Etched brass just doesn't hack it for things like this that are clearly three dimensional. Not only that, but they bend easily. I've mentioned many times that some inventive aftermarket company who does things in either metal, resin or injected plastic would do well to make these things in many different scales. Anyone who does models that have these things can always use them to replace etched pieces or the regular injected ones that so frequently go missing or broken off.

I now had the aircraft basically done in terms of fitting bits on it. The decals in the kit are by Propagteam. These took an age to get loose enough to come off the backing sheet, but once they did, they worked very well. They were not as prone to tearing as other Propagteam decals. One thing, though. The tail band is way too wide for the kit. It may be that the tail planes are too high or the fin/rudder too short, but I ended up going to an Xtradecal sheet of swastikas that has a variety of sizes and a large chunk of red. I cut out the proper sized band and fit it on the fin. Unfortunately, all the white circles on the sheet were too large. I then went to a stash of geometric shape decals I have from back in the 80's. It has rings and circles in many sizes and colors. I chose one ring and one full circle that fit properly. Later, I added the smallest swastika from the Xtradecal sheet and it seemed to work fine. All these decals reacted well to my Solvaset.

The model was then sprayed with an overcoat of Future to keep the decals in place and the prop/spinner was glued onto the nose. Masking was removed from the canopy, a teeny bit of pastel used for exhaust and I was done!

CONCLUSIONS

A perfect 109v1 it isn't. It needs a new set of landing gear and smaller tailplanes. You know about the decals. However, for most of us, we'll be quite pleased with it and it will look great in with our 1/72 109 collection. It is quite doubtful if we'll see a better kit of this plane in the near future as one-off prototypes are not exactly what the injected plastic people do a lot of. Thankfully, MPM saw fit to produce this and several others in its line and for that we should be thankful. Hopefully, my next MPM kit won't take 2 years plus from start to finish!

REFERENCES

German Aircraft of the Second World War, by JR Smith & Antony Kay, Putnam, 1978 (3rd Edition)

Review copy courtesy of me and my wallet!
February 2004
#1304 in a series

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