Amodel 1/72 Bf-109F-4
|PRICE:||$16.95 from http://www.scale-model-kits.com|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
Ask any Luftwaffe pilot from WWII who had a chance to fly the Bf-109F and they will tell you that this was the best of the entire line. The DB 601 provided a lot of power and the aircraft was not burdened down with heavy armament or thick armor, making it a delight to fly. Of course, the exigencies of war were such that more armor, more equipment, and more power were required, making the later 109s faster, but less maneuverable.
It was only natural that the 109F would be made into a tactical recce aircraft. With good speed and the ability to defend itself, it was very good at its job and many recce pilots were able to reach ace status and still bring home the pictures.
A Model is a Russian company (at least I assume so though only the Polish distributor is mentioned on the box) that has a quite large catalogue of kits, most of them in 1/72. This is one of their newest releases and provides us with a 109 variant that has been kitted before by Heller, Jo-han, Italeri, and Fine Molds to name a few. Only the Fine-Molds kit is a good representation, but its lack of general availability and somewhat high price keep it out of modeler's hands.
This kit by A Model is listed as being for experienced builders and is called a short run kit in the instructions. True to form, the sprues are large, the gates intrude on the surface detailing and there is some flash on many of the parts. This is due to low pressure injection molding and is something we have come to expect from these sorts of kits.
Once one gets past that, one finds that the detailing on the parts is actually quite good. I found no sink areas save the usual '20mm hole' in the chest of the pilot figure. The kit offers a plethora of detail and optional parts. For instance, the centerline gun is separate, first time I've seen this in any 1/72 109 kit. There is full engine detail including separate upper and lower sections as well as engine bearers and overflow tanks. The lower cowling includes inside detail not seen before above the radiator in case you wish to display that open. You can also affix the upper cowling sections in the open position to show engine detail. The cockpit is also well detailed with belts molded on the seat itself.
When it comes to the outside of the aircraft, there are a multitude of options. You can build a standard fighter, a tropical version, one with the under wing cannon, a fighter bomber that offers two centerline options and for the first time ever, a photo-recon aircraft. The three piece canopy is well formed and a bit thick. There is an additional piece for the armor plated windscreen. You may notice three spinner and two prop options and there is an additional lower cowling among the parts not used in this boxing. I should also mention that the kit fuselage has the required rear external braces found on these variants.
I'll start all this by stating up front that the kit is over-engineered. There are tons of small parts that require a lot of thought and trimming to get to fit. The kit is also pretty well designed to have everything opened up. However, I'm one who doesn't particularly like models with all the various access panels showing off the innards and as a result, this was a somewhat difficult build.
I started off by gluing all the various bits into the cockpit that were to be painted in one color. I also cemented the wing assembly together. All of the various mating surfaces need to be sanded down to some extent or another, just to clean them up. Getting all the cockpit pieces together was rather fussy, but eventually all came together. The cockpit was painted RLM 02, though I could have done RLM 66. The official transition to the darker color wasn't until late 1942 so it is your choice on this. Once the cockpit was together, I cemented the fuselage halves together. Then I worked on the cowling.
The cowling wasn't designed to be closed and the fit was pretty poor. Carving on the lower section to the rear was needed to even get a semblance of having it closed. You can see what had to be done by comparing the two cowlings on the left. The right side was the one trimmed back. Despite that, there was a rather large step/gap when the section above the instrument panel was attached. And no, I didn't glue it in backwards. It was worse the other way. In fact, most of the airframe required a ton of filler and sanding to smooth things out. Even the wing to fuselage join was rife with problems. The filler required was so much that once I finished getting the wings and cowling in place, the kit took a hiatus of several months while I worked on things that were easier. As a note, I left the lower cowling section free as getting a good fit from that seemed nearly impossible so I decided to leave it open.
Returning back, I glued on the ill-fitting rudder and the tail planes. Then went to work on the drop tank and painted the prop hub white. Next was to attach the clear bits. Again, fit was not good, but at least they fit. The plastic for this is thick and chips easily. I also found the frame lines to be somewhat indistinct, making masking a challenge. With the fore and aft transparency attached, I wedged in the canopy and since it was all masked, it was off to the paint shop.
|COLORS & MARKINGS|
No real surprises on the paint job for this one. Aside from a white fuselage band, it was standard RLM 74/75/76. For paints, I chose the excellent AGAMA line of enamels. These are very fine pigment and spray quite well. The RLM 76 was first for the underside and side of the airframe. Then the underside of the tail planes were masked and the upper colors were painted. I did the darker RLM 74 first then using tape, masked off the pattern for the RLM 75. I find that in this scale, masking tape looks as good as free hand, though I ended up doing both. The side mottling was done with the two upper surface colors using water thin paint, low air pressure and my Skybow AB -150 detailing airbrush.
Then it was back to the workbench to have the landing gear installed prior to adding the gloss coat and the decals. I'd snapped off the tail wheel early in the build process and so had to drill out the strut and tail wheel to accept a section of .0125 brass rod. I also found that the main gear did not fit particularly snugly. With the plane on its gear, the clear coat was added.
No real choice but to use the kit decals and for the most part, they worked fine. The white is off register so that made the multiple piece swastikas look odd. I also had to use Solvaset as weaker solutions didn't work. Most of the small stencils were left off. All the markings were quite matte.
This part included the attachment of wheels, gear doors and drop tank. The lower cowling was left open to show a bit of the engine and because the fit of it closed was rather poor. The drop tank sticks too far forward and hits the lower cowling unless the cowling is properly positioned. There were a myriad of small bits like aileron balances, radio mast, pitot tube, exhaust, and the canopy armor to install. The armor piece is too wide to fit as it is so needed most of the little stubs sanded down. I had to cut the prop shaft to get the prop to fit as it was too long. I also managed to snap off one of the exhaust stubs trying to get it to fit into the slot. Last step was to spray a semi-gloss clear on it. I figured that recce planes would be waxed to get every bit of speed out of the airframe.
This one took a lot longer than I'd have thought. The kit is seriously over-engineered for the majority of builders and builds very much like a short run kit. While I am glad to have gotten this one finally done, it isn't a kit that I'd recommend to most. There is a ton of potential in what is there, but it takes someone with more patience and skill than me.
My thanks to www.scale-model-kits.com for the review kit. Get this and other fine kits at a considerable discount from the link.
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