Airfix 1/48 Bf-109E-1/3/7
|PRICE:||$24.95 MSRP (21.20 from GreatModels|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
In late 1938, the "Emil" entered production. To improve on the performance afforded by the rather small 447-522 kW (600-700 hp) Jumo, the larger Daimler-Benz DB 601A engine was used, yielding an extra 223 kW (300 hp) at the cost of an additional 181 kg (400 lb). To test the new 1,100 PS (1,085 hp, 809 kW) DB601A engine, two more prototypes (V14 and V15) were built, each differing in their armament. While the V14 was armed with two 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 17s above the engine and one 20 mm MG FF in each wing, the V15 was fitted with the two MG 17s mounted above the engine only. After test fights the V14 was considered more promising and a pre-production batch of 10 E-0 was ordered. Batches of both E-1 and E-3 variants were shipped to Spain for evaluation, and received their baptism of fire in the final phases of the Spanish Civil War.
The production version E-1 kept two 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 17s above the engine and two more in the wings. Later, many were modified to the E-3 armament standard. The E-1B was a small batch of E-1s becoming the first operational Bf 109 fighter bomber, or Jagdbomber (usually abbreviated to Jabo). These were fitted with either an ETC 250 bomb rack, carrying one 250 kg (550 lb) bomb, or two ETC 50 bomb racks, each carrying a 50 kg (110 lb) bomb under both wings. The E-1 was also fitted with the Reflexvisier "Revi" gunsight. Communications equipment was the FuG 7 Funkgerät 7 (radio set) short-range radio apparatus, effective to ranges of 48–56 km (30–35 mi). A total of 1,183 E-1 were built, 110 of them were E-1/B.
Only very limited numbers of the E-2 variant were built, for which the V20 prototype served as basis. It was armed with two wing mounted, and one engine mounted MG FF cannon, which gave considerable trouble in service, as well as two MG 17s cowl machineguns. In August 1940, II./JG 27 was operating this type.
To improve the performance of the Bf 109E, the last two real prototypes, V16 and V17 were constructed. These received some structural improvements and more powerful armament. Both were the basis of the Bf 109 E-3 version. The E-3 was armed with the two MG 17s above the engine and one MG FF cannon in each wing. A total of 1,276 E-3 were built, including 83 E-3a export versions. Both the E-1 and E-3 were built at the same time on the same assembly lines at a ratio of 6 109E-3s for every 4 109E-1s.
The E-7 was the final major production variant of the E series and based on the 109E-4, entering service and seeing combat at the end of August 1940. One of the limitations of the earlier Bf 109E was their short range of 660 km (410 mi) and limited endurance, as the design was originally conceived as a short-range interceptor. The E-7 rectified this problem as it was the first subtype to be able to carry a drop tank, usually a 300 L (80 US gal) capacity unit mounted on a rack under the fuselage, which increased their range to 1,325 km (820 mi). Alternatively, a bomb could be fitted and the E-7 could be used as a Jabo fighter-bomber. Previous Emil subtypes were progressively retrofitted with the necessary fittings for carrying a drop tank from October 1940. Early E-7s were fitted with the 1,100 PS DB 601A or 1,175 PS DB 601Aa engine, while late-production ones received 1,175 PS DB 601N engines with improved altitude performance – the latter was designated as E-7/N. A total of 438 E-7s of all variants were built.
No real surprise to those of you who have bought the original boxing that this one has exactly the same plastic in it. And why not as it offers pretty much the same variants. For those who haven't read or don't recall the previous preview, Here is the straight dope on this new boxing. you know, Airfix is on a mission to regain its status as a company that builds kits
Let's start with the detailing. What seems to be a bit overdone in 1/72 scale, seems just about right in 1/48. It is still not as petite as what you find on Hasegawa kits and is nearly the same as on Tamiya kits. The plastic has a somewhat matte finish and thanks to good quality control, there are no sink areas near the alignment pins, a real problem with some kits. There are a few inserts to take care of the different variants, specifically the gun position on the wing leading edge where the position of the gun is different on the E-1 as compared to the cannon armed E-3/7 versions.
The cockpit is very nicely done with all the various bits one would expect and that includes sidewall detailing and parts. The seat has a molded in seat harness and Airfix provides a very nicely done three piece pilot in appropriate garb. An engine half is molded into each fuselage half and there are engine mounts to add to the detail. Cementing the upper cowling is an option, though I think most will do just that. Unlike Airfix's competitors, all of the flight control surfaces are separate. This includes the leading edge slats. The flaps have tabs to be in the normal down position, but by removing them you can position them up. Rudder and elevators are also separate to allow them to be more dynamically positioned. Two different upper cowlings are provided. A sand filter is provided for those wanting to build the desert version.
A 'wheels up' option is provided by doors with wheels halves attached. The kit main wheels are flattered and bulged a bit. The outer wheel hub is a separate item to assist in painting. For things under the fuselage, there are options of a drop tank, 250 kg bomb, 500 kg bomb or a tray with four bombs (I'm guessing 50 or 100 kg). Several different windscreens and backlights are provided depending on which variant is being done. The windscreens include one with additional armor and one with a telescopic gun sight. The main canopy section is molded with tabs on it to pose it open, but one can cut those away for a closed cockpit. To my eye, the windscreens are not as nicely done as those on the Tamiya and Hasegawa kits, being a bit thick. Three different spinners are offered, one with the cannon opening and two pointed spinners; one more blunt than the other.
I know that people will or have picked this one apart already and I'll let them. The only real disconnect I could find is that there are no wing shell ejector chutes. There is an area to be opened if one is using the cannon wings (for the E-3/7 version). I don't recall if the 109E ejected shells or retained them in catch areas to be recycled. If not, one can duplicate these openings with little rectangles of black decal. As mentioned in the historical background, it was the 109E-7 that introduced the ability to carry a drop tank and of course, this and the bomb thing was retrofitted to the earlier versions, so if building an E-1/3 version that is Battle of Britain, then the drop tank/bomb rack would not be appropriate.
Instructions are well done and the 42 construction steps are easy to follow. Airfix continues their irritating habit of using Humbrol numbers for paints rather than telling us what the shade actually is. The only place that is provided is in the full color painting and markings guide. There are three decal options. One is for the desert scheme E-7 as flown by Franz Elles of 8./JG 27 in RLM 79/80 over 78. Next is a Rumanian E-3 as flown in the Stalingrad area during 1942/43. Finally, a Spanish Civil War E-1 variant with the Condor Legion in 1939. The decal sheet is well printed and includes full data markings, but no swastikas. Time to break out the swastika sheets for this and other Airfix kits.
While one cannot please everyone, I think that those who buy this kit will be pleased with what they are getting. It looks to be pretty accurate with enough detail and options to please most builders. It is also one of the better deals for the money we have had in kits in a long time. For those wanting more detail, there are already aftermarket sets available.
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