ICM 1/48 Bf-109F-4Z/trop
|Scott Van Aken
Acknowledged by those who flew it as the best of the 109 series, the Bf-109F was the result of trying to smooth out the edges of the earlier variants. This meant a refined forward cowling for the DB601 engine and more smooth and rounded wing tips along with shorter ailerons, the result of the increased size of the coolant radiators under the wings and the need to exhaust them at the trailing edge.
The F model also did away with the wing guns, relying on two 7.7mm nose machine guns and a 15, later 20mm nose cannon, though most pilots thought the plane was underarmed, but did like the additional maneuverability afforded by not having the weight of guns and ammunition in the wings.
The aircraft first started coming off the assembly line in late 1940, entering service in early 1941, where it was an unpleasant surprise to the British as this new Messerschmitt was pretty well superior to the Spitfire V then in service in most regimes. The best variant, the 109F-4 entered unit service in early 1942 where it gave sterling service until pretty well supplanted in most units by the G model by the end of the year.
Many of the aircraft built were Bf-109F-4z/trop variants. These had larger chin radiators, a somewhat larger prop and a sand filter for the supercharger intake. Some still had the external bracing for the tail, so one really needs a photo of the plane being modeled to see if this was on it or not. These planes also had two small teardrops outside the cockpit for the sun shade umbrella that could be attached to keep the direct rays of the sun out of the cockpit.
The ICM 1/48 Bf-109F-4Z/trop is identical in every way to the earlier 109F kits. There is no difference in the sprues at all, only in that some of the optional parts not used on other kits are used on this one. I should also mention that the kit does not have the sun shade attachment points on the fuselage. Of course, the majority of people who look at the kit will not realize this, but it was part of the trop outfitting so these should be there.
Just to recap other previews, the kit has nicely engraved panel lines, a separate engine and cowling panels so you can show the engine if you wish. There is a bit of flash on a few parts and some bits have sink areas, but this varies from kit to kit as this one has no sink areas on the wheels as I found on a previous boxing. There are separate flaps and you can pose the canopy open or closed. General interior detailing is fairly good, but aftermarket will improve it. If the kit has any major glitch it is that the upper fuselage is a bit too square for the tastes of some. It is also impossible to have the radiator cooler doors fully closed or fully open without surgery.
Instructions are quite good providing all the color information you need using Model Master and AKAH paint references. Markings are for four Desert Scheme 109s in RLM 79 over RLM 78 with white and yellow ID markings. The four options include two for Marseille, each with slightly different camouflage demarcation lines and numbers. A third is for Ernst Dullberg of II./JG 27 with the fourth of Jurgen Harder, of 7./JG 53. The decals suffer from registration shift with some of the markings and besides, ICM decals are not that good so aftermarket is the way to go with these.
So there you have it. Another option to 'where can I find a nice 1/48 Bf-109F kit' question. I don't doubt that this will be a bit of a fiddly build in some areas, but overall, it seems to be pretty straight-forward and for those who want the additional detail of a full engine, you now have it. I built the earlier F-4 kit and you can see how it builds here.
My thanks to www.dragonmodelsusa.com for the review kit. You can find this either on their webstore or from your favorite hobby shop.
If you would like your product reviewed fairly and quickly, please contact me or see other details in the Note to Contributors.
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