BOOK:

Messerschmitt Me-109 Part 1

BY:

Robert Michulec

PUBLISHER
/PRICE:

AJ Press

REVIEW BY:

Scott Van Aken

NOTES:

All English

I'm a 109 geek. I fully admit it. If something is written on the 109, I want it. If there is a new 109 kit, I want it. It was with much surprise and gratitude to Air Connection that the latest from AJ Press arrived here at the editorial office for review. I've always like AJ Press books, but have been reluctant to purchase a number of their issues as I couldn't read them. To me, the written part of these books is just as important as the photos. Well, this one is all in English, and I couldn't be happier.

Robert Michulec has written a number of books in this series and I have found them quite enjoyable. As are most books translated into English by people to whom English is a second language, there are some rather interesting uses of syntax that will bring a smile to your face when you read them, but it isn't anything major. Mr. Michulec also never fails to provide information that modifies or contradicts what many of us have come to regard as gospel.

I'll pick on the biggie to me and that is the title. You see, he doesn't call it a Bf-109, but Me-109! Those of us who have been around a long time realize that during the period the plane was in service, it was rarely if ever called a Bf-109, but most of us amateur and some professional historians started calling it and writing about it as the Bf due to the design being done while the Bayerische Flugzeugwerke was extant. Later designs made after Messerschmitt gained control of the company were called Me. Michulec makes a very good case for always calling it an Me, but I'm not totally convinced and will keep the Bf abbreviation.

It seems that the author has done as should every good historian, and used primary sources rather than just mimicking what has previously been written. For instance, his findings that the E-1 and E-3 variant were produced at the same time rather than the latter number superceding the previous is news to me. There are a number of other interesting findings in the book regarding subtypes and the distinguishing features of each. It seems the 'hard facts' are a lot softer than we would have thought. I have a particular fondness for the early prototype aircraft and this book has a rather extensive selection of these planes. The photos chosen for the book are excellent and while I have seen several of them before, many of them were new to me. I'm also grateful to the editors for not having any images 'cross the ditch' between pages. Why some editors do that is beyond me!

This is very much a book for modelers. Nearly half of the book are quality three views of each subtype and variant in 1/72 and 1/48 scale. The last pages are full of color profiles by Arkadiusz Wr÷bel. His artwork is superb, however there is an anomaly. It seems that half of the works were done in 1997 and the other half in 1998. In between the two batches a couple of things happened. Firstly, all of his early 109s developed a deeper and more curved underside to the chin radiator. Judging from the drawings and side period photos, it is a bit too pronounced. His 1997 profiles are a bit flatter than normal.

The second anomaly comes from the colors used. There are distinct differences in the colors used in the '97 drawings compared to the '98 set. His style had changed somewhat during that time as well with, to me, the earlier drawings being a touch more crisp. Granted, these two observations in no way detract from the superb artwork. I only brought it up as an example how art work in books should only be used as a general reference and not taken as absolute proof, especially when it comes to colors. Speaking of which, nearly all the profiles have complete color information given. Why it is missing in a few is a bit of a mystery. Personally, I like to have all that information available should I wish to duplicate it on a model.

Bottom line: is this book worth buying. I can recommend it with no reservations at all. The super research involved in the write-up, the outstanding plans section, and the superb color profiles make this a book that belongs in your library. And the best part is that this is only the first installment. I can't wait to see part 2!!

Review copy courtesy of Air Connection. They have a full selection of Polish and other Eastern European products, including this book. When you shop there, say Modeling Madness sent you! Thanks for your support.

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