Messerschmitt Bf 109: A comprehensive guide for the Modeler, Volume 1


Lynn Ritger


SAM Publications




Scott Van Aken


I'm like many of you out there. I have a fascination for the Bf-109. I know that the term Bf-109 was not used during the time of the aircraft's use; most calling it either Me-109 or just Messerschmitt 109. However, it took me a long time to start using Bf and it has now stuck!

This book covers the 109 from its inception through the E model. These all shared a pretty much common airframe, aside from the engine and armament, so it is a logical way to group things.

The sub-title is "A comprehensive guide for the modeller", and that is something that undoubtedly means something different to everyone.

We start out with a history of the 109, covering prototypes right through the various campaigns and use by nations allied to Germany. Each historical narrative is divided into sections such as one on the Spanish Civil War, the Battle of Britain, Use in North Africa and so on. In each of these sections are some great photos, including several I can't recall seeing before. Each section includes a very nicely done list of losses. For the section on foreign users, a listing of the aircraft provided and any pertinent info on it is given.

From a personal point of view, I'm glad that the author has included the Bf-109A and its use in the Spanish Civil War. For me, this information as well as the early silver paint used on these planes in Spain is a real boon to modelers of the early variants. I should also add that inside this historical section are several pages of color profiles and period color photos.

At page 104 of the 176 pages, we get into the section that, to me, starts the modeling section. This is a discussion of the Camo and Markings used on the 109. These pages are followed by several more with diagrams and drawings taken from the tech manuals showing some of the details of the various versions. For those who like to add that little bit extra in terms of detailing, these pages are a real boon.

Next are walkaround sections of the Bf-109A and several museum 109Es. The first is of a captured one as photographed by the Russians. The others are all in full color and should be quite helpful. Typical of museum planes, some of the restorations offer contradictory colors so builder beware.

The last full section are build reviews of models that were done by the author. These cover the range of 1/72 and 1/48 kits that were generally available just prior to the book being published. These are mostly Hobbycraft, Tamiya, and Hasegawa kits with the MPM 1/72 Bf-109V1 tossed in there. It is followed by a section on 'what judges look for'. Helpful hints if you are into contest modeling.

The rest of the book has kit lists, accessories, and decal listings. This is followed by 109 units, airframe specs (this is where one finds out much about differences between variants), and a bibliography.

I can tell that the author put a lot of work and research into this and I have to tell you that I did enjoy reading the book. It offers a lot to those who are interested in the 109. However, I also have to tell you that this is much more of a historical reference than it is purely a modeler's guide. I would have to say that about 1/3 of the book is dedicated to the sorts of things that is purely model-related. These are the section on camouflage, the detail sections (including the walk-arounds), build articles and the tables of kits, decals and accessories. The rest is historical background.

While this does not negate the worth of the book, it plainly does not make it the 'comprehensive guide for the modeller' that one really expects. To me, that is better served by something like the Osprey Modelling series, which is all models all the time.

So the bottom line is 'should I buy this book'? I have to say yes, you should. I found it a very worthy book that contains great deal bout the early 109s. The history is well done and has great photos, while the modeling section is equally nice. In this reviewer's opinion, it is unfortunate that it was tagged with the subtitle it has. This book is about the early 109s with a large modeler's section in it. If you like 109s, you'll overlook the subtitle and pick this one up.

Thanks to the kindness of Sinue Hahn for providing this book.

If you would like your product reviewed fairly and quickly by a site that has  over 300,000 visitors a month, please contact me or see other details in the Note to Contributors.