Hasegawa 1/48 Bf-109E-3

KIT #: J1
PRICE: $10.00 'used'
DECALS: Six options
REVIEWER: Spiros Pendedekas
NOTES: Initial release with some shape issues


The Messerschmitt Bf 109 was one of the most advanced fighters when it first appeared, with all-metal monocoque construction, closed canopy and retractable landing gear.First seeing operational service in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War, it formed the backbone of the Luftwaffe's fighter force during World War II along with the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 and, through continuous improvements, remained in service till the end of the War.

The E series was the first major redesign of the original type, including the naval variant, the Bf 109T (T standing for Träger, carrier), introducing structural changes to accommodate the heavier and more powerful Daimler-Benz DB 601 engine, heavier armament and increased fuel capacity.

The Bf 109E first saw service with the "Condor Legion" during the last phase of the Spanish Civil War and was the main variant from the beginning of World War II until mid-1941 when the Bf 109F replaced it in the pure fighter role.


Hasegawa came in 1988 with their state of the art Bf-109E-3 and -4/7 series (4 kits in total). Indeed, the kits looked nothing less than purely spectacular in the box: crisp molding, engraved panel lines, great details with an MA fret to supplement them and many interesting decal options. Being uncomplicated builds, they were immediately loved by the modeling world, only to be criticized soon after due to some shape inaccuracies, mainly regarding the thinner rear fuselage and wrong top cowling shape.

Whereas these shape inaccuracies by all means existed, the truth was that they were not immediately apparent to a good number of modelers, especially in the absence of a dimensionally correct 109 model nearby.  Nevertheless, Hasegawa took care of the above two inaccuracies by simply shaving off the existing molds, something not that difficult to implement, so the following editions featured corrected fuselages and cowlings, with the “right” kits labeled as “Jt” from then on, in spite of the initial “wrong” ones that were labeled as “J” (so you know what to look for).

It was understandably not uncommon for the then leftover “wrong” initial release kits to be offered at bargain prices, in order to attract potential buyers. Such was the case with this initial release, the subject of this preview, which not only was offered at less than a third of the “correct” kit price, but also included an assortment of five Molak enamel paints to cater for the basic shades, making it an interesting deal.

The kit came in the usual excellent Hasegawa top opening box, featuring an equally excellent Koike Shigeo box art portraying Oberleutnant Otto Bertram piloting his “Emil” above France in 1940, with an MS 406 banking away to the rear. Upon opening the box, I was greeted with just 50 medium gray parts arranged at 3 more or less equal sized sprues, bagged (per the Hasegawa trend) together. Molding is first class with finely recessed panel lines and absolutely no flash.

Cockpit is well appointed with a good looking instrument panel, detailed side walls, seat with molded on seat belts, stick and rudder pedals. Though a good candidate for super detailing, apart from maybe shaving off the molded-on seat belts and adding extra ones, the cockpit will look sufficient for many of us out of the box.

Flaps and slats are separate and can be posed “deployed” (a flaps-down posture was relatively common at seasonal pics, a slats-extended not that much). The distinctive chin and side air intakes, as well as the underwing oil cooler exits are nicely represented, as is the landing gear with boxed bays featuring some sidewall detail. Guns look good, as do the exhausts and the one piece prop.

An MA fret is included, catering for the radiator inlet and oil cooler exit faces, as well as the distinctive canopy framing and head support: though being a nice touch, the metal seems to be of the harder stainless steel type and you may wish to somehow anneal it by carefully heating it, in order to make it more workable.

Clear parts are superbly molded and crystal clear. Instructions come to the usual Hasegawa very nice form of a pamphlet, containing a short history of the type, a parts list, with the uncomplicated construction spread in 7 clear and followable steps.

No less than 6 interesting schemes are provided: Otto “Otsch” Bertram’s in France 1940,  Josef "Pips" Priller’s in Belgium 1940, Waldemar Wübke’s, Hans Schmoller-Haldy’s as it stood in Spanish Civil War, a JG53 “PIK-AS” machine and a prewar JG132 Bf-109B (the latter scheme is offered as “bonus”, provided that you backdate the model to ”B” status - Yours Truly being by no means a Bf 109 “Experten” means I cannot comment on how easily and effectively this can be done). Otto “Otsch” Bertram’s machine profiles are also depicted in a full color illustrated paper, another nice touch.

Decals are very nicely printed, but the white is represented as “ivory”. They look to be in very good condition, apart from the inevitable yellowing that I usually overcome by taping the sheet for more or less a week from the inside of a window facing strong sun - works most of the time.
Instructions want you to first assemble the cockpit and radiator inlet, then trap them between the fuselage halves. Assembly and installation of the wings is next, where you can choose the slats and flaps position, followed by assembly and installation of the landing gear, the horizontal stabilizers,the top cowling and fitting the transparencies, ending a seemingly easy, uncomplicated construction. 


Apart from the aforementioned flaws, this original Hasegawa Bf-109 release is a quality kit with crisp molding, good detail at key areas (especially taking into account its 1988 origins), nice transparencies, MA goodies and good decals with very interesting schemes. It builds effortlessly and can be even tackled by a novice. Since the kit’s shape issues, while being there, are not that apparent but to the more experienced eye or when compared side by side with an accurate model, the final result is likable.

The fact that Hasegawa very wisely urged to correct the kit (something not tremendously difficult, since “only” some material had to be shaved off from the molds), means that the original unsold releases are by default doomed, as, in theory, no buyer would go for an incorrect mold when the corrected is available. However, If you have this kit or find one at a good price and you can live with the aforementioned shape inaccuracies, you may consider tackling it, spending some good time putting it together.

Happy modeling!

Spiros Pendedekas

September 2022

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