Airfix 1/72 Bf-110C-1
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||New tool kit|
The Messerschmitt Bf 110 was a twin-engine heavy fighter (Zerstörer - German for "Destroyer") in the service of the Luftwaffe during World War II. Hermann Göring was a proponent of the Bf 110, and nicknamed it his Eisenseiten ("Ironsides"). Development work on an improved type, the Me 210 that was to replace the Bf 110, begun before the war started, but due to teething troubles, resulted in Bf 110 soldiering on until the end of the war in various roles, alongside its replacements, the Me 210 and the Me 410.
The Bf 110 served with success in the early campaigns, the Polish, Norwegian and Battle of France. The Bf 110's lack of agility in the air was its primary weakness. This flaw was exposed during the Battle of Britain, when some Bf 110 equipped units were withdrawn from the battle after very heavy losses and redeployed as night fighters, a role to which the aircraft was well suited. The Bf 110 enjoyed a successful period following the Battle of Britain as an air superiority fighter and strike aircraft in other theatres. During the Balkans Campaign, North African Campaign and the Eastern Front it rendered valuable ground support to the German Army as a potent fighter-bomber (Jagdbomber-Jabo).
The first really combat ready versions were the 110C variants. These were powered by the Daimler Benz DB 601A, giving quite a boost in power and performance over the preview Jumo engined aircraft. The 110C was to be the last version developed as it was anticipated that the Me-210 would be quickly replacing it. Actuality came into play once again as the 210 was a dismal failure and the 110 stayed in production until near the end of the war.
I have always wondered why no one has really decided to take the plunge and do a series of modern mold 1/72 110s. I'd have thought that Hasegawa would have jumped on this one (and perhaps they still will), but it was Airfix under their new management who have decided to revisit some old favorites and bring them up to snuff.
If you have seen any of Airfix's new mold kits in the last year or so, then you know that they are modern, engraved detail kits. The engraving itself, while well done, is, in my opinion, a bit overdone for 1/72 scale. However, this has not stopped me from buying and building their kits. The kits offer good detail for most and those who want more will be able to throw money at the aftermarket folks to meet their fix. The kit's cockpit is well appointed with seats, stick, cameras, instrument panels and the like. The main panel has a decal to fit over the flat panel face. No belts are provided for the seats, but Airfix does include a pair of crew members to help fill the seats.
The fuselage has separate nose and tail sections. While not part of this boxing, the longer tail of the 110D is on the sprues for those so inclined. There are separate wheel wells with nicely done detailing and the engine cowlings look about right. Exhaust are on long interlocking tabs. They appear to be able to be installed after the cowlings are glue on, though the instructions would have you attach them prior. The main landing gear have the proper angle on the axles to fit the one-piece, bulged and flattened main wheels. The kit includes a one-piece canopy that to my eyes is a bit on the thick side.
For things to hang from the underside there are several options. One are the rather large, finned long range fuel tanks. The smaller standard tanks are also available. For the centerline is a bomb carrier that can fit either two large or two smaller bombs. Most of this sprue will not be used by many of us as these items are more appropriate to the D and E versions.
Instructions are well drawn with 29 separate construction steps. As is the norm, the only color information is provided by Humbrol paint numbers with no conversion chart to what these numbers actually represent. Gone are the full color painting and markings guide. Two options are provided. One is the box art plane from I./ZG 76 in France during 1940. The other is a II./SKG 210 aircraft in partial winter wash in Russia during 1941 with the wasp nose markings. The latter is in RLM 70/71/65 (listed by Airfix as Black Green/US Light Green/Aircraft Blue). It has a yellow fuselage band and lower wing tips. The former is apparently in 71/02/65 (though it sure doesn't look like RLM 02 from the profile to the right). The decals provide markings for both and appear to be well printed though the swastika is missing from the sheet. The yellow seems to be opaque enough not to disappear when those markings are applied. A full stencil placement guide is also provided.
The initial step for me was to look over my reference book on the 110 and see what, if anything would need to be changed. I had pretty well decided on one of the C-1 options on the LPS decal sheet I was planning on using. From reading the Classic book reference, it seemed that changes would be pretty simple. One is that the small vents on the forward engine nacelles would need to be filled in. The other is that the lower radio antenna would need to be modified a bit from what the kit provides. A third possible modification needed might be to add a rear gun trough on the right side of the fuselage for gun stowage. However, this was dispensed of in the later aircraft and due to the time period of these markings, it may well have been that the aircraft was modified to match the rest of the 110 fleet, though the plate later put over this on the C-2 would be visible. More research will be needed before I start grinding. Fourth is that this aircraft would have had two long antenna wires vice just the one on the later C-2. The antenna feeds from the fuselage were also more pronounced on the C-1.
So to the build. The cockpit bits were glued in place as shown in the instructions. I also glued the tail pieces together and installed the wheel wells and radiators to the lower wing. I did not open any holes in the wing for either tanks or the centerline bomb rack. Instructions list a dark grey for the interior and wells. This is definitely not correct for the wells and probably not correct for the interior. The regulation to have interiors painted dark grey did not come out until late 1941. Though some companies did start doing that before that time, the 110C-1 would have been built before the war so in all probability had RLM 02 green-grey interiors. I used Xtracolor paint for this as my Model Master had dried in the bottle. As Xtracolor is gloss, I then brushed on a flat coat when dry.
The instrument decal was applied to the interior, belts made from tape and some minor detail painting done. The interior is not chock full of details, though I am sure that Pavla or someone else will come up with bits to help in this regard. The cockpit was then glued into one fuselage half and the other successfully trapped it in place. I found the small bit above the instrument panel difficult to get completely closed. Instructions would then have one attach the lower wing so that is what I did. Fit is very tight and though the forward wing roots match up perfectly, there is a step in the front. At this time, I attached the fuselage tail section. The instructions would have this attached to the horizontal stab first, but I felt it would be easier to clean up any seam (and there is a rather good sized one) by doing this first. Then the upper wings were cemented in place. As Airfix has provided a small keyway in the form of a section of inner flap to help get the upper wings in place, the fit is really excellent. There is little dihedral but it seems to be sufficient.
I then put a thin line of superglue on all my seams and sanded them down. One has to be very careful when applying water thin glues of any sort on a kit with engraved lines as often the cement will wick into the engravings and end up under one's fingers! The next bit to be added was the horizontal stab. An extremely tight fit that is helped by lubricating it with liquid cement. It took a bit of a tweak to get it to line up with the wings. Then I moved to the nose, which the instructions would have you put on at the end of the build. Getting the guns installed required drilling out the openings more as it was impossible to get the guns through the holes, even when inserting from the front. Bit of a gap under the tailplanes to fill as well as the nose seam, but for most they are quite small and easily ignored. One thing about the plastic on these new Airfix kits is that it is fairly soft. Even though I sanded away the detail when filling seams, the engravings were easy to replace.
Next step was to tackle the engines. Now for this one, I used Aries replacement resin exhaust as they are better formed than the kit versions. The kit exhaust interlock and are supposed to be installed prior to gluing on the nacelles. While the Aries ones look like they will fit like that, they will not as the mounts are not wide enough. They are also not as thick vertically. They are, however, labeled with the same part number as the plastic bits they replace to help you get them properly installed. The engine nacelles are not a particularly good fit, being a bit too short vertically to properly mate with the wing nacelle. One does what one can in terms of getting these to fit, resorting to some sanding to get things to match up better. I also glued on the exhaust after installing the engines, attaching them to the lower lip. As I was using a pretty simple paint scheme, this worked out well.
The last things I did prior to painting was mask the canopy. This is rather work intensive and not helped by the upper frame of the lower windows being very indistinct. I have noticed this to be true on all the new Airfix kits I have built which have lower windows. I am not sure why as other companies seem to be able to mold canopies without any issues like this. Anyway, after masking, the canopy was tacked into place prior to painting.
|COLORS & MARKINGS|
For this build, I decided to do a North African theater plane. I have built very few Luftwaffe planes with desert camo, and the nice scheme in LPS Decals 72-01 for 7./ZG 26was what I chose. I first painted the canopy area with Xtracolor RLM 02. Then I painted the rear fuselage white for the band and masked that. The underside was painted with RLM 78 using Testors enamels. I stuck in the radio mast, masked off the underside, and painted the upper surface using some of my ancient Aeromaster RLM 79 acrylic. Naturally, some back and forth painting was needed to cure the inevitable overspray.
Returning to the bench, I removed the masking and installed the landing gear. The small tail wheel assembly is the one used for the C versions. The main gear is well formed with all of the links that are missing in most 1/72 Bf-110 kits. One does need to ensure this is fully dry before setting the plane on its gear as it is a bit wobbly before the cement dries. On the underside, I attached the DF loop after thinning it out a great deal with a motor tool. Then the model was given a coat of Floquil clear gloss (because my bottle of Future was now defunct and I had not replaced it with Pledge (the brand under which it is now sold).
Then I started applying decals. The LPS sheet gives every 110 stencil known, but I decided just to use the main ones. Since these are Microscale-printed decals, they are in register, have good opacity and will react with just the mildest of setting solutions. Once that was done, the airframe was given a matte clear coat to seal things in place.
Now a bunch of additional bits had to be added on. This included the gear doors, wheels and the radio mast. The canopy was popped off and I prepared to install the rear gun. As frequently happens, the gun went 'zinging' off somewhere and I was unable to find it. The landing light was simply pressed into place. Then the canopy was re-attached in a more permanent manner. I also assembled the props, dipping the tip of the spinner in a small pool of white paint for the tip markings. The masking was removed from the canopy and any paint creep cleaned up. I decided to add the radio antennas, so used EZ-Line fine grade for this. I then broke out the pastels to add some exhaust stains.
It all makes for a very nice model. Those who want more detail will have to add it somehow. The kit does not include aileron mass balances, the DF sense antenna aft of the loop, the HF long wire mount or a pitot tube. Some modelers may wish to add these items, but this seems pretty typical of this line of kits to be missing smaller items like this.
Messerschimitt Bf-110C, D, and E: An illustrated history, Classic Books, 2008
Thanks to me and the fact that I really like the new line of Airfix kits. You can safely sell or give away your older Airfix or Matchbox 110s.
Thanks also to LPS Hobby for the fine decal sheet.
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