Hobbycraft 1/48 Bf-109B
|KIT #:||HC 1566|
|REVIEWER:||Scott Van Aken|
|NOTES:||Short run with photo etch and resin parts|
The first Bf 109 in serial production, the Bf 109 B-1, was fitted with the 670 PS (661 hp, 493 kW) Jumo 210D engine driving a two-bladed fixed-pitch propeller. During the production run a variable-pitch propeller was introduced and often retrofitted to older aircraft; these were then unofficially known as B-2s. The Bf 109B saw combat with the Legion Condor during the Spanish Civil War, although it was apparent that the armament was still inadequate. Several aircraft were produced with an engine-mounted machine gun but it was very unreliable, most likely because of engine vibrations and overheating. Thus the Bf 109 V8 was constructed to test the fitting of two more machine guns in the wings; however, results showed that the wing needed strengthening. In the following V9 prototype, both wing guns were replaced by 20 mm MG FF cannons. A total of 341 Bf 109 B-1s were built by Messerschmitt, Fieseler, and the Erla Maschinenwerke.
Many of the 24 Bf 109 A-0 preproduction aircraft served with the Legion Condor and were often misidentified as B-series aircraft. These probably served in Spain with the tactical markings 6-1 to 6–16.
Until recently, in 1/48, if you wanted an injection molded Jumo powered Bf-109, you headed for the Hobbycraft boxing. Currently AMG/Dora Wings offers the early plane and before that, Classic Airframes had this version in their catalog. Both of these should be considered short run kit, though they are well executed.
Hobbycraft kits were and are fairly basic kits that don't overwhelm the builder with a lot of inserts. They also tend to suffer from some inaccuracies because of this. Those who are really into the aircraft will spot these and make the corrections needed. The rest will happily construct the kit as it is provided and be generally pleased with the results.
Aside from a clear sprue that includes a one-piece canopy and gun sight, there are two grey sprues. One has all the flight and control surfaces. This includes the one piece lower wing and two upper wing sections as well as the tail planes. It also has the landing gear, wheels and the interior peieces.
The interior is basic but acceptable with seat, instrument panel, control stick, rudder pedals and sidewalls. The trim tab wheels are also included. Those wanting more detail can substitute many of the resin cockpit sets around, but you'll also need to replace the somewhat thick canopy. Note also that you'll have to drill some holes for a few pieces on the lower wing and you are provided a guide for this. The landing gear legs have a separate oleo scissor, though the legs are a bit on the thick side.
You have separate flaps that can be posed lowered. To do the same for the elevators, the single piece stabilizers will need to have these items cut away and repositioned. I also found on some previous builds that the tailplane struts don't fit very well. A single piece Swartz wooden prop/spinner is the only one included so you are pretty well limited to a very early 109.
Instructions are quite basic, but adequate, offering no interior color info. It is RLM 02 as are probably the gear wells and inside of the gear doors. There are two markings option. One is for the box art Bf-109A-0 of the Legion Condor. The instructions say RLM 63 grey, but these seem to have been painted in silver. Note also that the A-0 variants had the fuselage seams filled for extra speed. The other is a RLM 70/71/65 splinter camouflage plane with the red tail band as assigned to 6./JG 132 in 1937. This is a 'white box' kit which means the decals are probably trash so hunt up an aftermarket set or be ready for decals that don't work very well.
You would think that with newer tool kits available that these would not be worth the time to build. However, this kit is not a difficult build and can often be found 'second hand' for a small fraction of what the others would cost you. I've built two of the 109D boxings and one of the E from Hobbycraft and have been pleased with the results both times. I think you'll be happy with the results as well.
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