Tuesday, September 24

Read n’ Reviewed: Model Aircraft Extra: Building the Messerschmitt Bf 109

The team from Model Air Publications, lead by Andy Evans has released the second in the series of new "Model Aircraft Extra" series, and smartly on another popular subject of the Luftwaffe. So that meant "Building the Messerschmitt Bf 109" therefore was the next in Paul Lee's reading cue, he has finished the book, and now thought he would show you a little and tell some more of what he thought about the book in his review...
Read n’ Reviewed: Model Aircraft Extra: Building the Messerschmitt Bf 109
Published: MA Publications Ltd
Compiled by Andy Evans
Format: Softcover A4 Portrait
Fourteen builds included inside
80 Pages
Price: $35 AUD
Product Link on the Creative Models website 

“Not another Bf 109!”, an oft-heard lamentation when a new Bf109 kit is released, but whether you like the plane or not, you cannot argue that the Bf109 is one of the most popular aircraft modelling subjects out there. Being the most mass-produced fighter of all time, coupled with the varied camouflage schemes painted on this aircraft, the stories of the pilots inside then, and most likely being first introduced to us as the plane of the “baddies”, the popularity of the Bf 109 in the modelling community can’t really come as that much of a surprise. 

A while back, MA Publications released their first volume on Building the FW 190, and now have come out with volume 2, on Building the Bf 109. Coming in an identical format to the first volume, this one gives us fourteen builds of this plane, plus a two-page spread with some detail shots of a restored example. 
The magazine starts of with an introduction to the Bf 109, covering the various elements of its development and service life, starting with the initial RLM requirements for the future fighter, and then going through the various changes to its engine, airframe, armament etc. This all comes in text and is spread over eight pages, so clearly, this is just a summary. But technical information on the Bf 109 is not the reason we got the magazine is it?
René Van De Hart gets us started with his build of Eduard’s 1/48 Bf 109G-6 – Late Series Profipack, using the markings for Friedrich Eberle’s plane featured on the box top artwork of the kit.  René writes about his experiences of the kit, not that there is too much to write about with some filler at the wing roots being the only issue with the kit, and pictures showing the various stages of construction, but mostly of the painting and weathering process. 

James Bamford uses Eduard’s 1/48 Weekend Edition of the Bf 109F-4 in the markings of Franz Schweiger’s North African plane that comes in the box. James describes his build, enhancing the weekend edition kit with the PE add-ons that would come in a Profipack, and painting with Hataka paints, and various weathering products, although photos are only of the finished model. 
Miguel Silvestre presents us with Josef “Pips” Priller’s 1/48 Bf 109E-3 using Eduards Weekend edition kit. This is a shorter article, with Miguel mostly describing the painting and weathering of the kit, and the accompanying photos reflect this. 

Peter Cosgrove gives us the first significantly different model with his build of Dora Wings’ 1/48 Bf 109A/B, finished in a silver Condor Legion scheme flown by Ernst Mratzek. There is a bit more depth to this article with a description and pictures of Peter’s construction stages, as well as how he achieved the multi silver tonal effect on his build. One of the most noticeable differences between this kit and the earlier Eduard builds, are the beautiful rivets that Eduard has moulded making this kit look a bit plainer in comparison.
In a change of scale, Mario Serelle goes 1/72 with AZ Model’s kit of a Bf109G-6 in US markings captured from the Italians. The article is mostly focussed on Mario’s painting, using a black primer and then getting a marbled effect by unevenly spraying RLM 76 over it. Mario mentions using a salt mask, a technique I’m not familiar with, so a description, and especially some pictures would definitely have come in very handy. 
Continuing on with another captured American example, Mac Patterson builds Revell’s 1/32 Bf109G-4 Trop, and being an older kit, Mac swaps out the original cockpit and tropical filter for a resin MDC one. The resin parts look stunning, although a comparison to the originals might have made them even more so.  Mac also mentions using a punch to add the missing rivets on the kit, although still more plain looking than the Eduard kits. 
James Cann goes back to 1/48 with Eduard’s Bf109G-6 Early Profipack, again giving us the box top scheme of Hermann Graf’s plane. Anther shorter article and mostly devoted to the painting and weathering of the model. 
James Cann returns with another 1/48 Eduard Bf109G-4 Profipack, this time giving us a Romanian scheme. Again mostly devoted to painting and weathering, but this time James uses Kcolor paints, which is an Italian brand that I have not heard of, and appears to have no problems at all with this range of acrylics, even while doing the mottling which is one thing I have struggled with the various acrylic brands. 

Angel Exposito takes us back to an old favourite with Tamiya’s 1/48 Bf 109E-3, and updates it with some PE in the cockpit, and then adds the missing rivets on the airframe which really enhances this kit. Once again, the focus is on the painting and the weathering and the added rivets really do make this model pop. 

Giving us a break from the models, we are treated to some detail shots of the only airworthy example of a Bf 109G-2 Trop, “Black 6”, back in 1994 at the RAF Cosford Airshow. Unfortunately, an accident in 1997 meant that the plane is now only a static example at the RAF Museum at Hendon, after it was restored. 
Back to models, and Mark Casiglia paints up Hasegawa’s 1/32 Bf 109G-6 in a very colourful Swiss scheme. The article covers the construction and the painting and weathering, although photos are only of the painting stages and finished models, but with the amount of masking needed for the majority of the markings, this is understandable. 

James Cann comes back for Episode III and builds my favourite version using Eduard’s 1/48 Bf109G-10 MTT Regensberg kit, although the picture of the box top artwork incorrectly shows the G-6 Late boxing. While the “beule” humps do add character, their deletion gives the Bf109 a sleeker look once again, it is the late war weary rushed paint schemes that really do it for me and James gives us a wonderful example here. 

Sun Ick Roh gives us Hasegawa’s 1/32 Bf109K-4, built in the scheme of the greatest ace of all time, Erich Hartmann’s final sortie, although there is a bit of a debate as to whether Hartmann actually flew a K-4. This is the shortest article, and while Sun Ick Roh describes some issues with the kit, you only get pictures of the finished example.
Jay Blakemore builds up Eduard’s 1/48 Bf 109F-2 Profipack, but does not use the decals it the box, questioning Eduard’s interpretation of colours for the decals. Jay gives a good description of his build, but the pictures only show the finished model. 
Jay returns with his build of the original Eduard “1/48” Bf 109G-6, which as the author points out, that while dimensionally flawed, the rest is absolutely fine as long as you ignore the 1/48. Jay modifies this kit to a G-6/U3, which is a camera-equipped version, and uses decals from an Xtradecals sheet for markings for Friedrich-Wilhelm Kahler’s mount. For a change of pace, Jay swaps in an Aires cockpit for the original, and an Owl Models resin camera mount. Jay also uses a set of HGW Models wet transfers which feature a removable carrier film, although with mixed results. 

So, what kind of modeller are you? Are you more involved in the building stage and looking to build the most accurate model possible? Or are you more of an artist and happy to put together what is in the box and paint up a beautiful model? For me, “Building the Bf109” is more clearly tilted towards the painting and weathering of models.

However, as I’m sure you have noticed, the majority of the kits featured belong to the Eduard 1/48 range, which in general are amazing kits to build, and are accurate examples of the planes they are representing. Unlike the Monogram Battle of Britain box set, I received as a kid which gave me a Spitfire Mk I/II, and a Bf109G-10. With the amount of R&D that goes into a modern kit, do we even have much to write about or are we just assemblers these days?

If you want some inspiration to build a Bf109, then buy this publication for sure. Fourteen models is definitely a good amount of bang for your buck. The only suggestions I have is possibly a few less Eduard kits and more variety of other kits, and maybe dividing the publication by scale, with 1/48 clearly dominating this volume. Other than that, I can highly recommend this publication. 

Paul Lee

Thanks to Creative Models Australia for sending this copy to read and review