Monday, July 18

Read n' Reviewed: Airframe & Miniature No.5 (Second Edition) The Messerschmitt Bf 109 - Early Series (V1 to E9 including the T-Series) from Valiant Wings Publishing

For those of you that did not get to see the first edition of the Airframe and Miniature series title featuring the Bf-109E series, Valiant Wings have published a second, expanded edition. A heavier tome with new early Bf 109 kits now available in all scales included plus a mass of associated accessories and decals. We have a look at the book & see what's new in our review...

Read n' Reviewed: Airframe & Miniature No.5 (Second Edition) The Messerschmitt Bf 109 - Early Series (V1 to E9 including the T-Series) – A Complete Guide To The Luftwaffe’s Famous Fighter
by Richard A. Franks
Published by Valiant Wings Publishing
240 pages
A4 Softcover
English text
Black & white & colour photographs, line drawings & aircraft profiles included.
ISBN 978-1-912932-25-2
Price: £25.95 directly from the Publishers
Product Link on the Valiant Wings Website
Valiant Wings have added to two of their previously released books with updated information on new kits, aftermarket & decals that are new to the market since the first printing. The fact that their two books on the Bf-109 are now long out of print and hard to acquire for modellers makes it a great idea to expand the Bf-109 series in two updated books.

The late and early Bf 109 books now expanded and updated...
The "Airframe & Miniature" series of books:
Those familiar with these series of books (we are, we have reviewed MANY as you can see here) will know that these are a bit of a modern gold standard for modellers looking to cover the complete subject from history, development, camouflage, markings and service life to scale drawing and walk around reference, to a comprehensive run down of the models, decals, aftermarket and books on the subject. These book isolate the subject under the microscope and give the reader an authoritative knowledge of the machine after they read the books.

We will now look at "Airframe & Miniature No.5 (Second Edition) The Messerschmitt Bf 109 - Early Series (V1 to E9 including the T-Series) – A Complete Guide To The Luftwaffe’s Famous Fighter". First up, the physical make up o the book, and then a page by page chapter by chapter look at the book.

A hefty book this one, coming in at two hundred and thirty-two pages (an increase from the first edition, which was two hundred and eight pages). This book also has a blue and yellow themed glossy soft cover, with new artwork from by Jerry Boucher. The book is filled with black and white, plus colour photos, line drawings, isometric drawings and scale plans. A schmick looking package over all, these books have been an attractive prospect from the start and this one continues this trend.
Page by page:
The book is broken up into two main sections, covering the "airframe" and the "Miniatures" which makes sense when you see the title. There are thirteen sections in these two main parts, breaking them down to cover smaller areas in the kite, the models and appendices.

The book starts with the genesis of the aircraft – Through the development of the fighter in from 1933 by a very clever Willy Messerschmitt who shaped this fighter (It’s main competitor at the time being the-112) into what we know today, after winning the fly off competition. The type broke several records which are discussed as well before we go marque for marque through the development of the fighter. Through the early “V” series to the “B” and “C” series, some of which served in the Spanish Civil war in aid of the Fascist Franco regime. For each of the aircraft in this section, there are side profiles of the shape of the aircraft, werk numbers if they were a limited production or record attempt, and details on their camouflage and markings. A lot more detail than I have seen in other titles – I am already warmed up!
In the first chapter called "Evolution" we go through the earliest of the “E” type prototypes from the V1 to the E-9 Messerschmitt. The book also investigates the latter T-Series and one-off prototypes. Every type and sub type of the airframe are all covered over these sixty pages. 
This part of the book is put together like a play-by-play, showing changes between the different variants in point form and description,  as well as pictures. A breakdown like this is so helpful for modellers, as it tells you when and where the aircraft was changed and how the type evolved. 
The second main part of the airframe section concerns the camouflage and markings used on the E through T model Bf-109's. After a brief disclaimer about not every aircraft always being the same as orders said they should be (too true) we are taken through the early models and their markings in the Spanish conflict, with several pictures of these lesser known aircraft – and some good ones at that show off some peculiarities. We also get a description of the unit markings that many of you may have seen on these aircraft “the hat”, “Mickey Mouse” and “The Wooden eye” Quite interesting reading.
Into proper “Luftwaffe” service – we look at some early “C” and “D” version and the “E’s” that were used in the west from 1937 onwards. We are walked through the often confusing lettering and symbols on the sides of these aircraft in Luftwaffe service (< - I O etc.) which was a great help. We talk national markings as well as the infamous (to modellers anyway) change from using the darker camouflage colours to the slightly lighter 02/71 shades.

 Several pictures of well-known and very mean looking yellow nosed Messerschmitt’s flesh out this section very well and help explain the change from bright blue sides on these aircraft to mottled sides in operations over the channel and in the battle of Britain. We also investigate a grey scheme (complete with more disclaimers, just in case people are not getting it). That is a theory, but not a proven one. It is good to know these things though and it would be remiss to not have this in the book – well done Mr Franks. We look at several "Afrika" aircraft in this section as well before we look at the aircraft of the allies of Germany and the neutral country of Switzerland as well. There are top down coloured line drawings showing the evolution of the camouflage patterns of this aircraft through the theatres of war, as well as an excellent guide as to where the warning and aircraft stencilling goes on the painted airframe.

There are several pages of great aircraft profiles next. Drawn by the well-known Richard Caruana they are of top quality and show nearly every different user of the type. These look very nice to me, and although there is a trend now to show aircraft profiles weathered these do me just fine. This section is topped off with unit badges who operated the early ‘109.

Colour side views and four-views are provided by the talented Richard J. Caruana
The second part of the book, "In Miniarture" is next. With the book shifting from the actual aircraft towards the modelling of the machine. This is where the book starts to differ from the first edition. An exhausting guide to every early Messerschmitt 109 kit that have been released, with all the models you love, the older 72nd scale Hasegawa, ICM kits as well as the new Special Hobby kit. The 48th scale kits from Eduard, Hasegawa & Airfix, through to the new Wingsy kits gold standard Be 109s are here. We also look at the larger 1/32nd kits from Trumpeter and Cyber Hobby and the 24th scale kits from Trumpeter and Airfix. It is great to have these new kits included in this version, as some, like the Wingsy Kits releases are top of the pile and a need to know about model for builders out there.
The accuracy of the kits, the panel lines, decals, and special features are all mentioned int he breakdown of each of the kits and this is a really great starting place for anyone wanting to make their own kit but who maybe isn’t sure about a kit. The decals, aftermarket and accessories sections are also updated in the same way and give the same value to the reader. This part of the book could save you a lot of money and heartache from choosing the right kit, decal, and accessories.
In "Building a Selection" we look at the model builds, with pretty immaculate builds, documented by detailed explanations and some great photography over nine builds from 72nd scale to 32nd scale. The extensive build section has been updated with builds of the newly tooled E-series from Wingsy in 1/48th scale by Steve A. Evans as well as the Special Hobby 1/72nd series by Libor Jekl.
I am glad to see in these builds that the builders do not shy away with pointing out a few things they do not like about the kits here and there, which is the best type of review you could get, really. At least you know they are on the level.

Another helpful tool for the modeller is the the 3-D Isometric views of the aircraft, drawn by Jacek Jackiewicz, with new additions by Juraj Jankovic over twenty-one pages. I love these drawings, as they show a better angle and afford more understanding to the subject and its evolutions than just a side-on profile view. Werk numbers, modifications to the airframe and any special points are brought up here.
The next section is a very detailed “walk around” section displaying textbook drawings, part breakdowns in service manuals, and often coloured pictures of each part of the aircraft over forty-two pages. Four aircraft were studied and used in the making of this book, and the pictures here are excellent. It seems the authors were able to climb around the aircraft or had access to a lot of it, which is better than most of us get. Although this section has a lot of text for the drawings in German, you can see what is going on and I think these drawings will help scratch builders especially.
As an appendix, this one rates pretty well. A comprehensive - more like an exhaustive - list of each and every kit of the Bf 109E through to the Bf 109T versions reaching from 1/87th scale and smaller through to 1/18th scale kits. In list and some photos, you will never see such a comprehensive list as this anywhere else.
Not just the kits, but the decals,aftermarket and accessories are included in a second appendix at the rear of the book. The same treatment is given here as we had on the kits. Photos and lists give you the options you knew - and some you didn't - in every scale here.
There really hasn’t been any leaf unturned here. A long list of books is also included in an extensive bibliography of the type as well.

Last but definitely not least is the two fold-out aircraft scale plans in the rear of the book. These are on thick , very good quality paper, These are of the “V”, “B”, “D”, “T9” and “E1” & “E7” aircraft – a great resource – they are in 1/48th scale which a third of modellers will no doubt not like (not their scale) but it is the most popular scale for serious modellers and it fits in more drawings – a compromise had to be made – we can’t all have it our way I suppose. Notwithstanding scale issues, they are great drawings, very detailed and a most welcome way to top off the book, as they can be removed if needed without destroying the book.
One example of how to do things better the second time around strikes me when I think about this second edition. Hollywood are famous for not being able to do sequels that please all of their fan base, but recently "Top Gun" sequel was released to the public. Movie reviewers pretty much all said that it was "how you do sequels right". Valiant wings have done that here, with pretty much the same story and building bricks, but bringing it up to date with new vision (models) and examples of the changes in technology since the first edition. 

If you understand my meaning, I mean to say that if you liked the first editin, you will probably love this updated, expanded and enhanced version!

Adam Norenberg

Thank you to Valiant Wings for sending this book to us to read and to review. If you like the look of these books, you can find out more about them on the Valiant Wings website

You can also order Bf-109 Second Edition Bundle of early and late versions (two books) for £51.90 from this link...