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Messerschmitt Bf 109E

Scale: 1/24th
Manufacturer: Airfix
Ref No: 12002
Material: IM

Kit Review
This kit was released as #1202 in 1972 as the second in the 'Super Kit' series from Airfix. It was subsequently reissued in 1978 (#12002-9), 1989, 1990 and 1993 (all as #12002), 2008 (#A12002), 2011 (#A12002A) and 2016 (#A50176) and is due reissue with the superb Roy Cross artwork in the new 'Airfix Classic' series later this year (#A12002V). It has also been reissued in the past by MPC in the USA, Gunze-Sangyo in Japan and by Heller in France. The version I built here was, I think, the 1993 edition, with the awful box art and hard grey-coloured plastic.

Having done the Spitfire it was now time to add the Bf 109 to the shelves and you would have thought I had learned my lesson with the masks on the Spitfire, but no! I had actually started this kit quite a while ago and it has lounged on the 'shelf of shame' for a considerable time, so it was time to resurrect the build. I did not go with an electric motor in this one, so the kit engine built up quite nicely  and I even found it fitted well into the fuselage halves. I was again intending to do this one 'in flight', so I did not add any extra detail to the engine, but did take some time painting it and all its associated detail. The interior builds up very nicely, all I would say is that if you go with the pilot in situ, build him at stage 5 as shown in the instructions, as he fits with little problem at this stage (but does not later, I know!). Because there is quite a gap around the tailwheel, you can easily mask it off, so do fit it at stage 7. I have to say that I replaced the canvas cover (#62) over the back of the instrument panel with tissue paper soaked in white glue, as it looked more like material - I have no idea why though, as it's hidden by the upper cowling. The upper cowl guns mount via a rear cradle (#66 & 67) and front mounting arm (#68 & 69) and these two latter items can be a problem. Getting them to align so that the barrels are in the openings in the upper cowling (#149) can be tricky and I must admit that I thought it would be and left them off until finally assembly and was glad I did.
The undercarriage has to go into place quite early, so I did just the legs and then put them up and filled the bays with damp tissue paper for the painting stages, adding the wheel and door right at the end. The wings were OK, just paint the front of the barrels of the MG FF cannon (#86 & 98) because about 3/4 of each is hidden within the wing and will never be seen again once you put the leading edge inserts (#123 & 124) and access covers (#125 & 126) in place; I did find one of the latter covers was a poor fit though, so do a few trial runs before committing to cement. The tip lights (#131 and 132), pitot (#133), tie-down eyelets (#129 & 130) and aileron mass balance weights (#127 & 128) were all left off until after final assembly. The radiators are a good fit, although the separate rear flaps are a sloppy fit. I also found that the oil cooler exhaust flap under the engine (#110) was a poor fit, so in the end I removed it and replaced it with a version made from thick plasticard. The rudder and elevators are all supposed to be moveable, but I admit to having tacked them all in place with cement, otherwise they tend to sag over time. The cowlings were the major problem with this kit though, the main one (#149) is a single-piece moulding and in my example it had a short-shot all along the top edge above the exhausts on the starboard side. I squared off this area then inserted a piece of plasticard to bridge the gap, later levelling it all out and using a little Mr Surfacer 500 to ensure the join lines could not be seen. The aft cowls (#147 & 148) have the aft section of the supercharger intake (#146) fitted to them and this is fine, but the fixed part of the intake (#145) is in situ moulded to a section of the port fuselage half and getting it all to line up was a complete nightmare. Even now the cowls fit where they thouch only and I would not like to fly this machine, as the gaps are huge! 
Colour & Markings
Let me say the following tribulations were all my own fault, I decided to do ALL the markings via vinyl masks - idiot! The masks themselves were not the problem, they were superb and beautifully cut, even the smaller details, by Montex. The set (#K24015) offered a serious yellow marked machine flown by Ofw. Bernhard Lampskemper of 2./JG 3 and I just had to do it because to me an 1090E without yellow nose and tail is just not right. I think this was one of Montex's earlier style of sets, as nowadays they tend to offer the more complex maskings and badges as decals, this set though had them all as masks - oh dear! The overall scheme was classic RLM 02/70 over 65 with a mottle of 02/70/71 down the fuselage sides. This combined with the entire nose, rudder and wing tips being yellow (RLM 04) sold the scheme to me. The model was primed with automotive grey plastic primer out of an aerosol and once dry that was polished with very fine micro-mesh polishing cloths. The undersides were H67 (RLM 65) from the Gunze-Sangyo Mr Aqueous Color range, with shadows produced by darkening the base colour with blue. The upper surfaces are done in two stages, first you have to apply the 'hard' colour areas, so the dorsal spine and upper surfaces of the tailplanes and wings need to be masked off. This was then done by applying RLM 02 (H70) first overall, darkening for the shadows by adding a little dark green, then the hard-edges splinter camouflage pattern was done with Tamiya masking tape before the RLM 70 could be applied (you will need to darken this with black for the shadows). Once all that was dry the whole lot was sealed with a couple of thin coats of Tamiya clear (X22) thinned with Mr Levelling Thinners. Once that had dried (leave it overnight), the 'hard' areas could be masked off, along with the undersides, leaving only the fuselage sides, cowls and vertical fin exposed. Usually, you would have started the scheme with the yellow, but as the markings on the cowling were in an oblong of the base mottle, I went this route. The mottling on the fuselage sides used RLM 02. RLM 70 and RLM 71, but it was very light, as per the illustrations in the masks. Once happy with the effect, another coat of X22 was applied and it was all left to dry overnight. The masks include the oblong region on each side of the cowling for the unit marking, so these were applied, using the illustrations in the masks to 'eyeball' it's location. Now the spinner (and backplate), rudder, cowlings and wing tips had to be painted white then yellow, so everything else has to be covered (be warned. white gets EVERYWHERE when sprayed!). With RLM 04 I tend to apply it neat along all the panel lines etc. first, then lightly fill in all the remaining areas, that way you can get some 'shadowing' because you can't darken yellow with anything other than, well, yellow! I must admit I also applied the basic shapes of the swastika and wing/fuselage crosses and tactical '8' at this stage, as it reduced how much had to be masked of the airframe and I had the white out anyway (I must admit with so many areas of the model now painted white, it got difficult to handle). Once that was done, I added the next level of masks to allow me to spray on the black elements of the swastikas, crosses and tactical '8'. The spinner and backplate were tacked together so that the segments of white and RLM 70 could be created and at the same time the propeller blades were also sprayed in the latter colour (the hub was picked out in a bright aluminium colour). If you think that was it, think again, because now I started to add the unit badge on each side of the cowling. This was done as a white basic shape, then red and finally a black outline, all via layers of masks. It sounds complex and it was, in fact there was much swearing and cursing and I still ended up having to do many, many touch-ups, so don't look too closely.
Final Details
About all I had to do was unmask the model, swear a bit more and then deal with all the inevitable touch-ups, then fit the wheels and doors to the main oleo legs. I slid the assembled propeller onto the engine shaft and then set about getting the cowls on..., this took a lot of brute force and even now they don't fit well. The canopy sections had all been painted whilst the main scheme was going on, as the Montex set includes masks for them. Now I got to fit them in place and as I wanted the main canopy closed I soon found the fit leaves big gaps all around the edges, oh well! The aerial mast had been pre-drilled to take a lead and once in place the final items to add were the tip lights, mass balance weights and tie-down eyelets. The display stand was built up and given a number of coats of gloss black to get it nice and shiny, then it was secured into the underside of the fuselage with cyanoacrylate initially, then with extra thin cement to get a good strong bond. The model was jigged upside-down overnight whilst the stand set, then the next day turned the right way up and set on its stand, complete.

I enjoyed the assembly more than the Spitfire, as things fitted a lot better overall. There were some issues and nowadays the 'complex' and 'highly detailed' aspects that I admired as a child seem bland, but overall once built it looks great I am glad I went for the option I did regardless of the struggle those masks were, it was worth it as it looks just so good with that much yellow! Next up the Stuka...

Paints used
Alclad 2 lacquer:
White Aluminium

Gunze Mr Hobby Aqueous Hobby Color acrylic:
Mr Surfacer 1500 (Grey)
H64 RLM 71 Dark Green
H65 RLM 70 Dark Green
H67 RLM 65 Light Blue
H70 RLM 02 Grey-Green
H413 RLM 04 Yellow

Tamiya Color acrylic:
X-1 Gloss Black
X-22 Gloss Clear
XF-55 Deck Tan
XF-64 Red Brown
XF-69 NATO Black