Cutting Edge 1/32 Bf 109A, Bf 109B-1 and Bf 109C/D Conversion Sets First Look
|Date of Review||September 2007||Manufacturer||Cutting Edge|
|Subject||Bf 109A, Bf 109B-1 and Bf 109C/D Conversion Sets||Scale||1/32|
|Primary Media||Resin||Skill Level||Intermediate|
There has been some discussion about why these sets are fitted to the Hasegawa kit and not the reputedly “more accurate” Matchbox kit. There are several specific reasons.
FIRST, however, we’ve test fitted our early cowling to the Matchbox kit, and amazement of amazements, it actually fits reasonably well (although as I said, it is specifically designed for the Hasegawa kit and if you use it on the Matchbox kit you’re on your own!).
OK, why Hasegawa? First, it’s still in production, and the Matchbox kit has been gone for years and years. The fit is pretty awful, but for a kit that’s about 35 years old (that’s 173 in modelers’ years), we can live with it.
Second, the Hasegawa kit has raised panel lines and the Matchbox kit has leftover trenches from WW I France. Would you prefer to sand off gently raised panel lines and scribe new ones, or fill trenches and scribe right over the top of the area you just filled? Most of you told us you’d rather start with Hasegawa kit.
Third, those who claim the Matchbox kit is “more accurate” may possibly be technically correct in some abstract way, but those who’ve actually built it will tell you the fit is just as bad on the Matchbox kit as on the Hasegawa kit, and crucial parts like the canopy and flaps must be discarded and new parts made because the kit parts are simply unusable.
Finally, when we asked around several years ago when this project first started, literally everybody we asked said they prefer Hasegawa. So, Hasegawa it is.
Because of the continuing confusion about early 109 nomenclature, it is well to repeat here what we've already described to Meteor’s clients several times. In short, we're using the nomenclature system provided by Lynn Ritger in his book on the early Bf 109s. More about this below.
Bf 109s in the Spanish Civil War - are YOU confused?
Conventional wisdom has it that during the Spanish Civil War, Germany sent Bf 109B-1s, Bf 109B-2s, Bf 109C-1s, Bf 109D-1s, and finally Bf 109Es as part of the Condor Legion in support of Franco's Nationalist forces.
Enter Lynn Ritger. You may know Lynn as the brains behind the 109Lair website and as a Bf 109 expert. He's also a fantastic modeler (even if his subjects are a little "repetitive" - he has built, I think, more Bf 109 models than Germany produced actual aircraft).
Lynn's first book, The Messerschmitt Bf 109, A Comprehensive Guide For the Modeller, Part 1: Prototype to "E" Variants, is a must-read if you're a 109 aficionado. In fact, this book is crucial if you want to understand what we've just released in 1/32 scale.
(What follows next comes from my reading of Lynn's monograph; if there are errors, they are mine and not Lynn's.)
Lynn based his book on a huge amount of personal research and amalgamation of the latest research by such luminaries as Ken Merrick, Willy Radinger, Michael Ullmann, and Walter Schick, and the results form a major contribution to the universe's knowledge base about the 109. We do not sell this book, but obviously I strongly recommend you find a copy for your library.
"Here's Why This Is Important!"
Fasten your seatbelt...it's gonna be a bumpy ride...
Lynn has discovered that the first 109s in Spain (other than the Bf 109 V3, V4, and possibly the V6) which were there for a preliminary combat test) were Bf 109As! This is huge, and will come as a big surprise to most of you. He lays out in his book why this was so, and his evidence is compelling.
The second increment of 109s to reach Spain was Bf 109B-1s--and hold on to your hat--there were not only NO Bf 109B-2s in Spain, there was no such thing as a Bf 109B-2! This completely flies in the face of nearly all previously published material, but Lynn lays out the details in a most compelling way.
Eventually a few Bf 109C-1s and a bunch of externally identical Bf 109D-1s also reached the Condor Legion, but this information is already widely known.
OK. Why do you need to know this? Because we're now shipping our 1/32 Bf 109A, Bf 109B-1, and Bf 109C/D conversion sets for the Hasegawa Bf 109E kit, and we're using the nomenclature Lynn lays out in his book. This is certain to confuse some, because they will not be expecting a Spanish Civil War aircraft called the "Bf 109A," and they will wonder why none of our sets are marked "Bf 109B-2."
The Cutting Edge Sets
These are complicated sets intended for serious, experienced modelers. The resin bits themselves are not particularly difficult, but the Hasegawa kit fit is so bad there are numerous ways you can assemble it, so you must be EXTREMELY careful as you proceed that all the styrene and resin parts fit together properly. (Fit of Matchbox kit is much worse than Hasegawa).
Our resin cowling, prop, and spinner completely replace the Hasegawa parts from the firewall forward. (You’ll use the Hasegawa three-blade prop for the Bf 109C/D, however).
The upper cowl sections are different for each of the versions (A, B-1, and C/D). The cooling air intakes at the front are identical (large, simple slots) on the Bf 109A and Bf 109B-1. On the C and D these simple slots were replaced by more sophisticated inlets as shown in the photos.
There are a variety of cooling air vents in the rear section of the upper cowling on all variants. The problem is, there are a BUNCH of variations visible in photos, so we’ve included all the vents that we’ve ever seen in photos of that version on our part for that version. It’s a hell of a lot easier to fill in a vent you don’t need than to cut one you do!
Our Bf 109A set includes the short stub exhausts normally seen on that version. Our Bf 109B-1 set includes the long stub exhausts, and the Bf 109C/D set includes both the long stub exhausts installed when these variants left the factory, and the ejector exhausts similar to those on the Bf 109E. Some Bf 109Ds, and possibly some Cs, were fitted with these later exhausts in 1939 or 1940.
We were able to cast our props to minimize the sanding and reshaping so common with resin props. Our Bf 109A set includes the two-blade wooden Schwarz prop and spinner. Our Bf 109B-1 set includes a two-blade variable pitch prop and spinner, while our Bf 109C/D set includes a spinner for the Hasegawa kit’s three-blade prop.
While we’re on the subject of spinners, when you check photos of the early 109s you’ll clearly see the spinners are smaller than the front of the cowling, which we’ve duplicated on our sets (that’s why you don’t use the Hasegawa three-blade prop spinner, just the prop itself).
From day one an important complaint about the Hasegawa Bf 109E kit has been the fact that the triangular quarter panel windows at the base of the windscreen are curved on the kit but flat in real life. We’ve fixed that problem and provide you a new clear cast windscreen with corrected quarter windows.
Of course, when the quarter windows were flattened, the “saddle” shaped section of fuselage directly in front of the windscreen no longer fits, so we provide a new part properly faired into the corrected windscreen.
Since the Bf 109A/B/C/D were not originally fitted with radio masts, we also provide a clear-cast resin fixed rear canopy part without the slot for the radio mast. If you’re building a bird that had a radio mast, simply use the Hasegawa part.
(BTW, as of this writing we’re almost finished with our early Bf 109 cockpit superset. Although there were many variations in the cockpit layout as the design progressed, our cockpit is based on the excellent photos taken by Soviet engineers of Condor Legion Bf 109A 6-15, which was captured soon after the type was introduced in Spain and thoroughly evaluated in the Soviet Union. We should start shipping this set in a week or so.)
The early 109’s wing was much different from the Bf 109E. Although there wasn’t much difference on the wing tops except for panel lines, the wing bottom is a different story.
First, the early birds had a tiny oil cooler fairing under the wing instead of the Bf 109E’s two huge oil cooler scoops with large aerodynamic fairings continuing onto the flaps. In addition, the first 109s lacked wing guns, and only later were small MG 15s added to the wings. In both cases there was no need for the large teardrop-shaped fairings for the ammo drums for the 20mm wing guns of the Bf 109E.
Our lower resin wing has the 20mm ammo drum blisters and oil coolers removed, and we give you new resin flap bottoms without the aerodynamic fairings as on the 109E. We also provide the small oil cooler fairing (which was in a different location on the Bf 109A than on the B/C/D).
Although Cutting Edge has a set of detailed wheel wells for the Hasegawa Bf 109E available as a separate set, we’ve include these same parts in all three of our early 109 sets. Some may prefer to retain the original Hasegawa wells, so we’ve left them in place on our resin wing. The Hasegawa wells can be removed to install the much more accurate and detailed wells included with these sets.
In conclusion, we are very proud to offer you these sophisticated conversion sets that will allow you to create really nice models of the earliest production Bf 109s. They are shipping now. We’ve just sent artwork to the decal printer for a couple of sheets for these versions. We’ll let you know when they are available, hopefully in a month or so.
© 2007, Meteor Productions, Inc.