Airfix 1/24 Bf 109E-2 Kit First Look
By Ray Mehlberger
|Date of Review||October 2007||Manufacturer||Airfix|
|Kit Number||3501||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Excellent detail for 30 years ago||Cons||Too big a box and folded over trees|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||$70.00 (but Out of Production)|
In October of 1935, competitive trials were held at Travemunde, Germany between four airplane prototypes as an attempt to select and develop a high-speed monoplane fighter for the rapidly developing Luftwaffe. The winner was what evolved into the first fine German fighter; the Bf 109. It was designed by Willy Messerschmitt and Walter Rethel on the principle of constructing as small and efficient an airframe as possible, around as powerful an engine as was available. The result was an extremely successful airplane that had the world’s speed record in 1937.
After testing during the Spanish Civil war, the 109 became the main Luftwaffe fighter in the early war. German confidence in the 109’s invulnerability became a handicap as the high command refused to realize the British Spitfires and American Thunderbolts were indeed a match and more for the 109.
Eventually, the Fw-190 became the Luftwaffe’s favored fighter in the west, though the 109 was still a valuable weapon especially on the Russian Front.
Designed by Professor Willy Messerschmitt, the Bf 109E has the distinction of enabling the Luftwaffe to gain the essential advantage of air superiority in support of the early land campaigns in Europe during 1939-40, and as such will undoubtedly be ranked alongside the Supermarine Spitfire as a truly great fighter of international acclaim.
When war was declared in September 1939, the earlier Bf 109C (combat proved with the Legion Condor during the Spanish Civil War) and the D models, were being replaced by the new Bf 109E. It was a more powerful and better armed and armoured development of the original design. By the fateful summer of 1940, over 500 of these fighters were in Luftwaffe service. Many of them were based on airfields stretching along the coastal areas of occupied Europe, taking part in offensive sorties across the English Channel and over the southern counties of England. The bitterly fought campaign that followed was to become immortal as the “Battle of Britain”.
The Bf 109E was manufactured by Bayerische Flugzeugwerke and officially designated by prefix Bf and not Me, which was frequently and incorrectly used. Bf 109’s fitted with tropical filters were also in action over Crete, Greece, Malta and in North Africa covering Rommel’s Afrika Korps. By late 1941, the “E” was gradually replaced by the “F” model and later variants. The markings provided in this kit are for two representative Bf 109Es which flew during the Battle of Britain.
Yellow “10” was from Jagdgeshwader JG 26.9 Staffel / 111 Gruppe, based in the Pas De Calais area, while the alternative markings are for the machine of Gruppen Kommandeur Major Helmut Wick of JG 2/1 Gruppe based at Beaumond La Roger, September-October 1940. Major Wick was one of the top Luftwaffe aces during the Battle of Britain, but was killed later that year, credited with over 56 kills.
Powered by the Daimler-Benz, 1,100 hp DB 601A 12 cylinder engine, the Bf 109E had a maximum speed of approximately 354 mph at 12,300 ft. and a range of 400 miles, cruising at 250 mph. Armament consisted of two 20 mm MG FF cannon with 60 rounds per gun and two 7.9 mm machine-guns with 1,000 rounds per gun.
This kit is over 30 years old. At the time I got mine, it was being sold at Target for a measly $4.97. Today, if you can find the kit, it sells for close to $70.00 from dealers that have older stocks of Airfix. Talk about inflation. My kit says it is by MPC/Airfix a subsidiary of General Foods Fun Group Inc.
The kit comes in large flimsy tray and lid type box (at least mine got very crushed over the years). This is partially because the box’s length is at least 1/3rd VOID. The kit could have been packed in a shorter box for sure.
The box art shows two aircraft from Major Wick’s group that have just shot down a Spitfire.
Side panels of the box show color illustrations of the engine, cockpit interior and canopy and the pilot figure. There is a short history of the aircraft next to these illustrations.
Inside the box is a large sealed cello bag that holds white parts trees and loose white wing halves. The white fuselage halves, the upper cowling piece, the clear parts, black vinyl tires, decals and instructions complete the kit’s contents.
There were originally two absolutely HUGE white trees of parts. These were so big that they had been FOLDED in two at the factory. I had to break each apart, into 4 trees, to photograph them for this review. This caused a few parts to break off. Bad way of handling the trees at the factory.
These trees are just numbered and not alphabetized. That means you have to look all over them for a part number as you build the kit. Very tedious and time consuming!
The instructions consist of a stapled booklet, with 8 ½” x 11” format pages. It has a cover and is 12 pages long.
The cover has a black and white repeat of the box art.
Page one has “Read before you start” instructions followed by the history of the Bf 109.
Pages 2 through 11 give a total of 11 assembly step drawings. Colors are called out along the way for various parts. The kit has a very detailed engine and nose guns that can be viewed by removing the separate upper cowling part. The propeller can turn and the landing gear can be made operable, so you can fold it. The cockpit interior is very well detailed (with only some seat belts to be added) and the wing gun compartments can be seen by removable panels. Wing flaps, tail flaps and rudder are all separate and can be modeled at angles. There are 2 types of canopy in the kit. One with square upper panel and the other with a rounded one. Detail is of the engraved type.
Page 12 has top and side views of the 2 schemes offered in the kit.
The first one is for Major Wick’s aircraft. It has a yellow nose and rudder. The rudder has 45 white hash mark kills on it. There is a double black chevron in front of the fuselage crosses, a shield with the letter R on it under the cockpit and a red pennant with “Horiddo” and a white sword on it on the yellow nose. The camouflage is 2 shades of green in a splinter pattern on the upper wings and the fuselage spine. These colors are used as a mottle on the sides and the underside is light blue.
The other scheme is for a Bf 109E from JG 26 “Schlageter”. It the same upper cammo as Wick’s but with overall light blue sides and bottom. It carries the squadron logo of a red griffin on the side under the cockpit and the fuselage code of I + 10 (the vertical bar and 10 in yellow outlined in black. A little further forward of the griffin mark is another logo of a shield with a black letter “S” on it.
The inside of the cover to the instruction booklet has black and white illustrations of the box art of six aircraft kits in 1/72nd scale that MPC/Airfix sold as their “Profile Series” with three marking schemes offered in each box.
The back of the box has MPC/Airfix – General Mills Fun Group’s address. At the time, 30+ years ago. They were in Mt. Clemons, Michigan.
For this review, I am not going to try and list all the parts in the kits. You can look at the parts tree pictures and see for yourself all the parts and just how detailed this kit is. I do remember, years ago, when this kit hit the market – that some modelers with AMS had some gripes about certain things on it. But, for me…if it looks like a 109 nicely…I can live with small errors or omissions.
I did see a few listed with European dealers on the net. Prices were always high however. There may be one on eBay too.