Eduard 1/32 Bf 109E-7/Trop Kit First Look
|Date of Review||April 2010||Manufacturer||Eduard|
|Kit Number||3004||Primary Media||Styrene, Photo-Etch|
|Pros||Very nicely detailed kit||Cons||Nothing noted|
|Skill Level||Intermediate||MSRP (USD)||$74.95|
Dr. Willy Messerschmitt was a true aeronautical pioneer whose designs and concepts would transform aircraft designs on drawing boards around the world for generations. In the years between the world wars, Messerschmitt helped to rebuild Germany's armed forces and keep abreast, if not ahead, of the world's transformation from biplane to monoplane aircraft.
The initial prototype of the Bf 109 first flew in 1935, and incorporated many of the transformational innovations being applied elsewhere in the world, along with a few innovations of their own. Powered by the Rolls Royce Kestrel V12 engine, the aircraft used a liquid-cooled engine to reduce the frontal area of the nose and improve the pilot's forward visibility. The wing was a low-wing monoplane design that housed a narrow-track retractable landing gear and used spring-loaded leading edge slats and manually activated trailing edge flaps for lift augmentation at low airspeeds. In other words, the wing design allowed for fast airspeeds while retaining relatively low airspeeds for take-off and landing. The pilot sat in a fully enclosed cockpit. Only the horizontal stabilizer retained external bracing of the biplane era and would do so through most of its production versions.
The Bf 109E was the first model to be powered by the Daimler Benz DB601A rated at just under 1,100 horsepower. The E-1 was armed with two 7.92mm MG17s in the nose and two MG17s in the wings. The E-3 followed with two MG17s in the nose and two 20mm MG FF cannons in the wings. Some E-3s were powered with the DB601Aa rated at just under 1,160 horsepower. The E-4 incorporated a number of improvements with many E-3s upgraded to the E-4 configuration. The E-4 was armed with two MG17s in the nose and two MG FF/M cannons in the wings.
The Bf 109E-7 was the next iteration that incorporated changes learned from combat experience during the Battle of Britain. The most notable change was the addiion of a centerline suspension system that was plumbed to use an external fuel tank to enhance the Bf 109's short legs or to alternatively carry a bomb on the centerline. The tropicalized version is recognizable with the long filter box located on the port-side cowling to keep sand and dust out of the engine's carburetor.
I stayed away from the first releases of Eduard's 1/32 Bf 109E series as it was clear from all of the rumblings on the internet that there was a number of (heated) discussions trying to sort out some accuracy issues. At the end of the day, two of the issues with the first Eduard kits were the canopy width and the width of the main wheels/tires.
In this release, Eduard has stepped up with some new engineering had have retooled the canopies and main wheels. If you really want these changes in a Bf 109E-4 kit, you're in luck! The E-4 and E-7 are essentially identical airframes with the exception of the new centerline rack and external tank (which was also included in the original releases. You can simply delete the centerline rack and tropical air filter and you'd have a Battle of Britain machine.
The kit is molded in RLM 02 colored styrene and presented on five parts trees, plus one tree of clear parts, two frets of photo-etched parts, and one set of yellow masks. The molded-on detailing is well done with no signs of flash or apparent ejector pin marks in areas that would be visible after assembly.
As with any good aircraft project, construction begins in the cockpit and you might find it odd that you have to remove detailing to install the kit's photo-etched details. This is because the kit was engineered to be assembled with a minimum of photo-etched parts for their basic 'Weekend Edition' version while more advanced modelers will appreciate the extra photo-etched details found in these Profipak editions.
The cockpit photo-etch is color-printed as we've come to expect from Eduard and that means you can see those nice instrument details and placards. Among the various aircraft I've been around in my career(s), one of them is not the Bf 109 series. I didn't have an appreciation for how the 'front office' was really supposed to look after assembly until I saw the still awesome tutorial on the Bf 109G-6 done by Floyd Werner in the Master Class Video series. While the Gustav has detail differences in the cockpit and around the airframe, the basics come clear with insight like that provided by Floyd.
As you also might expect in a kit like this, the Eduard Bf 109E-7 has a very nicely detailed DB 601 to go under the cowling as well as the gun deck atop and aft of the engine. Here is where you get to make a decision - cowling open or closed. Eduard clearly warns in the instructions that if you want to build the model with a closed cowling, you cannot add all of the details to the engine and gun deck. Further details are provided on their website.
The flight control surfaces (ailerons, rudder and elevators) are all molded separately so they can be posed as you wish. The kit also features separately molded leading edge slats, though these are aerodynamically activated (spring-loaded) so they'd be open on the ground and at low airspeeds/high angle of attack. The trailing edge flaps are also molded separately and can be posed as desired.
The kit wraps up with nice landing gear details, choice of open or closed canopy, nice Revi gunsight, and external tank.
Markings are provided for four aircraft:
- Bf 109E-7, Yellow 4, 3./JG 27, Libya, 1941
- Bf 109E-7, Stab 1./JG 27, Libya, 1941
- Bf 109E-7, Black 8, 2./JG 27, Libya, 1941
- Bf 109E-7, Black 3, 2./JG 27, Libya, 1941
Since all four examples are desert rats out of JG 27, the markings are all simple and the eye appeal will be with the desert camouflage. A set of maintenance stencils are included to enhance the visual detail.
As usual, Eduard has a beauty here and kudos to the design team for revising their tooling to correct the detail bugs that were present in the earlier releases.
My sincere thanks to Eduard for this review sample!