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Bf 109E-3

ICM 1/72 Bf 109E-3 Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review June 2006 Manufacturer ICM
Subject Messerschmitt Bf 109E-3 Scale 1/72
Kit Number 72131 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Nice detailing, simple build Cons  
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $12.00

First Look

Bf 109E-3
Bf 109E-3
Bf 109E-3

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-3 was the production variant prior to the start of the Battle of Britain. The E-3 had an 1100hp DB601A engine and was armed with two MG17 machine guns over the engines and an MG/FF cannon in each wing. This version was closely followed by the Bf 109E-4 which offered an armored headrest and an improved version of the MG/FF cannon. Both versions flew in the Battle of Britain and some E-3s were upgraded to the E-4 as well.

ICM has developed a nice tooling for the 1/72 Bf 109E-3 and Bf 109E-4. The kit is presented on one parts tree molded in white styrene plus an additional small tree containing the clear canopy components.

The assembly of the kit is about as quick as you can get without becoming a snap-tite. The cockpit tub goes together rather simply with floor, firewall, and rear bulkhead. Details are molded into the fuselage sides and some effective painting and highlighting will bring out the details.

The cockpit is trapped inside the fuselage halves, which in turn, sits atop the three-piece wing. Add the gun hood, tailplanes, struts, and the separately molded rudder, and you're most of the way there.

The clear parts contain the canopy and windscreen for the E-3 and E-4 versions, so pay attention to the instructions as to which parts you'll need for this build.

Decals are provided for two examples:

  • Bf 109E-3, 1./JG 51, White 13, September 1940
  • Bf 109E-3, 2./JG 26, Red 16, March 1940

This is another excellent release from ICM and will provide a nicely detailed rendition of this historic fighter.

Definitely recommended!

My sincere thanks to Testors for this review sample!

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