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Bf 109F-4

Zvezda 1/48 Bf 109F-4 Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review April 2013 Manufacturer Zvezda
Subject Bf 109F-4 Scale 1/48
Kit Number 4806 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Nice detailing Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $30.99

First Look

Bf 109F-4
Bf 109F-4
Bf 109F-4
Bf 109F-4
Bf 109F-4

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 109F was arguably the best handling of the 109 series. The F-series introduced the strut-less tailplanes, a more streamlined nose, and elliptical wingtips. Wing armament had been eliminated in the new wing which left two over-engine machine guns and a single cannon firing through the spinner as the weapons fit for 'Friedrich':

  • F-1 was armed with a MG FF 20mm cannon and two 7.92mm machine guns
  • F-2 was armed with a MG 151 15mm cannon and two 7.92mm machine guns
  • F-3 had the same weapons as the F-2 and more engine power
  • F-4 was armed with the improved MG 151/20 20mm cannon and two 7.92 machine guns
  • F-4/R1 had two additional underwing 20mm cannons at the sacrifice of performance

Zvezda has followed up their 1/72 scale Bf 109 series with a new series in 1/48 scale. Here is their Bf 109F-4 kit and they've taken a page out of Hasegawa's 1/32 scale Bf 109 designs by creating modular components that allow for changes in noses, tails, canopies, etc., to render a range of variants from a common set of tooling. Indeed, in the photos you can see a number of those options in this boxing. The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on five parts trees plus one tree of clear parts.

Among the features and options in this kit:

  • Detailed DB601 engine
  • Cowling panels can be left removable or simply left off to reveal engine/gun bay details
  • Optional tropical carburetor intake filter
  • Detailed gun bay under the hood
  • Detailed cockpit
  • Optional seated pilot figure
  • Choice of standard or armored windscreen
  • Positionable canopy
  • Positionable ailerons
  • Positionable elevators
  • Positionable rudder
  • Positionable flaps
  • Positionable leading edge slats
  • Removable underwing access panels with wing structure detail inside
  • Positionable landing gear
  • Optional display stand
  • Optional Bf 109F-4/R1 20mm underwing gun pods
  • Optional single-bomb centerline cradle w/bomb
  • Optional quad-bomb centerline cradle with bombs
  • Optional centerline drop tank

Markings are provided for two examples, both are of the Black 1 from 8./JG 54 (Green Hearts) as flown by Oblt. Hellmuth Ostermann, one in the summer 1942 eastern front scheme and the other in the winter 1941/42 eastern front scheme. Decals have segmented swasticas should you want to assemble them or you can replace these with aftermarket ones.

This is a nice looking kit though I've marked the skill level as experienced since I've built a few of these modular kits and if you take your time and test-fit the sub-assemblies, you shouldn't have any difficulties. The challenge is fitting all of those details into the kit and still having the wing and fuselage halves come together smoothly since one part out of place can create challenges, hence the advice for frequent dry-fitting trials.

My sincere thanks to Dragon Models USA for this review sample!