21st Century Toys 1/32 Bf 109G-14 Kit First Look
By Michael Benolkin
|Date of Review||October 2007||Manufacturer||21st Century Toys|
|Kit Number||22106||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Pros||Excellent exterior and interior detailing. Decals! Ease of assembly. Bargain price!||Cons||Not museum quality. Overdone panel lines. Few shape problems for the experts|
|Skill Level||Basic||MSRP (USD)||Out of Production|
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.
While the Bf 109 series were powered by the Daimler Benz DB 601 engine through the F-model, the Bf 109G upgraded to the DB 605. Early teething problems with the engine resulted in maximum power limitations which, coupled with the bulges that started growing around the airframe to accomodate the larger engine, larger main wheels, larger guns, etc., resulted in the Gustav being called 'Die Buele' (The Bulge).
By the time the Bf 109G-6 rolled off the line, many of the bugs had been worked out of the type and the aircraft's growth potential was still in line with countering the latest allied fighters in the theater. The Bf 109G-14 incorporated additional changes added to the Bf 109G-6 over the course of its production run, plus added the MW50 injection system which boosted power to 1800 horsepower. The G-14 also made more use of wood in non-critical areas of the airframe in place of metal to help bolster production by adding the power of Germany's woodworking industry in parallel with their metalworks.
21st Century Toys continues the process of offering subjects from their pre-finished and pre-assembled 1/32 aircraft lines in kit form. This aircraft looked really nice in pre-finished form, though the AMS modeler inside me wondered how these would look with some additional attention that can't be applied on the assembly lines.
This kit follows 21st Century Toys' previous Bf 109 release with the Bf 109F-2/F-4 kit. This release updates the details in the F series release to render the G-14 and you can see in its modular layout (not unlike the modular molds used by Hasegawa in their own Bf 109 late-model series). This allows for options to render more variants with fewer new parts.
The kit is molded in medium gray styrene and presented in sealed sections of plastic bags to ensure that the kit arrives in your hands in good condition. You can definitely see the heritage of these kits with the screw and cap assembly techniques
As with the pre-finished models, this model offers movable (retractable) landing gear, a sliding canopy, and movable propeller. A very nice pilot's figure is also included in this kit. Despite its simplicity, the kit offers some really nice detailing straight out of the box.
Some might not care for the style of rivet detail and rendering of the fabric flight control surfaces in this kit, but most modelers will find this model very workable, especially since it retails for a fraction of the Hasegawa 1/32 Bf 109 kits!
The kit comes with tho nice decal sheets that have markings for three examples:
- Bf 109G-14, White 1, 13./JG 4, Rhein Main, Germany, 1944
- Bf 109G-14, Black 10, 11./JG 5, Gossen, Norway, 1945
- Bf 109G-14, Yellow 25, III./KG(J) 55, Straubing, Germany, 1944
I've seen some interesting criticism of these kits from some modelers out in the chat rooms over one issue or another. What surprises me is that many of these folks lose sight of the fact that these may be new-tool kits, but these are $10.00 kits! I might sympathize over one detail or another for a $40.00 model (or more), but think of all the paint schemes and REAL modeling you can do here by transforming this kit into the work of art you have in mind. This is exactly the same opportunity we one had decades ago when we were building box-scale Hawk kits with all of five parts in the boxes, but anything beyond that was our own skill at work.
If you don't have a Wal-Mart near you, or your Wal-Mart can't get these kits in stock, then I'm happy to report that 21st Century Toys is finally offering these kits into the regular hobby distribution market and your local retailer should be able to get you one (or more). The non-Wal-Mart pricing is a little higher, but not much more. Also keep your eys out for more online retailers carrying this line which will finally offer these nice (and inexpensive) kits to more of the international market as well.
My sincere thanks to 21st Century Toys for this review sample!