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Bf 109A

Classic Airframes 1/48 Bf 109A Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review January 2006 Manufacturer Classic Airframes
Subject Messerschmitt Bf 109A Scale 1/48
Kit Number 4123 Primary Media Styrene, Resin, Photo-Etch
Pros Nice detailing, especially with the resin castings Cons
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) Out of Production

First Look

Bf 109A
Bf 109A
Bf 109A
Bf 109A
Bf 109A

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.

By the time the Spanish Civil War broke out in 1936, the Bf 109A powered by a more powerful Jumo 210 engine was ready for its combat debut. The Bf 109A and subsequent Bf 109B proved superior to just about anything sent aloft by the opposition and served effectively through the end of hostilities in 1939. The new Luftwaffe had a very effective new fighter.

When Classic Airframes first announced their intent to release the Bf 109, I confess that I was a little disappointed. The one thing that Classic Airframes does well is tackling subjects long ignored by the 'mainstream media' and under normal circumstances, adding the Bf 109 to their line-up would only transform them into a "Me Too" company that joins virtually every other model company out there in producing this Messerschmitt. But not so fast - they've entered the fight where the others have feared to tread - the early Bf 109s. Only Hobbycraft has dealt with this subject in 1/48 styrene before, so there is plenty of room here for improvement.

The kit is comprised of styrene, resin and photo-etched parts, plus a small segment of acetate with printed instrument faces and a nice set of decals.

The basic kit is presented in medium gray styrene and presented on one tree. The fuselage halves were molded on the same tree but were removed to allow the parts to fit inside the kit box. As I've said before, each release from Classic Airframes is looking more like a kit you'd find inside a Tamiyagawa box instead of a limited run project. The surface of the parts is glassy smooth and the details are finely scribed into the parts' surfaces.

A big batch of resin is included in the box. The aircraft variations are accommodated by the resin. Note that there is the basic cockpit floor/rear bulkhead, but there are two different sets of sidewalls for the cockpit (one is not used in this version), two different pilot's seats, two different upper cowlings, a beautiful fixed-pitch propeller (the styrene parts also include a fixed and early variable pitch propeller), main wheel wells, wheels, leading edge slats, and more.

Bf 109The kit also includes a nice fret of Eduard photo-etched parts that include main gear doors, spinner base plate, radiator grille, main and lower instrument panels, seatbelts and harnesses, and cockpit trim wheels. The acetate part included with the photo etch provides the instrument faces for the panel.

The kit provides a three-piece styrene canopy/windscreen. The windscreen and rear transparencies are fixed into place and the canopy can be posed open or closed as you desire.

Decals are provided for six examples:

  • Bf 109V4, D-IALY, W.Nr. 878, circa 1937
  • Bf 109V, D-IEKS, W.Nr. 879, circa 1937
  • Bf 109, 6-3, 2./JG 88, Spain, circa 1937
  • Bf 109, 6-10, 2/JG 88, Spain, circa 1937
  • Bf 109, II./JG 132 'Richtofen', White 5, Juterbog-Damm, circa 1937
  • Bf 109, unknown unit, Red 10

I am curious about decal pair 14 - the Green Hearts. It looks like there were the makings of a JG 54 subject on the sheet.

This is another excellent release from Classic Airframes and now I understand why they've ventured into the early Bf 109s - they've developed the most detailed rendition of this subject in any scale to date.

I highly recommended this kit to intermediate/advanced modelers.

My sincere thanks to Classic Airframes for this review sample!