Fine Molds 1/72 Bf 109F-4 'Gerhard Barkhorn' Kit First Look
|Date of Review||April 2007||Manufacturer||Fine Molds|
|Subject||Bf 109F-4 'Gerhard Barkhorn'||Scale||1/72|
|Kit Number||FL2SP||Primary Media||Styrene|
|Skill Level||Experienced||MSRP (USD)||About $19.50|
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
The Fine Molds 1/72 Bf 109F series looks to me to be one of most accurate kits of the type in this scale. While I am no expert in the aircraft series, the kit really looks like it captures the shape and details of the Friedrich nicely.
Molded in light gray styrene, the kit is presented on two larger parts trees, three specialty (small) parts trees, plus a single tree of clear parts.
This particular kit is a special edition representing the mount of Luftwaffe ace Gerhard Barkhorn that he flew while assigned as Staffelkapitan of 4./JG 52 on the eastern front. Barkhorn would accumulate over 300 victories aganist the Russians before getting shot down by an Airacobra. He would later recover from his wounds and fly with JV 44 under Adolf Galland and flying the Me 262. Barkhorn lost an engine during an attack and was again wounded in the subsequent crash landing. Barkhorn would survive the war and help to grow the new Luftwaffe, rising to the rank of Lt General before retiring in 1976.
The construction of this kit is quite simple yet the modeler will not lack for detail. The cockpit tub is nicely rendered and fits through the bottom of the assembled fuselage. As you can see in the images, the DB 601E is molded into the forward fuselage and you can perhaps leave a cowling panel off and do a little detailing in there, or you can button up the cowling.
The kit also provides a cast resin figure of Barkhorn that you can pose next to his aircraft.
The instructions provide a nice layout of the camouflage scheme worn by this aircraft. The decal sheet provides a full set of national markings with two types of crosses for over the wing, plus a pair of swastikas for the tail. Note how the swastikas are printed out away from the other markings - that is evidently so they can be cut off the sheet for kits exported to Europe. Also on that first sheet is a very nice set of maintenance stenciling.
The second sheet has Barkhorn's White 5, plus an interesting concept. The mottle patterns for the fuselage sides are also rendered as decals. I'm not certain how well that would work on the model.
This is a beautiful model and kudos to Fine Molds for developing such a nice kit!
My sincere thanks to HobbyLink Japan for this review sample!