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Bf 109F-4 Kit

Hasegawa 1/32 Bf 109F-4/Trop Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review October 2010 Manufacturer Hasegawa
Subject Bf 109F-4/Trop Scale 1/32
Kit Number 08881 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Easy build, nice details Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $72.95

First Look

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

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

Hasegawa has released its first edition of the 1/32 Bf 109F series with this special - the Bf 109F-4/Trop of Hauptmann Hans Joachim Marseille. Marseille was a leading Luftwaffe ace in the early part of World War II with 148 kills, 141 of which were made over North Africa. Most of his combat was flown in either the Bf 109E or Bf 109F and it was ironically his first combat mission in the Bf 109G that killed him - not because of an enemy aircraft, rather simple engine failure.

Molded in light gray styrene, this kit is presented on six parts trees, plus a single tree of clear parts. The distinctive wings and fuselage are new tooling to support this and future releases of the Bf 109F series. In this premiere release, Hasegawa also includes a special resin figure of Marseille in Afrika attire.

Some of the features and options of this kit:

  • Nicely detailed cockpit
  • Optional seated pilot figure with three head options
  • Wing spar assembly to provide strength and easy dihedral angle
  • Nice main gear strut mount to capture correct angle position
  • Nice tropical dust filter for carburetor air intake
  • Positionable landing and radiator flaps
  • Choice of tail wheel struts
  • Choice of armored or unarmored windscreens
  • Positionable canopy hood

Assembly appears to be very straightforward. The instructions are nicely laid out (as usual) so there shouldn't be any surprises. There are four markings options provided in the box and the instructions clearly show which combination of parts should be used for each of the four subjects.

Markings are provided for four of Marceille's aircraft:

  • Bf 109F-4, WNr 8693, Yellow 14, 3./JG 27, North Africa, 1942
  • Bf 109F-4, WNr 10059, Yellow 14, 3./JG 27, North Africa, 1942
  • Bf 109F-4, WNr 10137, Yellow 14, 3./JG 27, North Africa, 1942
  • Bf 109F-4, WNr 8673, Yellow 14, 3./JG 27, North Africa, 1942

The decal sheet has a nice selection of airframe maintenance stencils as well.

This new tooling from Hasegawa will open up more options for colorful subjects and aftermarket possibilities. Unlike some of Hasegawa's other recent 1/32 subjects, this kit doesn't have as much of the modularity of different tails, wing inserts, etc., that make assembly and filling of seam lines more challenging. With the variety of North Africa and Eastern Front paint schemes for the Bf 109F, there will be some interesting possibilities coming to a hobby shelf near you.

My sincere thanks to HobbyLink Japan for this review sample!