ICM 1/48 Bf 109F-2 Kit First Look
|Date of Review
|Nice kit! Complete engine detail, depicts those aircraft in the F-series without the round wheel wells
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
I remember when ICM first announced this kit several years ago. While I'm not a big Bf 109 fan, the thought of a reasonably-priced 109 with similar levels of detail as ICM's Spitfire kit put this kit on my want list. And it stayed on that list for some time too as this release was much later than first intended. Nevertheless, I think you'll find it was worth the wait.
The kit is molded in medium gray styrene and presented on three parts trees, plus a single tree of clear parts.
Let me deal with an unusual topic of controversy with this kit first - the wheel wells. I've read a number of reviews online that the wheel wells in this kit are wrong. I believe one reviewer pointed out that while the Emil and Gustav had these squared-off wheel wells, the Friedrich had round wheel wells. A quick check of the Fine Molds 1/72 Bf 109F-4 kit that I recently reviewed ( here) indeed has round wheel wells.
One only has to head to the 109 Lair, Lynn Ritger's excellent reference to the subject, for some clarity and I was fascinated with what I found. There are two Bf 109Fs in the walk around section, one with round wheel wells and the other with the squared-off type as depicted in this kit. Having spent some time helping to restore museum aircraft in the past, I know that sometimes you have to use what you can get your hands on to finish a restoration within schedule and budget. Let's assume that the Bf 109F-4 in the walk around with the squared wheel wells acquired its wings from a Gustav for the restoration. I've seen stranger things. Remember Tamiya's first release of the 1/48 Meteor F.1 based on another 'creative' museum example?
Back onto the net, I started looking for period photos of the Friedrich to see which type of wheel well was used in the aircraft and much to my surprise, the answer is BOTH! While most photos really don't reveal the wheel wells due to contrast problems, I found examples of F-2 and F-4 aircraft with squared and round wheel wells.
Of even greater interest is that one website ( here) had a photo of Bf 109F-2 W.Nr. 5448 from I./JG 3, the same unit as the aircraft depicted on the kit's box art and in the decals. This aircraft clearly has the squared wheel wells. So the short answer is the Bf 109F had both types of wheel wells (for whatever reason) and this kit is accurate. If you are worried about it, check your references to see if the Friedrich you want to model has the squared off wheel wells - if not, you might want to use a different kit.
Back to the rest of the kit. As with their Spitfire, this kit provides a nicely detailed engine and motor mounts. In this case, the DB 601E, as well as the twin machine guns that rest atop the engine.
The cockpit is reasonably rendered straight out of the box, though if you're going to leave the model opened up to show off the detail, you might consider Eduard EDU49346 color photo-etch details for the cockpit to really set off that interior.
The engine/motor mount assembly mounts to the cockpit, both of which are trapped between the fuselage halves. The cowling is a five-piece affair that will allow for the aircraft to be posed with one or more panels removed for maintenance.
Among the options/features of this kit:
- Detailed DB601E
- Optional armor plated glass overlay for windscreen
- Separately molded rudder
- Separately molded cowling panels
- Positionable landing flaps
- Positionable underwing radiator flaps
This release has markings for four examples:
- Bf 109F-2, <O+, Technical Officer, I./JG 3, Ukraine, Summer 1941
- Bf 109F-2, White 1, Staffel Kapitan, 7./JG 2, France, Summer 1941
- Bf 109F-2, White 2, Staffel Kapitan, 7./JG 54, Russia, Autumn 1941
- Bf 109F-2, <|+-, Adjutant, JG 54, Russia, Summer 1941
This is a nice looking kit and doesn't look to be a difficult build for an experienced modeler. If you've shied away from this model because of the wheel wells, disregard those 'experten' and let the photos I referenced above speak for themselves.