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Bf 109F-4

Trumpeter 1/32 Bf 109F-4 Kit First Look

by Michael Benolkin

Date of Review October 2010 Manufacturer Trumpeter
Subject Bf 109F-4 Scale 1/32
Kit Number 2292 Primary Media Styrene/Photo-etch
Pros Detailed cockpit, engine compartment, and gun armament Cons See text
Skill Level Experienced MSRP (USD) $62.95

First Look

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

Dr. Willy Messerschmitt was a true aeronautical pioneer whose designs and concepts would transformaircraft designs on drawing boards around the world for generations. In the years between theworld wars, Messerschmitt helped to rebuild Germany's armed forces and keep abreast, if notahead, 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 transformationalinnovations 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 toreduce the frontal area of the nose and improve the pilot's forward visibility. The wing wasa low-wing monoplane design that housed a narrow-track retractable landing gear and used spring-loadedleading edge slats and manually activated trailing edge flaps for lift augmentation at lowairspeeds. In other words, the wing design allowed for fast airspeeds while retaining relativelylow airspeeds for take-off and landing. The pilot sat in a fully enclosed cockpit. Only thehorizontal stabilizer retained external bracing of the biplane era and would do so throughmost of its production versions.

The Bf 109F was arguably the best handling of the 109 series. The F-series introduced thestrut-less tailplanes, a more streamlined nose, and elliptical wingtips. Wing armament hadbeen eliminated in the new wing which left two over-engine machine guns and a single cannonfiring 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

Trumpeter has released the first installment in its Friedrich family of Bf 109 fighters in1/32nd scale, and as predicted, it stirred up a number of debates online about accuracy, etc.The Bf 109, like the Spitfire and P-51, have some die-hard followers that expect perfectionstraight out of the box, and with today's CAD-based tooling technologies, these expectationsare not unreasonable. Ironically Trumpeter normally works its releases to battle other Chinese-basedhobby companies like Dragon Models Limited (DML), but this time they pushed out the Friedrichin close proximity to Hasegawa's own newly-tooled Bf 109F-4, which wereviewed here.

First of all, I am not a Bf 109 expert, nor do I play one on television. There are a few expertsout there that I trust like Lynn Ritger, so I'll defer issues of accuracy to them. What I dohave is both this Trumpeter kit and the aforementioned Hasegawa release, and I'll provide someobservations of the similarities and differences here.

Molded in light gray styrene, this kit is presented on seven parts trees plus three treesof clear styrene parts and two frets of photo-etched parts. Accordnig to the specs, this kitis comprised of 242 parts.

  • Detailed cockpit with choice of:
    • Plastic or etched seat bucket
    • Plastic or etched rudder pedals
    • Plastic or etched trim wheels
  • Detailed DB 601E engine with 20mm cannon
  • Removable engine cowling panels
  • MG17s on over-engine gun tray
  • Choice of raised or extended main landing gear
  • Positionable flaps
  • Positionable rudder
  • Positionable elevators
  • Positionable ailerons
  • Positionable canopy
  • Optional Bf 109F-4/R1 MG151 gun pods
  • Optional external fuel tank

Out of curiosity, I decided to fit parts of the Hasegawa and Trumpeter kits together to seewhat happens. Here are my observations so far:

  • Trumpeter flight control surfaces (ailerons, elevators, rudder) are supposed to be fabriccovered and the designers took a heavy hand with the rib details. These will need to be sandeddown to a subtle level
  • Wings of both kits align perfectly. Wing shape, aileron, slat, and wheel wells all align
  • Fuselage halves almost align. From the cockpit aft, the lengths are identical. The reardeck from the vertical stab to the cockpit of the Trumpeter kit is a few millimeters lowerthan the Hasegawa kit. Where the differences get interesting is firewall forward. The noseof the Trumpeter kit is noticeably longer than the Hasegawa kit. Again, I don't know which(if either) is accurate, but this is certainly different
  • Rudder - the 'shape' of the rudder is identical between the two kits with one exception.The chord of the Trumpeter rudder is noticeably shorter than the Hasegawa rudder, which makesme wonder if the rudder was sacrificed to get the model back to scale length due to the longernose?

Other differences:

  • The Hasegawa kit is delivered as a tropicalized Friedrich with sand filter in place. TheTrumpeter kit is a non-Trop
  • The Hasegawa kit is an F-4, the Trumpeter kit can be built as an F-4 or Bf 109F-4/R1
  • The Hasegawa kit has options for armored and unarmored wind screens, the Trumpeter providesonly the unarmored windscreen
  • The Trumpeter kit has removable engine cowling panels with a detailed engine and gun bay,the Hasegawa does not
  • The Trumpeter has the squared main wheel wells, the Hasegawa has the round wells (bothare correct for the F)

The kit provides two distinctive subjects:

  • Bf 109F-4, JG 53, Wing Commander's aircraft as flown by Oberstleutnant Gunter Freiherrvon Maltzahn, 1942
  • Bf 109F-4, W.Nr. 5749, III./JG 2, Group Commander's aircraft as flown by Hauptmann Hans'Assi' Hahn, 1941

As I said above, I'll leave it to the Bf 109 fans to sort out which kit is more accurate,but I like this kit for its options. If it turns out that the nose is indeed too long, thisshould be an easy fix as is the rudder (and other flight control surfaces) that will get fixedor replaced. With the wide range of interesting color schemes that this aircraft wore in Afrikaas well as on the Östfront, the modeler can have some fun with this subject and deal withany changes/corrections/modifications with good modeling skills and perhaps some aftermarketoptions.

Good hunting!