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Bf 109

UM 1/48 Bf 109G-6/R3/Trop Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review May 2010 Manufacturer UM
Subject Bf 109G-6/R3/Trop Scale 1/48
Kit Number 0416 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Simple build, nice details Cons Nothing noted
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $29.95

First Look

Bf 109
Bf 109
Bf 109
Bf 109

The Bf 109 was the workhorse of the Luftwaffe fighter force, scoring more kills than any other Luftwaffe type. From its early days gaining combat experience in Legion Kondor to the closing days of World War II, the Bf 109 was continuously improved to bring more horsepower and firepower into the petite airframe. One of the workhorses used to maintain air superiority in the Mediterranean theater was the Bf 109G.

The Bf 109G-6 was often modified with the Rustsatze field conversion kit. The most frequently used ones were the R-3 long-range kit that added a ventral fuel drop tank, and the R-6 heavy fighter kit that added cannons housed in gondolas beneath the plane's wings.

Installation of the R-6 kit further degraded the plane's handling, but the addition of the cannons provided enormous firepower for use against enemy heavy bomber+N4s. Fighters outfitted in this manner were referred to as cannon boats by Luftwaffe pilots.

The R-6 conversion was the most numerous variant of the G-6 on the Western front in 1943, but by early 1944 it was out of favor because it made planes easy prey for the increasing numbers of modern fighters escorting American day bombers.

Unimodel has been releasing a series of Bf 109 kits in 1/48th scale, this is the first one I've had the pleasure to see. This kit represents an interesting variant of Gustav with parts in the box to provide a number of interesting options.

The kit is molded in light gray styrene and presented on five parts trees plus a single tree of clear parts. The molding is crisp and clean and free of flash. The layout of the kit is straightforward with no use of photo-etch or other multimedia parts, so this will be a relatively simple project, but it does have some details and complexities that will require some patience.

Some of the features of this release:

  • Nicely detailed DB 605 engine
  • Nice cockpit (that would do well with some Eduard color photo-etched parts to really set it off)
  • Choice of two centerline drop tanks
  • Choice of bomb loads on the centerline (instead of drop tanks)
  • Optional underwing gun pods
  • Positionable cowling to reveal the detailed engine
  • Optional tropical sand filter
  • Choice of canopy hoods
  • Positionable rudder

You'll have to do some dry fitting of that cockpit and engine assembly in the fuselage and cowling halves to make sure that all the parts are properly seated while the glue is still fresh so that you can adjust anything that might impede the fuselage assembly later on.

Decals are provided for two examples:

  • Bf 109G-6/R6/Trop, White 9, 7./JG 27, Vienna, Austria, 1943
  • Bf 109G-6/R6/Trop, White 12, I./JG 77, Sicily, 1943

Interesting that the box art shows the Bf 109G-6/R6/Trop as do the decals and color profiles, but the title indicates an R3 (the parts for both variants are in this box).

Given that the equivalent Hasegawa kit is $10 USD more expensive and while the corresponding Academy and Revell Bf 109Gs are about the same price, they don't have the engine and weapons options of this kit. Add to that the WIDE variety of aftermarket items that can be adapted to this UM kit, you can really have some fun with this release without spending much money.

My sincere thanks to HobbyTerra for this review sample!