Trumpeter's 1/32 scale
Messerschmitt Bf 109 E-3
by Alan Price
Messerschmitt Bf 109 E-3
Trumpeter's 1/32 scale Bf 109 E-3 is available online from Squadron
Seventy years ago the subject of this kit was in battle against the RAF over the skies of Great Britain. A Second World War aviation icon, the 109E has been sadly neglected in 1:32 for too long, but not any more. With Eduard’s superb new kit arriving last year and now Trumpeter arriving on the scene, we are spoilt for choice in state-of-the-art kits.
On to the build and the first job – the cockpit. Here the problems with the kit start. Trumpeter would have you fit the cannon breech cover from an F/G series aircraft, totally wrong for an E series, so leave this part out. The rudder pedal mechanism appears to be from an FW 190 or Me 262 however it cant be seen so is not worth worrying about. I wasn’t convinced about the placing of some bits so I consulted photos to help re-fit the cockpit into a more accurate configuration. Seatbelts came from MDC buckles and straps from lead foil, this is much nicer than the photo etch provided. The instrument panel is a problem, a decal is provided which is useless for covering the deep detail on the panel. As there is no detail in the instrument faces I hand painted the dials.
The kit has a removable engine cowl and the engine has to be put in with the cockpit before the fuselage is assembled. To allow the cowl to fit, the engine is rather undersize. I didn’t intend to leave the cowl removable so just built the basic engine to allow it to be seen from the cowl cut outs
With the fuselage assembled, the wing internals came next. Guns and photo etch radiators go inside and photo etch for the undercarriage wells needs to be done too. The wheel well liners went in easily but the parts to dress up the section the oleo retracts into was a pain, it seemed too big and protruded from the wing surface. After half an hour fiddling around with this I gave up and removed them.
A bit of filler was required at the front of the wing roots which seem a little short for the fuselage fairings. There was also a step at the rear of the wing underneath where it met the fuselage. This was partly my fault as I should have checked the alignment. Finally the fuselage needed filler along the top and bottom seams and the oil cooler fairing needed blending into the lower engine cowl. Everything else fell into place and a couple of evenings later I had an almost complete 109 airframe on the bench.
The undercarriage is well detailed though the brake lines are wrong, the hard line should finish at the bottom of the oleo cylinder but it extends all the way to the stub axle so if it was real it would prevent the oleo moving – not a good idea! Cut this short and add a flexible hose in a loop then into the back of the wheel hub. Photographs show the oleos should have gaiters too but I left his detail off.
I was pretty much ready to paint now so it was time to mask off the cockpit and undercarriage bays and prime with Mr Surfacer 1000 from a rattle can. I was building the Josef Priller machine and I checked Trumpeters colour scheme against the sources I could find. Everyone has their own idea about this particular 109 and Trumpeter haven’t made a bad guess here so I went with their colour of RLM 65/70/71. The weeping bird logo appears to have no background in photos, just an outline. This may be because it was sprayed over, certainly one photo suggests this. The yellow paint on the nose was probably increased towards the canopy during the Battle of Britain and as it did the camouflage seemed to get more and more over sprayed until late photos show mottling over the wings. So, take your pick – who is to say your interpretation is wrong! The yellow nose and rudder were painted first, undercoated with white to get a nice bright yellow. The camouflage colours all went on freehand, contemporary photographs show a soft edge to most 109 splinter camouflage so that saves masking. The mottle on the sides is quite heavy so this takes time to build up in RLM 70/71 and a touch of 02, going heavier towards the front of the aircraft. The final paint was for the red wing walkways, much easier to mask and spray than try to get the decals straight!
After a coat of Klear it was time for decals. Trumpeter’s decals performed perfectly with Microscale Set & Sol, sinking into every rivet with ease. I left off some of the stencil markings as they were a bit over scale. After sealing with more Klear I applied Promodeller Black wash to the upper surfaces and Dark Dirt & Black to the undersides to bring out the details.
For the weathering, a bit of chipping goes on the wing roots where the pilot and ground crew climbed on and then I used Chris Wauchop’s technique of a thin mix of Tamiya XF-1 Black & XF-64 Red Brown to post shade some of the fuselage panel lines. After a blast with some Microscale Flat it was time to put on the remaining bits, the wing guns, open canopy and the aerial. Finally, don’t add the handholds in the top of the front section of the canopy, these are wrong for this early canopy.
The end result is quite a nice 109 but it has a number of errors (see Brett’s kit review here on HyperScale) and one has to wonder just how Trumpeter managed to make so many mistakes with it.
Model and Text Copyright ©
2011 by Alan Price
Page Created 11 January, 2011
11 January, 2011
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