Messerschmitt Bf 109 E-1
Wingsy Kits, 1/48 scale
S u m m a r y
||Wingsy Kits Item No. D5-07 - Messerschmitt Bf 109 E-1
|Contents and Media:
||110 parts in grey injection moulded plastic; five clear parts; 43 photo-etched metal parts; one die-cut self-adhesive vinyl canopy masking sheet; markings for four aircraft.
USD$35.00 plus shipping available online from Wingsy Kit's web store
and specialist hobby retailers online and worldwide
||Crisp and fine surface textures; high level of detail; excellent moulding quality; useful options; high level of research and accuracy.
||Some won't like the absence of fabric or tape texture on control surfaces; thick seat pan walls; some soft moulding.
Wingsy's 1/48 Emil looks like a world beater – beautifully detailed, crisply molded, and clearly designed by a small team who have invested an immense amount of effort into genuinely understanding and capturing the subtleties of the Bf 109E family.
by Lynn Ritger
Guess who’s back, who’s back again...
Shady’s back, tell a friend
The past few years have seen a veritable explosion of new 109s turning up in the market, across multiple scales and multiple variants. Now, I hear what you’re saying... “First off, who are you, and second, why can’t I get a decent kit of the (insert random aircraft type here) instead of YET ANOTHER 109?!”
Okay, both fair questions.
It’s been a minute since I’ve done any in-depth hobby work, especially with my beloved Messerschmitts; I’ve spent the past few years on the outskirts of Hobbytown, chiming in on the Hyperscale boards now and again, but mostly focusing on family, work, and living history. In that time, we’ve seen an entire generation of new 109 variants released, especially in 1/48 scale Eduard retooled their 1/48 Bf 109F/G/K family to widespread acclaim and have been releasing every conceivable late 109 variant, while AMG and Dora Wings have released several different early 109s covering the A through D. And while those releases are both wonderful and welcome, there’s been something of a coverage gap for arguably the most important variant of the Bf 109 - the Emil.
Now, while I appreciate 109s of all stripes, I think it’s fair to say the Emil has long been my favorite. It’s one of the most successful fighter platforms in history, it’s the aircraft used by the Jagdwaffe to steamroll the brave but overwhelmed defenders of Poland, Norway, Belgium, Holland, and France, and it’s the quintessential foil for the immortal Spitfire and Hurricane through the pivotal fall of 1940. And we’ve certainly had a number of decent 1/48 kits of the Emil through the years, including the Tamiya kit released in 1996, the Airfix kit released in 2010, and the Eduard kit which surfaced in 2012. Even so, each of those kits has shortcomings which generate lots of discussion and page views over on Hyperscale, so there was an opportunity out there for an enterprising manufacturer to step into that breach... or, to borrow the motto of Mel Brooks’ character Mr. Bigweld from the 2005 movie ‘Robots’, “See a need, fill a need!”
Based in Kriviyh Rih in Ukraine, Vitaliy Barannik and his partners released their first kit, a 1/48 Mitsubishi A5M2 “Claude”, to widespread acclaim in 2016, and followed that with a beautiful 1/48 Mitsubishi Ki 51 “Sonia” in 2019. Like other small manufacturers, their products are considered “short run” (meaning, no massive investments in large steel injection mold tooling, etc), but the team focuses on careful and clever engineering to deliver kits which feature both a level of detail and ease of construction demanded by the market today. When Wingsy announced they were beginning development of a 1/48 Emil, there were a number of raised eyebrows - who are these guys? Are they going to base it off of existing kits, or follow their own path?
Based on this initial release, it is evident that Vitaliy, in his role as designer, has spared no effort to ensure the accuracy of this new Emil. A case in point are the gun access panels in the upper wings. Wingsy is thus far the only manufacturer to catch the differences between the doors covering the MG 17 and those covering the later MG-FF 20mm cannon. Another example of ensuring no stone is left unturned is the shoulder belt assembly. When photos of a test shot were shared on the Hyperscale forum, my initial impression was that the shoulder belt assembly had been installed incorrectly. But then photos were shared which demonstrated there was a retaining strap which bolted at the very base of the aft canopy section, and sure enough, as I began digging through the thousands of Emil photos I have on my computer, I began finding more and more evidence of this heretofore ignored belt setup. It was this minute detail, more than anything else, which convinced me Wingsy was absolutely serious about ensuring their Emil was going to be the best on the block.
So now that the kit is here, how does it stack up?
The first thing to talk about is how the Wingsy design team has approached the parts breakdown. On initial examination, the design of the forward fuselage immediately draws your attention. Unlike literally EVERY 1/48 Emil kit from the 1970s onwards, Wingsy does not offer the forward upper cowling as a separate piece. Rather, they have an upper cowling piece which runs from behind the spinner clear back to the instrument panel.
By taking this approach, they place the seam in an easily handled area, and preserve the delicate (and accurate!) rivet detail on the upper cowling and gun hood. They also provide a similar piece for the lower forward cowling, which allows them to provide proper attention to the small U-shaped hatch below the coolant header tank- this often gets filled and forgotten on every other 1/48 Emil kit. This also allowed Wingsy to correctly represent the entirety of the oil cooler inlet and outlet ducting, something that no other 1/48 kit has done thus far. The oil cooler bath is then topped off with a single plate, which entirely eliminates the centerline seam present on all those other kits. That’s a terribly clever approach! The exhausts are properly shaped albeit solid at their ends - not a surprise, just an observation - and the thin shields above and below the exhaust pipes are provided in photoetch, for scale thickness. The supercharger intake has the correct 10 fins (yes, I counted), and a Trop filter is on the parts frame as well, which will utilize photoetch screens when that variant is released.
Moving into the cockpit, all of the major structures are of course provided, with photoetch being used for the map case on the starboard cockpit wall and for the oxygen regulator exterior.
The instrument panel is beautifully rendered, and the Decograph decal sheet features a pair of instrument panel decals in perfect register which should dress this part up nicely.
There are also photoetch knobs and handles, along with the aforementioned belts.
The only slight let down in this area is the seat itself, as the seat pan walls are a bit on the thick side, and the seat back side edges are a bit too sharp; a few careful scrapes with a #11 blade followed by fine sandpaper should round those off nicely.
Finishing out the cockpit area is the upper coaming and aft bulkhead, which deserves special mention; Wingsy once again flexed their engineering muscles in this area by providing the coaming and aft bulkhead as a single continuous frame, which allowed them to correctly render the detail on the “shelf” just behind the pilot’s seat, along with beautifully capturing the trapezoidal access hatch on the aft bulkhead.
The fuselage is designed to be built before inserting the assembled cockpit, which somewhat mirrors the actual production process of a full sized 109, and when the time comes to mate the lower wing piece to the fuselage, we once again see further evidence of Wingsy following their own muse in designing the kit. For those who’ve built any of the currently available 1/48 Emils, a key area to watch out for is the space where the aft edge of lower wing section meets the fuselage. It’s always a tricky area on Tamiya, Eduard, Airfix, and Hasegawa kits and if not carefully handled, the builder winds up with awkward mismatched seams and gaps to fill. Well, the Wingsy team decided they could do better... they extended that area clear back into the second fuselage section (Spannt 2), which means the aft seam falls on a natural panel line, and the side seams require only a slight bit of cleaning up, which is easily handled as it’s along the lower part of the fuselage. Once again, a thoughtful engineering approach results in a much better experience for the builder.
Speaking of the lower wing section, it is a dedicated E-1 part... there is no provision to add MG-FF bulges.
The gear bays are a multi-piece affair with the characteristic upper well stiffeners molded to the upper wing halves. Once completed, these will look very nice and avoid the gaping chasms seen in other kits. While we’re looking over the lower wing, Wingsy introduced yet another unique engineering feature in the name of accuracy. The radiator baths have full front to rear ducting, accomplished by building up the sides, adding the radiators themselves, then adding a single “plate” to form the bottom of the radiator bath, just like the oil cooler.
And beyond that, they are also the very first manufacturer to include the overflow tube on the port radiator. The shutters themselves are provided in photoetch brass, once again another “first” for a 1/48 Emil and one which is frankly long overdue, given that most operational Emils were frequently parked with the coolant shutters in the fully open position.
The control surfaces are all separate, as one would expect in a kit of this quality, and the flaps are fully formed with no “step” like we see in the much older but still popular Tamiya kit. The surface texture of the fabric-covered flaps and ailerons is almost glass-smooth, with only the merest hint of an underlying structure through subtle, almost invisible undulations along the framing. This was clearly an intentional effort to achieve a scale look on the part of the design team as the same effect applies to the elevators and rudder, although the effect is so subtle, it almost makes the parts look like sheet metal. I would expect this to be a discussion flashpoint; some will appreciate the scale appearance, while others will bemoan the lack of any substantial structure to drybrush/highlight.
Moving outboard on the wings, the petitely-riveted leading edge slats are separate, again as expected; what is unusual is that the slat arms are molded as part of the upper wing halves, and the slat wells are almost perfectly executed with a barely perceptible “step” between the well and the upper wing surface, again unlike any other Emil kit on the market today. Lastly, the wingtips are provided as separate pieces; this may seem to be an extra annoyance to the builder, but this allows for the possibility of a dedicated T variant down the road without having to invest in the cost of tooling entirely new wing sections, and it also allows the builder to preserve the wingtip navigation lights and circular access hatches.
Having examined the fuselage and wings, the last major airframe area to look over is the empennage. Here the kit betrays a bit of its short-run origins, in that the horizontal stabilizers are provided as upper and lower halves, which then mount to a separate plate to be slid into the fin. The detailing on the stabilizers is beautiful and the socket for the strut is very deep, which will doubtless allow for a very positive fit. It is curious, however, that Wingsy did not include any representation of the elevator torque tubes on the inboard sections of the elevators; that’s a very rare detail miss on the part of the design team. The rudder properly captures the subtle curvatures of the original, and the tailwheel is provided as a single piece item to be inserted after the fuselage is assembled. Despite accurately capturing the shapes of the tailwheel assembly, this piece is unfortunately molded with soft detail, and the strut arms sort of blend into the wheel itself, so it may not be a bad idea to grab a spare from an older Hasegawa Bf 109F/G-2 kit if you have one; use the smaller of the two provided tailwheels.
Having said that, the tailwheel well itself is actually closed in, unlike every other Emil kit on the market... once again, Wingsy is the first to get this detail right in 1/48.
The kit provides only the early rounded canopy on the clear sprue along with a Revi 12C gunsight, and the clear parts are very nicely done. They are a touch thicker than those found in a Hasegawa kit, roughly on par with the glass in a Tamiya Emil, and show minimal distortion; a bath in Future will shine them up very nicely.
Wingsy thoughtfully provided a set of canopy masks as well, including masks for the INSIDE of the aft canopy section so you can paint the internal framing across the top and the sides of that piece... yet another example of them really doing their homework, and showcasing a deep understanding of the subject matter.
The decal sheet has been printed in Ukraine by Decograph and offers four options.
Three of these have been seen on other aftermarket sheets in years past:
- “Rote 16” of Fritz Losigkeit, 2./JG 26, spring 1940
- “Weiss 13” of Heinz Bar, 1./JG 51, late 1939
- “Schwarze Winkel” of Josef “Pips” Priller, Stab/JG 51, late 1939-early 1940
And they offer a new airframe not previously available (I know, because I’ve looked - I've wanted to do this one for a while!)
- “Schwarze 5” of Hans Krug, 5./JG 26, June 1940
All necessary stenciling is provided, including wingwalk areas in both red and black (modeler’s choice).
So that is Wingsy Kits' Emil. It looks like a world beater - beautifully detailed, crisply molded, and clearly designed by a small team who have invested an immense amount of effort into genuinely understanding and capturing the subtleties of the Bf 109E family.
PS: Coming very soon... EMILPALOOZA! You didn’t think I’d just leave it here, did you? I’ve got the Wingsy kit on the bench along with Emils from Eduard, Airfix, and Tamiya... how will Wingsy measure up to the competition?
Thanks to Wingsy Kits for the samples
Review Text and
Images Copyright © 2021 by Lynn Ritger
Page Created 8 June, 2021
9 June, 2021
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