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 Messerschmitt Bf 109K-4
Detailing the 1/48 Scale Hasegawa Kit - Part One



by Frank C. Crenshaw



Boxart from Hasegawa's 1/48 scale 
Messerschmitt Bf 109K-4









The  release of the Hasegawa Messerschmitt Bf 109K-4 kit in 1/48 scale was great news for the 109 enthusiast. Both  Brett Green and Floyd Werner did excellent buildup reviews  that show just how great this new kit really is and why it was worth the wait!.  I have been working on a few other projects lately but decided to drop them for the moment and build one of these magnificent kits. I really like Bf 109s and like Floyd Werner, have been  looking forward too actually having one since first seeing the 109G kit had a sprue marked "G/K".. 

Both Brett's and Floyd's excellent reviews cover the the main features of the kit, installing an after market cockpit, and painting  in very good detail.  Thus, my article will  focus on adding some detail to the airframe. Just so there are no misunderstandings,  I am in no way saying that this kit has "problems". In fact, it is just drop dead gorgeous right out of the box.  But I did find some things that fairly easily improvements to the model,  so here we go.    




Building From The Bottom Up...




When I do extra work to a kit I try to start from the wings and move up. The cockpit is almost always the last thing I do. This is because I enjoy cockpits and tend to do them quickly - I almost always have enough energy to finish a cockpit. Also- and more importantly, I am less likely to screw up my cockpit detail canopy  while working on some other part of the plane so I save the cockpit until almost the very last. 





Landing Gear Bays




Now this kit  has the  same wing and wheel wells as the 109 F/G kits. In reality -  due to increasing weights the design was changed and  larger  wheels and tires were added starting with the  G-5. The increase in tire size made it necessary to add a bulge in the wing to  allow the larger wheels to retract. 


The tire size increased again on some models of the 109G-10 . These even larger wheels necessitated a large wing cutout  in the wing, which  actually caused the removal of a spar. I assume that the later style bulge was added to accommodate this spar removal and probably serves as some sort of structural reinforcement.  Will Reipl sent me a fantastic picture of a 109G-10's wheel well that features this later style bulge. Good photos of the 109G-10/K type bulge can be also found in the Aerodetails book on the 109G.   The main feature of this type of bulge installation is the large cutout in the wing and the obvious  gap between the bulge fitted to the top wing and the actual wing surface. This turns out to be very easy to replicate.  The Hasegawa  bulges are extremely thin right out of the box. 
To model this  this cut out, I simply drew an outline on the top wing surface where the bulges fit. I then thinned this area down - being careful to stay in the boundaries. Once the plastic was paper thin I drew and outline of the wheel well on the inside wing using the wheel well as a guide. I then penciled in the cutout and drilled many small holes within this cutout. I then carefully cut the cutout using a sharp scalpel. I actually cut a little too much off mine - still it looks pretty good (A). I then added rib detail following my references.  Since I was adding detail to  the wheel well, I decided to open the front cowling flaps some (B). These flaps are shown in a slightly open position in many pictures. I cut the flaps out and glued small strips of styrene to the ends of each one. This represents the side lip that is very obvious on these flaps when they are in the open position. I also boxed in the radiator bay since the open flap would make this bay visible. I then cut the access holes in the landing gear bay out and added some lead wire lines to simulate the lines that are visible through these holes on the real plane (C).  On every Hasegawa 109 kit I have the molded kit well does not fit to the the bottom of the wing very well. There is always an enormous gap. Over on the Hyperscale discussion group.  Lynn Reitger expressed a novel and extremely easy way to solve this problem   All you have to do is cut out  .005 strip and dry fit it into the well. With some  fiddling  and trimming, it is easy to make the styrene fit the walls of the well (but it will still stick out of the bottom of the wheel well). I then glued the styrene in place using some Ambroid pro-weld and let dry. Once dry I trimmed the excess from the wing bottom (D). 


Over on the top side of the bottom wing,  I  glued a piece of sheet aluminum over my lead wires (A).  I added a new end piece to fill fill up the gap and to make adding the auxiliary door retraction mechanism easier (B).  I then boxed the front of the wing radiator bay using sheet styrene  . Since there is no detail for the radiator backside,  I  made a casting of the radiator insert and glued it on to a .015 strip. This piece was then carefully trimmed and fitted in the rear of the radiator  well  (C). I also built up the fuselage side (see D on the Nose section) and made a wall to completely box this area in.  Now I have a completely boxed in radiator bay ready to super detail. 




External Stores Rack






According to my references the external stores rack supplied with the kit  is inaccurate in its overall shape (A). It is far too narrow and pointed at the tail end,  is  missing  several access holes, and his extraordinarily overdone tank supports. The Fujimi rack is accurate in overall shape but is also missing the access holes, and is shaped wrong around the edges (B).  I took a Fujimi rack and reshaped the edges with a round needle file and drilled the access holes (C).  Since all 109s used pretty much the same rack I made a mold of this shape for future projects. 




The photo (above) illustrates most of the changes I have made to the lower nose and landing gear bays. I swiped the radiator grill from an Eduard Set designed for the Fujimi kit. The spent shell chutes were constructed from .005 strips of sheet styrene.  







The 109K featured free floating Hadley Page type slats on the wing leading edge. According to Hyperscale regular and 109 expert Vincent Kermorgant, the slats were constructed from steel on the 109K.  These are the same slats fixed to all versions of the 109. Photos show these slats either partially open, fully closed, or a combination of both. Since the 109K was a tail dragger, these slats could not fully deploy on the ground due to the pull of gravity.  They will fully deploy if the tail is pulled up level however. There is a picture in the Squadron 109 part 1 book that features a 109E-1 with it's tail raised up for bore sighting of its guns.  This planes  slats are clearly fully deployed as one would expect.   Careful study of pictures that show the leading edge slats show small cutouts in the slat recess. I suppose these cutouts are for the rails the slats move on. The cutouts are not present on any of the Hasegawa 109F - K kits but are fairly easy to add . I used the plans on page 81 of the Aerodetails 109G book to determine the location of the cutouts.  These tracks are surprisingly thin - about the thickness of twice that of a razor saw blade, so go slowly and use two consecutive cuts to get the thickness correct .  Another noticeable feature is that the slat  recess bends smoothly with the top of the wing.  The kit has a molded in  lip so that the slats can be glued  shut.   I decided to display my slats partially deployed.  I used gap filling CA and accelerator to remove the prominent lip found on the kit.



Improving the Nose




One of the more difficult things to fix on this kit is the molded  vents on the nose.  These vents are very small and drilling them out is not an option!  I was poking around over on Track-Link some time ago and came upon a really neat technique utilized buy the armor guys to recreate bolt details. It is quite simple actually. All you do is coat the kit nose in mold release agent. Then you press a blob of epoxy putty over the detail you wish to capture .  In my case it was the two nose vents (A). When dry simply remove the epoxy putty (here is where you will appreciate using mold release). You now have a exact  mold of the surface detail.  Now all you have to do is heat up the end of a piece of sprue to where it is very liquid. Then  squash the hot plastic into the mold and let it cool.  When it is done right you get a small button with the detail on it (B). Now You have to cut and hollow this vent part out, drill a hole in the kit fuselage, and attach the vent - easier said than done, but the end results are worth the effort (C).  I then built a styrene wedge on the lower fuselage radiator bay wall to completely seal  the fuselage wall for the wing radiator bay (D).  


Another good friend from Hyperscale, Bob Rinder pointed out that the left side wing root fairing needs to be widened (A). This wider fairing accommodates the DB 605D engine bearer. I accomplished this with some epoxy putty. Bob also pointed out that the oil cooler fairing is too shallow as it comes in the kit (B). I studied several photos very closely and came to the conclusion that the fairing is indeed too small, but not by much. I added a small bulge of epoxy putty just under the lip of the intake. I carefully blended this back and deepened the intake as the kits intake is noticeably too small. I also added the reinforcing rod into the center of the intake and vacformed the exhaust door. The exhaust stacks that come with the Cooper cockpit are superb and are much better than the kits parts (C). I carefully thinned down the kits exhaust shroud with a file. I used some telescoping aluminum tubing to make a better prop mount (D). 




Tail Gear Bay




The 109K featured a retractable tail wheel.  The wheel assembly itself was driven by a hydraulic ram that pulled the wheel to the closed position or pushed it out to retract. The doors that covered the wheel were spring loaded and would only close when the wheel assembly retracted to the in-flight position. However many pictures of 109Ks show these doors to be fully closed.  This is because the wheels were often locked in the down position and the doors where wired shut.  The Squadron 109 part II book claims the  109K tail wheel doors would open briefly to allow the tail wheel to retract.  Careful study of the door closing mechanism shows that this this is not possible. I  am sure if these doors are closed the wheel cannot retract because the door closing mechanism is spring loaded to hold the doors open.   Most of the pictures I have seen of 109Ks show the doors closed so apparently it was a common practice to lock the tail wheel down. I decided to open the doors on mine and thus needed to add some simple detail in the tail compartment. The above photo shows the basic stingers and bulkheads I added.  The layout I used is  largely speculative being based on some crude cutaway drawings and educated  guessing. The overall impression of detail is more accurate than an empty bay.  Later I added rudder linkages and an elevator control rod. 





I decided I wanted to have scale thin tail gear doors. To accomplish this I cut off the molded on kit doors. I took a blob of "klean klay" and pressed it onto the tail section of my unbuilt Hasegawa Me-109G-14 (A). I then filled the impression left in the clay with Resin (B).  This resin master was used to vacform some .020 plastic (C). The doors where then cut from the formed plastic and glued to the fuselage (D). 






Once the fuselage halves were cemented together, I constructed the tail wheel door closing mechanism (A).  I used a piece of a guitar string to make the spring located at the top of the structure. I carved a thin trench in each of the horizontal stabs and thinned the fuselage walls where the rudder attaches (B). 



Improving the Propeller


Again, over on the Hyperscale discussion board,   Peter Looper noticed that the Hasegawa Kit props did not look right. He felt they did not capture the broadness and were more pointed than those found in reference pictures. I had not really noticed  before but after looking at some photos, I tended to agree with him. 


Eventually I decided to compare the kit prop to a good photograph. The photo I used is found on page 53 of the Squadron 109 part 2 (the top left corner - a 109K from 1/JG-77). I used my scalecalc program to compare the length vs width dimension of this real prop with those of the Hasegawa kit.  The results seemed to show that the kit pop (A) is to narrow by about two scale inches (2/50 inches approx.) and hence pointed. This is  a small part and the missing 2/50" really throws the overall shape of the kit part off causing it to be too pointed at the tip.  This surprised me because the kit prop perfectly matches the outline in the 1/48 scale drawings found on page 90 of the Aerodetails 109G book. Apparently the kit prop was based on these drawings - which I now believe have an inaccurate prop profile.   The Props from my Fujimi 109K (C) kit seem to be more accurate than the Hasegawa kit props.  I modified a Fujimi prop by cutting it to the proper length and drilling a hole in the base. I then inserted a plastic rod that matched the diameter of the Hasegawa part to make the blades  easy to install. I also made a casting of the base of the spinner and trimmed the base part off leaving only the prop lug. I glued this to the prop base. This leaves a nice hole to insert the blades at a later time (B). Now I can easily add my spinner spiral without having to worry about gluing the blades on later. I also made a mold of the Fujimi blades so that I will have plenty of them for future 109G-10 and 109K projects. 




Landing Gear 






Here is a great shot of the upper section of a Me-109G-10s landing gear and gear door assembly that was set to me by David Lake.  As you can see there is detail that is not represented well or is missing in the kit. Vincent Kermorgant warns "This photo is very valuable for modellers but the upper flexible cable route is incorrect as it should pass between the back of the leg and the upper u/c door and not outside (for obvious reasons) as pictured".


First thing that needs to be replaced is the thick gear doors.  I used the photo etched doors that came with the old True Details etch set that is designed for the  Monogram 109G-10.  This set only cost about $3.50 and had very nicely done cooler parts and realistically thin gear doors. Since this set is no longer available, I made a mold of the lower gear door parts and cast them in resin (B). The upper gear doors were cut from .005 sheet styrene and detailed with sheet styrene and  thin wire(A). The brake line is .010 lead wire. Also visible is the open radiator inlet doors (C). 




Auxiliary Doors



The auxiliary doors that come with the Cooper Details  cockpit set are much better than what the kit provides but still need some detail to show where the device attaches to the wing. I scratchbuilt the triangular mount that is visible just above the door. I then made the mechanism that closes the door from lead sheeting.  






R e f e r e n c e 




"Messerschmitt Bf 109G" by Shigeru Nohara and Masatsugu Shiwaku. Published by Dia Nippon Kaiga Co., LTD  ISBN not quoted. 


"Messerschmitt Bf 109 in Action Part 2" by John R. Beaman Jr. Published by Squadron/Signal Publications  INC.  ISBN 0-89747-138-5. 


Coming soon  - the JAPO book! 


Model, Images and Article Copyright © 1999 by Frank Crenshaw

Page Created 29 September 1999

Last updated 26 May 2007


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