Messerschmitt Bf 109K-4
by Ian Robertson
Deciding on color schemes for late war Luftwaffe fighters is difficult at the best of times, whether or not you are an expert on the subject (and I most certainly am not). When Cutting Edge released their first collection of markings for the Messerschmitt Bf109K-4 (CED48085) I thought I was set on how I wanted my model to look. The scheme that caught my attention was an aircraft from JG52 sporting a red tulip nose, no identification markings, and an interesting combination of RLM 81/83 with tan/buff fuselage and RLM 76 wing undersurfaces.
Soon after I started building my model another interpretation of this aircraft's colors came to my attention (thanks Pete Chalmers). The newly released Japo book on the Bf.109K suggests a scheme of RLM75/83 (or perhaps something closer to olive drab rather than 83) over RLM 76. In addition, they note the presence of a small "black 4" on the fuselage aft of the cross, and W.Nr. 332529 above the swastika. An older edition of the Japo book shows an entirely different scheme for the same aircraft, closer to the Cutting Edge interpretation. Not knowing which way to go, I opted for a scheme closer to that shown in the new Japo book.
The black and white image of my model shows just how difficult interpreting colors from B&W photographs can be - no wonder definitive schemes are hard to come by!
Not much needs to be said about the superb quality of Hasegawa's 1/48 Bf.109 series. My only qualm with the K-4 was that the tail wheel doors were molded in the open position; most photos of the K-4 show the doors closed and presumably wired shut. Therefore, I cut the doors off my kit and fabricated new ones in the closed position.
The only additions I made to the kit were etched brass seatbelts from Reheat and a DF loop antenna made from wire to replace the kit's plastic loop. I repositioned the control surfaces on the tail, and turned the tail wheel backwards as it would have been if the aircraft had been pushed backward into a stall. I included the undercarriage doors even though these were often removed from K-4's in the field. Antenna wires were made from stretched sprue.
As mentioned, I chose a color scheme of RLM75/83 over 76. The vertical tail has a patch of RLM81 (brown-violet) with masked spots of RLM83, as shown in the Japo reference. The horizontal stabilizers were painted solid RLM83 based on information provided by Cutting Edge. The cockpit was painted RLM 66, the propeller RLM 70, and wheel struts and wells RLM 02. The wheels were painted dark gray initially and then weathered using a thinned mixture of tan and light gray.
The tulip decal proved a bit of a fiddle. White triangles were applied first and conformed well to surface detail when Microscale setting solution was used. After the white decals had dried I added the red triangles, again using Microscale setting solution. The problem I encountered was that the straight edges of the tulip "bent" near areas where the decal had settled over an intake. Also, I probably should not have fit the upper points of the tulip in the gun troughs.
Finding a color match for the red tulip decal was a challenge - I ended up painting the spinner Model Master "Chevrolet Engine Red". All other painting on the model was with Polly Scale acrylics. Future was used as a gloss coat prior to adding decals and Model Master dull-coat lacquer was used as a finishing touch.
Cutting Edge did not include the black "4" decal or the W.Nr. I scavenged these decals from my spares. The "4" should have a thin white outline according to the Japo reference, but I made do without.
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Model, Text and Images Copyright © 2000 by Ian