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Modelling the
Messerschmitt Bf 109 K-6

by Mark Shanks


Messerschmitt Bf 109 K-6


Hasegawa's 1/32 scale Messerschmitt Bf 109 K-4 is available online from Squadron.com




The history of the Bf 109K-6 is a bit clouded. There is even disagreement on the armament, which is the only significant distinguisher of this sub-type from the far-better documented K-4. Ur-historian William Green, 15 years after the end of the war, didn’t even get the basic outline of the K series correct, instead depicting a tall-tailed G-series, complete with the Beule cowling bulges, in his War Planes of the Second World War. In the first volume of that series, Green describes the K-6 as having “two 13-mm. MG 131s and three MK 103s”. Almost all of his information about the K series is suspect – he has the K-2 and K-4 series making their operational debut in Bodenplatte, and the photo he identifies as a K-6 is actually a G-14. He carries that error through to the classic Warplanes of the Third Reich. In Warplanes, he wrote, “The MK 103 was also adopted for the next K-series variant, the Bf 109K-6, which, intended primarily as an anti-bomber weapon, carried two additional MK 103 cannon in underwing gondolas, but reverted to 13-mm. MG 131s in place of the 15-mm. MG 151s in the engine cowling. Deliveries of the K-6 to the Jagdgruppen began in January 1945, but relatively few had obtained operational status by the time the Third Reich finally collapsed….” 

Thomas Hitchcock did a far better job capturing the K-series outlines in his 1973 book Messerschmitt ‘O-Nine’ Gallery.  Hitchcock wrote, “The Bf 109K-6 interceptor series which appeared in January 1945 was powered by the DB 605D and armed with 2 x MG 131, 1 x MK 108 or 103, plus 2 x MK 108 in the wing positions. He provides a “Messerschmitt perspective drawing detailing the main components including the BSK 16 gun camera (standard equipment) and FuG 16ZY antenna … Production began in January 1945.” From this perspective drawing, he extrapolates a sideview showing internally mounted MK 108s with no wing fairings. In 1979, Hitchcock wrote the Monogram Close-up 16: Bf 109K. Here, he wrote, “Early in 1944 the Messerschmitt design staff had projected other versions of the Bf 109K including the Bf 109K-6 interceptor. Powered by the DB 605 DCM, and driving a metal VDM 9/12159A prop, this version entered production in January 1945. However, it is very doubtful if very many were completed. This model had its armament increased by two wing-mounted MK 108’s buried within the wings. In spite of the devastating punch three 30-mm cannons afforded, pilots viewed the increase in wing weight with disdain. Most, in fact, removed these cannons from the wings as soon as they reached the front”.  The sideview in the Close-Up now shows subtle fairings for the MK 108s. John R. Beaman’s 1976 “Last of the Eagles” and his later 1983 opus Messerschmitt Bf 109 in Action Part 2 don’t even mention the K-6 variant. 

Heinz J. Nowarra wrote Die 109 in 1986 (English version Aircraft and Legend Messerschmitt Bf 109). Nowarra wrote, “January 1945 saw the first Bf 109 K-6s coming off the assembly line. This version was designed specially for attacking large bombers. It had a pressurized cabin and was usually equipped with the MK 103 motor cannon…the addition of two MK 108s (field mod kit R5) was possible.” Nowarra rather surprisingly asserts that “In April 1945, Bf 109K-10s and K-14s were still being produced and put into service. The K-10 differed from the K-6 very little.”  

Probably the best single-volume reference on later-model Bf 109s is Prien and Rodeike’s Messerschmitt Bf 109 F, G, & K Series: An Illustrated Study. Prien and Rodeike wrote, “The K-6 series was to enter production alongside the K-4 in January 1945. The production of 3,570 machines was planned, 2,070 by Erla and 1,500 by WNF. According to a report by the main department of the OKL (Hauptausschusses) on October 31, 1944, it was planned to produce the K-4 and K-6 in a ratio of 2:1. In any case it is not known if the K-6 actually entered production and there is no known Werknummer block for the K-6 series. It is known, however, that at least one K-6 was being tested at Rechlin as early as autumn 1944.” Prien and Rodeike do not feature any guess as to the appearance of a K-6 model. 

Finally, we come to the outstanding JaPo book Messerschmitt Bf 109K by Aleš Janda and Tomáš Poruba. In this book, Janda and Poruba write, “On June 26, 1944, just a few days later than the K-4, a Bf 109K-6 sketch was drawn up, revealing principal changes in construction. The fight against bombers required heavier armament, so two wing-mounted MK 108s with 40 rounds each were added to the basic configuration of an engine-mounted MK 108…and the installation was similar to that one designed by the Hirth company for wooden wing…A partially armed prototype was built at Regensburg in mid-September 1944…The plane took off again at the end of February 1945, when handed over (probably for operational testing) to 1st Fliegerdivision. If the handover was really carried out, then it was probably to the III/JG 3 at Pasewalk, which was the only Gruppe of 1st Fliegerdivision almost completely equipped with Bf 109K’s and therefore had most experience with their operational use”.  The JaPo book features a sideview identical to the Hitchcock one, plus, as far as I can tell, the only front-view of a K-6. Of course, I suspect these are entirely conjectural. However, it looks very similar to a Mk108 installation in the Fw190A-8/R2 (see photo). 

My conclusion is that the K-6 probably never entered wide scale production but that some were built and entered operational use. The wing modification would be modest and the firepower potential was simply too great to ignore.  The weight of the MK 108 was 128 pounds. The widely-used (if not exactly well-loved) MG 151/20 weighed little less (95 pounds) and the additional weight and drag of the gondola must have resulted in significantly poorer flight characteristics in the lower-powered G-6. I know that I would much rather fly with internally-mounted MK 108s than those monstrous 210cm Dodel rockets!





Hasegawa’s 1/32 Bf109K-4 

The kit itself has been extensively reviewed elsewhere, so I will just repeat here that it is extremely accurate in profile but the aft fuselage cross section is mysteriously flat-topped. This is readily corrected with a sanding stick and rescribing, but you are now stuck with either using the kit’s squarish canopy or using an aftermarket vac-form. I chose to use the kit’s – odds are that, being in the open position, it’s shape will not detract from the final appearance as much as the too-thin vac-form ones.  The cockpit is sparse but usable, and the spinner is a bit bulbous but only 109 fanatics will really notice. You can certainly build an attractive model straight from the box.



I replaced the kit’s cockpit with the marvelous MDC resin one. This has phenomenal detailing, right down to decals for the starboard wall circuit breaker panels.  I epoxied the side walls to the model fuselage halves and, after the front fuselage halves were joined, forced the MDC cockpit floor up into position. I mention this because I must not have trimmed enough somewhere – from this point on, I was fighting a decidedly ill-fitting kit. Since no one else has written of any problems, I must have made an error that rippled right through the rest of construction.  



Before joining the aft fuselage to the front end, I corrected the cross section and rescribed. I removed the rudder with photo-etched sawblades and replaced the now-lost counterbalance with a section of brass square-section stock. I used sheet lead to reconstruct and detail this area. I removed all three of the kit’s rudder trim tabs, replacing the Fletnner tab with a section of airfoil stock and the two fixed tabs with sheet lead wrapped around the trailing edge and “pinched” to replicate the construction of the “real thing”. Frankly, I’m surprised there’s no resin aftermarket tall-tail rudder, but this wasn’t a difficult modification. I decided to depict the tailwheel doors as being closed, as this was by far the most common photographic representation. The forward and aft fuselage sections were then assembled, and the flat forward cross section was blended into the corrected aft. Installing the wing center section was my first hint that all was not to go smoothly – I had a serious step AND gap, and it took two tries with generous portions of Milliput to take care of this. Adding the upper cowling, I saw the same problem: quite noticeable gaps and steps all the way around – time for more Milliput and sanding sessions over the sink. I corrected the small nose intake locations using the Cutting Edge replacement set, but only a real 109-nut will notice. After the intake and oil cooler were added, this subassembly was primed with Mr. Surfacer 1000 and set aside to dry. The following weekend, I added “rivets” with a jeweler’s beading tool along the aft fuselage former sections. Apparently, these late-war 109’s didn’t all get the “premium” sealing treatment – see the photo on page 7 of the Close-Up for a spectacularly ratty-looking rivet-fest. I didn’t want to highlight this, but kept it fairly subtle and later didn’t apply any washes or shading to bring attention to the texture. 

I got more ambitious with the wings. The ailerons were removed before assembling the wings. The underwing radiator areas were ground out to allow the use of Eduard radiator screens (which come complete with ingenious “boxes” to prevent see-through). The wheel wells themselves received a great deal of attention. The area where the landing gear strut rests had the lightening holes removed and the entire back area thinned to scale thickness. Behind these, I added wiring and then enclosed the entire area in a sheet lead half-cylinder. I also cut out the openings on the wing topsides where the wheel would pass through.

The MK108 fairings are obviously an approximation using the JaPo drawings as my only reference. My concern was in replicating a smooth aerodynamic shape in duplicate. I think the method I used has the advantages of complete symmetry combined with minimal wing modification and possible loss of surface detailing. I sawed off the ends of two of my largest paint brushes and split each section in (roughly) half lengthwise. I then cut truncated “V” sections into the appropriate locations on the lower wing halves. I fit the brush pieces into these cut-outs and blended them with Milliput. The brush pieces had a wonderful gloss finish and required only minimal sealing on their leading-edge faces. I also added the MK 108 shell ejection chutes next to the fairings. When satisfied with the fairings’ appearance, I glued the wing top and bottom surfaces together. I replaced the wing-tip lights with sections of Plexiglas that had been drilled out and treated with Tamiya clear red and clear green to represent the light bulbs. These subassemblies were glued to the wing cut outs and then filed and polished to shape. At this point, I primed the wings with Mr. Surfacer 1000, replaced any lost detail, and then drilled out the front of each MK108 fairing to accept the cannon barrels. The barrels themselves were made from swaged sections of brass and aluminum tubing, painted with Gunze Sangyo “Dark Iron” and added after all painting was completed.  



The wing to fuselage join was a real shocker – the gaps were so bad I actually had to shim with plastic strip. Again, this was entirely my own fault for insufficient test-fitting the MDC cockpit, but I was really paying for my sins now! Perseverance and elbow-grease paid off in the end, and I primed the entire assembly, and rescribed the detail lost in the process.



Painting and Markings


Here’s where building an undocumented variant has it’s attraction: you can paint it any way you want it (within reason, of course). I wanted something with unpainted underwing surfaces - I believe that this was more common than is currently acknowledged, but that is hard to prove. I polished the “Mr. Surfacer” primer with the Detail Master Polishing System and applied varying shades of Alclad II to the wings and slats.

When this had dried (after about 4 days – leaving the work until the following weekend), I painted the molded strip on the aft end of the engine cowling with Testor’s “Rubber”, since this was pretty well documented in the first JaPo volume and many other photographs, including the cover of the Monogram Close-Up.

I masked off that strip and the undersides of the wings and painted the fuselage, all control surface undersides, wing tip undersides, landing gear doors, and drop tank and rack with Aeromaster RLM 76.  



Next, I wanted to use what has become known as “109K buff”, and here a few words may be appropriate.

Photos of a late war 109G-6 (found at http://www.clubhyper.com/reference/luftcambg_2.htm) show a distinctly yellowish color applied over the RLM 76 on the fuselage sides. Several of the photos show the fuselage underside to be RLM 76 with the yellowish color ending (roughly) at the bottom of the fuselage cross. This color has also been documented in color photographs of some K models (see p.46 of the JaPo book). The best documentation available are the photos of Major Frederich-Karl Müller’s rudder in the Monogram Close-Up (page 19) and the JaPo Camouflage and Markings book (pp 81-82). The Close-Up states: 

“The third camouflage color appearing on the lower section of the Müller rudder is not positively identified. On the surface it bears a resemblance to RLM Gray, 02. Interestingly, on the very bottom edge of Müller’s rudder, one finds the unmistakable Light Blue, 76.”

The JaPo book: 

“One of the most interesting pictures shows the bottom of the leading edge of the rudder with unmistakable RLM 76. However, the standard shade appears only on the part that usually was not visible. The rest of it was over-painted with a grey-yellow color, apparently after some repairs. This can be seen where the upper layer flakes and the original RLM 76 shows through.” 

E. Brown Ryle III, in his Luftwaffe Colors 1935-1945, refers to this color as “Buff”:

“A light yellow-tan/dark cream. A lower surface color found on several excellent condition late-war Bf109 parts. No known documentation for the color. The color’s application appears to have been limited to the lower surfaces, seemingly, but not necessarily, only on the fuselage. The paint does not appear to be a poor quality RLM 76 (or “Green-Blue”). It may be speculated the color served as a surrogate form of late war camouflage but the intent and extent of the color’s use is not fully known.” 

Michael Ullman writes, “Later in the war the percentage of pigments was decreased, as mentioned above. Now the brighter pigments were no longer able to cover the yellow zinc chromate. The colour of the lacquer in the colour RLM 76 turned from bright blue grey into a bright green grey. This is the reason why you find so many late war colour photos with that greenish colour.”1  What this doesn’t explain are the existing airframes and parts with a buff color painted over pre-existing RLM 76. (Ryle writes that he has had conversations with Ullman about this “buff”, but no details provided.) Ken Merrick’s new book shed’s no light on the subject, and in fact ignores it completely, lumping together all late-war “mystery colors” as blue-green variations of 76. I theorize that this “buff” was a purely defensive color applied over RLM 76, which by that stage of the war was being used as an overall aircraft primer. I have no explanation why there is no RLM record of the color, but the simple fact is that it was used, regardless of the absence of an RLM color number or reference in official documentation. Misterkit actually sells this as an acrylic paint, LW15, “Buff Late War Bf-109K”. I haven’t seen this paint, and preferred to mix my own. I started with Gunze Sangyo H85 “Sail”, and lightened it with Gunze Sangyo H21 “Off-White”, which has more of a grayish cast than the usual ivory/cream. When satisfied (subjective, I know), I airbrushed the fuselage sides down to about 5mm from the bottom with the “buff”, so that there is still a line of RLM 76 visible, matching the demarcation to the photos from the website listed above. When done, I added a couple of drops of Testor’s “Rubber” to the buff, and post-shaded the fuselage panel lines.

The remainder is relatively uncontroversial. I went for a typical RLM 81 Braunviolett/RLM 83 Dunklegrun scheme based on a Werknummer 331xxx batch fuselage as shown on page 36 of the JaPo book. I think this is credible because it is entirely possible that such an early Werknummer fuselage could have been mated with wings reworked to the K-6 standard, and also allowed me to use the RLM 66 landing gear struts. I mixed my own RLM 81, starting with an ancient Compucolour Swedish Braun blended with, yes, some Model Master “Napoleonic Violet” (plus other colors) to match a paint chip on page xx of the Monogram Guide, and used Aeromaster RLM 82 (which is really intended to be 83, but, well, you probably know the story by now, right?) straight from the bottle, as it was an excellent match to the Monogram RLM 83 chips. I used the close-mask technique for the distinctive wavy demarcation on the fuselage sides, and a hard mask for the tail section (which almost invariably shows this as having been built and painted separately from the rest of the fuselage). I also used a close-mask for the somewhat harder-edged mottle on the rudder.

The wings, being the K-6 version, could have been camouflaged in almost any manner if trials had started in autumn of 1944. I went for a later Werknummer 334xxx version, as shown on page 37 of the JaPo book. The leading edge “sawtooth” effect was done freehand – thank goodness for my Sotar 20/20! The exhaust stains were freehanded using a thinned mixture of Floquil Grimy Black and Rail Brown. Some additional post-shading was added with Tamiya Smoke. The model is pretty clean, with just a bit of operational use, not heavy wear and tear – these planes had a lifespan of just days, if not hours.

I did an aircraft from JG27, as they seemed to have a great many 109K’s and the RLM 25 tail band is attractive. All fuselage and wing crosses were masked with frisket and airbrushed, as was the RLM 26 fuselage number (selected at random).

After the remaining stencils and other decals were added, I airbrushed a topcoat of Humbrol Gloss to seal them, and a final coat of Humbrol Matt. Final assembly consisted of adding the control surfaces, Moskit exhausts, assorted antennas, etc. I left off the outer gear doors – they seemed to be commonly removed in the field, and with those MK108s sitting right next to the wheel well, I imagine there wasn’t any room for the retraction mechanism anyway. The main gear wells were done in natural metal with Eduard canvas covers. I used the MDC spinner as this is the most accurate version, showing the prop cutouts narrowing at their base. I used the Cutting Edge white metal “tall” tail wheel, as the kit piece is molded as a single unit. (I hate that, and find it pretty lame in 1/32 scale.) Also added to the port wing was a BSK 16 gun camera made from a section of aluminum tubing with an epoxy lens. The drop tank is intentionally offset to port. Not commonly depicted, but the 109K series had gear position indicators a la the Fw190 series. I have a (reprint) copy of the Fw190A-8 maintenance manuals, and the indicators on that aircraft were RLM23 with a white band showing when the gear was fully down and locked. I assumed that the 109K series used the same operating philosophy and painted these accordingly. I did my best to model the canopy retaining mechanism – fiddly, that. And I added the 45-degree red stripes to both sides of the canopy. I’ve never seen a 109 canopy without these, but they seem to be rare on models.

The result is a model of an aircraft type that I think probably saw action in a camouflage scheme well-documented and entirely plausible for the type. Some readers may draw different conclusions, but I am quite satisfied with the result. To me, it just looks right, and it was a very interesting project to research and build. 

1 http://www.clubhyper.com/reference/latewarrlm76mu_1.htm





  • Beaman, John R.:  Messerschmitt Bf 109 in Action Part 2; Squadron Signal Publications, 1983

  • Green, William: War Planes of the Second World War; Hanover House, 1960

  • Green, William: Warplanes of the Third Reich; Doubleday and Company, 1970

  • Hitchcock, Thomas: Messerschmitt ‘O-Nine’ Gallery; Monogram Aviation Publications, 1973 

  • Hitchcock, Thomas, Monogram Close-up 16: Bf 109K, (Monogram Aviation Publications), 1979

  • Janda, Aleš and Poruba, Tomáš: Messerschmitt Bf 109K; JaPo, Hradic Králové, Czech Republic, 1997

  • Merrick, Kenneth A. and Hitchcock, Thomas: The Official Monogram Painting Guide to German Aircraft 1935-1945 (including errata-omission sheet); Monogram Aviation Publications, 1980.

  • Nowarra, Heinz: Aircraft and Legend Messerschmitt Bf 109; Haynes Publishing Group, 1986

  • Poruba, Tomáš and Mol, Kees: Messerschmitt Bf 109K Camouflage and Markings; JaPo, Hradic Králové, Czech Republic, 2000

  • Prien, Jochen and Rodeike, Peter: Messerschmitt Bf 109 F, G, & K Series: An Illustrated Study; Schiffer Military History, 1993

  • Ryle, E. Brown III: Luftwaffe Colors 1935-1945: RLM Numbered Paints, their Production, Application and Camouflage Uses; self-published through Kommandear Decals, 2000.

  • Ullmann, Michael: Luftwaffe Colours 1935-1945; Hikoki Publications, 2002

Model, Images and Text Copyright © 2007 by Mark Shanks
Page Created 26 December, 2007
Last Updated 26 December, 2007

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