Messerschmitt Bf 109 E-4
Airfix, 1/72 scale
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|Catalogue Number and Description:
||Airfix Kit No. A01008 - Messerschmitt Bf 109 E-4
|Contents and Media:
||46 very light grey plastic parts on 2 sprues, 4 clear plastic parts on one sprue, decals for one aircraft plus a 4 page foldout instructions with history and 14 build diagrams. Paint and decal instructions are on the box rear.
Available from Hannants from £4.99
||Good overall shape and level of detail in the cockpit and wheel wells, dropped flaps and a very thin three piece canopy. The way the slats are handled makes them much easier to separate from the upper wing.
||Blank instrument panel with decal detail only, prop looks a bit slim and trim wheels missing from interior, Cowl M/Gs moulded into cowl rather than on engine which also lack much detail.
||In my opinion, the best 1/72 scale Messerschmitt Bf 109 E out there. Who would have thought of good old Airfix as innovative? Dropped flaps in a 1/72nd scale kit no less! What next?
Reviewed by Glen Porter
Airfix's 1/72 scale Fairey Swordfish is available online from
Messerschmitt Bf 109 Es have been well covered in 1/72nd scale right from the beginning of the hobby way back when. Airfix, Matchbox and Heller gave us well-shaped models that lacked detail and were in some instances covered in gigantic rivets.
Hasagawa and Academy threw a spanner in the works by giving us models with very nice mould quality but so badly shaped that they couldn’t be fixed; and that is where we sat for many years.
Mr. Tamiya, bless his gumboots, finally produced a 1/72 scale 109E with excellent shape, details and engineering so good you could almost assemble it without glue. ICM of the Ukraine, cloned it and in the process fixed the one fault, a short rear fuselage, and introduced some sink marks and soft detail.
And so back to Airfix. What goes around comes around.
They considered they were getting no profit from the Tamiya and ICM kits and needed their own in this scale. Their new toolings have been getting better and better and with the Swordfish they showed us they are willing to put some thought into their kits, becoming the leaders rather than just following them.
Now they could have just cloned the Tamiya/ICM kits and we would have been very grateful, considering their prices but no, they again showed us they are willing to put some extra effort into the kit. 109s of all varieties, when parked, were seen to have their flaps dropped and Braille Scale modellers have been crying out for years to have this option in kits. Apart for one kit from Academy and several short run kits, Airfix gives us another first, common in 1/48th scale kits but unknown in this one.
Another thing Airfix is getting very good at is giving us excellent box art, in this case Von Werra being shot down over Britain before his holiday in Canada. It is an end opening box, but because it is small that is not really a problem. As this is a Series 1 kit it won’t come with the sprue carrying the bomb, drop tank, extra spinner etc, and will only have one decal option and that being the above mentioned Von Werra (The One That Got Away), a very popular option as it’s also in one of the ICM kits.
The two fuselage halves have some engine detail but not enough to warrant having the cowling off as the machine guns are moulded into the cowl.
Sharing the sprue with the fuselage are prop and spinner, tail planes, most of the cockpit detail, rudder, main and tail wheels and the oil cooler cowling plus other small items.
The three-piece wing shares with the separate flaps, under carriage legs and doors, radiator bathes and the undercarriage-up optional parts.
Although the slats are moulded retracted, they are done in such a way that it should be easy to cut them out and have them deployed. The lower part of the slat, normally moulded onto the lower wing, is given to us on the upper wing.
Yes, there are faults. The instrument panel has no moulded detail, just a decal. As mentioned above, the cowl guns are moulded into the cowl instead of on top of the engine and the engine block lacks most other additional details. The prop could be a bit beefier, there are no trim wheels in the interior, and the sidewall detail is not quite as good as Tamiya/ICM.
There have been claims that the clear parts were a little thick and that the canopy was a “G” item a la the British museum. This is not the case, they are as thin as any I’ve seen and it is definitely an early style canopy although it’s not quite correct. It’s also been stated that the head armour is wrong in that it mounts on the sill behind the seat rather than in the canopy; but again it is actually moulded correctly and is designed to be glued to the canopy interior.
The panel lines don’t look too different to me. We have included a Mk.I Spitfire fuselage half along side the 109 item for comparison and you can make up your own mind.
Decals are as we have come to expect from the new Airfix, minimum film, perfect register and a full set of stencils.
Yes, innovative. In my opinion, this is the best 1/72 scale 109E kit on the market. Sure, in places it lags behind the Tamiya/ICM kits but with those flaps, slats and price it wins.
We know their P-51D is coming soon also with dropped flaps. What about a P-51B with the same advantages as the “D”, A Beaufighter with good interior, Some WW I or between the wars biplanes with jigs or a series of FW 190 As and Ds.
It’s like Airfix is starting all over again, only better. Yes!
Sample purchased by reviewer (as a matter of fact, he bought five!)
Text and Images Copyright © 2012 by Glen Porter
Page Created 29 May, 2012
30 May, 2012
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