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Messerschmitt Bf 108

by Brett Green

 

Messerschmitt Bf 108D
Unknown Unit, Neubiberg, May 1945
(typical colours and markings)

 


Eduard's 1/48 scale Messerschmitt Bf 108B-2 is available online at Squadron

 

Introduction

 

The Messerschmitt Bf 108 was initially designed as a sports aircraft in 1934. The definitive four-seater version was the Bf 108B.

The Bf 108 had advanced features including an all-metal airframe, automatic leading edge slats, adjustable propeller and retracting undercarriage. The Luftwaffe adopted this aircraft in the communication and liaison role. An improved version, the Bf 108D, was introduced in 1941 and began rolling off French assembly lines from 1942 until the liberation of France.

The Messerschmitt Bf 108 was a popular aircraft in wartime due to its comfortable leather seats and pleasant flying characteristics. These same features also ensured that the Bf 108 retained its popularity in the post-war civil aviation market.

 

 

Eduard's 1/48 Scale Messerschmitt Bf 108B-2

 

Eduard has diversified their usual First World War focus with two WWII releases in the last few years. The first was the Bell P-39 Airacobra family, and the latest is the Messerschmitt Bf 108. Although the P-39s and Bf 108 were not the first WWII aircraft kits offered by Eduard, they are the first to have benefited from their recent long-run, metal mould technology.

 

 

Eduard's 1/48 scale Messerschmitt Bf 108B-2 comprises 87 parts in khaki coloured styrene; two parts in clear injected styrene; one paper sheet of instruments and decals for two aircraft. Masks for the glasshouse canopy are also included.

The plastic parts are first rate in every respect. For a more detailed examination of the kit in the box, check my recent review elsewhere on HyperScale.

 

 

Construction

 

Eduard's 1/48 scale Messerschmitt Bf 108 was generally a straightforward model to build, but there were a few challenges as described in the text below.

The kit parts include an alternative boss and spinner for the Argus automatic adjustable propeller. Although the instructions do not mention these parts, they can be used to depict the later Bf 108D variant. I decided to use these parts to build a late-war liaison aircraft operating in southern Germany.

I built the model straight from the box with the only enhancements being brass harnesses for the front seats and decals from the spares box.


 

Step 1 - Cockpit

The kit cockpit is made up of 24 parts. Although the one-piece kit canopy is fixed shut, all the glorious detail in the cabin can be seen quite clearly through the big, glasshouse windows. I added lap harnesses to the front seat from the True Details brass set for Hasegawa's 1/48 scale Stuka.

 

 

Auxiliary fuel drums are supplied as an option for the back seat. I decided to use this option.

Two instrument panels are supplied. One is solid plastic, designed for painting or for applying a decal. The second has holes to reveal the instruments. The instruments are printed onto a small piece of paper. These are simply glued to the back of the plastic part to create an effective, three-dimensional instrument panel. I added a drop of "Future" floor wax to each instrument to represent the dial lenses.

The prominence of the cockpit makes a careful paintjob worthwhile. I sprayed the main components with Gunze H70 RLM 02, then painted the "leather" seats using Gunze H72 Dark Earth. When dry, the main cabin received a black oil wash, and the seats were washed with a thinned mix of Burnt Sienna and Raw Umber oil paints. Details were then picked out using Tamiya Acrylics.

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

 

Lap harnesses were added to the front seats from a True Details brass etched detail set

Cockpit components were painted before assembly

The seams on the fuel drums are invisible once they are trapped between the cockpit sidewalls.

The completed instrument panel. The oil wash has not yet dried. Future floor wax has been carefully applied to the instrument lenses.


 

Step 2 - Engine

Eduard's tiny Bf 108 engine is as well detailed as the cockpit.

I was initially concerned that none of the engine would be visible behind the closed cowl. However, much of the cylinder, exhaust and crankcase detail may be seen through the large front intake and lower rear vent.

I assembled the firewall/mounts and the engine as separate sub-assemblies to simplify painting. The only problem I found was that the lengths of the rods (parts C16) could vary depending on where the parts were cut from the sprue. The demarcation for removal was not entirely clear. They are also quite fragile and easy to lose.

 

 

The firewall and mounts were sprayed RLM 02, and the engine received a coat of Testors Aluminium Metalizer. Details on the engine were picked out in Tamiya X-18 Semi-Gloss Black and the exhaust extractors painted Testors Burnt Metal Metalizer before all the components were washed in a thin mix of Black and Raw Umber oil paint.

The painted sub-assemblies were glued together after the paint had dried.

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

 

The completed firewall/mount and engine sub-assemblies.

Painting is underway. The components have received their base colour and the oil wash has commenced.


 

Steps 3 & 4 - Wing and Fuselage Assembly

I had problems aligning the fuselage and the wing assemblies. The problems were lessened after some serious sanding of sidewalls and trimming of kit parts, but gaps still resulted even after the modifications.

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

 

Both sidewalls needed significant thinning and reshaping to permit the fuselage to fit properly at the wing root.

Even after the modifications, there were noticeable gaps on both sides of the trailing edge of the wing root...

...the port side upper wing root...

...and the starboard side upper wing root. The wing roots of the upper wings had been trimmed too.

A small gap was present on the upper surface of the starboard horizontal stabiliser.


 

I would suggest the following assembly sequence to avoid these problems:

  1. Assemble the trim wheel and add it to the port sidewall.

  2. Add the back seat backrest (part A16) to the rear cockpit bulkhead (part A4), and glue this to the rear of the cockpit floor (part A3). Do not glue the sidewalls to the floor yet.

  3. Glue the wing upper halves (parts B2 and B3) to the lower wing (part B1). Take extreme care not to get excess glue in the locating holes for the undercarriage legs. Set aside to dry. Do not cement the cockpit tub to the floor of the wing yet!

  4. Carefully trap the engine firewall between the fuselage halves. When satisfied with the fit, apply glue to the edges of the firewall and join the engine cowl halves. There will be quite a bit of flex in the fuselage, so glue and tape the engine cowl securely before gluing the back of the fuselage halves. Locating pins are scarce, so make there are no ridges or gaps at the long join lines. Set this assembly aside to dry.

  5. Scribe an oval filler cap on the top of the port-side fuselage at this stage. Eduard has omitted this detail (which only became obvious to me when I applied the filler stencil decal under a featureless expanse of plastic).

  6. When the fuselage and wings are thoroughly set, test fit without the cockpit in place. Now test fit with the cockpit floor locked over the raised undercarriage well. Finally, test fit with the sidewalls tacked in place using Blu-Tack, or simply resting against the cockpit bulkheads.

  7. If fit problems are experienced during any stage of the test fitting, I suggest the following remedies:

    • Enlarge the gaps under the cockpit floor that sit over the top of the gear leg bays. Add one or two millimetres to the front of this space using a sharp hobby knife. This will permit the cockpit tub to slide back slightly.

    • Thin the sidewalls. It may also be necessary to slightly shorten the height of one or both of the sidewalls.

    • As a last resort, sand the wingroot of the upper wings to minimise any gaps.

  8. Glue the assemblies, set aside to dry. Fill and sand as required.

  9. Add the tail surfaces.


 

Steps 5, 6 & 7 - Finishing

A gap-free join between the large canopy and the fuselage is essential for a realistic Bf 108. I decided to tackle this area before adding the finishing touches.

First, I test fitted the canopy to the fuselage. The canopy seemed slightly too long, so I sanded the flat rear mating surface on the upper fuselage. This resulted in a tight fit, but now the profile of the lower front right corner of the canopy did not match the contour of the fuselage in the same area. I carefully rounded the corner of the canopy with a medium grade sanding stick. The fit was now perfect.

I added the instrument panel and coaming (parts C24 and C25) to the top of the interior sidewalls and slid the coaming slightly under the top of the cowling. I test fitted the canopy again to ensure that the coaming did not foul against the canopy. With the canopy tightly wedged in place, I ran a line of liquid glue along the joins, being careful to avoid getting any excess glue on the clear part.

As a result of my earlier misadventures, I had to fill and sand a number of gaps around the wingroot. I also had to eliminate a step between the fuselage halves on the upper fuselage join.

 

 

I have heard that some HyperScale visitors use Liquid Paper as a filler for fine gaps. I decided to try this technique for the first time myself. I applied Liquid Paper to gaps, steps and seams using the brush supplied in the bottle. After a few minutes, I sanded the filler with dry 400 grit Tamiya abrasive paper, followed by finer grades and finally polishing the plastic surface with "Mr Rubbing Compound" and a soft cloth. Polishing the model ensures that all the scratches, gaps steps have been eliminated.

Although Liquid Paper would not be suitable for larger gaps, I was quite happy with the results.

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

 

Liquid Paper was used to fill the narrow gaps, seams and steps.

The clear portions were masked to avoid accidental damage. The filler was sanded with Tamiya Abrasive Paper.

When sanding was completed, the model was polished with "Mr Rubbing Compound" and a soft cloth.

Dymo tape was then used to restore panel lines lost during sanding.

 

 

Painting and Markings

 

I confess that I don't normally like painting RLM 70/71 splinter camouflage. However, I decided to take up the challenge of trying to make this sometimes dull finish look interesting.

I built my Bf 108 as a late-production "D" variant. It does not represent any particular aircraft, but the paint job is based upon markings observed on liaison and communication aircraft abandoned in the Luftwaffe's southern operational sector late in the war.

 

 

The yellow cowl band was a theatre marking, and the hand-painted number on the rudder was a tactical identification. Some liaison aircraft also sported a small letter above the number.


 

Masking

Eduard supply a set of Express Masks for the large framed canopy. This made quick work of the biggest masking task. I supplemented the masks with Tamiya tape to cover the larger spaces. Earlier experience with Eduard masks made me cautious - paint has leaked under this brand of mask on other models. I therefore burnished the edges of the masks with a sharpened wooden stick to seal them properly.

The cowl intake, lower vent and wheel wells were stuffed with tissue paper to prevent overspray.

Yellow was sprayed on the nose of the aircraft, and RLM 81 Brown-Violet was painted on the rear fuselage. This patch of RLM 81 depicted an oversprayed yellow fuselage band. The fuselage band was sometimes removed when the yellow cowl band was added. Both bands were masked with Tamiya tape.

Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

Eduard Express Masks are in place. The gaps have been covered with Tamiya masking tape, cut to size.

The wheel wells, cowl intake and vent have been stuffed with tissue paper. The wheel wells have already been painted RLM 02.

The canopy has been sprayed RLM 02 (the colour of the framing). The nose and fuselage bands have also been painted.

The nose and fuselage bands are masked. The model is ready for its camouflage!


 

Painting

I dispensed with my usual pre-shading on this model. The pre-shaded lines would be almost invisible underneath the dark upper surfaces, so I loaded my Testors Aztek airbrush with Gunze RLM 02 for the canopy framing. This coat also served as a final check for any remaining gaps and scratches.

The lower surfaces were sprayed RLM 65 Light Blue, then the demarcation lines were masked with Tamiya tape.

I felt that the Gunze RLM 71 looked too dark, so I lightened it slightly with Gunze H303 Green FS34102. When the base coat of RLM 71 was dry, the camouflage pattern was masked using a combination of Post It Notes and Tamiya masking tape. Gunze RLM 70 Black Green was also lightened until the contrast between the two colours looked right.

Although there is no doubt that German RLM 70/71 splinter camouflage is hard-edged, I think that the finish can sometimes look too stark on a model. I tried to address this problem without resulting in a soft-sprayed effect.

The darker green was sprayed lightly up to the edge of the mask. The mask was then removed and RLM 70 was resprayed along the hard-edged line. This marginally softens the demarcation to represent a slightly weathered splinter camouflage.

With the painting completed, the masks were removed. The paint was buffed with a soft cloth and the glossy surface was ready for decals.


 

Markings

The only kit decals used were for the lower wing. The registration was slightly off, but there was virtually no excess carrier film and the decals settled down beautifully into panel lines. I took the outline-style national markings and fuel triangle from an EagleCals sheet for the Focke-Wulf Fw 190.

The rudder markings were hand-painted onto clear decal film. I used Tamiya Flat White paint for this job.

 

 

Finishing Touches

 

Earlier in this article I urged caution to avoid getting excess glue in the holes for the main gear legs. I did get glue into one of these locating holes, and it caused me an unwelcome diversion when the model was close to completion.

I added the various finishing touches to the kit including pitot tube, aileron mass balances and the landing light. I also assembled and painted the main gear legs. These feature a decent locating pin to insert in the lower wing. However, the locating hole for one of the legs was full of hard, dried glue that must have spilled over from the fuselage join. Unfortunately, the locating pin was semi-circular in profile, so I couldn't simply drill out the hole without weakening the join.

I decided on brute force instead.

You know this stage of construction. You can see the light at the end of the tunnel. The finished model is so close that you can taste it. So you take a short-cut.

As I was fruitlessly pushing the leg into the blocked hole I heard a "crack". The exertion had split the starboard wing root join.

 

 

My short-cut turned into the scenic route as I was forced to sand back the wing root, re-spray the area, polish and match the surrounding paint and then drill out the gear leg locating hole anyway!


 

Weathering

I applied a thin wash of black oil paint to the panel lines. The canopy was masked again and the entire model received a thin coat of Gunze Flat Clear.

 

 

Weathering was kept to a minimum with a light exhaust stain on the fuselage side and lower surfaces and some walkway chipping on each wing root using a silver pencil.

 

 

Conclusion

 

Despite the challenges presented by the kit and by my own haste, I found Eduard's 1/48 scale Messerschmitt Bf 108 to be a quick and enjoyable project. The comprehensive engine and cabin detail, straight from the box, is very impressive for a plastic kit in this price range.

In the six days since the kit was delivered I have found references of some attractive options for the Bf 108 operating under the flags of Great Britain, the United States and, of course, France. It will be interesting to see what company is first to market with alternate decals!

 

 

Additional Images and Resource Summary

 

 

Summary of 
Modelling Resources

The following accessories were used to complete Eduard's 1/48 scale Messerschmitt Bf 108::

  • Gunze paints
    H70 RLM 02 Grey; H72 Dark Earth; H64 RLM 71 Dark Green; H65 RLM 70 Black Green; H67 RLM 65 Light Blue; H303Green FS 34102; H421 RLM 81 Brown Violet; H20 Flat Clear. 

  • Tamiya paints
    X-18 Semi Gloss Black; XF-1 Flat Black; XF-2 Flat White; XF-3 Flat Yellow; X-7 Red; X-21 Flat Base; XF-57 Buff; X-11Chrome Silver.

  • Testors Metalizer paints:
    Non-Buffing Aluminum; Burnt Metal

  • Cements, Fillers and Finishing Products:
    Testors Cement; Tamiya Extra Thin Liquid Cement; Selleys Super Glue; ZIP Kicker CA Accelerator; Liquid Paper; Gunze Mr Surfacer 500; Gunze Mr Rubbing Compound; Tamiya Masking Tape (6mm and 10mm); Tamiya Abrasive Paper (400-1000 grit); disposable nail files; Squadron Tri-Grit Sanding Stick.

 


Text, Images and Model Copyright 2002 by Brett Green
Page Created 04 March, 2002
Last Updated 04 June, 2007

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